Dec 08

LeWeb10 Playfish and gaming

Sebastien de Halleux, Co-Founder, Playfish & VP, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships,EA Interactive. Q&A with Veronica Belmont, Host, Tekzilla

WARNING: Liveblogged, some paraphasing, some things probably missed. Video below

Sebastien de Halleux
Photo by Adam Tinworth

VB: a lot of games out there are will that change
SH: there’s very few of the web people out there playing games, we try on FB to do new new types of games and there’s room for more. the first quarter next year, you’ll get a lot of new entrants with new games designs. We have already announced Monopoly. we know there are a lot more, Disney will hopefully announce a few things

VB: how many FB users engage in social games?
SH: roughly half, or so FB say. and that’s only on FB,there are plenty of others

VB: since EA bought Playfish, how do they do better with existing IP vs original IP
SH: brands are not ness to build a successful social games…to get new players, you need to touch them at a passion point. Sport is the ultimate social activity. by developing products with brands to enable a passion point you get a lot of traction, eg why we did Fifa. It is not about about power of brand to get you to buy, but to touch the passion point from outside the network.

VB: is FIFA the largest?
SH: no Pet society, about 20m active users. Fifa is the top sports property on FB.

VB: you had a quote a while back about the top 10 games being existing brands has that changed?
SH: there are some differences…you are seeing new categories growing. arcade games, sports category did not exist a year ago. Also some branded games, like Family Feud. where are your 1st person shooters, racing etc, they ahve been strong on every platform, but not present on FB

VB: is that limited by technology?
SH: yes, partly., also usage pattern – a few minutes at a time. It’s not limiting to create a great experience,

VB: curious about micropayments? what are they willing to pay?
SH: we sell about 90million items a day. about 10x the number on ebay on any day. this is just for Playfish. Why? What? It’s to do with social emotions. In WOW you buy ‘functional’ goods, on Playfish, it’s more emotional. On Fifa, you can buy a pack of players for 8eu, not really micro, but it has a meaning. so we look for things that make sense for players.

VB: how do you decide value?
SH: we are in early days, planned economy. We may eventually get demand driven economy, but now central. Some are aobut your specific spending pattern etc. very basic, but room for improvement.

VB: in console games, they pay upfront. But you have for free then get more for experience
SH: our games catered for non-gamers. they don’t play games. we need to lower barriers to entry. no costs, one click to play. we try and respect the players, let them tell us how much they play a game. Some players have spent nothing, others 1000s. they define what value the game has for them

VB: how much?
SH: 1-5% spend, 10% in casual gaming which is more established. they often spend similar to retail. Our users have shown us they want more ways to pay, eg gift cards, upscaling the cost -they have asked for $100 gift cards to reduce transactions. Once you have convinced one that it is a quality experience, they are likely to play. the experience at retail (eg getting a console game) can be disappointing

VB: last year., you did a promotion for valentines, with flowers. Will there be more than that?
SH: yes. Most companies want to be in social, more than just a Facebook page. we have done something with DrPepper. you can get codes on bottles that give you in game enhancement. there are lots of opportunities for brands. you want to map the real world onto the social experience. We design games for our players, and only introduce brands when it makes sense. I spend a lot of time talking to brands but saying no. I think most value will come from player payments, telling us it is a good value,

VB: how tied to FB are you, do you see a shift to mobile?
SH: EA is the number 1 mobile content provider, it is extremely important…but we are thankful to FB engineering team, it has been a tremendous journey in making it a gaming platform. FB has admitted that games are a big use case…we are not a tech company, we are gaming. we try and select best network, so new one in Japan not on FB. it will be where the user is

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Mike Jones MySpace

Mike Jones, CEO, MySpace
Q&A with Robert Scoble, American Blogger, Tech Evangelist & Author

WARNING – liveblogged, some paraphrasing, some things may be missing

Robert Scoble and Mike Jones of MySpace at Le Web
Photo from Adam Tinworth

RS: so what is it like trying to save this company?
MJ: big changes. Launched new product about 15 days ago…

only 1-2% of this audience has been there
MJ: we are focused on sub35 year old…the new product is about entertainment. we want to be the best in the social entertainment experience. So far, it has been very positive.

RS: reading the press, keep reading Murdoch wants to sell. Is he going to give you anough time?
MJ: Newscorp are entrepreneural. They knew they needed to make a big change and believe they will give us the time

RS: the FB integration? so how was that, you were in a battle, you lost that and now making deals with them
MJ: we had to realise we would not win in SNS. but the web is social. the audience is connecting to bands, so we wanted to be the best platform for connecting with entertainment. So we did deal so FB users can bring their likes etc. We had to change our philosophy and we think its the right thing

RS: so what’s the next 3 months.?
MJ: we have been tentative on how we roll these out? you’ll see more changes, working with other platforms…we want to be the best platform for social entertainment

RS: new devices change how we consume entertainment?
MJ: i get focused on mobile tech, and impact business, a third of audience of MySpace is via mobile. we are creating a mobile app network. 4-5 on iphone, with ipad, with google tv, they are all about entertainment..about focusing on being best in that category. We build more and more apps…a big part of the buisness.

RS: what is the new app we get next week?
MJ: today, you can interact with content whether you log in or not…the new mobile app will allow you to connect without login in. We can create more based on your itunes on your phone,,,to create relevance.

what are you doing with tweets on MSpace?
MJ: we have topic pages…will aggregate content…we need to know what people are talking about and how to inject ourselves..we spend a lot of time listening

RS: but YT is one place for consuming video?
MJ: we want to put your entainment through a social lens, so if it’s hosted on YT or Hulu YT becomes a hosting partner.

RS: a tweet comment about horrible compression…
MJ: in some places we optimise for listening and others for discovery…but often people buy and take it with them..we are looking at this but not looking to replace itunes, but be a discovery place.

RS: what else is happening? Layoffs? New team?
MJ: my belief is we need to take an entreprenerial approach….its different…(can’t say)

RS: what are you learning on new platform?
MJ: the lapsers are becoming more steady state; for the new things like topic pages, we get more engagement. we are noticing more curators…we can connect you to curators…you then come back. If you were using MyS for social networking, that audience will be going away, this segment will decrease…we are looking at the ones we can grow, bring back and which we can let go

RS: this audience (at LeWeb)have not seen it
MJ: go and search for a movie or a show, you will see all the content about the show. you can follow these pages,. a rich content source…will become part of your daily routine…we will release new features each month etc, a new iphone app next week, more things every week. We are running as a start up.

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Jason Goldman Twitter

Jason Goldman, VP of Product, Twitter
Q&A with MG Siegler, Writer, TechCrunch

LIVEBLOGGED -some paraphrasing..some bits missed. Video at bottom of post

Jason Goldman
Photo from Adam Tinworth

MG: you’ve just launched some new integrations?
JG: yes, Instagram, full music, lots of other things

MG: do you see the right pane as a new platform for people to build upon?
JB: we are taking a measured approach. it will be a place for innovation, to build new things. We are getting initial frameworks in place, technical and deal and moving on from that

MG: So how is this effecting developers?
JG: we are building the best experience we can for the users on many platforms. But I still use apps and I think they will have a role in the ecosystem, and want to increase opportuntities. Eg promoted tweets in timeline with Hootsuite. All those clients, we try and support on business opps. We do need to look for new opps, eg verticals, eg sport. There is a lot of innovation about relevance and finding content and we’ll see this

MG: but is there things down the road that devs are working on but you’re not sure yet?
JG: we don’t know…it was resource constraint issue, most resources are still there, but we do have opp to extend, build great clients etc

MG: what is the biggest mistake you’ve made?
JB: any of the UI I designed myself..when we get too complicated. eg when we had IM as an interface. Only worked well with Jabber…idea was clever but made it impossible for users to know where they would get the tweets. We learnt not to get too complicated, to keep it simple. We should not introduce too many options.

MG: You worked at Google – they had lots of testing etc. what do you think about their social elements?
JG: we don’t know the answer yet, cannot judge at the moment. sure it wil be interesting.

MG: why haven’t they done social?
JG: search and ads are their primary business, hard to prioritise the other stuff. getting people with right DNA interested in that problem, that is harder for a big company. It’s a difference of problem and person

MG: so what’s next?
JG: Twitter needs to create a better consumption experience. we have something for can get timelines created for your stuff. so how can we create a system that allows you to follow your interest, there is so much more to do in these terms

MG: how has product management evolved?
JG:I started at Obvious…Director of Product Strategy. one of first decisions was just Twitter or other things. moved to product management for Twitter. Had different roles, over time. Have just announced I’m leaving Twitter at end of month. Staying on as an advisor over next few years…we’ve had a lot of changes recently, new CEO, we talked about how we do things. Came to decision to step down.

MG: so has Evan moving to product has something to do with this?
JG: no, worked with Ev doing vision for a long time.

MG: twitter does not know yet? (who’s replacing him)
JG: no, we will be looking. Not sure where I’m going yet…not off to start something yet. Don’t need a long rest, bit it is a chance to take a rest.

MG: what are you leaving ..what are you most proud of? after 8 years
JG: we have an amazing product and design team, proud of team we hired. The new version of twitter launch was big and complicated…the most important thing i did was hire Kevin Change who managed this. Getting stuff out the way to allow creative people to do their stuff. I like some of the smaller things, updated status blogs…writing various company blog posts. But the building of a company is the thing I’m most proud of. We had hopes but did not expect where we are.Finding all the people that wanted towork on the same things, work together. that is what I am proud of

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Ethan Beard Facebook

Ethan Beard, Director, Facebook Developer Network, Facebook
Q&A with Michael Arrington, Editor, TechCrunch

LIVEBLOGGED: so some paraphrasing possible. Video at bottom of post

Ethan Beard, Director, Facebook Developer Network
Picture from Adam Tinworth.

MA: are you continuing to deny the Facebook phone is real?
EB: yes. I am ready to deny. The windows phone used Facebook to connect and that’s one of the things we are trying to do, provide conenction, be everywhere. I think there is a lot of development on mobile…

MA: does the Windows phone have a chance?
EB: I’d never count MS out.

MA: At Google you said don’t be Facebook, it is evil. Does FB care, is it just about the money?
EB: we try to lead with our actions, not just talk about it. The fact you can ask a question is a testament to how much people care about the users.

MA: the privacy stuff? I have not called out FB on that issue. Some people see it as exceptionally not good. It is so confusing, changing defaults. Do you have to move everyone, are the mess ups incompetence or something else
EB: it is paramount, the privacy of our users. We start with giving users Control. It is not easy, everyone has different requirements. There is a lot of subtleties about what you want to do. It is challenging to get the set of defaults that work for everyone – we try hard to get one that is right for users AND for the whole site. We have the most comprehensive set of user controls than any on the web.

MA: so let’s get to the stuff you are responsible for..after one more question…has FB been successful later? was this luck or planned?
EB: look at successful companies, they will all say luck was part of it. There is something for luck and being in right place, but I think you also make your luck, being prepared. there are aspects of plan we have executed against real well. When I joined, 60-70 million users, we stopped growing. We were not focused on growth…so we re-organised to focus on growth with a team. once we had that, the numbers started growing again. That was not luck, the team worked hard.

MA: there are 100 or more at FB from google (out of about 1500). WHy are they fleeing google?
EB: I loved working at Google, a great company. the company has changed a lot, really big. If they joined to join a smaller company, than not that. People may not be finding what they were looking for. FB is now really exciting, we are shaping and defining the web for the next few years. Still pretty small, fun and attractive.

MA: What’s next, the next thing?
Gaming is strong, across all areas. Hard to detemine exactly where, people are working hard.

MA: what about music? FB does not do much things..
EB: we are, with the platform we use (Connect and Canvas) . FB is no1 referrer of traffic to Spotify. so in many ways we are in music. Spotify traffic from FB increased 4x. We want to focus on the core building blocks of social graph, so others can build on top of it. Think lots of companies will do things on top of it.

MA: you own lots of developers…do you care about the platform..what guidelines are there about opportunities?
EB: we have been pushing hard on Connect, our goal was not to move the web inside FB, but to make the whole web social. 250m people a month are using Connect on 3rd party sites. Adding about 10k sites a day. We have a lot of good partners, Bing, Pandora, Yelp, TF1, Qype, BBC, Techcrunch, AOL, Yahoo. Asking if you build inside? we did not know the answer to this for a while, over time a few things have emerged..we think everything should used FB. FB tend to want to stay on FB, building inside of FB makes it easier to get traffic. When building with FB, you build a social experience.the expectation is different on FB then off, about sharing etc. Easier inside, people expect it to be social.

MA: FB credits. a little bit confusing. there was a switch about moving to this. Dragging your partners to this. but you have no plans to make it mandatory?
EB: not mandatory. The goal was to make it easy and fun to buy in any application.

MA: but the developer pays 30%
EB: but does it drive incremental revenue…our goals/beliefs that by having a single currency, you reduce friction, and drive more spending. But you need to get everyone using credits. We have tried to get all on together

MA: so are you getting 10s of millions from Zynga
EB: can’t do financials…we have good partnerships. We are seeing proofpoints – showing increasing revenue as inbuilt. We know having a highly liquid currency works and we’re doing a lot to get it inbuilt.

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Charlie Kindel Microsoft

Charlie Kindel, GM, WP7 Developer Ecosystem, Microsoft Corporation
Q&A with Loic Le Meur, Founder, LeWeb

WARNING – LIVE BLOGGED, so somethings may be missing. Video below

Loic and Charlie Kindel, GM, WP7 Developer Ecosystem, Microsoft

I’m trying to blog this, but as an interview it’s a little all over the the place and there’s not a lot of new information – so here’s some bullet points.

  • CK won’t tell us how many phones they have sold
  • They have 3500 apps now, the toolkit has downloaded a few 100k times…they have lots of developers.
  • they don’t have a write once/run anywhere strategy, but that devs want to build mostly once and then target
  • Application model is optimised for cloud based development
  • Don’t think MS will do their own phone. They have 9 models worldwide. Different options for people. They have tablets today, based on Windows 7. Still doing something with tablets but won’t tell us
  • CK now feels that MS is credible, and is personally proud of the product. Feels they have more mountains to climb…
  • 1000s worked on it, it’s all the different teams, like xbox, Office etc
  • When CK started, he had the full SDK team, 1.5 people, now have 100s of people.
  • they do help port apps to phone; although thinks the tools they provide are the most productive tools for mobile development

Dec 08

LeWeb10 Carlos Ghosn Renault

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO, Renault S.A. & Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Q&A with Loïc Le Meur

WARNING: Liveblogged..some paraphrases, somethings may be missing. Video below

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO, Renault S.A. & Nissan Motor Co

The car industry was started by entrepreneurs. There was lots of innovation. Renault, from marketing, knew about brand image and marketing, how car races could drive the brand. opening new branches in cities where there were rallies and get the cars to compete, like we do now in F1.

