Mar 11

SXSW – LonelyGirl15 discussion

David Hudson Editor, GreenCine
Miles Beckett Producer, Lonelygirl15
Mesh Flinders Producer, Lonelygirl15
Greg Goodfried Producer, Lonelygirl15

Miles: a short format, about 5 videos a week. a popular serial drama.

Greg: there’s the top level show; then there is the interactive element, teaching the characters as real people. you can send private messages and we answer you back (my wife does that); you can text comments. they can make their own videos and interact with characters. we know the big plot points but there is a lot a smaller things that we use feedback on. eg bree giving a piece offering to Daniel after 1000s of emails back. (video: piece offering Aug 21 2006) got 650k views on YT. over course of week 1.5m-2m collective views per video.

Miles: that video was representative of what LG was. cheap video cam and bad mike.

David – can we back up and give a talk about the idea..

Miles: I was a plastic surgeon internship; saw rise of video on web. started own company to make content; on YT all the time, saw there was an audience there. wanted to create videoblogger, did story with mystery element. had idea in feb or so. met Mesh at party, shared idea and went from there.

Mesh – wanted to be a filmmaker; did internships etc. won panavision new filmmakers award, but still living hand to mouth, making ends make. about a year ago got hired to write first paid screenplay. when i heard the idea the first thing I thought about was Wells and War of the World, using new tech to tell a story. a cool way to make movies. we’ll do it for a few months, generate buzz and we will make a film about it. and that was kind of naive.

Greg – I’m a lawyer. met Miles in feb 06 when he was starting his company. Miles told me his idea; after hashing out the idea they asked me if they could be sued. he advised probably not, but yes shot. advice was don;t try and sell nor ask for money. he came onboard. we got together and did the show.

Miles: we thought it was good idea, if we could get a good story and actors then people would want to watch. we did not know the audience at the time as it was still techy and we did not know if the the reveal would drive away audience. we have a rabid fanbase, 30-50k people to day of people obsessed. when it revealed it was fictional, we gained a huge audience. some went away. we have 70% female, 14-40, cluster in mid 20s. I saw it as an opportunity for entertainment and tech. we have continued this and made it more elaborate. video 2 is Feb 10, 07. shows change in how it was a girl in bedroom and is now a more deeper, richer show, outside the bedroom. far more mystery. bree had to leave due to parents being part of The Order. we massively ramped up the plot. we realised we had to tell a far more compelling story. instead of the movie, we do it on the web. we shoot everything as if it is real, everything is shot as a character.

Greg: a character we had in London, we had to do everything in Uk time, we were loading video at 3am in morning to fit into character.

Miles: we see the video as being the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the experience. they are 2 minutes..but people spend a lot of time.

Greg – we do ARG elements, we do puzzles, the community join in to answer the puzzles, ie opening a flash file, with a riddle. feed across the video, and site. We weave in UGC. we show fan videos on site. people create themselves as characters. we invite them to tell stories. (showed UGC, which is driving an ARG etc)

Q: what kind of interaction are yu seeing around UGC?

Miles: there is not a lot of functionality around the UGC on site. You load stuff as a response and it is not that easy to follow a persons content. we are doing a rebuild which makes it easier to admin your own storylines, vote etc. we have discussion in forum and chatroom, wiki.

Q: how do you pay for it?

Miles: i was working 3-5 days a week on clinics, but slowly reducing hours. got money from parents to pay actors so did not have to work (and be recognised). we were running out of money through fall, we got some fan donations, we have some investment now which helps and we are goign to an advertising model, and there is going to be product placement. there are post roll videos etc

Greg: it makes sense for them to use real products as they are set up as real people. it is a natural fit to have product placement. we can have access to brands for arg elements, partnerships etc to build real world elements.

Q: where are you distributing. where are you trying to go?

Greg – still YT and website. we are trying to build out a syndication model, which are open to monetisation. we want to drive people back to site as where all the functionality is.

Miles: the video only will be on the other site; the rest of the show and the deeper stuff is on our site. we are using tech features as part of the narrative. we had 35k people hit our chartroom the first time..we had about 20 rooms open the first time and people were relaying etc. people talked to the characters. We introduced Jonas as a fan and people debated if it was a show part etc.

Q: production values?

MIles: you can do a lot with time. we started with a desk lamp and a window; people debated whether or not we were real at the beginning cos of the lighting but it was just a lot of time. we shot from the character pov..depends on what kind of camera they would have.

Q: did you become famous?

Miles: we are represented by CAA (?)
Mesh – I’m using LG to write my own feature this year. we are developing film. still at early stages. we’ve only just got time to start thinking outside of LG. the first 6 months were a blur and 24/7.

Q: are you where you wanted to be?

Miles: this is exactly it. this is my dream. tech and film.. this is perfect we are in a good position right now, we have access to the traditional channels. after the announcement we did a tour of the Hollywood stuff. we got some offers, but turned them down. we really want to do internet and interactive and most people we talked to did not get it. we did not want things being an issues. we found people who wanted to share vision and invest.

Mesh: the technology is a door opener for people who did not have the money or knowledge to make these before. people can do it with a web cam and your little brother. we are only just realising what the possibilities are.

Q: did you guys participate in Lost ARG…any ideas from this?

Greg: i did not know what an ARG was 4 months. Now, they are really cool. we attracted the ARG community who thought we were making an ARG, and they started investigating us. a month after the first video, people started selling stuff. we trademarked it. people found it, under his dads address. they started to dig in. they ‘stalked’ the family. we wanted to control press for reveal. the community was passionate but we had to point them away from us. we are going to do more arg stuff. live appearances are in the future, it;s a resource issue. we write, shoot, edit, so the more elaborate stuff we are waiting so we can do it right.

Q: can you express your creativity more now the cat is out the bag?

MIles: the initial thought was to create fictional video blogger I did not know how much they would think about it; I did not realise how much people would dig. as the press got more and more intense it was incredible stressful.. we did not know what the reaction would be, we anted to be cool not fool people. once out of the bag it was liberating,

Greg: we now have more freedom and they are not analysing everything. they got a botanist to look at plants, they analysed where we bought things from. we want to wrap our arms round these people as they will stay, they invested in in

Q: what was the backlash?

MIles there was a little backlash for far less than expected. people seemed to know it was fake all along. it got far more in depth. the vast majority knoew it was not real but were suspending disbelief.

Greg: the numbers are larger now, so people are still in it. we made a decision to answer all the questions to Bree, but answered none of the ones to the producers/actors. People are talking about it as a tv show now, not a web hoax.

Q: how are you handling the ‘fame’ between the 3 of you, the actors etc

Greg: we are closer now then before. Miles add I want to stay in the space, Mesh looking for other stuff. we can do a lot in a short time and then let people do other stuff. Jessica is under contract and is getting work, jessica just shot a film in Feb so we shot everything in Dec.

Miles: it was an emotional rollercoaster. a t times we loved at times we hated.

Mesh: we could not talk about this to any one except with each other. we could only share with each other. i could not talk to my girlfriend (and we broke up) this was a big risk and it paid off in spades. we are best friends now.

Miles: we are uploading a video live. we are running on wordpress…and here’s us loading live.

10 seconds later..there were 2 responses. all going First! it goes from firsts, to discussion, then just general chat, then it goes for chants for new videos.

MIles: we post randomly. they live on our website. we have email, we have an rss feed. none of us are programmers,

Q: how did yo get publicity to start?

Miles: we used YT social network. we had created character on site and talked and commented in character for a few weeks. then we did a few responses to popular people. when we put the first one up, we already had a few 100 people. subscribed. we were active on commenting, adding friends. this was part of the story telling. after that, were these videos good.

Greg: we are getting hired to do this now for other people.

Q: you are turning down deals etc, you are monetising..are you running into problems with cpm etc.

Greg: we are feeling out the model as we go. it;s work in progress

Miles: the web model is different to tv…cpm on tv depends on quality. that model is startign to apply to us, advertisers prefer to be on lg15 and will pay it.

And that was that…

Nov 24

Lonelygirl15 – a review

Wired have a nice write-up about the team behind LonelyGirl15, looking at the background and possible future. The article mentions a few things that helped the success along, how they responded to the fans and how they managed the revelation that Bree was not ‘real’.

  • they kept within legal bounds by not trying to sell anything related with the character and by never lying directly. The legal advice if someone asked whether she was real at the beginning was not to answer.
  • they launched by responding to a video from Emily, who already had a following. The short video was creative enough to generate a lot of response and a call for Bree to post more.
  • they built up an audience slowly, changing the story based on responses and ensured they established a presence int he community. A key insight was gained from their first ‘hit’, a video where Bree showed a lot of emotion. “Viewers wanted family and relationship drama mixed with a rich, mysterious backstory that could be explored and debated.”
  • they provided mystery and the opportunity to explore – who was she, where did she live, what religion where her parents. The videos encouraged speculation and commentary.
  • they hired someone to respond to emails full time (they are currently answering about 500/day). By asking about the emailers lives, they invited a conversation
  • following the news that Bree was a fictional character there was some backlash and a lot of press interest. But they have continued the story, maintaining a healthy level of viewers for the series, generating income through advertising on their site.
  • next steps involve creating a mystery, allowing fans to continue to speculate and comment, in the way that Lost does. They’re extending the world, producing content by other inhabitants, letting fans follow their own path through the information

There’s some key lessons here that content producers, including advertisers, can take away to apply to their transmedia properties. Interaction, conversation, letting fans run away with the content are all important in building an interest.

Nov 18

Virtual Worlds – Futures of Entertainment

Not the Real World Anymore

Virtual spaces are more than sites for emulating the real world. They are becoming platforms for thought experiments — some of which involve fantasies we would not like to enact in the real world, others involve possibilities that we may want to test market before putting into practice. Much more than simulacra of Real Life or a 3D version of text-based Internet communities, online worlds represent new sites for considering questions of community and connectivity. Marked by user- creativity, online worlds balance, sometimes precariously, the rights of users with the rights of sponsoring organizations. As we move closer to the cyberpunk vision of a wholly parallel ‘metaverse’, questions of power, community, and property are coming to the fore.

John Lester, Ron Meiners, Todd Cunningham Eric Rever Gruber (corrected from comment, thanks)

I did not take notes on the intros which turned more into presentations about the worlds and attitudes. See the user biographies and the official blog for this info.

Josh: what is the attraction of an online world?

John: what’s the attraction of dreaming? Two things…connecting with people around the world with similar interests. You connect people on a global sense and you can find people that like what you like.. secondly the dreaming part…the virtual environments speak to brain on a deep biological level…we thrive in a 3d environment. We got it wrong in the 90s with people wearing gear on head…we can take just enough info and form a complete whole.

Ron: in general there is an aspirational quality…to find some of our hopes realised…it sort of widens pipeline of information coming in…online we loose the rich environment that we are in…we lose tactile, visual info and in a virtual space you can at least being to replace these. You can create visual cues, although not a subtle as rich…people develop ways of wishing to speak next etc…there’s more info///you can replicate more of daily experience

Todd: just to participate. participate in the media…people are using more media than they ever have.

Q: Are these global spaces? Are they a third or 4th place?

John: we’ve lost some of those places like bars etc the place where social capital is bridged…this can take the place…we have the opportunity to have a global audience…we can find the best matches for our ‘tribe’ we can have weak ties as well

Ron: some of the fun is the process of developing those ties

Q: is there a distinction in types and activities between the free ranging spaces like SL and WoW? How significant is story?

John: Sl is fundamentally a blank slate…it is an environment within which there are games. And the games can vary. There is 19th century England, there are zoning laws, if you say the word dude you will be bought to task. They make analogue watches. You have other role playing types. We like to experience stories, there’s room for all of things. At times I want to sit back and have a movie fed to me and …there’s room for all. People like to go between, from a game with predefined goals to just socialising.

Ron: interest in this sort of creativity is global…there’s this spectrum, between top down and bottom up creation. danah wrote about the value of being able to flex in and out of different social identities, disneyland is a whole lot of fun at times; there are design and management aspects that go into Disney that makes it very successful. Similarly, too, I’m not sure…I’ve also worked with Myst community. In a nutshell you have found this place…blurring this line between participant and player. How you create story space, as opposed to top down creative mandate, you’ve got participation with wide story space…create something that people can tell stories within the bounds. Tech is enabling us to look at the question now.

Todd: Virtual Laguna beach…just starting out. It was meant to be ‘flat’ etc, we went into this with assumption that there was a huge fanbase who would not normally participate in these kind of things. So what sort of games would these people work with. Working with Secret deodorant…it is a partner. The campaign to get women to tell their secret…they had a tv campaign and they created forum inside virtual leguna to talk about their secret…using machinima to record their secrets…we evaluate and then have an event to play the confessions. That ability to be showcased… plays out well for advertiser and for us.

Josh: We talk about these sites as places to explore thought experiments. Are these places for corporations…can we take things back to real world…or are the things real relationships in themselves and do not need to be experimental.

John: the concept that we are a single identity is an illusions. We are different at work, with family, with friends. Online environments are showing how fluid our brains are. I think the people in these environments are extremely real even if they seem a little weird. There is a beauty to people exploring different aspects of themselves. Unless everything is in a clear roleplay you should assume all these interactions are real.

Ron: simulations in respect to gameplay…simulations are learning experience and that is a large part of why we do things. This can be games to social skills. You can say that we take those skills back out of the world but in another sense it is the same stuff. We are not differentiating these experiences, no switch between real and not. That is coming more and more obvious, developing a richer interrelationship between two facets of lives.