But now cars have stopped being perceived as symbols of modernity. They are 17th in Japan as a desired product. 43% of 25-34 year olds consider cars have more drawbacks rather than advantages. Now we are not about breakthrough, but about optimisation.

We hate risks, the stakes are so high. The entry ticket, the engineering and the investment, is about 2billion Euro. In Japan, there is Kaizan, the car industry does this very well. We copy each other, we design processes to the second..optimisation leads to improvements, as with Moores law, the engine performance is continously improving. In 4 yrs a car could do 1600km without refueling – we get more efficient. In the new Meganne, there is as much tech as in the first Airbus plane.

We’ve had some breakthoughs, but not as many as in the tech would. But there has been little radical changes in car.

Challenges – environment. We know we have to reduce CO2 emmisions. Cars are accountable for 12% emmisions. The other is oil price and geopolitics of access to energy sources. Cars have 25% of oil consumption. There’s a growing need for mobility in developing coutries…now we have 1billion cars, by 2020 it’ll be 2billion. The basic need of autonomous transportation will not change, this is the base platform for the future. But cars are perceived as a problem – they need to be perceived as a solution. So we should not go for optimisation, but innovation.

We look at the mass produced zero emission cars. Renault and Nissan are bringing out a new range (not just one). City, family, vans etc, Not to make it special but as a normal option. This is a tech breakthrough – the batteries, the process – as key areas are different. With little vibration, we can rethink the architecture. It is a innovation in engineering, it’s not just the engine now, it’s the battery. It’s innovation in how we interact with governments..about geting them out there. It’s a breakthough in how we market.

For customers, it’s a change as well. great acceleration, no noise, no smell. We are starting a new programme, with the Leaf. In US and Japan, in EU later.

We are investing 4billion EU, between Renault and Nissan, with 2000 people. We know there is risk but we are getting more comfortable, as we are resonating with consumers. In US, 250k for Leaf. Next year, the production is booked..people want them.

There is a lot of scepticism, lots of questions. We are at the beginning of this tech, it wil change. The cellphones weighed 1k, took 10 hours to charge, cost thousands of dollars. But scale and competition pushed price down and tech up, this will be the same for the cars. The electric cars will be a platform…the telephone is a platform, as there is a need to communicate. There is another basic need of autonomous transportation, it is not going to go away. Therefore it is a platform. It is an open platform. This is one of the new frontier. the car industry is a 2trillion business…this business is now open and needs to be rethought, with the electric car..this is a world for you here to work on. We will need a lot of outside thinking, to transform electric car.

Innovation is always reconstructing the future…we as an industry are being we have to go for breakthrough..the environmental and energy challenge is a great one to reconcile the car as an engineering object AND an object of emotion.

Some comments from Q&A:

  • Renault/Nissan moving from TV to digital – 15% there already
  • you can buy online but few do. They do a lot of web research but want to touch and feel. a car purchase is not just an rational decision, it’s emotional, we need to up the emotion as well. You remember your first car, we need to beef up the emotional side of the car or we are a commodity.
  • Is busy hiring social marketing amd digital people – they can’t find enough people for that
  • a general call for entrepreneurs get involved, with the electric car, to make it a great product

Sep 11

Impressions from Over the Air

It’s autumn and Over The Air has come around again. A mobile hacking camp with some really decent talks, it’s a regular fixture, a place i come to and listen to stuff I only just about understand whilst pretending to build things.

This year, I made it to far more talks than usual, some not so interesting, but I managed to come away with some food for thought.

  • started off a a hack, turned into more of a project. made sure that the data was open so that others can build on it, building things that the originators never thought about. End philosophy is all about giving people ways to connect the data
  • Visual search. Mobile is the bridge between you and the world of things. Can be used for things like price comparison, adding data via augmented reality, marketing and ecommerce,
  • Visual search – 1d bar codes were made for laser scanning, not user friendly and mobiel cameras don’t read easily. 2d designed to work with imaging. Product imaging allows it to happen when you don’t have bar code, eg with pictures of products.
  • in 2008, 80% of location revenue came from navigation apps. now, that has gone, and nav apps are in the minority compared to vertical apps that just use location as part of the offering. There’s more than 6k iPhone apps available. costs are tending towards zero, so targeted ads are the preferred revenue stream, or sponsorship.
  • Crowd sourced data on maps is more and more important. Realtime reporting, things that have a timebound element, eg roadworks. Users will have multiple apps using locations and maps in different ways.
  • Key elements are to make highly customisable apps, making it more relevant; allow rich user-specific content to be added; navigation to be added; monetisation via ads and sponsors and let end users map their own world
  • Most interesting to me, is have personal sharable maps, eg add a place to meet to your map and share it with your friends. they’ll get it on their maps, plus how to get there from where they are.
Jul 04

F1 FOTA Fan Forum

F1 FOTA Fan Forum by Santander

You may have noticed a stream of blog posts live-blogging the F1 FOTA Fan Forum last Thursday. This was the first event of its kind for the sport, coming out of blog comments on James Allen’s website. It was first come, first served for places and 150 of them were taken up within 24 hours. I saw a lot of tweets about people travelling from UK and further to attend, but for me, it was just an 10 minute tube ride (and an understanding boss to grab an extra long lunch). Santander, the sponsors, has obviously put a lot of effort into the day, with a good lunch, I assume covering the venue and the recording and then a couple of freebies for all attending.

The day was tweeted out by many of the teams and recorded for later release on YouTube, so all available for those who could not attend. There were plenty of press there as well and it was fun watching statements made as answers to questions being turned into news articles across sports sites. I even got nabbed by the BBC to do a quick sentence into a mike (not sure what for) as did others, with a write up on Andrew Benson’s blog.

There’s been a lot of response to this through blogs and comments; given my line of work, I was probably most interested in the responses about increasing fan access through social media and the web, increasing data and behind the scenes information. That’s definitely been an influence in my liking for the sport, as it makes it far easier to understand what it going on. It’s good to see the teams will continue on this path and there is pressure to increase what is being released.

The afternoon was a bit like a typical tech event I attend, mainly male with a handful of females and had the same sort of vibe, with lots of waiting to talk to the speakers and associated F1 team members. Although I’ve never seen autographs been signed at tech events 😉 Overall, it was an enjoyable event, one I’d like to see repeated although maybe at a slightly more job friendly time – the speakers apparently hung around after to chat, by which time I was back off to work.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – New Teams and Driver Skill

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Updated 4/7: added video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

?? How are the new teams?
TF: we are pleased, we got there late, building 5 months, remarkable job. every race we have improved. we deserve to be there, we are closing gap. it has made a little bit of excitement, a few dreams come to. FOTA tries very hard to help new teams, we don’t have the resources, we may one day, but important that teams have time to build, it is good to encourage them, I fully support more testing for drivers, to get new drivers….we have been treated well.

Matt Clifford: should new teams have been buddied?
PDR: the way relationship btw force india, mclaren..when Vijay came, we could get car developed, get product form mclaren, to give best possibility to maximise this. they have had good stability, it can only improve as they go forward.

Lee Cripps: In light of passing opps the slower teams create..should there be a 2 tier championship?
MW: No. you mention Le Mans, we’re considering going back…get people enthused about the different levels…that they win the level..who caress, we are interesting in an outright win…F1 should be a meritocracy, it should not be easy. since mclaren, 106 teams went. we should accept teams can fail but create an environment in which they can succeed. Lotus are doing well…Tony will make it a success,s will develop that team. HRT and Virgin, what they are doing, to there, is fantastic, people work hard in those teams, they are trying like hell, if it was effort alone..they need to build the is not easy.

Ben Dixon: as tracks are redesigned for safety, so larger run off areas, penalty is not as big over tarmac rather than gravel…what can be done?
PDR: there are the weekend, it was a street circuit,large runoff. the new tracks have carpet, and it does incapacitate. in grass, you become a passenger..they are looking for solutions that will not compromise driver. Tarmac run off gives driver a chance to slow down

Ian Spencer: there are debates about hard driving, where line has drawn. So drivers that are pushed off the road, they are not penalised. in terms of balance, should we not properly enforce the code?
PDR: i think it is difficult, it has come up in briefings, the drivers do push it other. the rules need clarifying, especially with new wings etc. Montreal, saw drivers not penalise for actions on track….

Nick Loan: would it be fair to say it is boring as less emphasis on skill..or has it always been tech?
JC: an argument that frustrates me..there is no substance to that comment. all sport has technology involved, look at skiing, tennis etc. we have a tech heavy sport, the fact is, to use the equipment takes a huge amount of skill..the guy with higher skill level drives it better. the car is much harder to drive these days…talking to Damon in 94, when driving the latest car..he says the car are so sharp you have to be even better now. skilful drivers win championships…

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Environment

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Updated 3/7 with video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

JA: FOTA announced about cut in carbon emissions, new engine formula

Martin: Fuel allowances? reduce on year, making engines more efficient?
TF: Danger is too much testing, then costs go up, and emissions go up. Not sure how to police it…ideas that should be considered. It needs to be from tech, the tech should be relevant. should an duct be used in cars, no, but kers will. they should be hand in hand, but should not make too complicated.

Frankie Dewer: talk about environmental engine formula, but concorde finished in 2012…is there a chance for change given last negotiations.
MW: there is…this ones a good idea. The teams, manufacturers etc, we are all aligned. we did a study of our carbon footprint. the cars going round the circuit is 0.1% of emissions, it;s the other stuff. the car is a tech showcase, used to deliver tech that is relevant. it is a great test bed and accelerator to tech. as a sport, we have to look at where we are spending resource, and that is why we did a cross sport body, first body to take the analysis, publish it, commit to check it. what we have done is encouraging so far, demonstrate what we have done to date, more effort needed…a new engine, lower capacity, direct injection etc, all appropriate tech we should be showcasing, we all want to do it and need to finalise it.

Daniel Clegg: Why does f1 have this obligation, surely should do best for sport?
JC: there is a responsibility to all of us to perform tasks in green/efficient way. From engineers view, it does not matter what the ergs are, we will make the car fast..there is no downside..we have clever engineers who will develop whatever tech you point them at and seems a pop to use that dev to knock onto the car in the road, the smallest improvement in a road car will outweigh f1 savings…we are here to improve product to make it available as every day tech..the rule makers have to present engineers with genuine challenge in making car faster more efficiently. starting with less fuel is better for give incentive, they will come up with the tech
TF: it is important, there are brilliant people. if they can use brains in a way to make planet better, then they should. Everyone has to play their part, it is easy to whack industry..they should be together to make tech better.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Cost vs Innovation

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: Video added

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Joe Cardoza: So McLaren with Fduct, then copied, then FIA ban it..does this make sense.
MW: not a good example, there’s a broader story. I fought for tech, without regard for cost when starting as engineer. F1 has to be at forefront of technology, but we have to keep and sustain all the teams and it should not just be pure spending fest, there are examples where team spent and did not get results, so not just money. As an engineer, then developing things got bands, then angry. We need to keep innovative..we’ll never get it right, but we need to keep innovating, balancing cost. we need to make sure new teams, they are important to the sport, it is tough coming into sport. FOTA has achieved a few things and there is more to achieve but there are teams here that would not be there if not for cost saving drive of FOTA.
TF: down to the people who drive it, being clever and not too expensive. the sport needs new teams and innovations. FOTA is good at the balance…there is a lot of give and take and F1 is going through aperiodic of discovering of how we can work together and win together…we are finding a way of where the balance.
LC: for us, it is fundamental to keep F1 at pinnacle of technology, and transfer from track to road cars, it is important that the transfer is constant. at the moment, we have more tech on road cars than on f1. eg electronics. For Ferrari and possibility of third car..we want an option to have more teams in f1 is to have a third car for a new team, they could have a competitive car without doing an investment in tech and resources to do competitive car. this is something that should be put on the table and discussed..

James Walton: is it right that the people who design cars also design rules?
JA: info about crash tests?
JC: the rules took a step change in 1994, that brought safety to front of mind. it is impressive how much development has taken place. it never ceases to amaze people, even in industry, what the cars go through…the rules are pretty hard to meet within remit of making a lightweight car that races…a serious amount of development time is taken up with optimising the structure, you have to test and test. there is a lot of investment into this area and what you saw on Sunday is a direct testament to that work. the next level is to control speed and is impossible to make it completely safe..we are getting to point where the crash structures keep the forces down and car says safe..but forces on body still there…need to reduce weight, keep less is the big picture we need to keep control of.
MW: I think it is right, as there is not a viable alternative, F1 designers are motivated, clever and it would be impossible to find a body that would outthink their ingenuity, their design to find loopholes and boundaries. The double diffuser was not an intended piece of design, it was a loophole and that is what f1 is about to some extent. the teams do a responsible job with FIA to work in regulations. they are the only body who can sensible work out ergs
LC: the whole F1 community should thank FIA about safety job

James Bernado: the role of test driver is restricted, is this frustrating, or will it develop?
PDR: the teams are as frustrated as the drivers, they want to bring young guys though, bump older guys out (laughter). there’s not a lot of testing involved, the system i have, (Friday) is the best one there. We need more time in seat during winter; for dev it is a harder process, not knowing what the component will do, eg from safety.
JC: lack of testing is same for everyone…the reliability over the last few years is remarkable.. Putting emphasis back in design office, at thinking. but lack of pop for young drivers is terrible. it is refreezing to see guys coming through and see them test. that is the talent of future and the driver pool we have at the moment is in danger. the talent is there, button time in the car is lacking, you will not be in the pace. It has taken Michael time to get up to speed, how difficult for the guys next year. the guys making diver decision are not very patient with young talent, they get 6 months, not enough….when Alonso arrived he had had a few years in a F1 car.
MW: cutting testing was right at time, we need to ease back now. teams don’t what others to get more time then. we need to change approach and find ways to test more…
LC: It’s like a football team, frustrating if told you cannot train more than once a week, everyone wants to train as much. we were too emotional cutting the testing, (personal view) we need to rethink the situation, an opportunity to make F1 closer to you…as only opportunity is race weekend, then problems with ticket prices, so an option is testing sessions eg in Silverstone, Monza. JOck would love to have testing, Michael himself..