John: I work with aspergers syndrome, where knowing social situations does not come instinctively…they can learn through practice and is terrifying…worked with online patient communities..loved using online boards etc to become social and dipping toes in water. Bought a group into SL which was private…create ideal social setting…one started making boats and selling it. They use the environment to practice social skills, they thought they were learning how to do it. They got confidence, they achieved something. Now when they go into physical world, it was still scary but they could do it.

Eric: testbedding, you can test marketing, people ar living out lives for hours and hours, they spend more time there than with products in real worlds. How do you make real products inside, treat them like real places etc. They are new hangout spots, the hottest places, accessible anywhere in the world. We can treat them like real people…

John: do not look at like a Petri dish, need to engage in conversations and realize there are social fabrics to them

Ron: that was one of the guiding visions at the founding at multiverse…that the cost to building was such a barrier…so independent teams could not make them… multiverse gives these opportunities. There was no way for indis and academics to do it. This gives a toolset for people to experiment.

Josh: there was article in Harvard Business Review…advertising and branding was about tapping into peoples fantasies. So is your avatar you…are the avatars actual representations?

Todd: they can be. If you understand why people chose there avatar you can market to that.

Ron: the emerging change in relationships between content creators and consumers…we are moving out of time when there were definitive answers and it is all becoming a flux with dynamic interaction and there will not be a solution that applies across the board.

John: it is important to give people freedom…In SL there is a place called Dublin that can be created….but you see people and giant robots in the place. You have a fluidity of how people represent themselves…it was all created by the residents…give people the tools to create what they want to create…what they do is not completely bizarre and is not completely mundane but somewhere in the middle. The create bars and streets and a dash of Through the Looking Glass.

Laguna Beach

Eric: widely successful show, went to the city of Laguna beach…the show producers. Took about 10-12 kids and they follow their lives and how they live around the city. We decided to take the show and make a virtual world. It is not exactly the same city, but majority of places in the show are there. There are restaurants, shops, everyplace in the show we try to map out. At the start of season 3 we were working about what it would be. We decided to build the city out, and when cast go to spring break in the show then we unlock the place in the world…you can do the same things. They watch it on Tv and then come in world and lvie the Laguna world. It was unbelievable how quickly…once they saw what the event was, they gravitate towards it. The kids are barely video game players, definitely not in 3d worlds. We gave them the basic tenements of how to walk, talk and shop. It is still an attractive place,,people come top meet up

Todd: in the testing, in this world we had people teaching us but we had to start completely fresh, teching how to walk and talk. Some of it was the shock that was actually happening as they do not do this. We had advertisers that were connected but they were doing it as a test. A lot of media outlets were interested in what we are doing. We were not trying to make the front of NYT, but there was interest.

Eric: ways we didn’t expect? When we first started, we tied it to the show, they would play out the show. They quickly formed own community, did own events formed own friends.

John: can they create own events?

Eric: yes, lots of clubs…we blocked out and let them book events. In the first month there was a birthday party and an engagement party…people went on dates. They made it their own very quickly

Todd: we did not expect it to be as much…because they were not used to it..but they quickly wanted to it.

Todd: one of the biggest challenges was giving up control

Ron; you audience are much more appreciative of a brand…the younger gen is a lot more media savvy.

Ron: the users have created some things…not ramped it up. We want to promote it, there has been some. Its an unbelievable new video medium…the characters respond well, it looks beautiful and that is what we spent a lot of time with people on show making sure we accurately reflected the show.

Josh: as transmedia, what the problems of creating this?

Todd: you have to do stealth work; not everyone if company is aware of the worlds; the system could not take it to get approval from all sorts of people; you have to get people to embrace it, who can help you further along. We are trying to play in their world.

Josh: is SL amenable to a transmedia space?

John: of course. People do, they can buy islands, it is vary doable. You can make it as open or as closed as you want. The first wave of educators wanted it closed…when in a new medium you create what you did in previous mediums. You can control permissions, you need to define for yourself how tightly you need to hold onto everything. Give people the tools, they will run with it. The most important thing to do is to realize they are full of real people, not just consumers.

Ron: multiverse toolset will allow people a very rich opportunity to create. At some level what I think we will see is a culture to encourage experiments.

Josh: what happens when the experiments end?

Ron: the quick answer is…it is becoming more dynamic world and some will fold…and lessons are learnt. The Myst space, having closed down, the users tried to reverse engineer, they went ot other worlds and created Uru diaspora. Cyan released a publically accessible version of the server to continue it. They are now re-launching it due to this community…there is whole range of things that could happen

Josh: what happens if Laguna beach cancelled?

Todd: we have great hope and faith that it will carry on…media does such a terrible job of letting people, to carry on with their love for the brand. If it does cancel there are enough people to keep this alive and hten who knows where it goes. It could turn into a whole other realm. It is very exciting.

Q: what do you think about threat to tax inworld transactions?

John: the government is interested in you getting cash. In SL, it is the same when you get US dollars from Linden dollars. This is all very muddy waters, how do they tax in world. In WoW everytime I kill a boar I pay a tax cos there is a value???

Ron: people in teen world (Laguna) more open to sharing and giving things. So when people come up to you and give you something digital should that be taxed?

Todd: in MTV there are people who go after this exchange of IP, meanwhile the mass of the company is not that way. Depends on who gets the more attention, things can move ahead sometimes form revenue. We look at putting the user in control but squeezed with revenue.

Q: the idea of multitasking and how the younger generation can handle more and more…my sister can handle 10 things at once and I’m 6 years older and can’t do any of that.

Todd: right, young are quite adept at multitask…but look at the numbers, adults are actually more adept than they think they are…look at the work world. People between 21-49 squeeze 35 hours in a day. Media is playing a bigger role, media is less a part of people over 25.

Q: SL economy…what kinds of things are people buying and selling? What is the driver for people to buy ‘food’

John: avatars, clothing, skins, devices, objects, anything you can imagine. Also services, real estate market, people have mad landscaping skillz who charge for this service. But why do people go to a bar, sit down. Here’s a restaurant that take s reservations and a chef prepares food a the table. Why? There is a prt of the brain that like certain things regardless of whether it makes sense. Whne you meet people, you end up sitting down. Why are there houses with roofs? It feels good. It somehow feels right having a pizza in a bar when hanging out.

Q: watching Laguna Beach, as it is tied to a show…do the creators of the show check in on the show, take a look at how fans are interacting with the characters.

Eric: the characters are not there. But we have bought in the cast as celebrity appearances. A huge part of the world is talking about the show, everyone has a strong affinity with the show. There is a lot of learning going on, not just virtual but other places.

Q: I’m looking at this and seeing an opportunity for soaps to crate a world to get people to react with characters, give the writers tools to see how people interact.

|Todd: I’m trying to kill the focus groups. The responders have learned how to manipulate this. It is not what it is about, it needs to remain objective. We screen show in world and get responses that way. At the beginning the creative people were not involved…but we crated it first and when they had something to react to and then we got them involved.

Q; coming out of MUDs etc, what sorts of responsibilities do you think you have regarding addiction? What sort of safeguards should be in the technology to watch out for things

Ron: these experiences are very positive, we do it as we seek to have positive results and often succeed. What is happening is a going awareness of culture and media and the interaction. The culture will continue to learn..

Q: what about the digital divide debate? You as the designers of these new public spaces have gone far beyond traditional designers of public spaces…they have fallen by the wayside….not a question but a general vibe about the overlap of the environments…the difference between my avatar and me can be vast and what overlaps are you seeing.

John: these spaces are very real…look at history of any new medium we think it is going to destroy society. We end up finding a balance. They are just different mediums.

Ron: the paradigms that work for our grandparents do not work for us…but this has been the case for awhile. …. I think it wonderful that teens are not constrained by peers in their immediate location…we are discovering all sorts of emergent stuff and we will continue to do so.

Todd: the digital divide? People are working towards new opportunities, they are not all predicated on people have cable tv and about devices that are more readily accessible. We are aware of the divide, some data shows it is collapsing or is growing. Other brands across the network are targeting these audiences.

Q: I’ve been thinking about Snow Crash…in that world you programming chops defined how you were in the metaverse, it was a single platform that everyone could be in. As these things become more pervasive and talking to each other, people will wan tot take their avatar with them. Is there another kind of divide among about people who can and cannot generate experiences in the world?

John: I suck at making avatars…so I bought this one. Anyone can create things and sell them. There are business opportunities…and that is the way to will be. There is the opportunity for specialisation if you give the tools, the market will solve those problems as it does in the real world

Ron: in the high end WoW your gear indicates what quest you have been in. In multiverse world you should be able to go to the worlds from same client and possibility with same avatar. We are developing a market place for content creators. There is adialogue between marketing and culture that is fascinating as well, part of the human culture defining itself, how we evolve culture,…ties back to individual experience.

Q: Transmedia aspects? How much control about people commenting on experience and community to support. How often do real world communities comment back in the space?

Ron: there’s an evolution, especially in MMOs, where you are tied into the community and my job is learning from the community. That is going to be more and more how content creation compnaies understand their role but interacting with their communities and establishing relationships.. the ones that will be successful…will be sincere.

Eric: we are actively in VLB talking to people, reacting ot people, we change how we do things, how we message things and who we talk to, we posted a forum link buried deep and we got 200postings in 2 days. We love talking to them, some of them we promote and we have a special club and are in constant communications. We love to hear it, they will make it a success.

Q: what are the 2-3 most effective and ineffective research techniques

Todd: ineffective: focus groups, quantitative surveys that are unmediated, you can field a survey and probe when required…where you get moderation to probe, combine qual and quan. Effective, observations research if great…so you see how people are using the worlds etc, costs more money but payoff is greater. Panels never been a fan of and try to avoid, less effective unless tied into something real.

Q: On topic of content creation and having customers doing things in the world that you did not expect? How do you let people create avatars with the things they want? And how do you decide what tools to give people?

John: anyone in SL can create anything anytime, as long as the land allows it. The tools are in the hands of every single user can create. Give people as general tools as possible not to hinder people. You can do what you want…the scripting allows extensions. We give people a touchstone but fromn where they go it is up to them.

Q: concept of IP in these spaces? If I;m generating income from one of the worlds, what makes a creator allow people to move things…and what about the copybot problem?

John: the copybot is not just SL, it is what is on your computer that is copyable. It is more of an issue in SL when there is a inworld economy. We are going to have more attribution etc. from the beginning, we have said that you own it, you can do what you want. We retain some rights to use images in marketing but that is all.

Ron: our goal is to empower range for the designers. There are all kinds of experiences. On movement between worlds…I’m looking for all sorts of emergent behaviour…looking at the multipass..maybe a few designers will join up and sell worlds as a package.

Q: to what extent to these worlds have plans to integrate with the larger information space with the net and leverage that as a way to navigate this information?

John: you can bring video and audio, you can use the scripting to pass info into and out of SL…eg flickr integration. The platform is open to all sorts of things,

Nov 18

Fan Cultures – Futures of Entertainment

The first session today is on Fan Cultures.

Once seen as marginal or niche consumers, Fan communities look more ‘mainstream’ than ever before. Some have argued that the practices of web 2.0 are really those of fan culture without the stigma. Courted, encouraged, engaged and acknowledged, fans are more and more frequently being recognized as trendsetters, viral marketers, and grassroots intermediaries. Fan affinity is being seized as a form of grassroots marketing, representing the bleeding edge of brand and property commitment. The sophistication of fan-created products rivals the professional products they honor, sometimes keeping defunct properties alive long after their shelf life might otherwise have expired. How is the increasing importance of fan behavior re-writing the media landscape? What kinds of accountability should media companies have to their most committed consumers? What kinds of value do fans create through their activities? What are the sources of tension that still exist between media producers, advertisers, and fans?

The speakers are: Diane Nelson, danah boyd, Molly Chase.  Chair is Henry Jenkins

Henry: I had the experience of doing a blog search, and found a post about ‘normal’ people who watch tv, those who are fans who go out an buy things and the third is fanatics who get their cultural identity from the property.  She misquoted, but it was interesting.  But how do you define fans.


Diane: as new as everything is, it si all very much the same. the underlying themes are about understanding consumers, their motivations and respecting them.  If there was a single definition, it is that there is a connection between a person and the property so that they feel a sense of ownership.  It can be fanatical or can just be enthusiasm.,  It is important not to overgeneralise, you have to understand who they are and what drives them to speak with relevance and authenticity

Molly: respect is a running theme…you have to give them different expriences, gfrom the 2 min game to the year game.  We cater for both.  Speaking at the conference, people come up and say they speak Japanese to undersntad the shows but not everyone done so what are you doing for these people

danah: you have the agency to take things and mix them up; we feel as though all of this world, if we take parts of it we can make sense of it.  A lot of the attempts to make digital bodies is an attempt to make sense, to put it in a form to share and show others something about yourself.  When you see what people take on and are willing to appropriate to express themselves and other peoples reactions.  A teenagers bedroom if filled with stuff, and the same things go on online and this info says somethings about them and marks them in relations to people.   When you project you fanship out to there people it makes a social statements


Henry: How does this discourse give companies a better way of understanding their users.


danah: (overview of the history of social networks, especially the Friendster reaction to bands and how they did not help them and the myspace that offered to help bands).   On myspace, it was the really hardcore indi rock kids who frist got on the site and they got their friends in, without the hard core fans, and they found the other things they could do.  Music acted as a cultural glue and the site offered a wide vareiry of ways of interacting, allows the high participators to be in the same place os the ones  who just want to hang out.