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – The Overtaking Question

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: I’ve added the video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Christopher Nolan: F1 has reached a turning point, FOTA has won concessions, FIA under new management. Circumstance, luck and tech. is it diff to find solutions to overtaking. Can the rules be relaxed to allow this?
MW: A popularise view that we should have more first few races we did 39 takes, largely due to the fact we made a hash of qualifying if too much overtaking, then intrigue goes away, quickest guy at front etc. Media has a little too much of a fetish about overtaking..we are doing some things, rear wing next year, the regulation that accompany it are critical and not enough through yet, eg proximity sensor seems sensible to work with. we need to try and be prepared to say we are wrong and pull bank, not what we do traditionally, we run into them, heave to experiment, people want F1 to be meritocracy , what quickest driver,/car, wants a little unexpected to happen, we’ve had fanatics races, a good championship fight.
PdR: the drivers are keen to overtake, but the safety involved; they don’t want to see what happens in US, where all slip stream. you want to see people taking after mistakes. FOTA have come up with some good ideas, but we need to address it…

Q: It used to be about braking, now it’s about slipstream..why not make braking harder.
JC: Understand, but the level of driving is so good that these guys do not make mistakes, there is still a distance…they will hit it on the nail every lap, and there is only one racing line and unless you are on it, you can’ go faster enough. It’s not tech, brakes etc, it’s the drivers. We have to come up with ways of circumnavigating the skill level, without going away form the skill. we don’t want situation where it is pointless to defend..I like a 15 lap dinging when they never overtake then a simple overtake, Watching CH defending himself is fantastic. We have to be careful not to lose what we have this season.

John Elvey: How can you use tyre supplier to enhance racing?
LC: the combination of Montreal was special, normal choice of tyres, (same as Bahrain), we had a different surface. it is difficult to say more difference, as we have to keep in mind safety, don’t need to push random. it depends on Pirelli what they what to do and will look with engineers to go this direction but not too far.
JA: one safe tyre and one edgy tyre.
TF: threes should be a real difference…more strategy. i hope they are different and have an impact on race.

Josh Piggot. Not the amount, but the opportunity, Reducing grip and increasing mechanical grip is seen as best way..what is the best way to follow through corners.
PdR: Canada was quite special, bit were close on performance…but degraded differently. as a driver, you lose downforce, as they close up, when things work, you can follow closely..what they did last year has improved and it will improve next year.

Q:Frank Durney: Have to agree we have had a great year,..we should not change too much,,we should use tech and knowledge to do this. never seen that more mechanical grip gives more overtaking. If so, then worst races in wet..sims show that grippier tyres would have lot of overtaking

Zachary: Surely it would be unfair to give on;y the following driver the ability to adjust wing, better with all
JC: don’t have a strong opinion. we need to think to understand the implications. what we tend to do, we tend to pose a change on the format we see at the moment, we need ot look beyond that, to where they will all develop, what are the engineers going to go. what the implications are. I don’t know if that is the solution. we have to be careful how we go about this, I would have said lets try this..but with season we have it would be a shame to go the wrong way and give us another problem, we need to think and let brains think about,
MW: we give our drivers a variable rear wing and other teams don’t like it. We need to option, we can’;t design in last minute and we have to be careful of how to deploy it.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Fan Experience and Show

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: I’ve added the video from the event

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Q: Daniel Hughes. What are FOTA doing to reduce cost of GP? YOu did say 12 months ago (I think) that you were doing something to reduce costs but they are no less this year.
MW: Don;t recall making statement; but may have! regrettably the teams have no control, in a direct sense, but clearly cost of high and prohibitive…there are GP that we go to that aren;t fully attended. is an issue. t do with traditional model of F1 and will come up as a recurring theme. as a business model, sold as expensively and venue as expensive as can. the money has been prong into teams and parts of sport..we need to be more engaged and today is a small example, we need to consider show and that there is ale, we need tt do something different and engage in new media in a way that has not been done. a lot of pop to improve, don;t n=know who to do quickly. the concorde agreement, comma agreement, we the tams have to re-negotiate and I hope her eis emphasis on reinvesting, to a greater extent in past.

Alex Hurley: In recent tines, F1 has been about improving the show in fans. but how do you bring new people, lack on continuity make it difficult. for people new
TF: new rule can befit as everything starts form beginning,t here could be too many. there are lots of fiddling around with many things and complicating. a good start to season, lot of exciting thing.s right direction, there are too many and it could be complicated for plan. the aviation does it’s best to complicate and F1 does the same. it would be good to simplify and get it down to racing and there is an effort on FOTA to make it fun

Robin Martin: Distribution of rich real time data evolving?
JC: From engineering, it is all about data, dev, making it faster. From a geeky POV I’d be all for this data, there are lot of people out there who would love this, when I watch a race, i have it all evolving, info you can pick out a glance, it would enhance their viewing. Ir timing pages, telemetry (a subset) it can be looked into. you don’t have to use it, you can just watch what is going on. there are a lot of who appreciate tech and viewing enhanced greatly. it would add a level of understanding for those who would want to. Like my Mom, who understands it, can’t see why SCH is stuck t red light. It’s not that diff and we should push it
LC: we should ask for the media, to them to explain to the fans, to explain what is going on. my own experience, in Valencia, following it,listening to Italian TV commentator, btw lap 9 and 10, assumed they did not understand, I had to explain why and what was happening. It is important that the media have more access and later on, explain what is the reasoning. so need to put pressure on .

EM: Can you see F1/FOTA extend social networking to get fans involved.
TF: Got t2 devices, one for red bull and one for lotus. It’s already started, I felt it was inclusive, so myth more that could be shared. I could listen to radio via Skype, wouldn’t it be good for fans to follow. the more open we are the better, more transparency, explain it better..I still don’t understand the safety car rules. All in favour of it. All teams have twitter and all embrace it. Teams follow each other, we need to get more out. there is more tech that will make it more interactive, fun, make it more interactive.
LC: it is not that the teams don’t want. we have to consider agreements that put limitson usage of info that have available, we would love to put radio on sites, we are limited on this. We need to keep this in mind, for 2015, for new F1
MW: long way to go, only a few years ago we spent 100sk encrypting radio so they could not listen. we said they had to stop and share. now it is available to FOM, they get it all, they can get it all and broadcast, if juicy and salacious they generally do.. we are in a commercial relationship, FOM is the commercial arm. we get wrapped knuckles occasionally for being too open. no lack of will, we need to evolve and it will, but may be not as quickly as you like

Q: Regarding Fan experience, with penalties after race, it changes results is this detrimental?
JC: very frustrating, from coal face, my everyday work is shortsighted, looking at what it does on next lap…it is frustrating form my point and I don’t know full situation. we need to get hold of, too many instances when tv goes off and it changes…that can only detract from the experience. On subject of info flow, the media have argued..they say that if this much available, it sort of detract form how exciting and spontaneous. Having the info available, you can see what people are doing, eg canada with Red bull on wrong time and say if that is there the fans will switch off. the fans like to have an in-depth knowledge…if info available you can make own judgements, if you are proved right then you are engaged.

John Porter: Views on expansion on calendar..will it be adverse if more than 20 races. Is there a balance in races?
MW: 20 races is a lot, should not go more than that. that’s 60 days..don’t think product is one you need greater exposure,. we should not grow, we need to respond to commercial pressures though. for new markets, the US is clear and obvious, we have not conquered. a huge market, they have an particular outlook on sport not ness shared. F1 has made a hash of it, not consistent venue. not developed/marketed outer there We need to be there, east and west, 5 year programme, there is an pop and there is room for both. with Europe, we must hold on to the British, Italian, Monaco,
TF: 20 is fine and we have to work them. too often, they re just thrown on there and we don’t put enough effort..all have to contribute..Turkey could be huge if we put effort there. It needs to be global. there needs ot be proper marketing, form all, we should be working US early, to get the anticipation. there has to be a lot of marketing and lot of hard work

Mar 13

SXSW: Andrea Phillips ARGS and the hot Brunette

LIVEBLOGGED: taken during talk, so any mistakes are mine.

Andrea Phillips
ARGS and Women

A freelance game designer and writer, involved since they started. Also Chair if IGDA SIG ARG One of community moderators of Cloudmakers, one of the key moments in ARGS, when we recognised that something had happened. One of the ingredients of the community experience was the Hot Brunette, Laia Salla, the one who had a problem. Her friend, she thought was murdered. She needed your help! In context, 2001, Buffy was on air, last season of Xena, then Alias and dark Angel, with Tomb Raider. Our cultural experience led to the hot brunette. She was influenced by culture, and bin turn influenced on. Also, this year, internet use by gender was equal. In 2001, the internet did not feel completely safe, it was common to hide your agenda. In Cloudmakers, however, it was not long before we saw there were a lot of women. We wondered why there were the women, was it the format, the role, the community. Only statistic I had was 28% of the voters for a final vote were women in this fame. As the AI game was widely known and successful, it came the model for future projects; who tried to unravel that review and repeat the experience. And in marched the hot brunettes. They were young, attractive, smart, funny. The kind of girl a geek may fall a little in love in.

A difference btw the video game and a ARG, you are not the star of the show, you are not the main character. The star is usually an attractive brunette. She is not the one doing stuff, you still are, she is something between a role to achieve and someone to help. In the 2012 experience, the 2 white guys were very unusual in this genre. There is a trend, we have made a new archetype, so we need to understand who she is and what she means. So let’s tale a look at the history?

Do girls play games? Yes, of course they do, why are we even discussion. 40% of all gamers are female, 52% of PSP owners are female. Women over 25 play more games than any other group. (Neilson figures)

So why are games ‘for boys’.. why do we still have this idea that games are a boy thing. Was there something about Pong that was hypermasculine? was it the marketing. (see 1976 ad for Pong) But there are girl and boy games – lots of the over 25 games, are casual games, or social games. They are not really the big AAA titles, which are what ‘press’ call games, When we think of video games those err the games that comes to mind. Farmville with its 100m users is not what you think of when you come to a gam, not what a gamer plays.

Games are marketed towards men…straight men. The Sin to Win campaign…for Dante’s Inferno. So if you committed an act of lust at (E3) you could win an evening with 2 hot girls in a limo. There was a protest over this campaign, and the winner rejected the prize. Look at Evony -marketed with boobs. There are no girls (or characters) in the game. (Video of E3 09, lots of girls). You could say it was bad this year – and that was toned down. As a women, what E3 is telling me is that the game people don’t like me, that they don’t want my money, that I am not a real human being.

Games are Made by Men. Another cog in the machine that keeps games a boy things. there are 3 % in programming. Women in game make less money. On (Andrea) ARG teams, there have been more women on them than men. Recent results from an IGDA survey, a third of ARG builders are female.

Female Characters in games suck: classic role for female is the damsel in distress. You are supposed to rescue girlfriend wife, sister, princess etc. Often for some unknown reason. In Zelda, she knows everything, she disguises herself as a ninja – why does she need rescuing. Why isn’t Zleda a playable character. Even when playable, it does not go well. SO Super Princess Peach. Her superpower – MOOD SWINGS!!! When she is happy she flies, she drowns enemies with her tears. Bayonetta is in a category all by itself for its depiction of girls. The art director has talked at length at getting her arse correct. The ‘wins’ are ‘climaxes’. Her costume is made from her hair, that needs concentration..which falls when she is doing something. So her superpower is getting naked. One on 5 characters on a game box is female. In an industry fixated on realism, in light on water, in the action of dust. If they are after realism, they are not really getting there.

So What?? Why does this matter, why is it that girls play games, boys play games, It is not an academic question, it is a real problem. I could give you pages on sexual harassment stats. instead I’d give you info on my first brush of sexism. At 13, I moved schools; in my old schools I was studying literature, in my new one, I was in a class that had to underlined verbs. I approached the teacher to ask for more advanced work…the teacher replied that I had the most beautiful blue eyes. I learnt that being pretty would not help me. So i learnt to remove the markers of being feminine, I considered myself not a real girl…they like shopping and gossiping etc. At some point, you have to ask yourself where i got the idea about. So I had to ask what was wrong was me? My daughter likes girly things, and pink etc. I had internalised the message that girl things suck, so challenged my daughters choices. She was better than that. We have stigmatised femininity. We are cool with a women surgeon, but don’t like a man that collects unicorns. Girl stuff, means soft, pretty, in a culture…Girl Stuff sucks! the message in ads often convey this. If you repeat it, it becomes the norm.

A study has said if you consume a message, even if you disagree with it) you will end up adopting it. this is about the THE SLEEPER EFFECT. once info is in your brain, even if from a distrusted source, it becomes part of your world view.

PRIMING – behaviour and performance can be affected by situation and environmental cues. If you remind a girl that she is female before she takes a maths test, her scores are worse (as girls are ‘worse’ at maths). So who are responsible. the media. But WE ARE THE MEDIA. We are the media just as much as they are. As the media, we make culture, we put ideas into peoples heads. We have to think about what we are adding to the collective consciousness. So with our collection of brunettes in the ARG, we are saying women, even smart, competent women, need help to solve their problems. But why do we use them? What makes them useful. A lot of them come from the point of wanting to put in strong characters? So why young, brown hair. Writers are very lazy, building complex characters are hard. A mass market game want smart, funny, and vulnerable, Female means vulnerable, brown hair means smart (it’s a short hand)

When you start a character, you have a neutral human. But even so, there are defaults for a human – male, white, young etc. Look at a stick character, then most people will assume male, I’d be surprised if you look at a stick figure and not think of a gender at all. We think in genders..parents can get really angry if you misjudge the gender of a 2 month infant, even though it does not really matter until puberty.

We look at stock characters. they are easy. when you want to make a mad scientists, you take an actor and put him in a white coat and mess his hair. It’s easy, but simple, predictable and very boring, ad you can get offensive very quickly. so what is a writer to do? You can’t leave it at a stock character. You end up offensive and boring and which one is worse depends who you are talking to. So to make interesting, you pick an archetype and give them atypical traits. Mix and match. You need to avoid obvious, easy and predictable.

So, there’s nothing wrong with casting cute brunette as lead. But if it just for people to look at and there is no control, that is slipping into bad territory. So here’s a list of things to think about.

1. pass the Bechdale test. 2 or more women who talk to each other about something other than men. There are few that pass this test.
2. Give her agency. Give her the power to change the world. Lack of agency is one of the places ARGS fall down; although if there is two much, the players are short changed. If you give her free will, you can drive the story. make her unreliable, keep info to herself.
3. Diversify. add other dimensions. however, if you are not careful, then you get a cast of white people with different colours of skin.

The brunette is often a guide to the game world. You could skip this, let the players decide and explore.

There are a lot of bad characters, but lets look at what works. Faith from Mirrors Edge. She is conceived a human being first, who happens to be female. The female hero in Fable 2 – although he story is the same regardless which character you play. I though they used the same body model, so the female was strong and muscular. And in Fable, when you die, you scar. and there is no way to get rid of it. I liked that remaining pretty was not one of the rules. Then you have Shel in Portal you can argue that she is not really a character, as there is little about here. But it was cool that she was a girl and it was no big deal.

STORIES ARE TRUTHS: the truths we tell ourselves as a society, crime does not pay, love conquers all. Also girls like shopping…etc. the deep truth about ARGs is not hot brunettes need help but that there is someone on the web who will help you when you need it. This culture of helping people is the one that I want to build. you need to build the culture you want to be living in.

Mar 13

SXSW: Chris Messina and Actvity Streams

LIVEBLOGGED – so pretty much as said

Google Data Liberation – most excited to be part of this team

Ingeneral, interested in generative systems and structures, rhizomatic structures, built into the fabric of how they work. Start spill with constructs that grow into the systems. Thats how it all started, hashtags etc.

As in The Future of the Internet, (Zitrain) those sort of systems, paints a picture of things we need to think about as internists. So all that I have been doing based on these generative systems, those with transparent DNA.

An activity stream – facebook newsfeed, we are going somewhere with this, a lot more interesting. In 1999, Fight Club presented us something that gives us something to think about. YOu get a picture of someone through material objects. so imagine going shopping you get an activity stream as a receipt of what you have purchased. YOu get this on paper now, so how do you get it to something that is usable. When you purchase things with cards, the bank does all the collection and analysis. Card becomes a digital identity and you have no idea what the digital life is like. We end up with a stack of receipts that you can’t get anything from. Ther is an unbalance, where those that provide the cards can get the info and make use of it and they do not give us anything back. The bank provides data (he asked for bank info) but they provided it as pdf data. The pdf is a digital version of the paper they used to send you.

Today, the newsfeed is the best activity stream there is, one of the only ones we can have. (History of Feeds) IN 1999, they took RSS and piped data form one place to another. RSS was title + link + description. this was when people were afraid of giving data away, so this was the most you could do. So go forward 5-6 years, then there was a series of battles, so in 2005, there was a new format, called Atom. Still similar, till about syndication, innovation was author, unique id and update date. So very slow to get there. now we know who wrote it and when it was published. Moving forward but not about powering social web, still based on media consumption, the syndication. So now, we take the articles, will still have the same idea. We have a news feeds, which is still a portal types thing. So even with the most advanced browser/feed you still get the news feed. We are trying to pump all these rich info throughout he formats that were designed to publish news articles. So everything looks the same, it is all RSS (etc). There are all these rich activities but the formats we have are all stuck in 1999. The social web needs to have better, richer formats to allow us to express, why, when, how.

This is the friendfeed problem. There idea was to bring them all together, to make sense of it all. It was a metalled, representative of your actual identity online. Then friendfeed got acquired by facebook, now the service has languished. it still supports services that do not exist, it does not list all the services. (So no work). Int he world of social web and startups, there are a lot of casualties. Friendfeed put a lot of effort into stuff that goes away (as would anyone). So the solution could be a universal format (to minimise effort).

So this is where activity streams format comes from.

So to start, let’s go back to the Soviets. They proposed a theory called Activity theory…a structure about making workers more productive, a system to create divisions of labour. You wool have a subject with Tools with an object to produce and outcome. Then the theory got expanded, so broaden it out to the individual operating in a community structure, with rules and roles and mediating artefacts. This allows us to think about activity streams beyond point a to be syndication. It allows us to create meaning. (Engestrom 1967)

one of things you can think of is Social Objects. Jyri took his Dad’s research and started working on social objects. You can’tt just do a social network that allows friending, you have to create these shared objects that people can gather around and have some interesting interactions. Those social objects are the pivot points for connections, which allows them to derive meaning and make sense of the connection.

You Tube – the social object is the video. Instead of a list, you can modify it, with comments, favourites etc, all this social residue provides meaning, adds value to the object, that was created once and then gets built up over time. Look at Flickr, go back to our activity theory, they have understood how the different things they have used these rules to generate interesting interaction models. Focus on the pieces, you create a vibrant community, different roles, create, comment, curation,. Flickr does a good job of expanding the roles of non-producers, the actions adds richness and dynamism to Flickr than found on other sites. Also, on rules, they have made it possible for an individual to finely tune the system, the rules. So if I were private, I can control public searches. When I get a comment from someone I don’t know, then there would be a connection as that is the only way to find. If I was public , then another set of reason for people to find them. So the way I set up attracts the activities that are meaningful.

Useful when talking abut lifestreams. Lifestreams and activity streams are not completely interchangeable. The lifestream concept came from David Gelernter. Wrote Mirror Worlds. A decade later 2000, wrote The Second COming, A Manifesto. He talked about lifestreams. He said a lifestream organises info as a mind, not a file system. He talked about the idea of hashtags, connecting elements. (HTtp:// This is all like Donnie Darko – we have these threads that play out to past and future and we can modify, but we do not have great tools for doing so. As we start to move towards experiencing the now, the next and the next next.

As we start to produce all these digital objects, we start to snack on it. Today may feel like overload, we don’t have the tools to consume it. We are constantly compressing, microcontent goodness. You would write a book, long, you were paid on words. Then we went to articles in publication, now we do tweets. So what are we giving up? We go from a slow consume and digest, lingering on content to one where info is disposable as there is so much of it. What is interesting is the data trail that can come from these experiences.
The info can lead to a mapping of behaviour. We are scratching the surface of this, with systems about where and what we are doing in the world. Still not good systems. Being able to build a profile over time, this social data, social residue and be able to make sense of it is fascinating. We can make little of it now.

Social signifiers can be useful in training computers to serve us better; it is very valuable, and bite size chunks make it more accessible to computers. One example is a pedometer I use, that hooks to a website, so I can track the trend. You need to accrue data over time. So I can track have a slowed down, am I more lazy than my peers. Look at the Feltron annual reports. He collects all of the data over a year. and publishes. He tracks where he goes, so why can’t google maps provide this? Food consumption, how does he track it? There’s an app called Last History…looks over the scrobbling. This is your data, so you can do something with it. It takes your habits, combines ical, iphoto, imovie etc and shows you the soundtrack of your life.

Now Tufte has been horrid by Obama, to track and visualise where our tax dollars are going. So why don’t they make it compulsory for the data to be released so we can build stuff….we’ll end up with pdfs from most of them.

The solution to data overload is more data – actually more metadata, data about data. So we need to start generating this and this is what we are doing with activity streams. We presume there is an actor, that did something and modified an object, with some output/target. Actor Verb Object Target. this model allows me to do this.

So what does the code look like? So add verb, object-type and target to the atom definition. so you have an activity stream data model. The new bits are added. You can start to substitute verbs and object types, mix and match and build more interesting experiences. Now we have a list of verbs and object types, from review of friendfeed and others. So all of this is in v0.8, moving towards 1. the idea is not to have a million verbs on day 2, but to start with something that can be added to.

We are not really inventing this, we are being inspired by the microformats process, for the expansion of the model. So ask why, do your homework, then propose the new verb/targets etc. Then iterate. Then interoperate. We want to grow this slowly so we know what we are getting into

Nov 21

FOE: Free? Contemporary Media Business Models

WARNING: Liveblogged and not checked

While the industry discussion has meandered from questions surrounding the validity of the ‘Long Tail’ to a debate about the notion of “free” and the generation of value itself – viable business models have begun to emerge. In these models, fan communities continue to figure prominently, as do monetized value networks and innovative advertising exchanges. Questions remain: How are these models different for the artist, band, brand, media text or transmedia property (print, film, tv, music, etc.)? How are meaningful relationships forged in an online culture that values non-monetary exchanges? How do these relationships benefit people and how do they benefit brands? How have fan communities responded when companies and brands try to participate in their communities? What is being sold? Content? Access? Authenticity? Notions of community itself? And how are fans and audiences being engaged to conceive of, launch, and contribute to the growth of these new business models?

Moderator: Nancy Baym– University of Kansas; Panelists include: Lara Lee – Principal, Jump Associates; Mark Zagorski – Chief Revenue Officer, eXelate Media; Seth Arenstein – Editorial Director/Assistant Vice President, Cable Fax; Paul Dalen – Owner, Reverse Thread; David Spitz, WPP

  • NB: our mandate was to think about business models. We have people who are cultural studies people who are suspicious of making money as a goal, of companies, creative people who want to be paid but don’t want to be boxed in and then in business who want to pay their employees.  In listening to what has been happening, we have heard about disruption to business models…all over..there’s no model that worked in 75 that is just great.
  • PD: a manager in the music business, a boutique firm, with 5 solo artists, plus a few record producers.  There have been profound changes, particularly on the recording side. The only thing my artists have in common is that they are unique voices. I offered to come on the place of one of my clients, who is touring..she launched a plan on the web to raise for money raised $89k to make her next record (Jill…) she would point out that this is not a new model, but as she is good on camera, she is articulate, she is fun, the mainstream media latched on to this. On this we made the decision to use a third party to help distribute – Red – but part of Sony. Jill has an older demographic so we needed the record to be available in physical form in shops.
  • DS: I work in Strategy in WPP, ads is less than a quarter that we do. 50% is in consumer insight, the rest is digital. My job is to expand the digital space.   If you are an aggregator that needs large audience, then it is difficult. for us, free represents a huge opportunity on the demand side. There are free and low cost alternatives across all our areas.  We are not just responsible for ads on tv, we have to work on earned and owned media, huge complexity for clients to that creates a role for us Also natural search. there are free models for consumer insight. There are also premium produts, such as Omniture, which we have an investment. But why pay when you have Google analytics, but people do use it.
  • MZ: a start up in the targeting space, looking at market place for online targeting data. creating extensions for publishers that go beyond traditional advertising. we have to get down to the reality in the market place. the concept of free online is rapidly using relevance, especially with content being created.  So traditional media companies that fund free online are collapsing, you cannot do funding if no revenues. There is a credit crisis, so ability to fund content has dried up. VCs has become extremely aggressive, they are not waiting for start-ups to make money, you need to have a plan to make money tomorrow.   they are all coming together, there is perfect storm to create a really bland, corporate funded environment without innovation. I look at ways for publishers to take audience interactions and use them to sell online. There are two main models – advertising and subscriptions. Ads are still sold as content as proxy for audience, but we’re talking about audience as proxy for audience.  We look at finding other indicators on users, so advertisors can reach the users beyond content.
  • SA: i’m a trade journalist. I have two strikes…I write abut the cable tv industry and I write for a publication that costs a lot of money to get.   We have not changed our model, the daily I write for costs about $1000/yr, they are still buying. Showing highly specialised content is king. we are not growing much  but we have a good base. Cable is the bad guy and does not want to give away programmes for free and worried about the next gens used to getting content for free.  the cable industry is working on a model where you could get programming on your laptop and trial of that tech and use are going on, it is the business model that will reward the cable co and the TV anywhere -if I buy cable I can get it on any device.
  • LL: I work in a growth and innovation strategy firm, we work with companies (Nike, GE, HP ) connect their capabilities with unmet needs with people in the world. We bring together social science, design and strategy.  Eg you are a tech co and want to own digital entertainment, or you want to know how to create content that connects with a new audience etc. we develop strat, new business models, products, platforms etc.  I used to work at Harley Davidson, where I built a division based on experiences. think a lot about fandom, about passion . I look at brands and their communities, plus business models and using cultural change to make them sustainable.
  • SA: can you tell us what Jill did?
  • PD: there was a multilevel donations. $10 got a copy the month before, there were tshirts, you could sing on the record, get a free concert etc. There were many models. About 50% were in the 15-20$ range.  It engaged the core fan base but brought in other people. Someone did take up the $10k offer (to sing on the record), form the UK, she came and sang on the song. 
  • NB: one of the things that got people excited was the cleverness…the words used were creative…why did she decide to take this approach?
  • PD: she had been dropped 4 times over the years, there were power shifts, her advocate was fired and left at  labels who did not care.  lables were happy ot give you money in advance, but then drop it. not do any more.  She had enough at that, she is a career artist and looked for a better way.   for a long time Jill had been communicating directly with her fans. She was putting up mixes, getting opinions.
  • SA: she could not have done this if she had signed to a label (put up rough cut)
  • PD; some of the smaller ones are OK, most of the larger aren’t. The artist now has many different ways to make a living, but a label can only do it by selling records.
  • NB: the labels are not as necessary anymore, so that is the crisis. Is that the same for cable channels?
  • SA: you made a statement and that is correct.  Looking at the experiment of TV anywhere, a conumdrum is that if stream Mad Men to my computer how do I keep my brand (AMC) in front of is a marketing question. But read tht if they do not get their act together in 18mnths it will fall apart.  
  • MZ: they do play a role. They are aggregators, filters and distribution. The web takes away distribution, but there is lots of stuff out there, to filter and aggregate. For Jill to make a living, she still needs to aggregate an audience and that could be the role for these companies. Now they are just a part of that, but it is a smaller piece of the business.
  • LL: this links back..previous panel asking about if you have the guts to re-invent, before that it was about leveraging your assets, so how can they repurpose their assets. So HD had factory tours, it was a gift before.. If you start changing money for it, then it makes them angry, but they love to buy things, so if you offer them merchandise, or offer them space to get married, if you offer them value added opps you take assets that are costs and creating values. So instead of cliging to old models how can they repurpose.
  • DS: if I wanted to create something cool, I could hire someone here who would be cheaper…so agencies need to remodel – new cost models, agencies need to get out the way, so can produce at lower cost. Let agencies programme manage, creates the whole thing, not just the app etc. Agencies take a wider role, instead of creating and building.
  • MZ: media has thrived on fat and inefficiency, either in ratings (which are mushy) or how media is transacted, which has been by handshakes and now we have exchanged. tech has started to eliminate the fat and it scares them.
  • DS: it is a spectrum, none of the stuff is free. If you want it to stand out in the pack you need to invest in marketing. So we take a model, gave 2 directors their own shop. They create YouTube videos, it stands out on YT as high production value. but lower cost to produce.
  • NB: so this term free?  You said it was really free, it was ad supported…
  • LL: it is back to changing business models, where is the value delivered. A lot of what we talk about free it is marketing, it could be content, entertainment, experience. you don’t monetise by if you read the book free you would be hard pressed to find something that is free, even Google…
  • MZ: the concept only works for the person getting it, not the producer. The artists don’t want to give away stuff as they need to eat. They may do some as marketing and promotion, but access for free does not work, there needs to be some exchange of something. it can be knowledge, services. We live in a society where everything has a value, the web you can see it instantly, value stuff gets traffic.  Someone has to pay somewhere. 
  • LL you pay somewhere, taxes, a markup etc
  • SA:  I play trumpet, in cafes etc, and I pay for free. or do i? i get tips, I can take an opportunity away from someone.
  • NB: but you are receiving some kind of reward, so not all rewards are monetary.  there are other kinds of rewards. Sometimes I get worried that the feeling that anything other than money is not a model….
  • SA: but if i needed that job to pay be bills then I could not do it…
  • PD: but aren’t you playing because you are compelled to play music….
  • SA: but the small cafe was called by the BMI wanting payment for the band playing in the cafe…
  • PD: the people I work with, free is a promotional device not a business model. The audiences I work with are in the position that they own everything (or they will be shortly) so we can collectively do what we want. free is a component of a larger business plan. Yo give me your email address, age and zipcode and that is a great tool for use. We are trying to build genuine and authentic relationships with fans,…but there is a pushback on the 1000 true fans so you can’t ignore the casual fans.
  • DS: sometimes the exchange is explicit…Facebook is not free is abut content and distribution…we are launching the Ford Fiesta..we gave cars out to 100 people, who were creating content around it. they rewarded with vehicle, but we get the content. There is 60% awareness with no advertising and it does not launch until next week.  
  • MZ: the assumption that content is free, an assumption that everyone is writing on blogs because they are interested in them, but there is a lot of product placement out there and now the FTC is changing this. It has not been free and it will ot so lets get the rules out there.
  • LL: we do not live entirely   in the world in economics, but we have been so long a consumer we are expected to put things through economics, but it is not always this, we are not always looking for a transaction. But if you are a visit there is a problem unless you can make money
  • NB: what is the role in the audience/fan/customer in new business models, how do you work that line between validating them as humans and using them to make money.
  • LL" from the world of Harley, peopel are passionate about brand, it is central part of lives.  the relationship was nurtured with a deep sense of respect. if you think about this as relationships, over a long time, how to understand signals. eg they had an open house and hot dogs were free. at one point in time, the dealers wanted to run this and the dealers decided to charge for the hot dogs…the riders now had to pay for changed the relationship. you have to think it as a relationship..with mutual respect, people know you are a business, Harley riders know they pay a premium but they know they get listened to,
  • SA: I’m torn. we are all in the business world, we have gone through a recession, You see people laid off, it hardens you quickly, it makes you realise that brand loyalty and respect, it sounds really good but i feel at the end of the day, even with journalism, it is a bottom line business and if you look at the channels, that carry news, it was supposed to be a public service, but I would say that beyond Jim Lehrer every news operation is ruled by ratings. and ratings equals dollars.
  • MZ: if you start talking a out community and fan bases and the line between exploiting and engagement. A lot has to do with communication.   There are lots of comms  and great ways to connect, but you have to respect the,. Beacon was a failure as it did not respect their users. You have to communicate… if there had been a sign explaining why they were charging for hotdogs, then it would have gone better.  You have to be transparent in what you are doing. 
  •  DS: facebook is no 1 site by time spent, their revenue is <25 of googles. they do not monetise as aggressively as they Google. Google are not linking as much as their data as they could be..people are learning lesson about how to treat audiences.
  • AUDQ: often face the problem of distributing public media, public networks. It is easy to go to the question about should content be free or not. I’d like to hear about the process models…if everyone agrees that creators should be renumerated, then what are the areas of friction that could be looked at. Also rights, what if people did not challenge the rights to get compensated, may be the rules are so onerous that the payment can not be done easily.
  • PD: I would like to answer his..the people I work with, they own everything, It is about art meets commerce. Part of my job is to help them understand the financial implications, it becomes a non issue when you are the owner.
  • LL: there is not one answer. it is who are you, what are your assets, what is your value.  So about moving Monday night football to Sunday night, we looked at new audience, a different set of behaviours. We turned it in to an event, it was more accessible for a wider audience, more accessible for more casual users, they cross promoted on Bravo, Top Chef…they took the same property and did more with it. they thought about value, but still an ad supported model.
  • MZ:  a major friction point, beyond the laws. It is truely bout tracking a piece of content and where it goes. So if you could fully trackable and then there’s micropayments, how many people would give stuff away to this
  • NB: but as a consumer I’m giving up a lot of some point people figure out about this., why should you monitor my use of it. Isn’t there pushback
  • DS:  it cuts both ways, on FB, it is a platform, there is a lot of money on this, a closed architecture etc. But the same value equation can be captured by content creator, you can use tools to monetise that audience, more and more tools to track influence etc. If your audience is connected and a content creator you can track this and that gives you value.
  • SA: going back to the question; one of the things my company does is give out awards. We were going to have a big lunch, we were going to give out an award. We wanted to use a clip of the show, you would not believe how many lawyers i needed to deal with to get a 30′ clip
  • AUDQ: the key question is not a out becoming free or not..but which types of content is suitable for free? So advertising is one model, the gift economy is another, and a third is a benefit relationship – give away one and money from another. Do you have a theory of which content most suitable for different models.?
  • SA: You see that all the time. less valuable content is free. eg the older stuff is free on site, there are things you can pay for on the site
  • MZ: in the Office, wikipedia – "anything can write anything they want and it is all true" what is information and what is opinion. Factual stuff is being seen as the commodity, you can get any where. The opinion stuff is what you pay for. You can charge for opinion, not for fact. I think that is scary.
  • LL: to me, I find the idea of content somewhat problematic. But if you think as it all as experience, then the lines blur.
  • MZ: so what is content, if I write a book on my friends facebook content, where is the value,. what is content and who owns. it
  • PD ;it can be dynamic and changes over time.  Artists are free, they are no longer bound by construct of a record, artists can release in many forms.  even the same content can change costs. Custom bundling is a big thing for music at the moment.
  • AUDQ: people who provide content for free have been demonised…can you address this tension?
  • SA: I don’t agree with it. If you can put your product on line for free and it ‘sells’ better then more power to you.  In the cafe, it is unlikely to be able to pay for a band, I play for free.
  • MZ: an area where this is being and graphics, eg a company asking their fans to design a logo, no longer paying companies… it undermines designers.
  • DS: we own companies that do both…the value in the logo contest is all the checking and everything…
  • SA: what about quiznos…they are getting commercial from fans…why wouldn’t they vet?
  • NB: we also have writers giving away stuff for free and still selling loads of stuff…
Nov 21