Molly: interesting on how fans use tech that you would not anticipate.   They had a trading card community and introduced a trading game in 20003. they worked hard to allow people to find others; they had system in place to find exact players. They launched and it did ok but not what expected.  So what were they missing?  So they thought about it, and thought they do not care who they were playing against so they introduced an instant play, so they could play immediately and not find people.  Use went up 20%.  Kids already had a way to find people, they have these, they just wanted to play.  Now they use prototypes more and do user testing we know that they will take on a life of its own.

Diane: there was talk about how isolating the web was, but the web is allowing the behaviours to connect.  The behaviours are so fundamental and we need to step back and not overthink….the real thing to take into account is about control, they are going to modify and tailor the technology to suit there needs.   We are moving form an industrial society to a social one, we cannot push things on people.

danah: the earliest waves of net culture were driven from an interest driven groups;  they allowed people to come together with a shared interest.  But real social lives have a funny network, they are not the same.  you needed different ways to connect with different groups.  SN structures are being built into sites, they create different ways, groups and me…so egocentric and topical interest group structures, and the 2 ways are starting to operate together.  Allow you to move between them easily.   This element has allowed traditional fandom to expand, to get people who don’t have a deep engagement to share as well, you are allowed to have a conversation about fandom because you are in a trusted group of friends.


Henry: we are seeing a changing relationship between media producers and fans,


Diane: it’s all about control.   It is impossible in any relationship to demonstrate respect and trust without a dialogue.  But the problem with a dialogue you may not like what the other person says.  When creating content that is complex and the vision of a few and also coupled with financial goals and responsibilities you have an equation where one side is not that interested hearing what is said as ot makes difficult.   The inference that UGC and professionally created content that is mutually exclusive??? There is still room for artists.   The media producers may not want the dialogue in process of creating. The media compnaies need to recognise that when consumers begin to engage, you cannot turn that off; but difficult to deal with.  Look at slash fiction and harry potter, how do you deal with this when it is primarily driven by children.  The creator knows that the primary audien ce is children and is it ok to allow children to inadvertently wnader into an other area of fandom.   Warner have learned, especially from potter, that you can’t simply make it black and white as every bit of expression os a good thing that will continue potter.  But have to be prepared to say we are not going to condone, we are not going to tell you you canlt do it but we have a responsibility to the creators vision, we have to server the broadest audience. There are many properties where the the challnge is not so good; look at the matrix, their demo is more likely to be consistent and more manageable.  It goes back to respect issue, if you fortunate to have a wide connecting consumer property you cannot shut it off but it is not as simple as leaving it wide open

Molly: working with a childrens property is difficult; we get emails complaints about some stuff and we find that people have taken the cartoons and made them porn.   There are times to send out C&D; childrens stuff is a fairly easy one to make the call for porn.  

Diane: opportunism shifts things to a different level; creative expression is one thing but intentionally trying to make money is different. How do you define exploitive and what is the responsibility of the rights owner.   We have wonderful fan sites that are looking to make just enough money to run the site, we sometimes support that with small tthings, like tshirts, have to be careful with this.  We have to monitor activity are they sustaining or are they trying to make profit.

danah: it is a question about who is trying to gain things by the control.  Friendster wasadating site and they moved to stop people who were not dating and lkilledoff the hubs of people who just got hteir friends.   When you start to kill off any attempt to create things.  So what kinds of behaviour do you kill.  Myspace kills profiles daily, such as hatespeach ones.  The reality is these people are not connected so they donlt throw fits so don’t tantrum.  It is important to have people behind those actions.  Look at Tom Anderson, on myspace…it is all a hack, was running on coldfusion, in earliest days they did not do the normal tests on forms, people took it to change things .  asmall group found out you could put any code in the profiles.  Myspace noticed in about 24 hours…initial reaction was to stop, but they let it go and they watched.  Tom acknowledgd it, said it was cool and asked them to be careful.  They did not kill off bad stuff immediately…even when people started to phish, they killed off specific things, specific kinds of codes, but did not kill off the practice.   They did not improve the profile creation etc, they just went with the copy paste culture; they started teaching people basic literature; give them the material to modify.  Lots of sites are now up helping people to mod things.  A culture is there about teaching people to mod things and is not about making it easy…it is very difficult to mod a myspace but an entire generation has figured out how to do it and support each other.   When youtube started it had a lot of porn and myspace banned it, but fans reacted and then they announced that they had accepted it and the usage went right up.  They stopped it because they did not realise what it was then supported it as it supported fan culture.  How do you make that balance

Molly.  Community is not always good, there are real life bullies and online bullies.  Myspace can be stressful, how many friends do you have, do you have the right friends.  It can be really negative.

Diane: on the batman movie, the script was very sensitive.  A copy of the script was leaked, we found out that someone had the complete script and could prove it.  There was a collective effort by fans online to make sure the script was not exposed. This was unusual; we respect the comics and we wan this experience to be great and we are going to self edit.  The studio was fascinated.


Henry: a lot of restrictions are there to prevent damage to properties.  Fans like property and this is a source of worth so how do fans increase the value,


Diane: they are the single biggest reason why properties are valuable.   It is not a commodity…but can be until the fans see this and create value.    I was hard pressed to think how fans can devalue a property; when they talk about it, spread it, embraces it, you have a momentum that any company should be thrilled to have.  The value train should be pretty obvious (see transmedia) the real value is the cultural value.  We won’t see harry potter again; it is a combination of a piece of art…and warner bothers started to engage it early and recognised that this is a property so owned by fans that if we did things to take ownership then we will be dead in the water.  So we established guidelines to remind us about this.   Put plan in place to say basic things, remind the franchises they needed to know the book, if you have questions about using the franchise then go back to the books. They put everything back to the books.   We had to make conscious decisions about promotion partners, it did not need some things, we did not turn it into something Hollywood.  The decision paid out in spades and is still paying out know.  Recognising the value fans and make decisions that recognise that ownership

Molly: difficult to think of something where fans devalue.  Look at Colbert and Hungarian bridge.   Fans know their power and know the influence they have. 

danah: looking at spaces where fans congregate.   They need ads to stay alive.  If some fans take it to the level of slash it can alienate the advertisers.  If you have a diversity of fandom in one space and part is problematic and you don’t control it, it could spiral out of control.   Tech companies go for separate or equal spaces, separate ages, or countries,   as if this would solve it.   Once you get images or videos look at the costs.   You cannot afford it, consumption becomes a process and you have to rely on commercial monies and then you have difficult of diversity.  Fans do not always approve of others fans activities.  So for the owners at what point to the engage in the fan interactions.  So how do you balance these anarchistic practices. Some of the difficulties come into the social plays in the economies around it.


Henry: so what role do fans play in marketing strategies?   Some fans have noted the difference in treatment when a property is new vs a big success.


Diane: not an entirely fair assessment.   Our recent batman and superman movies each had creators that were very engaged in property and fan bases and respected them.. there was dialogue that happened, eg Singer did a blog.  He would show you anything. Had fan dialogue. To a certain extent it was controlled, but not from a marketing thing, which is brian determined the content, with a eye to what would impact in theatres.  He was very inclusive with fans but not completely malleable.  

If the fan stuff  is driven by marketing, it will fail it has to be driven buy the creator.

Molly: the smaller the property the more fans have an investment in it.  As a small network do not have much chance to put things out there, but try and do things.  Have an explorer game, and did not include a map deliberately.  So within days of launching a game, fans went out and created their own maps.   They created venues to talk about the game.   They are restricted in what they could contribute, but were interested observes.  But we have not done a lot to seed things.  On a summer campaign, there marketing dept put stuff on youtube…the legal dept sent a C&D – they did not communicate

danah: people put a lot of fake profiles on the site…then friendster did a fakester genocide.  Then went and sold the rights for media compnaies to create fake profiles…and the fans went what the hell.   Myspace never stopped it, which encourage…fans would create all sorts…if you best friend did not want one, you made it.   On myspace profiles you show your friends, but you can’t show them all…myspace by letting you choose your 8 friends.  Users wanted top 16, top 24 etc, the number one request.   Myspace sold this feature to Xmen…if you make friends with xMen you can have a top 24.  this drove friends to XMen…and you got all their bulletins.  So you can post all the information this way.  Now everything has a profile, that is used as a marketing tool and that now everyone ignores.  When fans are doing as it is fun and interesting they are happy. When feeling they are being manipulated they are not happy.  About half are under 18 and the most are under 35…there are tensions with the influencers…ie parents etc and those who want to abuse the users, ie marketers and paedophiles.  Parents and marketers are flooding the system with ideas of how the system should be used so it feels like it is user manipulated not user generated.



Henry: fandom is global.  Even if owners want to control access to locales.   Is this changing the way media producers make decisions.


Diane: talking about it a lot at WB, but in terms of piracy.  Not always easy or the right things to put things everywhere at once.   Something we are grappling with, hits early in the cycle for marketing, ie trailers go global.  Media companies are going to be forced to integrate or they will die.  It has not changed the model yet, other than thinking of implications now.  It is forcing us to better appreciate the consumers; do not assume they are stupid.   We have to really work hard not to under appreciate the fans.   they may want to see on the web, and the movies and the tv.

Molly: one of the biggest challenges early on was not to show a show in India as it would be offensive.  Now cartoons are spread.  Subtitles japans.   Just because fans take copies, does not mean they won’t want to own the dvd.  The window of introducing shows has come down, various issues.  But getting this done is complex, getting everyone to work together at the same time. It is now more a matter of logistics then trying to manipulate the windows.  

danah: there is an assumption that if you put it out there it will be global instantaneously.  But creators are having to deal with this, understanding the reach. It does not mean that it is global, how do you balance global vs local. Information that has stickiness flows through networks and the majority of networks are local.  Certain people have the power.  Most people do not.    Interesting question about how far content can reach.  Marketers want to capitalise the influence agents.  Things do have viral growth that is powerful but can be very slow.  To what degree are people just surfing.  Tags are the dumbest things…but are the pot smokers dream and you can just click and get content.  A lot of search and surfing is random, looking for cool things.  Teenagers click on links randomly to see where they get.


Q: biggest issue we have, about relinquishing control, it can be extremely negative.   We have tonnes of fake profiles of our entertainers…so what sort of controls have been put in place in the communities to keep a handle on it.  We want to encourage the fans who create these fake profiles but have control.


danah: myspace is outing in controls which is pissing off the fans.   there is an opportunity to work with your fans to work with them and redirect the information.   A lot of the band stuff on myspace is with bands who do not have money to do the site and engage the fans to push the stuff.  With your situation it may not be as bad…you have people enjoying being the characters.

Diane: instead of thinking about controlling it look for the opportunity to tap inot to get information out. The sites have extensive reach to fans that have interest and can use it to get words out. Rather than controlling use the network to get the word out.  Give people the alert that the profiles are not real.  

danah: when fans are involved they do not want people to be manipulative, to make inappropriate stuff.  The fans will do the legwork if you let them.


Q: there is confusion and trying to find the line between marketing and trying to support the community.  For our generation we are resistant to commercialisation and the one behind us have grown up with far more.  Are the youth so immersed in advertising you do not have to worry about crossing the line?


Molly: we have lots of restrictions around how we advertise (as a kids site) kids are brilliant at ignoring or taking on the marketing.  The first question we get when launching things is what’s the catch.   You have full episodes and people ask what is the catch…happy that it is advertising rather than subscription

Diane: you can never take for granted younger peoples screening process… so even if coming up with immersed experiences does not mean they are not savvy in rejecting. My hope is that there is some kind of greater onus to advertisers to up the bar in getting the message out.  They are more savvy and can demand and reject advertising. 

Molly: with advertising content is king.   If not interesting then it will be rejected.

danah: teenagers are so used to it they blank it out…’you don’t make relevant ads so it is useless’.   Look at revver, lonelygirl15, you get paid to share the videos if someone click so the ad.   You put the video on your site and you get the money for ad clicking.   In US, ads are the economy but it is not global, ie not making sense in china.  Look at SN sites that are micropayment supported.    We have a set of paradigms because we live here, the UK and Aus following this but different worlds elsewhere and have to think about this globally.


Q: pre-web the distinction about a fan was whether you were active.   It seems to be altered into a seamless continuum, where you can just identify yourself as a fan and that is enough.  Are we coming up with language/jargon to identify the active people?


Molly: a fan is someone who is seeking out people who have shared the experience.   We have not come up with new vocab.

Diane: one of the things I have learned with harry potter is how deeply personal the connection is.  Whenever the new movies come out, the office get calls from families who have children who are dying who want nothing more to see the new movie…they do things to help this.  It gets very very emotional;   the activity with which someone expresses the fandom takes different forms, there is such a spectrum that is so personal.  There is something that people connect with…it comes out in all different ways.  I would to figure out language but there may be no way to do it

danah: language can be done but the categories can be dangerous.   Each individual has the nuanced understanding of being a fan, what it means for them…at the other end of it is signalling and the cost of signalling.  Online I can say that I am the biggest fan in the world and what does it take to prove it.  People learn ways to challenge what people say. Online everything comes performative.  People hold a metal model of the complexity that does not ness have to be categorised.


Q: there has been discussion about monetising fandom; is this a happy marriage between fans and the legal ownership. Or can you see a point when they come into open conflict.  Or second, (missed second question)


danah: when I look at it…I am excited that google bought youtube,,we are used to challenges about copyright being individuals fighting big corps and we are now going to see a big fight to work out the big issues.   One is a copyright issue about ownership and you have the net neutrality issue…I look at this and there are a lot of legal interesting issues that will be fought out on scale now.   In terms of the queering of it, there a lot of questions.  So who is the audience, what is the space and you don’t have the traditional walls, you had to be in the know before… now anyone can access but what are the implications..