FOE: Unboxing the Medium

WARNING: Liveblogged and not checked

What counts as “radio” when it comes via podcast rather than over the air? How do we create “television” as the limitations of spectrum scarcity slip away and content is delivered online? Media is determined by conventions that emerge from both technological constraints and cultural practices – the technologies of content delivery shape the industrial and the creative modes that define something like “television.” In a world of convergence, the basis for many of the conventions that define media are in flux. How can we come to understand and redefine the industrial, consumption and creative practices of media as convergence works to erode some of the distinctions between them? How is radio affected once it moves from the Hertzian waves to the podcast? What happens to the comic once it moves from the page to a Playstation? How are audiences responding to and shaping these shifts? And how are business models adapting to these changes?

Joshua Green – Research Manager, Convergence Culture Consortium; Panelists include: Dan Goldman – Illustrator of Shooting War (Grand Central Publishing [US] and Weidenfeld & Nicolson [UK]); Jennifer Holt – UC Santa Barbara, co-editor of Media Industries (Wiley-Blackwell); Brian Larkin – Milbank Barnard College; Avner Ronen – CEO & Co-founder, Boxee

  • JG: (Reads the intro above – asks the panel to respond). We used to have clear understanding of what media were; is convergence eroding the differences? What implications are there?
  • AR: from Boxee; a NY start-up, started from personal frustration, using digital media in living rooms and no good solution to bring stuff to TV. We wanted to create a new kind of experience on the TV, to access to all the content that they like. When we started we did not know we would generate so much unease for the industry. We found ourselves in the middle of a big sea change – freaking out abut the TV being a screen connecting to the internet.  Reaction from most is to resist change; even though history of change in TV is that it is for better.  to answer the thesis, we think everything changes once connected and maybe the biggest change is around the creative process. It is a huge industry and it is all based around the existing model; it is around the platform and once the platform changes, then everything needs to be considered. We are where Tv was in 50s – when T was radio with a screen. We need to take advantage of the medium, there is a disconnect between creative and technology; the new gen of creators will have a different world. franchises will be built will be bigger than anything we have on content; the future of content producers is bright. The size of the industry will grow. the content will grown and the money will grow
  • BL: (Shows images from Indian films, Nigerian film industry, African film distribution).  Do research in Nollywood.  Nigerian and Ghana have pioneered the video film process; a practice of traveling theater,  there was a rise in cheap tape technology, at the time of structural adjustment. TV industry was at bottom. There was a confluence of events, so you got dramas on video. The rise of armed robbery reduced cinemas in the south (which were taken over by Pentacostal churches – who had a lot of editing and filming expertise).   In mid-90s there were about 50 height 2k films.year, now about 1500/year. Nigeria sees itself as a major media content producer, would like to see itself as a regional dominator. All very cheaply, in about 2wks, released a week later. There is no canon. Because of piracy, you have to get it out quickly and make money on 2 weeks.  It has an enormous domestic market.  It is powerful in anglophone africa and moving into francophone. The Nigerian film industry is aware of this, but has problems monetising the industry. It has created 2 things in convergence culture. It has a form unlike any others, it is about domestic consumption – videos in the home. It has  anew form of viewing practice – the video parlour, a space that can be anything from a space with a roof where 20 people may watch, or a room in a house, It sits in between the private of house and the public anonymity of the cinema. In places, women are banned from cinema, but can watch this.   In my work, if you build a media model, how might that be if look at Nigeria. for instance, in many parts of Africa, there is little distinction between religious and secular media, they converge. In west, there is a big christian media, but we segregate it when talking media, no matter the size or the models of monetising.  In Nogeria it is difficult to make that separation; they came from Nigeria, in a world not tutored in Afircan film aesthetics. The issues about witchcraft etc have become prominent. Most of the criticism in Nollywood have come from people trained in Film schools, they see it as cheap, bad, too much about witchcraft etc. One of the reasons witchcraft is so prominent is one of the ways to save yourself is to give your self to Jesus Christ – the savor is the pastor. the aesthetic link to Christianity and the distribution links are all connected.  The expansion of church and the video distribution over laps.
  • JH: my interest is looking at convergency and transmedia through the lens of legal issues and policy.  Look at how cable and broadcast and film, and telecommunications, have come together through a particular set of legal and regulatory pathways. So what has allowed the tyrannical transmedia nightmare that is Hannah Montana..why are we subject to it on so many different levels. I came interested about how the same proportions of studios that owned cinema in the 40s when they were forced to divest was the same in the 80s.  I’m thinking about the implications of TV that is giving us this transmedia, tv is what is keeping these companies afloat. Domestic film is only about 3% of their annual earnings. So for NBC Universal , the most profitable bit is USA. regulation has been protecting cable companies at the expense of film and broadcast.  To me, I’m interested in looking at the impulses of TV business models, the importance of transmedia, plus the history of cable through lens of regulation and policy.
  • DG: I write and draw comic book. My interest with this place, is about the changes, from music, to film/.tv to comics. I think the tsunami of digital distribution has not hit yet.   Been a professional comic creator for a number of years, a self publisher, gone onto the web. Something called Shooting War has gone from web to a major publisher.  the elephant of the change that is happening, I’ve circled. The contrast is so clear. With Shooting War I published from ??(96), i posted weekly and could watch direct when people watched it and that beat the distribution of hard copy comics. The web comics that succeed the most are strip based and gag based, not long form. The internet had been used in a simple way to replace the Sunday funnies; the cartoon syndicates has crumbled, and now the political cartoonists are losing work. As the delivery method changes, the business models follow suit and the landscape changes.  I’ve been doing long form things. I did a project called 08, (about election),I covered the whole election, went on the road a little.  During this, I was begging publisher to get it printed, but they were slow. After election, I’d been working to get the comic as an iPhone app, but publisher won’t wake up to this being viable. The contrast to digital vs brick and mortar,..they promoted it a little, with a front of table buy, but you had to go into the store – and only in the see it. It did it OK. It was a stronger than Shooting War, but it was slow and flawed with the marketing.    I’m fully digital and portable.   So how is the change manifesting?  the change to the audience and the work?  It is easy to take the stuff and slap it into a new container but where is the fun in that?  this thing that is happening now, this is our time to change things, our time to shine. It is a missed opportunity, and I’m not going to do this. I look to format my work for digital devices and it is almost a responsibility to jump into this new water. So I’m launching a new series…will show artwork that shows a digital version and how it will work across both. It makes sense to figure out the multimedium workflow before you start . red Light Properties – the story of a family run realty offices. they sell haunted houses.  The art is in illustrator (lineart), photoshop (colour), Miai 3d modeling (Background) all bought together in photoshop. On digital, you can do microreveals and the page can print it will look like the final page. Motion Comics….look like cheap animation…would take the pictures and move them around etc. this pisses me off. If the comics are done well, the reader will hear the voices and music, not the same for everyone, so don’t like the Motion comics.  They are clips, which means you are not in control of time you take to move through the piece, you are not passive, you can’t take time.
  • JG: the first consoles frightened the TV people, as you could do different things with the TC. Brain Clark asks if anything is new? Is this new, or is this a different set of circumstances?
  • DG: I don’t see this as a collapse. There are opportunities. Beyond replacing one structure with another, at least in terms of my stuff, the media is old and we’re adding twists. There are no new ideas here
  • JH: the problems are not new, nor the crises in business models. If you take the long view there are clear cycles of expansion and contraction, They have had to contend with that and with business models in desperate need of regeneration. Issues of convergence are not new. There have been cross over as far back as you can think of. They are just another burst in the cycle,
  • AR: but when tech comes about it is usually disruptive. And now we have a critical mass of screens in different sizes, connected to the same network. The content is digital and change is inevitable, you have to adjust. So animated comics may be poorly made but there is space for it.   All the traditional boundaries are artificial; what tech is great at is taking out inefficiences in a model. And that is what has happened in the music business – eg albums vs a single track . Newspapers are inefficient. I’m traditionalist as I get a weekend paper, but news is digital.  Tech and users are ahead of the industry. It will catch up, but not sure if good and bad.
  • BL: with rise of ska and rocksteady/reggae, that was about sound systems…you would use the record to attract people to your sound system; the cheaper sound systems could not go to US all the time to copy US songs, they asked the Jamiacan people to copy the sounds. they made records with no vocal, so DJs could make their own (which birthed hiphop). then the industry changed. We are now in a crisis of reproduction…in jamiaca, the event driven sounds system has driven a lot. we have gone back to a point where the production of music is driving people back to live events, as that is not copyable….Technology does change it, we have to understand how tech pushes and how it intersects with cultural practices…
  • AR: so there are users. Users care about it big time – they care about the content, not the channel, the time. then there is innovation about the creative side; if everything is connected and on demand and it is cheaper to produce you will see the creative embracing the tech. Tech provides different in eastern europe a better connection as developed later. In africa will it be cable or mobile 4G? IN asia the change will be very quick and very significant?
  • JG: if there is continuity here, if these changes are driven by cultural practices, so why is the industry constantly employing this discourse of crisis, so why do tech shifts set everyone running around like hair on fire
  • JH: some lost 70% of revenue..that is a crisis. new ways of delivering content, they do not seem eager to embrace. Fear of cannibilising other revenue streams is not a visionary strategy…so how do they come up with a digital distribution strategy.
  • AR: the issue is money. Cable is average $65/onth from video subscription,. no one wants to disrupt it…as public companies living quarterly, no one wants a dip…so can’t live with investors. this is why it is hard to incumbents to adjust.  The best thing we have as users is there is not much they can do to delay this. the internet is hear to say.
  • JH: looking at 2008 reports, they had to prepare shareholders for their losses and there will be more.
  • JG: you describe boxee as a disrupter…
  • AR: we are not trying to be disruptive to a business model. we say what we think, which upsets them. We are just saying they need to be where the users are.  You as a content owner can describe what business model you can use. the lack of content online is not a tech issue, but a business model issue. So take existing model and put it on the internet. Consumers are going to just want to pay for what they want. If you are an incumbent, then you have to adjust your mindset and get on the offensive.  If you are a content creator, and you think about subscription is better than advertising, then do it. create more.  Change your thinking..with the internet you can go anywhere, you can go globally and build a brand there.
  • DG: there has been a perception that web content is free…but with phones there is not that same pushback about spending money.
  • AUDQ: how about national boundaries to content? (eg hulu, iplayer)
  • AR: the web breaks down the barriers. if you don’t show it, then the watcher goes to torrents.  People go around the blocks.  the best way to fight is too offer content in an easy way and people will pay.
  • Dg:  torrent is practically a free platform, so give it tom them and you can have premium tiers. So if you give people something for free they will help you keep it going, make it clear that i will go away and you can get involvement.
  • JH: we have to learn the lessons of the music industry..we have to have some faith in the long term. The music industry and others have not learnt it.
  • BL: written about how piracy has been central to the Nigerian film industrian..when the film industry produced it, the only people who could distribute were pirates.    Piracy created the infrastructure that allowed the film industry..but they still don’t know how to deal with it yet, eg piracy of western tv vs local films. you can buy stuff online in NY/London but no idea if any of the money goes back to source. If the film industry can get a cable channel in London, then they can get some revenue
  • JG: you rise a point of a flow out and back from regions….could Nigerian video parlour suggest a new way of showing in the west.?
  • BL: there were lots of Indian cinemas when I grew up; with videos they all died. Now multiplexes have screens just for bollywood films, there is something about film going, I’m surprised it has not taken off, especially for niche films.  When Nigeria went to video projection, they could show far more. 
  • JG/AUDQ: isn’t content just content? What is the relationship between content and media?
  • DG: having things traveling with you is a great idea – the ability to dial into boxee. As you move between devices, having your network across all the platforms means you can vary the experience depending on where you access it. you can experiment..
  • JG/AUDQ: what held them back?
  • JH: fear held them back…it’s not the biggest companies that are the innovators…it is the smaller ones. It is usually smaller companies that do innovation…
  • DG: when a system fails…new things come up.. Solutions are tried and then dropped…
  • AR: they do experiement…eg Disney put content on ipods, pout shows on line….it may seem too small or too late, but it is major move. not sure if we would have made same or different decisions with billions of dollars at stake.  
  • AUDQ: 3 strikes rules?
  • AR: there are still ways to take it away…, net neutrality, etc, with bad government decision, would not want to live in place with good internet.  you will see people moving.
  • JH: Net neutrality is a regulatory miracle at the moment at the moment…it is so important to be aware of how fragile this is.
  • Ar: we don’t have net neutrality properly today, there are companies that shape traffic.
  • AUDQ: this panic about new tech disrupting businesses. has been used strategically to get copyright protection etc, is that part of the discourse now?
  • JH: Yes, I see it as part of protecting America..
  • AUDQ: perspective on relationship of artists with companies?
  • DG: it is probably in artists best interest to try both and see what works best. There’s no reason if you can’t get someone to pay you, then it is easier
  • AR: there is not one model that will win. the web opens up more opportunities though, you can monetise without a major label. It depends however on the scale of what you want to make. But low cost end, then take a stab at goign direct to consumer.  Infrastructure is going to get better.
  • BL: many artists are in the same positions as companies; they are in the same position of giving up money. You need the balls to try something new. If you put a lot of time and effort, the returns are small, do you want to get money, it is not about ust giving it away for free. No one know what the future will bring. In Nigeria, the film makers are in a big battle with distributors, the money is normally put up by them..the film makers are triyng to wrest it back, the gov trying to regulate it with distribution licences.
  • JG: .what do you think about policy? (also a round up)
  • Ar: I do think about it, for net neutrality and the impact of satellite. I have no plan in working through regulation, it is not something we could contemplate. I’ve spoken with FCC(??) occasionally,  the team there lives in the same world we live in. we don’t have resources to fight a battle but think we have a team that speaks our language.   We have a business in boxee that is difficult to scale internationally, the content is geolocked, if we don’t have local content then we can’t move. I’m fascinated by social aspects of media distribution…what will happen it will be global, we will become smaller more connected world.
  • BL: Nigeria does not have a lot of media regulation? Key issue is about censorship, eg about northern states that adopted sharia law. the industry was based on the north, but it was banned…it is an issue of control, they don’t know how it will play out. they may pack up and move, but not very easy there. the ways in which the industry will go will depend on these legal dynamics
  • JH: legislation impacts different to technology. Follow the money – more important than any philosophical view of the government…it is part of our mission to equate things like web access to phone calls etc….it has limited some of the big ticket productions but there are a lot of opportunities
Nov 21

FOE: Producing Transmedia Experiences: Participation & Play

WARNING: Liveblogged, not checked.

While much of the discussion around transmedia tends to focus on the idea of non-linear storytelling, this panel will explore the idea that transmedia experiences — narrative-driven and otherwise — are also characterized by a high degree of audience participation, decision-making and collaboration.  As users engage with transmedia narratives, worlds and experiences across multiple platforms and spaces, participants make a series of personal choices that shape and define their experience and understanding of “the whole.”

If we assume that transmedia experiences introduce new opportunities for the audience to participate, what are the new opportunities and challenges for the creators and owners of these transmedia properties?  One of the most overt forms of transmedia storytelling, the Alternate Reality Game (ARG), often makes participation a central and defining aspect of transmedia experiences, and creates opportunities to engage participants in play, performance and game-like systems.  How can these interactive and participatory experiences be planned for?  What is their function in the larger transmedia experience, and how do we understand the relative roles of the “author” and the “audience” in creating transmedia experiences?

Moderator: Ivan Askwith – Director of Strategy, Big Spaceship; Panelists include: Frank RoseWired contributor and author of Welcome to the Hyperdrome (W. W. Norton, forthcoming); Jordan Weisman – CEO and Founder, Smith & Tinker; Louisa Stein – San Diego State University; Mia Consalvo – MIT; Ken EklundWriterguy, World Without Oil

  • IA: one of the problems, from yesterday, transmedia definition is very board..when is and isn’t it.  It became difficult to tell who decides. Instead of that, can we look at another sets of words, the audience, the creator. Are we lookign for a better vocabulary, to explain things?  Old questions without expanding we get old answers and it looks like it is broke. 
  • KE: game designer, used to work on commercial products, now work only on AR space. Enamoured of verb play instead of noun game. The game is a process of play, many games lose track of that, have too much grinding in them. My focus is to make an experience, connection with audience, not focused on product but the process of playing the game and transformation of audience when they play.  trying to be the Jimmy Wales of game narratives.  Did World without Oil, a crowd sourced narrative. Made me aware there was an opportunity out there. I introduce a new concept, story makers, people who know a story needs to be told, but not in telling it themselves, trust audience to make their own process.
  • MC: A games studies scholar. looking at new media and popular culture. early work at online fan comms, now game players and the worlds they play in. Write book on cheating in games. did not define cheating – it is negotiated and complex and changes. fertile ground to explore. More recently, looking western players of japanese video games, plus how a subgroup of them invests in learning about Japan and japanese culture. Interested in how games can be the space for cultural exploration. Looking at a casual MMO, called Bonosphere (not sure of Sp.). Manly women over 35, but interested in younger players, so looking at conflict between younger and older players.
  • LS: Explore how audiences and fans, especially girls/Millennials engage in transmedia text and story telling., Looking at shifting definition and participation in transmedia.   Looking at types of participation and play in something like Mad Men vs something like gossip girls where the industry sends text out in character etc. 
  • JW: designer of games, find ways to tell stories, also started with  desk top games etc. Moved at virtual entertainment in 80s; built virtual world centers with Disney. Mid 90s went to the PC for games, moved to Microsoft entertainment. Did the Beast/AI, (told not to) great platform to experiment in telling stories over the internet. Started 42 Entertainment, now with Smith and Tinker, trying to do projects for kids. 
  • FR: writer for Wired. currently doing a book about how the internet is changing storytelling. I don’t think someone quite knows, but every new medium requires about 20-30 years for people to figure out what to do with this. Internet is not any different.  We can see directions that it is going, non-linear. participatory, often game-like, and drillable, offers an opportunity for a new kind of fandom, either casual to see the surface, if more committed able to go deeper.
  • IA: a lot of work focused on ARGs and what happens if subverted by marketing.   I’m interested in starting with, going back to World Without Oil as it deviated from ARGs before it.
  • KE: I became interested early, I saw the intense interaction, the play that occurs. The real powerful thing that happens is the connection with the players. I was thinking about that with UGC and the leverage that can happen in financing projects, if you can get UGc you need less money. This became important when looking at a proposal; suggested a create a game narrative that got people to submit themselves. So the hook was about the next oil crisis, what would it look like. Gave you the minimum amount of information and asked you to send your stories. It posed a what if scenario. I did not target transmedia, just accepted it was the way it was. I had a phone, a site, etc, I accepted the world is transmedia and opened up as many channels as possible. I had to be agnostic, make it as open, get people to tell stories who would not normally. I looked to see if people were playing then that was my job done properly. It is not just a collection of stories, It was a process, each day was a week in story time, so you submitted something today and it could change as it goes.  I had a team of experience ARG people, but we were just playing, they were not trying to game us as we did not know what would happen, it was an experiment. We would have a huge network combined into a mass which describes what it would be like, with stories form 1000s of people. For a completely fictitious thing, it was really authentic, they were writing abut the 10% oil crisis and 90% their lives.  It was a mythology extractor, got people to write abut how the world worked, how we would do when it arises.
  • IA: What was the funding?Who asked for it to be done? What was the set up
  • KE: ITVS, public non-profit, through association of public broadcasting. No brand involved, but it can be done with a brand. the mission was to tell stories?
  • MC: what was their reaction?
  • KE: they wer eover the moon, very happy., they had world wide press.
  • JW: was the theme of oil from them ir you?
  • KE: from us, I looked for something that was in everyones lives?>
  • IA: there was a high comfort in experimentation?  But with 42, what..there were marketing objectives…how did the marketing imperative shape it?
  • JW:  the Beast was not a marketing programme. It was conceived as they had a need, MS had a licence to make games on the movie IA.  IA was not a ‘game’ movie…for the 18=35 demo male who would by xbox, this was not the game. I used it as a mechanism to get the back story. there was an interesting world that Spielberg created. the theme, mother’s love, the definition of humanity, a universal theme. We have  a history of defining humanity so we can exploit was it is not human, we viewed this as a way of getting a deeper subject. we needed a back story to create a context. That was the challenge, to give context for the games. I said how I would do that but they said this was the dumbest thing they had seen!  So, they would not let me spend money on it. So I went without permissions and pitched ot Spielberg and Kennedy, they were excited about a new way of telling stories, they did not see it as marketing. It was a story in the world without ruining the plot of their story. Kennedy sent him to Warner brothers and told them to write him a cheque.  The marketing dept were having some trouble and later in the game it did help with marketing.  Why so Serious, or Year Zero, in both cases were started by the creatives, not the marketing depts. Eventually someone has to pay for ti and marketing dept gets stuck wit the bill, it was about telling stories.
  • IA: When you approached Spielberg it was about telling stories in a new way, instead of make a story
  • JW: the ‘classic’ ARG is in between, there is a strong creator component, we write a story, create all the evidence and then we throw the story out and just publish the evidence, the audience find the evidence and they tell the story. the story they tell is not the same as the story we wrote a they interpret the story differently. it is like an archaeologist, they tell the story of the evidence they find. we keep re-writing as we find more evidence. That is the process of the story. Not as freeform as Ken, but sits in the middle, a collaborative between creators and audience
  • IA: when making a ARG, or co-ordinating the components, are you making decision about where people working on..or you build in hooks for it? but people don’t always wait for hooks
  • LS: you describe an ARG as opening an audience to control what narrative to get told and waht the narrative that always intended. You were told it should not conflict to the film..openness to a degree but still tension as one singular primary story that needs to remain sacrosanct. And that is a distinction from producer side. that there  should be this singular narrative and as long as you crate something without interfering that is desired transmedia experiences. But especially with fan experience there is tension, about canon and multiplicity, not just of openness abut also allows closure, you can have interpretation of main text while there is still a fetishisation of the primary text. it is more flexible approach to the process…
  • FR: I’ve spoken to the Mad Men is a rich and ironic case..Mad Men is about the the end of command and control in ad space…it is ironic that the creator of the show is confronted with this.  Struck by how seriously how the twitterers take their role. Betty draper researches her tweets quite carefully, so everything she says reflects what BD would do. 
  • LS: the Mad Men is exemplary of one end of the spectrum as they are invested in canon narrative and reluctant to create larger narrative. Minute, day to day narratives that departs a little, getting in their head.  Other RPGs in fandom would not be so concerned with staying close to canon.
  • MC: those kind of fan activities, fan will jump in, even after conclusion of runs. They use new techs to exploit connection in different ways.    Eg a group On Loise and Clark, created fiction, series etc, they created a award show for best fan fiction.
  • JW: there has to be an initial critical mass, a work has to inspire an audience to contribute. can come from TV, movies a novel, a crowd sourced place. You have to start with a clarity of vision to create the emotional connection, the critical mass.,.  RPG was like this, You created a world and some characters and handed it over asking them to make stories. you had to make sure what you did, did not go against the audience. We tried to publish things that did not go against what players did. We tried to set some levels in the universe, we would write here and let people write in other sections. We have to look at stories in the same way, look at how to collaborate.
  • LS: a shift, when introducing IP, how can you have this model with IP is a problem
  • FR: you can envision a sliding scale, one end complete author control, at the other, a platform for people to tell their own stories,
  • JW: in terms of IP, it becomes an interesting issue…in the Beast, there was a minor character,  and the audience became fascinated by it. About nightmares, the audience posted their characters, and we started to us them The audience saw their stuff reflected in the character and it became inclusive.  Being able to move things up into canon and down is important.
  • MC: it acknowledges the fans, that your participation matters, you can tell that they have taken your ideas into account.
  • KE: alarms go off for me. I’m aware of the relationship between players and creators. I get alarmed when slider in the middle or when boundaries are indistinct or are arbitrary. If a line is placed they take a risk that the line is seen as unfair. We talked about aberrantly audience, it is those who take issue with where you put the slider,.
  • IA: there are two ways…you can see there are places we are going to tell stories and you can tell it around…others where it is open.some can set rules for a world and others can’t…
  • KE: with World Without Oil we tried to look at things in 4 hours, we judged the stuff. the team was to respond to what happened, to call attention to the good stuff. There was only one thing we could not we were kid friendly and we had to send it back. Everything we linked to, so they could see there contribution was part of the site. We weren’t judgmental about quality, we did exercise some gentle pointing, the power of recognition is the most powerful thing,
  • JW: but you were still controlling canon….you made decisions about what was happening
  • KE: it was not monolithic..
  • JW: keeping it local helped…but if you say all airlines shut down then there is canon to create a guide..if you want continuity with emotional investment, then you have to add control
  • LS: it sounds like WOE embraced the contradiction
  • KE: a story teller wants to tell a story, a story maker lets the story come to them
  • MC: did people to video, images etc?
  • KE: it was mostly text, but there was a lot
  • IA: one of the challenges to make a story participatory instead of narrative, there a large part of audience who have no interest in driving it or making decisions, who want to know the point, Is that still possible in participatory stores or is that different?
  • FR: it is up to whoever is creating to set roles and expectations.  If you are a Star Wars fan, you want to know canon even if you want to make your own. you don’t ness want to vote on it. You want a story to be told to you you can then respond to it. With what Ken did, it was clearly stated that you were created the story
  • JW: it was still a framework, and Ken out out info each day and that helps creates an arc.  As much as we change medium , there is still the requirements of arc, of momentum etc.
  • LS: can we talk about these different modes, the difference of a story that resonates about mythological extraction from canon, or created…from diverse communities etc…..
  • MC: for me, the stuff came from people in different cultures laying together, for many of the players it was a place to practice their japanese etc on the other side of things, games are competitive, and guilds were limited by nationality , you would see racism emerging as teams create… you would get many arguments emerging etc.  they were creating their stories, there was no inherent PvP, it was Pv Environment.
  • JW: most game have those dynamic, the concept about being know and recognised and most games offered that opportunity to be recognised. Most games still operate in that manner. One goal of playing with ARg was to not offer the opportunity, that any thing furthered the whole game. that was how it worked in the macro level but it did not stop people just trash talking each other.
  • FR: an interesting variant is The Office, a pseudo document, in the show there was a online game, where you could sing up as an employee to the game. You were given tasks to perform, things to write, you were paid in virtual currency and could buy things for your office etc. Designed with game mechanics to get people involved. Something that video game designers etc use all the time…it was clearly tied to the story telling, where the audience was given a structure to create own story in parallel.
  • AI/AUDQ: What is the tension between explicit rules and breaking the frame of the story..
  • jW: witht he first one we did not announce, there were no rules, there was just the content, the creators were obscured. One of the early challenges was a group professed to be the creators of the games told everyone was doing it wring (game jacked) the team asked what we should do…we decided that as we believe in the hive mind they would arrive at the conclusion they they were not real.  you had to set it up from the beginning as a collaboration of the audience, the difference between an immersive fiction and a hoax. Se tup to fool the audience, you look to debunk this, you set ht hive mind against you and you cannot win. you have to be careful to invite people in through suspension of disbelief. you will still be tested, to make sure you are worth trusting with time, it is a fuzzy space but with good intentions.
  • KE: this is one of the slider issues, in the middle you have this. In World Without Oil, there were no rules, you had to do your own.  the players are invested, they want to make it work.
  • MC: playfulness, I want to touch, it may be a game and people not sure what the rules are and you are giving people the opp to be playful, give people opp to get deep in or just touch lightly
  • LS: not ness one hive mind but there are multiple hive minds.   People approach things differently, 
  • AUDQ: Can brands like Verizon and Best buy do this? There was recently a levis thing, plus Verizon also was doing it…
  • LS: we are seeing models that are between things, eg Gossip Girl and Bluefly, you can shop based on the show etc. you can have production of transmedia text by products and products leading to new stuff
  • JW: there has been a lot of stuff with compelling stories already. Many have done work creating experiences around a brand. Still you have to come to what that creative work is.. it is doable, places that have physical places like best Buy would be great.  the ‘classic’ ARG is a limited format, that needs so much from audience, that is a big ask, from an audience, only a small percentage. As a format, it is relatively limited and there has been a lot of exploration and there has been a lowering of the bar.
  • KE: if brands are just thinking it is about them, then they are limited, but if they think about the relationship or the narrative then it is possible.
  • JW: it is also about release of control,
  • AUDQ: One of interesting things with Why So serious, when it came to the physical world., it was risky, so how did that change the game,
  • JW: it was about every medium and that includes the physical world. It was much more extensive with I Love bees and we had months working with lawyers on this, we had to scout everything. Using physical world with big brand ups the risk quotient…
  • AUDQ: based on IP issues, what do you think about The Guild,
  • MC: I think it’s cool. I enjoy good stories; if their are companies that create these stories that they want to invest our lives in how can they not expect us to play with it?
  • JW: if you are lucky enough to create something that people care abut, you have to expect people to be invested in it.
  • IA: How do you foster participation and play for anti-fans?
  • JW: is there an anti-fan? if you care about it enough to participate but change, then you are fan
  • LS: there are people who love to hate things, you don’t have to foster it, it just happens,
  • JW: don’t pressure it, there’s no advantage  to taking it away or reacting to it
  • KE: anti-fans have a legitimate gripe..they are an opportunity. A friend plays WOW but he and his friends all hate it, they are waiting for something to come along that is better. People want to be fans of stuff and they are. There is a level of abstraction that many people take for granted, but many can’t, what can we do as game designers to do non-competitive games, without tension
  • AUDQ:  Multiplicity rather than canon, multiplicity is a little more like perspective in the real there that emergent quality in World without Oil, the hero commenting on it.
  • KE: they looked at people who posted about a neighbourhood that was fine, or in trouble and aksed why they were fine and in trouble. They did not look for a hero to save them. There were ‘hero’s’, there were popular players, who were regarded as knowledgeable.  They had comments and thanks etc.
  • AUDQ:  in putting people together in real-world, even with real world clues meant to be bought back to online. Do args become more involved in real space, when real space become part of the story?
  • JW: with Smith and Tinker we are trying with this. Our tech dev over last 30yrs, you cannot move the tech, now with mobiles, you carry the web in your pocket, there are opps to connect people that way, opps to create unique game play. There are good examples of this being built.  We are just at the beginning, it is the most exciting part of what is coming up
  • MC: but there is risk. the online space allows people some freedom; working out ways of doing this is key.
  • JW: it is not just in the park, but in your room with multiple people.
  • LS: with fan coms etc, a web that extends from space to the web
  • FR: one example of this real space game play, in Year Zero, that game ended with a very specific real world experience..a group of people who came to a place and were driven somewhere they knew not where. They thought they were being recruited into army (In game)…the reward was a concert.
  • KE: a lot of people in the museum world are interested, a museum is an asset, you can do stuff in the real world. If you have a local client with a local community then lots of opportunities.
Nov 21