Molly: in terms of the rights there is no substitute for an open dialogue.  So on the adult stuff, we asked for content and were upfront that there would be nothing in return.   You have security in place to look at submissions or you ignore and it is frustrating

Diane: the music industry was the precursor the rest of the industry.  Optimistic that we will get something that people will use…we need to acknowledge that it is coming in some form…it is not that consumers will win with UGC…it’s not that simple…fans respect the creations.  There are degrees to which we acknowledge and it should…let those people who want to connect do so freely but not role over into other audiences who are not looking at it.

Danah: the networked publics have 4 properties.: .persistent, searchability, replicability and invisible audiences.    These existed before and are really are part of everybody’s life and this complicates the relationships between fan practices and the industries connected to.. now it is searched for easily.. and you can see how it is being used.   You can’t build the walls back…you are dealing with a gen that is growing up with that kind of life.


Q: as an interactive company we try and make sure that everything is engaging…but other compnaies do not…isn’t myspace partly responsible for curating what is on there…to keep it call.  The agencies have to make sure they are making things cool…and clients who just want to do it cos its called and myspace where it is there environment and maintain a little piece of exclusivity.


Danah: myspace: you cannot pay attention to all that happens…tom is on there 20 hours a day but that does not mean they see everything.  2/3 of staff surf looking at site…looking for illegal activity = predators, hatespeach and copyright.  They may not be able to manage all the stuff, keep it cool…it is a risk…the amount of stuff that is dumped there…there is no cost to create a profile…dans just ignore the trash…most of the users of myspace have no idea of the wide variety of stuff that is on there.  Most users do no searching on site, look at friends pages…only search when bored.  The direct marketing is killing things of.  Phishing is much more insidious…bulletin advertisements written with hacked in accounts.  Very disruptive…they are trying to keep up…


Q: to what extent do you think about migration from web to a mobile environment?


Diane: fans want to interact everywhere you can authentically and realistically give them the experience.   It is not just about slapping a label on content, but it is suited for the environment  we have struggled to do it at the quality level fans want.  If you find the right content to serve up fans will absorb it as much as the rest. 

Molly: a mobile becomes an extension of you personality…we take careful pride in creating content specific to the medium…we do original stuff that is relevant.   The experience you will have an immersive online experience that you can check in with mobile stuff but not duplicating.

danah:  In the US there is a huge problem with mobile and that is to do with carriers…they have complete control of the applications, so no one can put innovative social media on the phone which is harming the media.  There is stuff happening outside the US, in japan, etc, fandom is on the phone as well.   Young people by phone and repurpose it…in US we are obscenely behind rest of world and there are a lot of factors…I hope it will emerge but we will see it in Korea and China first.  Pay attention to google looking at mobile phone OS. You need the neutrality of phone for the apps to do things.  People want to do things but costs too much and is so difficult,.


Q: Is community and fandom part of the same continuum…and as trying to create community for content creators and are there lessons to be learned from fandom.


Molly: for animators the community is small and overlapping.  

danah: community is one of the most problematic words…you see groups of people that come together…in fandom, prior to SN, the creators of the content had little access to their fans…and for many it is a powerful opportunity and the small bands begun to frame their community and leverage it.   There is a symbiotic relationship between bands and fans…rallying the fans and the fans can display their friendship and use it.   Forming those kinds of relationships is key…networks practices that do not rely on physicality have been key to success.


Q: has anyone looked at triggers to get people from casual viewer to a committed fan?  Do the media compnaies have an interest in understanding


Henry: no science to it…a lot of research… there are a few frameworks…it is hard to measure emotional intensity… after 20 years not sure any closer to understanding…

danah: most of how you can measure is based on the traces they leave…which is about activity rather than emotional response.   Facebook newsfeed let your friends now what you are doing…the experiments are raw and awkward but will begin dot be applicable in surfacing up traces.


Nov 18

Opening Remarks – Futures of Entertainment

Josh Green gave the introduction speach this morning – Viscerality and Convergence.   A very image driven presentation so no live notes taken.    The key message is about the reactions to technology; how we bash hit and play technology until it makes our rules.  Look at the reactions, in images, the doctoring of the advertising, that happened in the reaction to the Zune.   How people respond to being constrained or how technology relationship change your behaviour.   How by buying an iPod it changed his relationship to music.    That he can put lots of music on there.  The relationship he has with the iPod feels social, he uses it to facilitate the social.

People are starting to get it, and what they are starting to get is the changed relationship.   In a converged environment, the way that we relate to technology is changed.

Social networks let you be somewhere, let you rub up against people and get to know them, experience the social.  Social networks have moved towards trust networks. Where style leaders for an individual are people you know and trust.  moves away from the the wide network to the focused group.  We are move more towards a tactile relationship, not jsut putting things out there and expecting you to soak it up.

The audiences does not equal behaviour; it is not a series of reactions.   there is a transition of impressions to expressions.  The audience now offer expressions of what they think.  Fan fiction is consumer expression.  People take the commodities and turn them into culture.  The paradox is that media producers make commodidities..but in order for it to be successful it needs to be transformed from a commodity to a cultural artifact.  But once it becomes culture you have to cede control, it is no longer yours.

Nov 17

Transmedia – Futures of Entertainment

Transmedia Properties


Paul Levitz, Michael Lebowitz, Alex Chisholm

Moderator: Henry Jenkins

What are the resistance points to transmedia?


Alex: transmedia is the intersection of TV and UGC.   It is the cost…the economics of creating things across the media is difficult.   It is very expensive given unions/guilds need to have a piece of the pie.  We don’t now how to monetise all of it.  It is still experimental. Shows are begging to be transmedia but the budgets are not there to make it work.

Michael: sometime the money is in the marketing.  Other times we struggle to say that this effective marketing.  The old form, single call to action, is dead.   Especially in the digital,  filmmakers have total control, so why would I let people play with it.  Fear on all sides, marketing, filmmakers. So what is the compelling argument to make an extension.   We came into picture at end of first season, they had a huge hit.  They gave big spaceship a challenge to provide summer entertainment and a way to get fans into the tv if joined later.   There are a lot of different roles to be served and will inevitably disappoint someone. 

Paul: one of the other problems is that creative worlds do not spring like Athena.  Most are not done like Tolkien did, from the language etc.  nothing abut heroes existed before about a year today.   We not only don’t have the economic model we also do not have the creative model.  The showrunner day job is producing a tv programme and now we have  a process where it is done all over the place and needs to come together,  their job has expanded.  It does not make sense for them to turn everything over to other people, they need to have control, the world is not yet all built.  We cannot create everything as slowly as LotR, we need to create a generation of people who have grown up in a world   when a world is built up with people build up. The current creation process means people want more and more control – that is success in that world.  Being the guy who creates is success. 

Alex: the exchange between the creators in different channels there is the role of the network executive.   Heroes at ComicCon…had an implication that part of the problem was to do with Muslim extremists, but this is not in the broadcast version. 

Michael: our company is set up across multiple disciplines but they have to collaborate to do the job and the structure makes it happens.  Everyone get a voice in our creative meetings.  

Paul: this will get solved in a new synthesis.  As the opportunity grows, you may be being bought in early.  The writing team will start to bring in people it becomes more important, it comes in earlier.

Michael: they are being approached during production and earlier to be involved rather than post.   Looking to see the production companies come to us and help them build it out as they are being challenged with coming up with a world.


Henry: how do you balance the different areas-  those who just to telly and those who are go further into the world?


Michael: built out the davinci code campaign online.  Had to struggle the 2 audiences.  A lot of thought to navigation and the experience. Had the ‘normal’ stuff and lots of rabbit holes for people to explore who were interested in going further.  This only half answers question cos when you get to Lost, we started out carefully,  we started out with the oceanic air site and added easter eggs arte different depths to see what people wanted to do.  People found them instantly and kept digging.  Thought we would work closer with the production tem but were left on their own and stuff did not necessarily go back.   But the boards were active…they discovered the Big Spaceships pages (they hosted the site) and they entered the story as a part of it, inadvertently.  

Paul: there are different tools to make it multilayer.  You want to create a story that anyone can come in at any point and say this is interesting.   You have flexibility to allow people to dip in, eg tv, itunes, dvd.   This makes it easier to do complex shows as people can start at the beginning.

Alex: each channel has to stand by itself; be able to enter one and understand it. If you move across channels they need to work together,   make it a richer experience.  I went to ComicCon and was thrilled to get the limited edition comic.  But was bummed as the first section was a rewrite of the pilot stuff.   But the back had some new stuff that was cool.   The site now builds on, with the weekly comics adding little things.  


Q: As complexity is OK now, soaps have always been complex, since started in late 40’s.   it is amazing to me that the historical context is not connected to Hill Street blues.  There is a lot of case history that has gotten lost in the culture, we seem to have come full circle.  Night-time soaps (anything that starts with previously on) and daytime soaps are using traction.   Continually ironic that the medium that started complexity still does not get recognised when you look back a the history.


Paul: certainly acknowledge soaps in areas.   But we are now breaking out of the ghetto…Roots and Hill street broke out of the ghetto and bought it to the larger audience.  A comic book was an enormous pejorative, now you can get good comic book things.  


Q: we are discussing three things as transmedia.  One is adaptation from one style to another. One is adventures in different media with no attempt to keep them consistent.,  And there is across different platforms where trying to be consistent.  Where do you these affecting each other and where do you see yourselves.


Alex: working on a project with Sarah Smith, Chasing Shakespeares.  Read book and thought it was complex…read it and thought it was a play.  Asked Sarah to make it a play and was agreed.  And as the play was developed, characters were killed, lines moved around.  I got freaked out, circumstances changed. There is a bit of negotiation as move across media.   Henry does a work shop where do Interactive story telling, across channels, looking at how to move.  Looks at keying in on the key attributes.  Bond, LotR, all great examples.

Paul: it’s all of the above.   It has to capture the sincere essence of the work.  We know that when we see it as creatives and as consumers.  The one person which is least likely to stand outside is the original creator. The original is often the person who is least happy with the transmedia stuff.    It’s a hard balance.  When you create something, you have a vision and have innate compass of what rightness is. Some creators do not have that problem.   Schulz  wanted to do everything himself, wanted strip to die with him, who else could be Charlie Brown.  Jim Davis, who created Garfield, turned out a factory of Garfield creators as welcomed different points of view.  Both can be art potentially, but there is no answer to the question that spans everything, it depends.


Q: Have you seen cross applications that revitalise a property. Do you get feedback to bring new life or new interest.  How do you see the evolution of fan culture?


Michael:  the fan participation has been there for a long time.  We’ve all heard of Star Trek slash.  There’s a lot out there and there is now more potential for things to be centralised and commercialised.  Double edged sword – it uses people but they are happy to create.  Incredibly existed, not only just on a technology level, with browser expanding with widgets etc,  the browser is the middle man, like the CD.   The things that people do on their computers getting easier to distribute, to collaborate etc, inside of an open system, there are tools that are created for the fans of the show to create things.  

Paul: look at the long arcs of the properties.  The tv show of batman in the 60’s bought it to another level, burned it out real show during the time.  It’s very hard to pinpoint the fathers of success of the next level in the 80’s, but that was a compilation of the different success.  Before Tim burtons film we had the tshirts driving a phenomenon. Al ends of the circle can feed it.  When it is really working you do not know who did it.


Q: problems with holes in plots?


Paul: the problem is not the scale of the audience.   The audience is very forgiving of the sincere mistakes.  It is not very forgiving of the ones who don’t get it, those who don’t read the stuff.  This leaks back, saying you don’t care enough to respect us.  Star Trek in 70s had this problem as the novelisations did not tie in. The obvious sloppiness does the damage.   Are you grokking what the group gets, if you do then a sincere member of the group and will will ignore the mistakes.  

Alex: it’s the becoming story now.…we can reset the clock. Look at Wicked

Paul: Wicked is not quite that, it is the under-reveal. Ie it fits with what you know but gives you more.  But the clock turning back resets the facts as well.  

Henry: how do AU worlds work?  Is this a different strategy and why do we not see it outside of comics

Paul: you do see it, and more as the geek logic permeates the culture.  You see it in the alternate history stories.   Our cultural ethos is leaking out.   It says, you know this story so what happens if a piece of the story flips.  If it feels right and is a living homage that departs and legitimately speculates then it is fine.  But difficult to tell where the line is.   Difficult to tell people; try to explain in business logic with studios.  Ultimately not yet found a great objective language for it. You can forgive no Tom Bombadil but can’t put into a theory of what you can do or not.


Q: (from, a harry potter site).    Comic book world is easy to change the worlds, when you change the artist etc you get a different world and you can expect it.  When you are talking about visual interpretations in different media…how do you deal with the people who are the visual purists..and how do you respond to the interactivity of the fans, with the shows are self-reflective, knowing their fans get on the boards and deal with those fans and those who do not want any changes…


Paul: comics are in a good position. The more the reader has to fill in the blanks the more flexible they are likely to be in the versions that follow. It is still a challenge..when singer comes in and changes the colour of the costume as it will film better. You sit back and go OK, I know he connects, and know the properties.  Is he right?   You make a gut assumption in your own head whether you think you will get lynched for or whether it will work.  When you show it and they applaud, then you go ‘whoooo’.   On Tim Burton, they were afraid to call us about Michael Keaton, the chairman of Warner brothers called.  But he was right.  Comics start from an easier place.   Prose has it easier.  As long as it is consistent with the authors world.  

Alex: 2 exmaples in theatre in New york. The number of fans that comment on Wicked daily is huge, who is the definitive glinda etc.     Second is about IP, Urinetown originated in fringe a few years ago.  It is a pastiche piece, when staging in off broadway.   In regional theatres, cast members are directing it, it is a imprint of what it looked like in new york.  The rights assignments do not exist…the original creators are not being compensated for it.  There is no recognition for this kind of thing in the rights framework.   It is not just digital media that propagates, we get Xerox musicals.


Q: are we seeing a shift towards hard transmediation instead of soft transmediation. Things designed from the start.  The entire property is one cohesive entity.  What do you see as possible distribution methods?


Michael: loves the idea of subscription content, have the content delivered to me through RSS etc.   It depends can the broadcasters let go of their own brand?  NBC does not hold interest, but Heroes holds great interest.  Networks sites are not for me…they are not focused.    There needs to be larger undersntading of the individual brands, not the parent brands,  if the internet is where people start (and that is becoming the norm) people go  online to get info and get it customised to them.  Want to go to the specialist place.  Both film and tv have a long way to go.   Would like to see this future, and all the things that interest me come t me, get my heroes application and it all runs through this application.   One of things we struggle with is we create the content and then we struggle to get people to use it in other places…they won’t use web stuff on dvd…they are not looking a the properties from the consumer perspective.

Alex: heroes, the network site means nothing, but does mean something for the fan,  that is the channel for the fans, not the network site..the content is the same.

Paul: the how of the distribution is subsumed by portals.. curators or search or stuff.  As the first creative people get it that will drive how it will go.   Once a creative person goes and pitches the whole thing then it will work.  It will be a strong creative person, in terms of track record and it will work with the finance and the guilds.  The guy with the greatest stake will solve the guild problem etc.  will come from creative centre.


Q: concerned with transmedia in a non-fiction space,  is there a good way to approach from a brand or a company.  Story telling is good way of selling a message.  What do you see the future of transmedia and none fiction.


Alex: Betsy touched on it this morning.  With the news.   A combination of how you optimise,  on the web – constantly refresh, other spaces may be more indepth. As a consumer you layer and try and create understanding across different channels.  It is in terms of getting perspectives on what is news.  


Q: journalists do not really get transmedia.   The key is you do not enter a new media unless the story can be told in the channel. Interested in branches where tranmedia crosses into UGC.  In soaps, UGC can help, so can a creative team come a editor for UGC, can you launch an online site that gives the stories about the soap characters who are not on the telly continue the story.   To expand the worlds.  This could be a great space to develop.


Paul: the problem is the intersection of the laws. It works from a creative viewpoint.  You can say fans give us everything as we own it as soon as you do and we may never send you any money.  Or you can say I never read what you can do, ignore it.   The copyright laws are set up in such as way to make it easy for people to sue you.   Once you have access, it stops other things.  We get these nuisance suits every few years.  If you want to do UGC on an IP have to do very inerous licence.  It is a discouraging thing.

Michael: thinks the idea is fantastic.  Possible form marketing things.  But not talking about the legal stuff.   But clients will need some control, eg we have a great profanity filter.  A funny balance from an executional side. There is always a vocal minority that want to fuck with you and do bad things.  Build stuff that does light moderation and keeps people involved, but not completely free.


Q: we have not touched on the ‘trans’ part that bring it all together?


Henry: uses metaphor of viewer becoming hunter and gatherer, bringing things all together. Collective intelligence as a concept closely connected to transmedia as a concept, the worlds are bigger than any one person can understand. 

Paul: the way to make it work is to make fans surrender everything, and that does not fit in with inspiring creativity.

Michael: you can pay sometimes in goodwill. On Lost, we fought to not have copyright but we lost.., in the end the fact that it was marketing was forgiven as it was good content.  You create things with dual value.  Both marketing and genuine entertainment.   This tends to buy goodwill.

Alex: it is not the number, but the how and the why.   Things will ride alongside the business to create the trans.



Nov 17

Transmedia Properties part 1- Futures of Entertainment

Transmedia Properties


Paul Levitz, Michael Lebowitz, Alex Chisholm

Moderator: Henry Jenkins

What is transmedia?

Paul: if transmedia was taking an idea and putting it across different channels – as an owner.   Aobut 1710, copyright emerged.  Mary Midnight, Christopher Smart in 1749-1752, a book and stageplay.  In US, J Fenimore Cooper, novel in 1821 and 1822 was a play.   Real start was Frankenstein, or Oz, book in 1900, play 1902, film on 1919, them many incarnations.  You have over 100 years of creative layers over each other with Oz.

Henry: Baum is a great example, original stage production had a Budweiser placements.

Alex: pushing back, look at religion, how the Romans took some of the stories from Jesus and turned them into rituals, this was transmedia.  Each generation takes it and builds on it.  Look at Wicked and Oz.

Given been around so long, so why the fuss now?

Michael: a combination of things.  The web has become all invasive, is inexpensive and a proving ground for many things.   Started in 2000 doing destination sites for films – press kit content.  Thought it was really boring so looked at what they could do to capture the spirit of the film and give value as well.  First worked on serendipity, gave different approach for Miramax, we track your path and match you up with people who had the same experience with the site and you could map people with similar behaviours.   Had to go back and create new application due to popularity.  Allowed studios to see the success.

Paul: the disappearance of old norms in advertising – a road block. You could buy the same time on the 3 networks and everyone would see your message at the same time.  You cannot do this now.  You can try…or you can break away from the 30second and do something different.  Many examples are built in combinations.  They still not sure how it works, but it is cool and they get a lot of press and people talk about it etc. etc.  if you can run the transmedia thing and no-one watches expect reporters…the reporters still spread the word.  We are in an inbetween state.

Michael – you get experimentation and  a lot of copying.” We want to make youtube but only for our brand”

Alex: last may at the upfronts, you are numb at the end as you see all this new content.  Remember seeing Heroes and going wow…they completely got it in the clip.  They talked about how it would work as a digital comic book.   Knew that was the one then.   They settled on it as a research project (and got lucky).   Heroes had a marketing team outside of typical structure; they wanted it to be a universe.  They looked at Lost etc. it fed all the thought and how it reached out.  Now it has reached a critical mass, has a tension between creators and the fans.   They are building in the downloads, all starting to work together,  as they head into the last few weeks before hiatus, they have done a great job of building audience.

Henry: superheroes are very transmedia.  What is about that genre?

Paul : it works in multimedia. Specific characters rarely become successes though (superman and batman the exceptions).  Historically it is not simultaneous transmedia but as sequential.  Superman has been different forms at different times, as has Batman.   Comics can be success as built on architecture that allows for expansive story telling.  Have open and rich environments, they have opened ended missions rather than closed quests.  For batman it mattered that he was out to eradicate evil, and that is a long term job.   Behind the curtain, it also important that these are properties that multiple creative directors can get.  For transmedia, it is important that it is all not in one persons head.  You need to find the next guy to give longevity. The essence is transferable.   If not, this destroys it for transmedia.  They had visuals that can be translated across media. The characters had pretty raw iconography. Each version is a reflections of the character. Built on strong wish fulfilment fantasies; – could I do this.  

Alex: comics move into mass at an accelerated way over last few years.  Post 9/11, the whole mythos of heroes has expanded.  There was a rise in number of shows and movies that so this, as we struggle with national identity and the battle of good vs evil.   It gives us space to deal with what is happening outside the entertainment space.

Michael: fan culture has become much more mainstream in general.   What the boom of the internet has achieved is an explosion of niches which become mainstream.   Stereotypes break down.   We open new realisations due to network of info and the new research that is possible.


Henry: what other genres that are good for transmedia?


Michael: it is really hard to do certain things.   It is difficult to achieve the scope when people on pc screen.  A lot of success with horror as it is an intimate experience. Comedy is driving force of youtube; works well in shortform, easy to watch things and laugh by yourself.   Works in small screen.   We are just scratching surface of what can be done.   You can do things diferrnetly across the media… use channels to drive different emotions.  


Henry: now we pitch worlds…to support transmedia.  Can you speak to shift about thinking of a property as a world.


Paul:   complexity is now an acceptable public virtue in story telling.  Think about how LotR was marketed as a book – they complexity had to be camouflaged.  Look at TV, Roots could have been a turning point as you go from standalones to a series….to watch multiple episodes for its cumulative value.  If you had talked about this complexity a year or two before Hill street it would not have worked.    Access to material raises the stakes.  When lots of things available, the stronger built world can crowd out the imitations.   When less there, there was room for the imitation to be successful as you could not easily get real thing.  Now you have perpetual availability of the best version.  So you need to build well to push out the other guys.    In film, we are living in a time when there is change to the experience of film going.  Can’t build things epic scale everywhere, need to do the big screen.

Alex: one of Henry’s students is doing his thesis on soaps.  Huge worlds around these.  The fan communities are committed and involved; there is a huge ecosystem.   Sports in transmedia has exploded.  Look at Madden games, look at fantasy leagues.  Everyone has one.  The world used to be you watched once a week and that was it.  Now this economy where statistics are the currency.   The world fuels a whole cascade of other contests with the fantasy.  Information is play in the fantasy sports domain.  You now have push/pull in tv and online.   Looking at making things relevant, like Olympics, how can you engage people across platforms, gaming coming in.

Michael: fantasy allows you to live in the world.   It’s a great kick to play in the world.  

Nov 17

UGC2 – Futures of Entertainment

Notes from lat 90mins

Q: interested in the gameworld economics.  Games were initially one track, single developers, now we keep expanding, now MMORG, more user generated.   Game developers are stepping back; where do you think the developers will end up?  Will users have more control?    How do we move forward with game currency?   People do not act the same way in virtual world…what will the economics.


Kevin: if only 1% are creating, there is still 99% pf people who need a product. Therefore always necessity to have professional developers to support this.  On economics, the use of real world currency to create virtual currency can be a problem.  How do we develop way to be secure, safe etc to provide a consistent experience for the consumer.  The community at large still have a larger brainpower to get round the system.  There’s always a new problem and we still have to solve it.

Rob: no matter how clever you are as a developer you will still not be cleverer than the web…so those who invite participation may be more successful.   Games are a very interesting…as a designer you are a developer, toymaker, story teller.  You need many different skills and it is a complex process to manage.    So will the developer step back? It depends what you are trying to create.   The designer may want to leave room for people to create themselves.  Most artistic forms end with a single result, games often have multiple endings.  I see the games opening up to more UGC, whether SL or WoW.  The reward participation on many levels, one of which is the creation of things in the game which can be traded.  And this can be gamed.   Today… you have companies that play games for you to build levels…to create objects that can be sold in real world.   The companies that design the game assert they own the content, they own the IP of the objects that are created ingame so they cannot be sold in real life.  If you open up your world to people see emergent behaviour they do not expect at all.    Open APIS embrace the notion of emergent behaviour.  You enlist your audience to propagate your meme.


Josh:this raises the question of labour.  If UGC create value for the company, do you compensate them


Caterina: youtube and revver.  Which one took off?   There are different motivations; making this cool video of lipsynching to get fame, notoriety as opposed ot sitting there and working out what can get you money.  Different ways of thinking, gets different content. Revver is commercial, youtube is real (in general).   There are lots of people who do make money from the Flickr photos, they don’t facilitate it, it happens.  If you want to sell your photos, there are other ways to do it.

Ji: the bubble project got a lot of interest from commercial companies, who wanted to do it different ways.  But the reason why people were interested was that it was not commercial.  Look at lonelygirl15, on the cover of wired magazine complaining she not get paid.


Q: what is fair use and what is derivative. Has their been legal issues in Ji publishing the books with the bubbles.


Ji: I just create a platform for people to communicate.  Have been called a vandal a lot.   He makes it clear that they do not support vandalism.  He did get a few issues with police and requests from the lawyer from van wagner about stopping his work.. but it is now outside his control and a life of his own.  It’s in the domain of people who are doing it, no one is responsible.  On the website…he spoke to his lawyer and is comfortable.  Changing the context of ad by putting sticker and creating an artistic photo, so creating an artistic work so protected.


Q: how do you pick out a community to stake out your territory (as a user).  From a user, how do you sort out what there is.   Once you make your choice, how do cope with your choice changing.  With all of the sites you do not know where they going.   How do you agree with trust?


Rob: check out ToU for youtube.

Caterina – check out flickr – you own your content.   Not all photos sites do.

Q: friendster changed….it changed the trust.

Caterina: worked on netscape a long time ago.   After AOL bought it, they shut down the communities.  It was bloodshed, all the people who had developed communities, there was no where to go, you could not find your friends.  Companies appear to be learning you cannot do.  Insistent when joined Yahoo that they did not change things.  Yes, there could be too many sites out there, you need to choose which ones to put your energy into.   I try a lot of things, but don’t carry on.   So what comes after this, after participatory media.  Speaking to Linda Stone, (continuous partial attention.)  who suggested we are moving away from lots of social connections and moving towards being able to chose the connections, constricting the networks.  Focusing on the key number of people.  Less of multiple connecting, more to the focus on you key services, key people.  So what is the killer app for this world?


Q: when thinking about UGC, it is still cutting edge.  Online, quite young.  Can it really become a mass phenomenon.   How about people who don’t have the time and energy to plough through this?  Is there roles for choice editors?


Caterina: bought up Brad Horowitz pyramid.   This is typical across many of these services.  Ever since the internet has existed, the lurker has been there.   They just consume.  They are still in it, just not doing anything.  