FOE: The ROI of ROFL: Why Understanding Popular Culture Should Matter to the C-Suite

WARNING: LIVEBLOGGED so not checked. (Also this was a fairly chaotic panel, so not everything captured)

Too many corporations outsource their understanding of culture to trend hunters, cool watchers, marketing experts, consulting firms, and, sometimes, teenage interns. The cost is in the billions, for data and insights that often don’t help companies better understand their role in the cultural landscape. In his forthcoming book Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation, Grant McCracken argues American corporations need a new professional — a Chief Culture Officer — to prioritize cultural knowledge into the C-Suite level. American corporations need to look not at the internal culture of a company but instead outward, understanding entertainment, leisure, and word-of-mouth trends. This panel will explore how major brands and entertainment properties are, or should be, listening to the patterns of popular culture to make their brands, products and services more responsive to and reflective of the desires of relevant audiences.

McCracken will introduce the concept of the “Chief Culture Officer,” followed by a panel discussion of the promise and pitfalls of applying cultural knowledge to a for-profit infrastructure, how the humanities intersects with this mission, and the benefits and limitations of concepts such as “the CCO” for advocating deeper cultural knowledge into a corporate setting. What new trends are developing that might impact the appeal of a brand’s products or services tomorrow, or even today? How does corporate America understand the developing etiquette and ethos of social media platforms? What benefit does knowing popular culture bring to brands and entertainment properties? What are the benefits to our society if brands are more tapped into cultural trends?

Moderator: William Uricchio – Principal Investigator, Convergence Culture Consortium; Panelists: Grant McCrackenChief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation (Basic Books); Sam Ford – Director of Customer Insights, Peppercom, and C3 Research Affiliate; Jane Shattuc – Emerson College; Leora Kornfeld – Research Associate, Harvard Business School

Starts with presentation from Grant McCracken (very quick presentation that was difficult to capture)

  • GM: we want something more from a corporation; we want a more porous corp, that listens more carefully and is more responsive; in all matters and in cultural matters.
  • GM: Inside the corporation there is a sense….you could buy in cultural intelligence or by buying up startups.  but the dynamism of future is too quick for this to happen.  the silo corp feels like a joyless place to those inside it. They ask people to forget contemporary culture when they are inside it, an act of self-willed amnesia.   They bring in knowledge but are forced to forget it.  But there is a vested interest.
  • GM: Quaker bought Snapple, buying something for the warm channel, but failed to understand it and had to see for $1.4b less than they paid for it.  They failed to understand the alternate trend. They had spent a lot of money and examined it strongly but were wrong.
  • GM: outside the corp, we see it as cool-hunting, catch-up, preying on culture. the corp falls out of synch, separated out of the culture, can be cluelessly, miserably shut out.
  • GM: In facebook, Zuckerberg claims all the photos on the site and caused a blacklash.  Chris Hughes – the empath, was away at this point. Facebook got it right because of Chris Hughes, he had an intelligence that allows him to think about culture and what people want from it.  He moved to the Obama campaign…the old regime asked him to fundraise.  Hughes challenged them on this – social media gives you into every nook and cranny, get the network to send the message out to the world
  • GM: so the corp is fully participating, no more rights and power than anyone else. It should be a producer of culture not a consumer, that people want to work their, they don’t have to forget culture.
  • GM: so long term strategies, Cluetrain, co-creation etc
  • GM: there’s Weberian gesture,,,,a corp is littered with failed projects….a corp has to appoint a senior manager who has thepower and resources to do this. put them in the C suite. you would hop they have a deep knowledge of American culture, not just the bright shiney object.  Only some part of cultural intelligence works this way. So the hot stuff is about 20%, the rest of the proposition is vast.  you have to know the latest AND the deep foundations.
  • GM: politics begins with a declaration of the possible (Stpehen Duncombe).
  • GM": a re-animated corp could be a fascinating producer of culture.  Most of all it is a place where people want to work.