Rob: what do you mean by mass?   It is, look at the profiles.   It is mass.   It may not be across all the demo, but it is mass.

Q: look at US population, it is still limited, so what are the others doing?

Rob: savvy marketers are using myspace like crazy.  There are over 300 networking sites at least, for all segments.


Rob: it is important if you are asking people to invest time, you are being entrusted with something precious.  It may not be monetizable, but it is worth something to the user.  If you exploit the content, then you lose the trust.  It is worth paying attention to the sites ToU, so you understand where your content is going. Especially as you create your identity across the web.

Caterina: the AOL search thing was a good example.   You could track down people from what searches were done.  


Q: (advertiser).  When there is a model to monetise for UGC, will this hurt or help?


Caterina: people don’t pay for distribution, they pay for storage when they are a member.   There are advertisements (but not on pro) and you won’t see them on an individual user photo.  


Q: You’ve talked about ratings and whether to use or not.   And how do you get critical mass at the beginning when starting these things?


Caterina: we were assiduous community builders from the start.  Every single person that came to the site, they greeted.  They would engage in conversation, they would chat, around the clock.  Cos every single one of those users was important.  We wanted them to come back.   But this does not scale, but you have established a culture that everyone is social and greets people.  You have to establish the accepted behaviour.  

Rob: meshes with a new trend.  The first wave was sites that let you connect with a community of friends and it moves to communities of interest, linking round a hobby. Now ,moving to a community of practice, whether religion or social etc, where you have a common sensibility.   It’s hard to create a new practice and create a new mode of behaviour.  

Caterina: legs pantyhouse wanted a community, so put up all these photos.  All the fetishists turned up  – not what they wanted.

Ji: took about 3 years to get to the critical mass.   There was the virtual aspect and the real aspect.   Both were important, the two elements co-exist and cannot be separated.


Q: there was an early consensus that it did not matter is UGC was bad?  Will it be a more pressing question in a few years?  


Kevin: when I indicated that it did not matter, the fact is that people are participating in the community, so we as a business is to build as big a community as possible,  we are not going to put a value judgement on quality, but it is awesome that it is happening. That is what we want.,  they do things that goes beyond content generation,  because some peoples stuff is good, it creates this pool of employees.  A large proportion have been hired out of the community.  People who contribute can be identified as generators, they can get contracts etc.  this all just generates more stuff for the community. So 4400 neverwinter community modules have been created.  That is a lot of extra material for people.  Neverwinter came out 5 years ago…average cycle for games is first few weeks,  because of the toolset, it is in its 5th edition and is high in game charts.   So it is not bad that a lot of material is bad.  It is good that some is good.  From the business model, it is not ness for all to be good.

Caterina.  Same for flickr,  my photos are consistently crappy.  I take with cameraphone, more as a way to communicate with friends.  95% of everything is crap, or not relevant to you. You need to create a system so you can find the 5% you are interested in.  Just because not good for you, does not mean it does not have a value.

Rob: good or bad is a relic of a scarcity economy.  A 2 way network invites the possibility of an exchange when people can create a context, with metadata.   Gives different ways of perception. This is the biggest shift, so that audiences can deem what is valuable and they make the decisions themselves.

Q: are you predicting a shift to get exclusive UGC when these become hubs (ie without the ‘original’ ie star wars)

Rob: isn’t this what flickr is?  Content streams intersect.  Lonelygirl15 is the same.  you get an economy around these that becomes self sustaining.


Q: what is the boundary for what is or is not a game. How do you get people involved


Kevin: when a company wants to develop a community they made a difficult decision.  They make a decision to release a toolset that takes a lot of time and consumes many people in the company.  Look at Oblivion. You have access to everything.  You can manipulate everything.  Therefore you can break the game in a second.  When you make a conscious decision to release a tool set you have to provide a wide breadth of things they can do and then a lot of work to make sure they can’t break it.

Li: on the bubble project, it was just peoples frustration towards advertising.  Gives people a chance to talk back to things that is forced down their throat.  Give the opportunity to express their freedom of speech.

Caterina: a human need.  A 10month old nephew just points at things…look, look.  You want to share your experience and show things to other people,  it is a desire to connect, to have your perspective seen and understood.  We have ended up with mmp photosharing.  When we made groups we anticipated certain things, not people using them for numerical order groups.  What’s in my bag.  Transparent screens is so much fun.  it changed photography from being formal etc to people taking photos to participate which is very different behaviour.

Rob: people trying to meet human needs, eg maslow diagram.   Certainty and variety.  Significance and connection.   Growth and contribution.   Any collaborative effort can fulfil these needs, giving satisfaction.   Money is not the driver why people do this.   This is not about the product.  If you think about you video being a product, it is the wrong way of thinking. It is not a product, it is participation.  Participatory is all about the doing, not the end stuff.  It is most important that they are doing not consuming.


Q: from media planning, getting a lot of messages whether welcome or not welcome.  We are funding the space, so reps trying to get them to be involved.


Caterina: example is Nikons stunning gallery. Got in touch with flickr users, gave them a camera, used on website and on commercials.   Thought that was the perfect intersect. Have been doing a fantastic job of doing.  Needs more creative thinking, more co-operation, is harder, needs more leg work..  but is authentic and this pays off big time.. there is a place for it and it is not just slapping an ad against the content – involving the people.  

Kevin: we are starting to explore ingame advertising, there is a strong cultural push in company that it is not exploitive, not intrusive.  We anticipate that movies have product placement/  we have to ensure we do not break suspension of disbelief with players in world with ingame adverts.   You can’t pick up a coke in a medieval game.  Has to be completely in context and so well woven into the world to be transparent so you are expecting to se the ads.

Caterina: you also have to be prepared to have the bubble ads to come along.

Ji: the bubbles add value to the ads. Things happen organically; give up control and you may be happy.


Q: when creating elder scrolls 2, got a number of people registering opver 65.  they had been given the game along with a computer by children. Generally now housebound who enjoyed travel. They created a character that suited themselves. The walked around being an itinerant priest. Got social interaction,, just walking around.  The did not give a damn about the quest…they wanted to see the detail.   They used it for their purpose.  This taught us that the move you try and constrain, the more people try and break the game.  Oblivion toolset was put in with the understanding that people wanted to break it.   We talked about metatagging, by it’s nature it is wonderful, to give more information.  But how do I get rating and determine good and bad.   How do I find the good stuff?


Li: that’s web3.0!!!

Caterina: there’s a lot of work that is being done about personalisation.   Working at yahoo on myweb…gives search results that I am interested in.  you have own definitions of cool.   Myweb would find me things that I thought was cool. Was constraining search  results to pages that my friends had looked at.  You will see more stuff that does that.

Kevin: does movielens do what you are after.  You rank your movies and then it matches up with similar lists and displays similar preferences.    

Caterina: you have to contribute the content or it is not going to work!



Nov 17

Futures of Entertainment – User Generated Content

Notes….after first 45mins.

User Generated Content

Caterina Fake, Ji Lee, Rob Tercek, Kevin Barrett

Caterina: we are coming back to a time when the producer and the consumer are one. People make their own content. The big bands are not a natural state of affairs…UGC is a return to this kind of activity.

Rob: participatory media is a broad section, a subset is UGC. There are people who want to create. SL is another area. The 2 terms are sometimes blurred…not all PM is UGC.

Josh: the initial flickr game was about building an architecture…the creation gives an area for people to participate. Why at this point is there such growing interest/

Rob: the traditional economics have fallen off a cliff. The numbers are not going to get better soon and does not see a bright tv future. On the web you have to drive costs out and have to get production to the consumer. The tools are getting cheaper, and the threshold of getting in is much lower and the cost of distribution is trivial.

Caterina – there is annoyance with mass consumer culture…the choice is reduced and everything is the same. There is a desire for personal expression and individuality. This is a way of doing that.

Josh: Is there a way in advertising?

Ji: yes, that is what they are getting into. They all look the same, people do not want to watch the boring ads…so what is the way to connect with consumers? Look at Chevy Tahoe example. There was a lot of negatives as well. But in the end there was a lot of consumers to their site, over 600k visitors who were there >9mins on the commercial and increased to the .com site. Creating a dialogue is far better than just shouting. This is the future in that they can connect with their consumers.

Josh: what are the risks with letting go of control. Chevy let go and what they got back may not have been quite what they expected.

Ji: similar to a personal conversation. It’s like me talking to a friend one way…by creating a dialogue you have to listen.

Kevin – from the game side there is opportunities and risks. Games want the UGC, community generation, etc. 3.2 million in their community, adding 50k month, even in a year when no games released. The aurora engine that shipped was a powerful CMS, and gives tools for people to create adventures, wanted to empower players to be able to create. A powerful tool set to create in an electronic environment. You get a lot of hobbyists getting together to compare stuff, with a lot of dominance assertion behaviours. Maybe only 1% are generating material (30k) but stats tracking 20% of users are using the content. The material can be 20-30min or as long as 20 hours. Tonnes of opportunities for community building. If 20% want to get the extra stuff, as the content increases and gets better the participants will increase. The risks is that the content is poor…but it does not matter.

Rob: you can have an architecture that invites participation or control. Chevy was about control. The shots were limited, high production values. The response was limited and not surprising there was a backlash. Limiting choice means control. Other sites do not do that, web2.0 sites same to open themselves up. This is why traditional media companies don’t necessarily get this so do not give up control and not breakout on web. Look at tv companies, they are not good at listening, it is broadcast and control. People move away.

Caterina: you have to be honest with users. Dealing with large companies you get blanket denial. If you can confess as a company, agree that it sucks, you can be honest, then this is a refreshing change. Do right, and people will support.

Josh: UGC goes hand in hand with community. Does it matter is all the users do not participate? There are degrees of engagement, that is missed from the debate.

Kevin: our best download was a pack that just gave lots of content…the community expansion pack.. they were interested in finding out what the rest of the community were doing.

Josh: one of the criticisms is that it is amateur?

Caterina – it used to be very expensive to buy a camera. The prices have come down and now within reach of all. Access to tools is growing. The mass of amateurs will beat out a professional

Rob: a lot of rules about content creation are broken all the days. MTV broke the rules of the BBC. The editors they had wanted to do it the BBC way, and did not want to do it the new way. Now those techniques have been adopted.

Josh: Are we looking at a greater diversity of products?

Rob: Yes. We change the way we are doing it. Look at the breadth in music, filesharing allows more exposure. The audience grows, more music increases

Caterina: in 2005 a lot of teenagers from Dubai/UAE suddenly joined. Not planned, just came.

Rob: a question about tagging, as the meta info is big. Tagging is a way for everyone to join in. You may not take great photos, but you can join in.

Caterina: Interestingness – a collection of algorithms that look at the user behaviour. How are the photos used.

They made a deliberate decision not to include ratings. .despite the early requests. Voting can lead to gaming the system so did not want to do.

Josh: digg – the ratings is the UGC.

Caterina – dig is confronting a lot of gaming. One of the biggest issues is the gaming of it.

Kevin: quick slideshow Can UGC content replacing professional stuff in the gaming world? Potentially, yes. Amateur producers would need to understand that the aim of game design is to produce something fun not just something cool. Most of the UGC is cool, they want to play – eg setting everything on fire in the game. So what is fun? We have to go way back to understand the natural history of fun. three hunters go out and get an antelope. Brings back enough for 3 days. The 1st type goes straight out to get the next one. The 2nd goes to sleep for three days before going out again. The 3rd tries out new things and teaches all the other people to hunt and what went well. SO what happens to them? The 1st goes out and get killed.., so no kids. The 2nd rests for a few days, gets unfit, loses skills does not get food and then they all starve. The 3rd. simulates the hunts in the safety of the camp, plays games, increases rate of survival, improves his chances the next time. We are descended from the people who played games, who taught others, we inherited these predispositions to teach and learn, tell stories, to have fun. When we work out, solve problems, tell a good story, we rerlease dopamine, which means we feel good and do it again. We do activity, enjoy it, so do it again. This theory proposes that fun is this cycle. As a theory, this helps us in game design. So the early guys hunted, told stories and simulated. All of these fun cycles can be replicated in the games. So we have simulated combat, movement and manoeuvre, etc. Eg Doom. We have social fun and games, story, trading, sharing, competition, teamwork, eg Sims. We have metal fun and games, tactical, strategic planning, pattern setting, goal choice, meaningful choice making eg tetris. So to make gthe best game we blend it all together, eg world of warcraft. 4-5 million users. Blended fun games do physical, social and mental. So back to the question is …only if the nature of fun activities become understood.

Nov 17

Futures of Entertainment – Television Futures

This is the first session from the Futures of Entertainment conference taking place at MIT this weekend. THis has been corrected for spelling not for sense.
Television Futures

Andy Hunter, Mark Warshaw, Josh Bernoff, Betsy Morgan

Set the scene:

Josh: speaking from a perspective of thinkers..people who
have ideas about media. analysed this for 10 years…has
some advice on ways t think about it.

1. do not assume that nothing is going to change – there is real change, all the
online and offline stuff. money is now shifting.

2. do not
assume that everything will change. you may not be able to
see everything you want all the time. Still will be telly
in 10 years.

3. do not assume that its about the ideas and
not about the business. still about the business, the
changes that happen come about due to complex
relationships challenge the ability of ideas to happens. 4.
do no assume that business drives everything. Start with
consumers and consumers behaviours, when people want things
and the tech is there, they take it into their own hands.
and business has to catch up somewhere in the middle of that lot
something will happen. trends: 16-17% of US population have DVR, 20% HD TV, >25% VOD cable, (about half of them using it). By end of this year. It’s
making a difference now. 1.DVR tend to watch more than half
recorded, and skoip80-90 % commercials. The TV networks say
it is not a problem,,,therefore it is!!!! A Survey of
advertisers – and they are shifting investment from TV to
web. 2.Video in multiple formats – companies do this, eg
cbs, discovery. this is a big shift in industry..they look
to move across the media. 3.TV is broader now and
tiered…top tier, generally watched at the time, 2nd tier of
cable content, also repeated, in VOD, =on web, extensive
syndication. 3rd tier independent producers, those who
aspire to be professional and place content where people can
be, and finally the real amateur, anyone can be there.
every element of the pyramid can make money, but not necessarily
in the same way. all have own economics and business
models…very confusing…

Betsy: in the last 18 months, there has been a growing
interest in opening minds and cheque books to put content in
a lot of places. traditional companies find it hard to embrace
disruptive technologies. the rules are changing and the
execs have to change. .the construct is getting blown up.
everyone is asking what does it mean using these techs.
what does it mean to have csi on cbs, Google video etc.
the networks still follow structure, have seasons, have an
upfront. this year they have a couple months of data looking
at the new stuff, model this fall has been to put it out there
and see what people are consuming and there is a great
interest in what is happening., they are experimenting and
seeing how well or poorly it does. get the data and let it
inform the next steps. On the news side, the is
doing ok and is growing. My business is not just to put
the content on the site, but on a lot of different
platforms..other vides, cell , etc. lots of relationships.
I thinks about all the different ways when thinking
about the reach of her brand. going forward looking at more
commercialising it, will have ads to it and be able to
monetise it.

Mark: it is about putting it out there. put on net and see
what happens. all collecting data. putting it on AOL firsr
– the samllville fan was not a AOL user.. but it
attractedpeople to AOl to ewatch it. tinnes of peopel came
from all over the world. t hat changed their thinking, shpwed
when they were big, showed wher ethe fans were. talkign
about it and putting on sites and starting to activate
people. it moves fast,..this influenced the way the next
series was built/rolled out. adjust all the time. change
the dvds etc. this year will be putting on phones and
on the web after that. still at beginning, still learning,
no clue where it will go.

Andy; we have a very tuff job. as the world changes, the
model of how we go to business has turned 180. we are looking
for a big bang for the buck, mass speaking through conduit of
tv, all metrics and market economy all based on tv, how they
think about things. what you are seeing is the move away
from the tv at the top to being equalised, so everything sits
on a paralllel. the networks business folks change what
they are dong, but the background still the same form the tv
business side. most of the revenue comes form trading floor
of buying selling media – 30dec commercials, and as that
changes, the business models need to changes. it’s a slow
change. We would love to tell the stories walk
away from a single TV spot and sell transmedia stories.
clients uncomfortable as there is no metric tied into it and
we can’t tie them all together,…all the metrics based on
mass audience, then precarious position selling to clients.
last thing is about coming up with ideas. the creative
industry is driven from 30sec films that have a single
message, and now we need to tell stories in chapters across
media and that is a far more difficult job and the creative
folks hold some of the burden but changing the way they think
is very very difficult. excellent position for the fact far
more channels to work with, ways to try things new, we are
but clients not necessarily there yet, have to be able to take risk.

Josh: so why don’t they just change? The media buyers have to
be very efficient as the margins are small, there is
market as all the good in the tv market are the same..30
secs…they are all interchangeable. the sameness makes it
easy to skip..the sameness makes them vulnerable. they
can’t just change it..the market provides inertia.

Betsy: one of the reasons the media company are willing to
experiment, as the old model is not in immediate jeopardy
due to the consistency of the model, the web makes it more
difficult to get the data and the roi,,,all the different ways of
measuring’s a lot easier to buy the 30sec slot.
4.5billion tv adverts on cbs. all together do 13billion in
30secs slots. that a pretty big engine to disrupt quickly.
the model will change, the cracks are there, the curve ill
flatten out but not immediate.

Mark – they are trying to change things, it is a learning
curve, online etc, they can offend the fan easily, need to
meet fans objectives and tell the story. they work with
brands to bring them in and brands are coming back to work
with them in a different way.

Betsy – looking at different do story line, on web,
digital. Mark, are the writers getting paid for webisodes?

Mark: the unions are going to have to figure out the payment
structure for this. the fans want tit the advertisers want to
part of it. can’t not have it anymore, if the actors don’t
do it, how can you tell the story. moving from fear to
greed. unions need to structure this.

Betsy – the networks need to change their budget structures
to allow the influence of web to come on. all of a sudden
you have to do digital, and other things, and things become
more expensive so that is changing that budget model. the
actors ask for more money, the writers do and this disrupts
the existing model

What happens to appointment based tv in a world of on demand.

Josh: the scheduling is the largest change that has happened
to tv.. the VOD etc means people don’t watch tv at the time
broadcast. the ratings of the broadcast times go down, but
still people watching. there will still be some of the
appointment stuff…they will become more valuable, the rest
of tv is moving away from the schedule…and that makes the
tv ads more difficult as they are no longer timebound. the
good thing is that the audience has now a longer life. the
schedulers themselves are going to have to change – they will
have less power. the power is in promoting and bankrolling
programmes overall, not about who will own Thursday night.

Betsy: not immediate; there is still a role for them. they
put nights together…has been historically to get the
audience to a new show. now the impact on marketing 0 how
do I tell people about a new show as you can’t assume that you
can thread people through the night. nbc said a few weeks
ago not necessarily going to think about leadins etc.

Andy – NBC doing some interesting things…their business sis
being challenged, so having to change. appointment tv is
starting to dissolve. sports is still appointment tv and
always will be. participatory media will drive app tv and
will continue. you want to know the story and follow the
people. Murdoch is looking at creating cgm for tv
programming, embedding technology so people can mash up
content in set top box. relevance will get bigger.

Josh: some companies looking at doing set top boxes that
deliver internet tv, announced in CES. all january you will
here about boxes bringing internet content to the tv. cbs
announced this week that they have done a deal. believes
that apple will come out with a hardrive on their new set top
box…move away from streaming..thinks 50/50 chance there will
be a tv tuner in it, they own the interface – impact tivo
etc. they have all 4 tiers of content on the tv. the future of
tivo is intimately connected to the deals. the service
becomes important rather than the box.

Betsy: on doing the itunes deals..the apple guy was just
thinking about the consumer. the cbs were thinking about all
the business issues.

Andy: these things challenge the networks – if I can go to
apple/setbox etc, what is the reason to go to a network
anymore. what does the brand stand for. of everything is
transactional.. I’m attached to content, not to the network.
so ads should look at attaching to properties etc.

Betsy: cbs is in the business they are in and gets great
content is that the financial model still does work where the
big networks can bankroll the biggest shows, have a strong
structure in place, see the relationships to see the good
stuff etc. there is value in the big networks.. you may not
be threading people through a night there is still value and
power in the networks and if they do everything right and
get stuff on other platform they are still gatekeepers and
content producers. If apples sell devices they do not necessarily
want to bankroll producers in hollywood

Andy: outside of the network space, when you look at Google
etc becoming an aggregator for content having the money and
the power may not ness be as important. look at Revver, you can
attach ads to the content that you are that
model grows and independents figure ways to sustain their
process the model will change.

Henry: how long until a producer (eg jjabrams) goes direct to
market and not through networks.

Josh: Fish put concerts on their site and allowed people to
download unprotected content. fish said we had a
relationship with our fans, we will make money from the stuff
we put out. they were not ness interested in working with
big labels. when you are an artist, it is easier to
delegate distribution and marketing to the publishers than
do it yourself. most producers, even if a direct
relationship, would still delegate the work and distribution
to someone who does this professionally.

Andy: can an artist walk away from the distribution networks.
it is happening and will happen more, but slow approach.
yesterday morgan freeman was talking about his own studio and
will be distributing over the web. lucas is not going to do
blockbusters and changing the way he is producing, he is
doing 30-50 short films over the year distributed digitally.

Q: what do you think about kids on line (AOL kids stuff).
digital stuff moving onto networks.

Josh: it is very expensive to find good tv shows. cbs have a
facility in las Vegas to screen pilots, spends lots of money
doing the research etc. it’s all a lot easier if you can
sit and wait for stuff to trickle up through internet and
become popular and then networks can see them. the lower
tiers will generate talent and will go up if great, and the
opposite way as well as things go down and not a broad
enough audience. the tiers give the flexibility for things
to move up and down.

Mark: studies are looking a the web as a farm system, put
stuff out there and see if people react to it and see what
the audience is.

Josh: the cost of tv production has been reduced, you can make
stuff pretty good on a computer., the cost of distribution
is 0. but mass distribution is very expensive. where costs
are low is where people try things out. there; has always
been more talent than success..the cheap stuff allows people
to create.

Q: a lot of what you are talking about are disintermediation,
where a lot of the power of the gatekeepers are changing.
the power gets split. comments on whether the trend is true
or if there is a missing piece and we have to move to a
different level of intermediary, gatekeeper. do we end up
with new forms, new services in a fractionalised advertising

Betsy: there’s an economic system that has not caught up with
the tech yet. people consume in lots of places.
advertisers have a different way of thinking about it. needs
to simply distribution. research has not caught up yet.
want to be able to say to the advertisers how many watched the
show in the different forms. they need a system that is
robust enough so that the agencies understand the numbers and
can share with clients and they can understand. youtube
will start to introduce more commercials in their products.
a lot of feedback about preroll..people don’t like the 30sec
ad just shoved on. do people disappear from yt once
commercials on the video. it is happening, you can’t stop
it, so how do you respond to it.

Josh. in 1995, walmart and tower records were the most
powerful music companies. Now apple and myspace are power
mongers. there are new companies that do it – the player
changes, not the role. if you want big money you need big
audiences. google buying yt is about creating a big
gatekeeper/intermediator. Brightcove put adverts across the
videos and send money tot eh content providers. they are a
new gatekeeper. the role stays the same. he sees this all
the time. the rise and fall of power. efficiency needs
someone in the middle

Andy: from the ad industry, looking for integration. you
have media traders for the different silos. thinks you will
begin to see buys across the silos, more like a mutual fund
manager, what is the portfolio, what’s the model across the
different categories. need to get the skill and the people.
the agencies become an aggregator as well.

Josh: the devices will have to change to allow you to
navigate across the large amount of content. so the service
provider, and set top box will start to curate and point
people. and people will have to pay to be on the top of the

Betsy: it happens now with mobile phone companies. they
curate what they display. the channel position is on the
cell, you have to negotiate this. you have to think about
channel position on multiple media routes. 60mins have had
a successful partnerships with yahoo, they get outtakes and
additional video etc. on Mondays when on yahoo homepage, the
traffic numbers spike. 82million come through this
page..this drives a lot of traffic. the pole position is
very valuable. when on youtube homepage, on directors cut
loop, does a lot better, so on the home pages, they are the
gatekepers, and this is a market to manage.

Q: in 2009, the fcc is saying that over the air will all be
digital. the number of channels could increase
dramatically, further fragmentizes the audience. undermines
the regulatory authority (as will as the advertising base),
undermines the compelling state interest in treating broadcast
as a right. the position is based on the scarcity rationale.
so what kind of tv will exist this, will networks be group
owners etc monopolies

Josh: forester is surveying at the moment, and hopes to be
able to prove that the average consumer has no clue what is
going to happen. so what happens when the 20% (who only get
over the air)or so people discover that their telly won’t
work. the scarcity rationale is already blown, it’s based on
those people who only have over the air and this reduces all
the same most people will not give up their cable. the fcc
continues to try and get public interest etc, the networks
are looking at multicasting, but think their survival is
still dependent on having one high quality the big
ones still likely to exist.

Andy: we hope we do not have another 17000 channels with
noting on it. as we move into the hd world, it is an
opportunity. they can be more relevant etc on the radio.
on the TV side it is not just channels but about relevance,
you need that filter to fins what they want. the companies
will be a filter.

Q: josh thought that vivo etc have to force advertisers to
look at other manners. challenge that advertisers are going
with their consumers. so going this as opposed to TV losing
its effectiveness. advertisers are not saying TV is not
working, but looking at others. and Betsy – is Google
friend or foe. does Google want to become the advertising
OS. to sell real-time, relevant advertising

Josh: did a survey in conjunction with assoc with national
advertisers – asked them if they were planning on shifting
money away from telly..a clear majority said yes (60% or so)
reducing TV by at least 20%, it is going to web. Presented
to the advertising conference. they asked the audience to
poll..what is biggest threat to TV advertising..they picked
clutter – too many ads on the TV. that’s monopoly thinking
as the networks add more ads to the programmes as they make
more money. there is a clear rumbling in the industry.

Andy: advertising is TV focused, to a degree where they may be
in a state of denial. peoples media usage has completely
changed. they are still looking at TV as pinnacle and this is
wrong. its not saying that it is ineffective but that role
and importance has been put on a plane. we have to create
the ecosystems where there are several channels speaking
together and creating a story. we do a lots of research for
18-24 yo and all you need to look at the anecdotes. TV is
not important, still watch it and not as relevant, they are
doing lots of other things all the time, their engagement is
very different as a marketing industry have to get out of
that state of denial and we are in a media neutral world.

Josh: all the big companies are saying they will move
significant proportions out of TV.

Andy: one of the reasons why not an immediate shift is
because the metrics not there to track effectiveness.