  • WU:  in the first chapter, you talk about various examples, eg I heart NY. One way to look at is to say it is about an instinct, but is it training, study.  Some have a nose for it others can be trained.
  • GM: there will always be naturals. People who are good at it have a vested interest in keeping this knowledge, traiing. Look at film schools, lots of training, so are the good people naturals or training. It seems to be wring to think……it feels to me that one of the things we take for granted is that peopel are mre cultural literate…that’s soem indication…..the rise of media literacy tells us that people have masters the grammar of culture.
  • WU: is it a language….is it a way to converse
  • SF: language matters quite a bit. we have had discussions. Spreadable media…language matters and how you frame it from the beginning.  Language matters in measurement, setting up what you are going to do. William is framing question about what training.   What GM is saying is that it should not just an outsourced resource, but they should make the org as a whole smarter. That many have struggled with in the past as many companies outsource marketing, advertising etc.  Talking to someone yesterday, trying to give a strategy, he was not interested, he wanted me to think of something and go do it…he was too busy. the question that GM is raising is it possible to place value on learning about culture.  Traditionally we don’t place value on cultural knowledge, so what do we do.  How many places have sites locked?  can get to these different sites. (eg Twitter etc). I talk to people and they can’t solve this issue. There is the feelign that employees will just surf facebook – it is not an issue of access it is an issue of trust in employees.   There is a suspicious nature of cultural knowledge,.
  • WU: you talked about outsourcing…so a Chief culture Officer, if we think of a corp as culture, then a CCO has a different issue..the CCO understand the org, the triggers, the data flow. It is nice to be able to siphon this off.
  • GM: the corp is famous for shooting the messenger. The average CMO is the go to blame person.  In my worse moments, I think I’ve just created a better target.
  • JS: in the TV industry, the creative act is with the writers etc, there is no CCO, not in the marketing people. People go to LA and get immersed it. they no longer in the culture of outside LA, so creativity and cultural change drives out.    TV shows pull people who are immersed in culture, they come in and last a year, it is a liquid pool of employees; there is no way I can make something sophisticated that can be understood…..
  • GM: I love this idea that there is a cheat into the system, they realise people from traction, then come back in, they get the culture out and they throw them out again. It is a difficult and damaging process.  If you had a more porous corporation, then you would not have to fire/rehire to get the culture back in. 
  • JS: but how can a CCO exist in the corp if they don’t live in the culture
  • GM:  you may be right, but this is a questions…it should not be difficult…you build the position to people remain in touch. Otehrs can feed things in.
  • SF: the CCO in theory to CCO in practice is the tensions…so you look at what happens in the C suite schedule. Do you get a calender you get stuck in. Is there time for cultural knowledge. this is the real cultural difficulty that is not understood, . Corp america knows it needs to happen but don’t understand what it was. 
  • LK: doesn’t this sound like 1999 again, with all these weird job titles.  all they want to do is show you how cool they were…the new facial hair etc..How do we get away from the conception to someone with credentials..I did not find that in the book….some of these things are key to grasp…See the Wedding video….that all have seen..the music was by Chris Brown…big selling artist who had a scandal. it was used in videos without being licenced. It was a home video made to be seen by 15 people…so someone at Sony made the good idea…they did not issue a takedown notice, they put an overlay notice. It improved Chris Brown’s sales and his reputations.
  • SF: To turn this question around a little…Cultural knowledge is beneficial to ways to make money and new ways to become knowing of risks before they happen. But why is CCO good for the people? the books gets at some of those ideas..could this trend help pull corps into a more cultural aware space.
  • JS: popular culture and your definitions….Pop culture usually happens on the margins. My students are wonderful pirates, the take over of culture. You say it is the people’s culture…you say the margins resist and the corp absorbs…
  • GM: at LK question, this is not Cool, cool is the enemy.   people I’ve talked to..are not in it for the cool, just interested, curious. it is there for the tapping…with SF, the issue of benefits, I have no defence, corps that are more responsive…they either enter the conversation or has no connections.  On popular culture and resistence..I cast the notion very wide, (as an Anthropologist), it is all culture, I don’t want to privilege the resistive part, it is all part of it. it is part of the general culture, it has gone wide.
  • JS: but popular culture..the people, the people who are outside, ot in power. Once in power you are part of a high culture.   The power in corp comes form that resistance, innovation happens in the margins.
  • SF: one thing you say on the book, the idea of makign the corp breathe in and out. On media corps are pushing culture out, through shows etc, popular culture will play around with that, will resist etc, then the corps again will become responsive to it..but corps are on a respirator, so how do we speed up the process, we can’t corporatise popular culture,….
  • WU: this is about issues about thing I stress America. A lot of corps are multi-=nationals. what do you do with a corp where cultural products circle the globe.
  • GM: the fact that there is something like a global culture…it may be possible, We will have local specialists to speak to local cultures. Even f things were still, it would be impossible for US changes all the times..and that is why you need a  ziggurat of advisors….
  • SF: the academic model…they all have their own specialism, that we know one areas, the academic conference gives you time to hear about other areas. that model doe snot work well in corp america, a series of carefully guarded case studies. So does this play about how corps change, how they change. Should the CCO come together and share?
  • LK: the idea of ownership is what our culture is based on….
  • GM: the gift eceonmy…the old model is dead – finding and keeping to yourselves in dead.  We are looking at a change in our culture…mainstream, avant guarde etc,…this is breaking down, so invention takes place on both sides of the divide.
  • AudQ: don’t hate on cool…it comes off as the same kind of degrading….it’s like ‘ism’ is different to corp culture is weird..the person on the scooter may have some good ideas.  People who indulge in difference is something a CCO has to take time to touch that, be participant.
  • GM: well said..a CCO should be the beginning of the end of the vilification of someone for their own end..well said
  • SF: for my purposes..maybe cool is the wrong terminology, a CCO is not the trend spotter…
  • Aud: Piers (PSFK) is doing a good job so he is important
  • AudQ: Metrics..without a way to prove the CCO is making money, how do you evaluate them?
  • make themselves useful, so you could not get rid of them. Managing some revenue stream, innovation stream is critical. You are the barometer int he box, you can think deep thoughts,..
  • SF: it only works as well if it is cross-silo. 
  • WU/AUDQ: what is the place of ethics,,,does the CCO need an external ethical check?   There is apushback in university, that has an ethical tint…form business it is about talking 2 years not next quarter.
  • GM: being more responsive and engaged there will be ethical issues. the CCO should not be a moral guard-dog, everyone should be doing this.
  • AUDQ: is a CCO a misnomer..should it be a trend officer, cool hunter etc.   isn’t this why you have college interns?
  • JS: students are often a liquid cultural exchange, huge number of people. Not sure, are you talking trends etc. what is the depth you are looking for
  • GM: there’s trends that stream through as well as the depth, the full body, it is the full navigational stuff. just the latest things is just what is cool now. 
  • LK: if you have to know the metephors….
  • AUDQ: Samsung hired a bunch of kids to play and invent…gave them power in organisation. to create new products.  There’s a lot more in the process to bring culture in and CCO is too formal
  • GM: P&G have a skunkworks, everyone has a different way of doing it.  CCo makes sense to me as it obliges a corp to make the max symbolic gesture it can do . They already bring in interns…it is a gesture of good faith
  • AUDQ: Blocking sites…does understand digital culture fall under CCO?
  • SF: would not just have to be outsourced….we can;t limit this to new, trendy etc, it is much deeper than that. fast and slow culture is there. 
Nov 20

FOE: Transmedia for Social Change

Session 3: Transmedia for Social Change

This panel will broaden the discussion of transmedia properties to areas beyond the commercial or promotional. What are the potentials for transmedia to be used to affect social change? What parallels can we draw between the activities fan communities and other sites of collective activity? How does participation in the collectives that emerge around transmedia properties equip young people with skills as citizens? What responsibilities should corporations bear, if any, as they try to court fan communities and deep engagement?

This panel will also consider the cross-over between the forms of collective activity that mark participation in transmedia narratives and other forms of collective activities that harness entertainment media for social good. With the ability to mobilize (often) large and passionate groups of people quickly in response to actions that threaten their values and practices, fan communities constitute collective bargaining units acting on the behalf of consumers. Increasingly, fan communities are also deploying their social networks to try and bring about political and cultural change, resulting in an emerging form of activism which may impact on public policy or social welfare concerns.

Moderator: Henry Jenkins – Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism and Cinematic Arts, USC Panelists include: Stephen Duncombe – NYU, author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in the Age of Fantasy (The New Press); Andrew SlackThe Harry Potter Alliance; Noessa HigaVisionaire Media; Lorraine Sammy – Co-creator Racebending; Jedidiah Jenkins-Director of Public & Media Relations, Invisible Children

  • AS: Runs Harry Potter Alliance.  HP starts a student activist group in one of the books. I saw a great opportunity to make connections with the real world. We try and wake the world up to things that are going on. We team up with NGOs and promote them in the HP fan community. We can get access to the media, as the media find it interesting that a HP group can get to do things.    Eg marriage equality in Maine. We did concerts, phone voters to canvas etc Activism is about elevating the human spirit – sharing this creates a oneness feeling.
  • LS: one of co-founders of; Around a Cartoon, where there was a cartoon that got been turned into a liveaction,. About casting white actors for Asian parts. this created a movement online. both fans and then moves wider, It is a small grassroots site, it focuses on a fair casting process. We use multiple medias
  • JJ: Work for Invisible Children. A media based NPO that bridges the gap between west and East Africa/Northern Uganda. We are trying to end the longest running war in Africa plus wake up western youth to a life of activism and social engagement. It started with a couple of guys telling the story and snowballed from there. It has not been a conscious action to invade multiple media but it is how we do things. We’re between 18-30 and we look for things that will spur is about a lifestyle change. We tell the stories through documentaries and through touring,  Through short films, you can capture the imagination, and lure them into for longer stuff.
  • NH: work in a multiplatform company that promotes cross-culture dialog. Two projects, one On the road in America, a documentary reality show, showing Middle East people about the US. we are in the second series.    We also created a blog so the cast and crew could document their experiences.  this allows people to be part of it. It shows other perspectives. We are alos developing a online platform when the show airs. We are also working on iDiplomacy, looking at how media and entertainment are working in democracy.
  • SD: looking at how culture can be used politically. Most is work is about contemporary social movements, how they borrow from culture.  Looking at the past, 32-33, to 39. the New Deal.   During the New Deal, transmedia telling a story for social change is not new, it was practised then. For radio, with FDR Fireside chats, plus theatres, posters etc. A story that only made sense through all the platforms. It was not co-created, but FDR had lots of letters about it, people wanting to talk about it.  You got a multi-textured idea of the New Deal. They had to build a culture around the New Deal,. The comms apparatus can tell us a great deal.
  • HJ: So Andrew, Cultural Acupuncture is a suggestive term?
  • AS: if you go to acupuncturist,, it is about an intuitive body of energy with blocks that prevent the energy flow. So this is about getting ridding the blocks. So if culture is one body with an energy flow with specific blocks. So there are ways to unblock this. SO HP has a lot of psychological energy aimed at the book – so can you take that energy and move it around to make the world a better place. So see where the energy is now, find the energy can that be taken and used elsewhere. So that is what we do with HPAlliance
  • HJ: Stephen you wrote this book..Manufacturing dissent.
  • SD: fantasy and dreams are at the centre of social change, about managing things not as they are but as they could be. tey are dreams and fantasies.  the healthcare reform has been sold with hard facts not with dreams, Obama has backed off the dreams but talking about dreams etc  Fantasy and spectacle are the lingo of our times. If your are going to be a civic actor that cannot speak in language of fantasy and spectacle then you will render yourselves mute. Mass culture is a repository of desire, it is a matter of rechanneling
  • HJ: is this consistent with some of the other panel?
  • JJ: I love what is being said. With Invisible Children, young people who are stringer than ever and willing to forfeit the traditional american dream for more purpose in their jobs and lives. finding that undercurrent of desire is what we have tried to harp on and showing that through our media in an attractive way, rebranding it as an adventure and change of life. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive you can make what you want to do what you should do
  • NH: the ability to be heard beyond my local community was not there, but now there are means of production for all – a cell phone with a character, With we you have free distribution and your voice can be heard We are looking to empower people to be heard.
  • LS: When you present people with a bunch of ways they can make a different, it empowers them. With fandom, you have the energy, a built in base you can jump from.
  • AS: watching JJ film, it’s like a blockbuster, but it’s authentic. We chose the adventure of what happens next (for social activism). In society, we are addicted to story, because it is how the human mind works….
  • HJ: In framing activism through HP, with clearly defined evil, but how do it in real world, political cuases which is more grey
  • SD: So Anonymous, which has taken on Scientology.  4Chan have taken on the perfect comic opposite for themselves. But can it extend outside of it? Power does not work always like is diffuse, networked etc. Power is not always something you can defeat a single entity. But this is a stepping stone, a way to political activism. Some will go back to what they were doing, others are started on a different path.
  • LS: we have to look at our position of privilege and how it extends. We make decision based on what we know. But we have to questions where it comes from and how we make these conclusions. We have to look at the evil within ourselves, e have to question ourselves and our motivations.
  • NH: the awareness factor is key for what a lot of us do. Media is a powerful platform to educate people on what is happening.  People can also share perspective.
  • JJ:  we saw the clear moral line of child soldiering, abduction. there is a dramatic and complicated back story, but the issue and villain of (Joseph??) is clear.  There are grey areas, but this is a clear line. Our media does vilify Joseph Coni the rebel leader, but still allows gray areas.  Ours followers still hold to a moral code (they are doing a bill to arrest him,)
  • AS: On apersonal level I am very hypocritical, I have a pavlovian response to some people, I demonise very quickly, but as an organisation we are wrestling with this, ot is a big question.  But in my opinion, HP is not just a straight forward good and evil battle. If you look Voldermort, there are things that scare him – Dumbledore calls him his name, it humanises him. It is about getting beyond this mindset. you see what seems like evil in situations, but there are bigger stories. We need more of the framework of myth, but we need to be careful on how to use it.
  • HJ: so are fans uncritical consumers of franchisers, but LS you are being critical
  • LS: when watching the cartoon, I watched it over the summer, then I checked what other people were saying. I was passive (as I got into it later).  People underestimate the potential, see the groups. people don’t see fandom as worthy whenit comes to social change. For me, I never started out as a grass roots activist, but it is because of fandom that I was bolstered into doing this, trying to make a difference.  Coming from Fandom, people think that they are just crazy fans, You have to step out of it, and make a valid case, explain it.  We are focused on entertainment based cases, it has been a struggle, but in a good way, it brings some relevance to fandom in how they are perceived. It has influenced other advocacy groups and productions.
  • HJ: love and community are great but who decides the political platform. Where are the ethics in manipulating a fan group?
  • LS: this takes fandom beyond ‘I like’ it brings a humanity to the fans, it is more than just I like, I consumer, I have beliefs. There have been many skirmishes in the organisers. But these are things you always have to hash through whatever the activist model. you have a loosely based organisation and they come together. Communication can be limited but can also help when making a broad decision. But we work through them by talking and having a dialogue,
  • As: it is a challenging question. We use the common room (on ning) an interactive blog, anyone can out something up and people do voice dissent. Especially with the LGBT. It is not just a liberal group,. Chapters may not be allowed to talk about it in schools or religion is against it. They don’t have to. It is also simple when the author talks about what she wants.  The organisation has stances and we put this out.  We can’t work on lots of things at once, we see what the focus is. We have 30 people working on this.  Building on consensus is important but there is a balance to be struck. Full democracy is not always working..we have a way of doing. We are non-partisan, we take no political stance.
  • NH: it is not just about people liking us. We asked the people on what they wanted to do and we based our journeys on some of the things. eg the Palestinians wanted to meet Native Americans due to an affinity plus visit the projects as he lives in a refugee camp. He was shocked the Native American family were not angry about the land – they had a different perspective as they say no one can own the land.  He gets angry about the land.
  • HJ: let’s look at the genre element
  • NH: directly meeting people is better than documentary We use reality format to drive this effectively…more effective for the audience to take people and show them
  • JJ: our case is almost the same. They are heavily based in the reality genre. We show people going to Uganda and their friendship with a ware affected child.  Showing that story in schools resonates. It brings it into a tangible reality where you can compare it with someone else. It has been easier, to get a rich emotional can tell the emotional truth you want to just have to turn the camera on.
  • SD: The NYT parody, we wanted it to look like the NYT. It was about the power of the real in this case, an artefact of the future in their hands. they had 80k handed out.
  • AS: HP lives because his mother made a choice to die..and her love went into him to protect him. Lily is the original hero in the books; so there are Lily Potters of Darfur, connecting it back to real people. We honoured Dumbledore this summer, what would Dumbledore do campaign, about how he could change their lives. got people to think about what Dumbledore taught them.  talking about what the character means, it went crazy.
  • LS: for us it’s the cross over of reality and fantasy.   IN the cartoon, you found children who could see a kinship, but it was taken away from them and people who look like them are not the heroes. 
  • AUDQ: Intrigued by concept of tapping into communities around something and activating towards causes but see how they could be nervous about causes that may not align with their values.
  • AS: so someone like Warner brothers getting worried…there is a large history of fandom with WB. It was very tense to start it, but I came out on this after this tension. We did take precautions, with name. HPAlliance. OUr first campaign was Darfur,it was difficult to attack us on this. We are looking to talk more with them ig HP chocolate fairtrade. We re OK now, but there are going to be issues as it grows as a model for fans etc.
  • AudQ: funding?
  • VH:  through a non profit, a public diplomacy initiative.
  • JJ: not Nonprofit traditional. Most is $20 or less from cross country tours, the kids involved. Most comes from small donations, plus a few larger donors.  We have never had grants until a week ago, the first government grant.
  • AUDQ: is there a digital divide for activism?
  • HJ: it is not just digital, you use the most relevant channels etc.
  • JJ: it is important that you don’t have to be in all channels, but can be whatever you have access to.  Whatever avenues you come at you leave with the foundation of what we are about and can still have resources and skills.
  • SD: The new deal was multi-platform. you can’t think about privilege in 2-3 media, it is about what you can reach and what your audience are doing. It is just one tactic in many, it is part of an integrated campaign.
  • NH: TV is most popular in Middle east, but we are doign web as well.
  • AS: we also campaign to get broadband access…