Josh: on record that 2007 is the year of change.

Betsy: Google friend or foe? it’s both. co-opetition. you
can both. you can be a partner and a competitor. we know
the Google guys well and working with them. we want to
understand what they are doing. trying to understand them..
they are trying to understand what the networks are doing,
Eric Schmidt is clear that they do not want to be a content
company and has stated that in meetings. they are clear they
are engineering companies and focusing on the ads. the
business are looking at the way the media planners buy the
media – its a human capital intense business to sell
advertising. Google comes in and thinks about making this
far more efficient for the advertisers. can’t you make that
a far more efficient process. wouldn’t the advertisers be
pleased with far more technological answers with lots of
numbers. they are looking at this really seriously. thinks
we will end up in the middle. it is less intense, and not
fully tech. if the media company is smart will embrace the
tech but do not give up their strengths. need to understand
what the agencies want and what the advertisers want. as a
distributors in the same positions. abscond get 30million
Unique/month. we look at the information distribution, how
you can find the info. think about the content going out in
tiny bits bites and now think about 30second bites that can
be bucketed and searched and tracked. trends is a great
product and working with this..plugging a word and see how
people are searching, geo, layer this on census and maps etc.
gives a tools for journalists etc to find out what people
are interested in etc. products that Google are creating
can be really helpful for media companies and news
information, in the business of reporting and telling
stories..the tech can help us report and find stories.

Q: entertainment can include informational content is served
up in the right way, eg MLB site…was wondering who stands
to win fro the putting stuff out there strategy. is it the
independents, or the aggregators. can you create a
community. or is it a mater of luck. does this mean the
aggregators win again in the long run. can you apply Google
to TV to find stuff as lots of content. now I’ve just
goggled josh and found presentation from 1997 about how
people would get TV in 10 years. so what would your
predictions now be!!

Josh. there are breakthroughs. Hillcrest homes. a remote
control that looks like a bagel, three button and a scroll
wheel, a TV remote, interacts with TV. a high level of
precision, like wii remote. combined with graphical
interface. this is a way you can get access. one of the CES
announcements will include this interface. does for telly
want the mouse does for computer. there is still an
important role for aggregators. who has the power in
ebay..comsumers has the power and not really great for
retailers as they buy stuff form each other. communities is
not just luck.,.there are certain qualities that help it take
off. just in brazil and everyone uses orkut. always about
empowering the community..can;t create too much rules..they
go elsewhere to carry on the conversation. there will be more viewing on demand, all different content
tiers, looking at anything you want when you want.
advertising still central to delivery. form of advertisements
will have greater variety. move away from 30sec to
interactive, branded entertainment etc.

Andy: you should not ask about creating of community but the
fostering of a community. but clients do not like the idea
of fostering they want to control it. you are not in the
position can help manage. you can foster, and it is
doable, but getting the client to that point is difficult.

Mark: it’s about the story and your relationship with your
fans., from that place you foster out your community and it
starts to build up on itself. as TV gets closer to internet
you will start at aggregators places to get the message out
and then you take the story deeper and the fans can go down
the rabbit hole. deepen and let people get time to explore.
people male more of an investment in their
entertainment. gets deeper, erg lost is perfect example. so
what other community am I going to dive now, heroes has won
this year., you can dig deeper. you get the novel, the
website etc. you put Easter egg out there. more things
you give your fans to talk about the stronger your community.

Q: people do watch sporting events after the fact…you said
that apple make devices, but are the major distributor of there any indications they want to move into

Josh: is being on the board of Disney not enough for apple? 2
years ago the songs sold on itunes has been 20 songs/iPod.
there are 4x ipods and the ratio is still the same. the
profit from itunes is tiny; they sold 8million ipods last
quarter. you have to make the de vice experience great but
happy to let the content people take all the risks with the
content. with the risks about the content choice. in the
content business you are only as good as your last hit.

Henry: what is the role of neilson ratings? they have just
added tivo ratings..and some shows have been way

Betsy: how much is based on diaries?

Josh: people meters are the key things. sweeps are a bit
diary based becoming a lot more automated. trying to fix
the problems. there are 8000 in their national panel.. they
move very slowly in adjusting to the tech.. the methodology is
base don home and not tracking the new stuff. they
announced a plan to monitor the new devices. they only came
up with dvr ratings in 2004, 5 years after they came
out. and had to retool for 6 months. now just doing vod
ratings. in any given month 95% of a VOD programme gets
watched. at least once. the sampling methodology does not
work with this distribution model. Rentrack track video on
demand..they give direct numbers on who downloads. the
problem is how to take all the different measures and assess
the value of the different flows. advertisers do not think
the metrics work.

Betsy: neilson web analytics not good as well for the sales.
so cbs go to home grown analytics and everyone uses
different ones so cannot compare across.

Andy: would like to see what happens if neilson disappears
for 6 months. it’s a crutch and a life-support. people are
looking for an absolute metric and does not know if they will
ever exist we have to aggregate info and look at
holistically and try and figure what it means. we are
stepping back from where and trying to understand how and
why. giving context to engagement, to connect back to the
brand. so the brand picks up something form the content

Josh: it costs nothing to put an ad on Google until someone
clicks though and engages. TV ads need to get to this..

Q: what may be the repercussions of the discussion in more
abstract terms, from a cultural perspective. scholars have
been interested in the changing forms of communities with the
changing technologies. the tech may have led to the waning
of other forms of communities, eg the erosion of appointment
viewing, reduction in mass audiences, the evening ritual of
watching the news, this has been an instrumental component
in citizenship and what bring the nation together. so how do
they see things unfolding on a society

Betsy: we think about this a lot. as a news organizing, the
6pm news is about analysis…so the show is on the web on
demand and there is a growing audience. but will not replace
the lost TV audience. we still have the money and reporters
to analyse and go round the world. what value is that?> it’s
different when broken up into a lot of different places. they
thought if not on TV then not on web so the 6pm is equivalent
of the home page. now half of audience is not through home
page, they come through search to find the story they want –
they are self choosing. so how do you take user and show
them other things and b ring them a bigger perspective. that
is a great frustration in how people look at news and info.
on other hand, the web has bought the 2 way conversation,
this is amazing, we launched the blog 18 months ago, and we
solicited opinions and take in user interest etc. we do better
stories, are more informed as we have that dialogue. we have
changed minds about selection of story etc, on the users etc.
the reporters are not on a pedestal and no longer tell you
what is can see the process and understand why
they say it is important…we want to be engaged and want to
here what the users are interested. the web guys go to the
editorial meeting and the web watching can change the TV
watching by understanding what users want.

Josh: the schedule is not ness for people to have community.
everyone experiences Harry potter separately. you can join
the community through different ways.

Mark: time shifting gives people the time, on your time, not
their time. no watercolor moment, but it goes on through the
day, you communicate with friends allover the worlds.

Andy: there is not that local connectivity with content to
the same extent..but it’s shifting to a larger network. the
social currency thing is coming bigger.

Q: there’s lots of people in the media chain. the social
development of what you 4 represent is fascinating. so, when
you have a structured business, with owned and not owned
stations, so what happens when the content owners own their
own distribution network, eg mlb…they have more power…how
will the content producers and the distributors cope with the
goring power

Betsy: sports are really expensive. the leagues charge lots
and lots of money. there is the money for the advertising
which allows the pays. cbs will save money if mlb went
their own way but loses advertising and chance o promote
programmes. think the league will still use the networks as
they do want to aggregate mass audiences for certain games.
mlb has done a great job on building their site as they have
spent their money well, investing back in it. cbs use the backend for some of their stuff. march madness on
demand has been a great success for them. has been worth
every penny. there was a lot of conversation about this, is
this going to cannibalize the TV. but there were a lot of
times when games not at a right time, and the web increased
the TV watching. so shouldn’t they do this them selves
(NCAA)> they may do, in the future. the experience was
great – offering all the opportunities and this generates a
lot more viewers offer what you want get more.

Mark: as a content producers this is far better as so many
different way doing stories an exciting time to be a content

Q: do you worry that piracy will continue to grow as people
find ways around the commercials. will people adjust to
watching things without commercials. #

Betsy – it will persist, and will stay. its not the lawyers.
give the consumers the right choice and give them ways to do

Josh – its a cat and mouse game. in the end if the
advertising gets more tightly couples with content even when
pirated still has value.

Andy: piracy will persist. they’re is an expectation that
people will take things and do things with it. so need to
look at how to get value out of this.

Mark: content takes money. so you have to get advertisers or

Oct 30

7 days in a Nissan Sentra

Nissan have been runing some interesting commercials this week, to promote the new (I assume it is new) Nissan Sentra. Marc Horowitz has blogged his story – it was last week – and explains the rules.

  1. I must live 7 straight days out of my Sentra. I am free to come and go from the Sentra as I please.
  2. I must not return to my apartment at any point during the 7 days.
  3. I must assume my normal day-to-day responsibilities including work and all scheduled client meetings.
  4. I must personally prepare at least 4 meals within the immediate vicinity of my Sentra.
  5. I must go on at least one date. Hopefully more.
  6. I must not let anyone else drive my car for the 7 days.
  7. I must sleep in a different location each night. Once the location is chosen I must not move from it.
  8. I must not set foot outside of my car for any reason from 12am to 5am.
  9. I must host at least 2 social functions in my Sentra. One must be on or after Day 6.
  10. I must maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene.

The last one is curious, as he only thought he needed three pairs of underwear for the week!  Maybe this is why Nissan put a disclaimer on the link to the blog about not necessarily agreeing within everything said 😉
The car industry was mentioned today as one of the areas that is embracing integrated marketing and this is a good example.  I’m not sure where else this is – definitely online ads, not seen it elsewhere, but I like it.

Sep 28

CDX – a Roman game

Whilst in the UK, I ended up playing a BBC game based around their new series on Anccient Rome. The first episode is puzzle based, similar to a locked-room game – find the clues in the right order and work out what you need to do next. Extremly well shot and designed. If you’re in the UK you should give it a go, but it does not work outside due to licence rights.

Jul 17

Pirates and advertising

I went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean film yesterday and really enjoyed it. It was fun, had me laughing a lot and was a perfect ‘lose yourself for a few hours’ film. It;s definitely not high ar

The website has all the typical features of an entertainment property – starting with lots of flash! Trailers and games are the key components. I’d not come across the digital trading cards before, but they look fun. As you keep digging and clicking, you come across wallpapers, IM bots, screensaves etc. It’s a far more interactive way to get the usual stuff and a way to keep people longer.

On Saturday the first film in the trilogy played on telly. Watching all the commercials breaks I came to the conclusion that every single ad break had a advert either from the company I’m currently working with or from my previous company (and sometimes one ad was both at the same time!). And ‘;d seen most of them so many times in the office I could tell my flatmate about the alternatives. So that’s why I spend far too much time online – to get away from them 😉

Jun 30

Superman Returns

I went to see the new Superman Returns film late on Wednesday evening, at the insistence of a colleague who always goes to see new films on the opening weekend. He’d arranged tickets for the showing at an IMAX 3D showing. An hour before the showing we were lined up, pretty far back in the queue. Although the gorup of us were able tto get seats together, it was not smack bang inthe middle of the place, so some of the effect of the HUGE screen was lost.

i really enjoyed the film; not a flash-bang showy as the Xmen film, far more restrained in the action and with a far deeper emotional core running through it. Brandon Routh fitted the part with ease (and the skin tight suit) and Keven Spacey was great as Lex Luthor. There were about 5 scenes in the movie that were 3D enabled…everytime the notification came up on screen there was a scrambling in the audience to put on the oversize glasses. Neve rhaving seen any big production of 3d, it was a fun addition.

Mar 15

The Church of Content

There’s a new religion, or at least a revamped version of an old one. Content and creative and art and music and all that stuff used to belong only to the individual or to the group. Then we got patronage and wealthy individuals could commission stuff, could pay to make things and see things and own things. Business models were invented and the content was owned and monetised and distributed through official channels. The church of content was centralised, controlled, there was only one way and the big business owned it.

Well, not just the one way, there was still individualism going on, but it was quiet, local. Without the big business model, the support, it had few ways of getting out there, of reaching a larger audience. The missionaries were drowned out by the larger church and few people know there was anything else but the one way.

But the internet came along. The world wide web. The multitude of ways to distribute content in its purest form, as data, as a stream of 1’s and 0’s. And there was a schism in the church. Content could not be controlled by the big boys, but was out there, could be taken, could be changed and remixed. The new religion was born – the content is ours, all of ours. We want it when and how we want it – don’t dictate the ways, let it find its way. give us different models, not just the one way, the one scripture.

Like any religious split, the two sides cannot be reconciled. They share a single tenet of faith – content is king. But who controls, how it is controlled is the question. And both sides absolutely, immovably believe they will win the war and that the world will shift, or rebound back, to their point of view. And until a resolution is reached, or a compromise, and the paradigm shifts again, conferences and blogs and tradepapers and all that other sources of conversation will continue to host argument after argument.

Jan 25

Busk Marketing

Annie over on London Underground reports on the interface between corporates and self-impression. Underground buskers are being paid by companies to play music. The buskers are being paid a reported £40/day to play Johnny Cash songs, to support the release of the new movie Walk the Line and its associated release of albums.

There appears to be a mixed reaction from the buskers – are they compromising themselves and being a corporate schill? For some, the money is too good an opportunity; others feel they could not do it. A good marketing test, getting the songs in front of an estimated 3 million people for a cost that would be far cheaper than a set of tube posters. I think the buskers need to put their prices up!