First off, as a final reminder, this is the last
day to RSVP for next week's C3 Spring Retreat for our corporate
partners and consulting
researchers. If any of you who are coming have any travel questions,
please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be sending more specific information on the location of the
two-day event to the list who sent their RSVP in next week. As a
the retreat will begin next Thursday at noon and run through late
In preparation for the retreat, we've been
continuing to put the results of our major projects from the previous
academic year into written
form. Henry Jenkins and graduate students Ana Domb and Xiaochang Li
have been putting together a large white paper explaining our
of the "viral media" concept, our proposal for a model of "spreadable
media," and some case studies and propositions that flesh out that
C3 Graduate Student Researcher Eleanor Baird from the Sloan School of
Management will be presenting her work on the spread of online videos
for film promotion, looking at some films from summer 2007 as examples,
and there will be a resulting paper for the Consortium of that study as
Finally, Joshua Green will be presenting on the major YouTube project
the Consortium was immersed in over the past academic year, in preview
the white paper coming out in a few weeks. We are excited to share with
you the longer-term projects we've been working on this past year at
the retreat, and we hope that the resulting white papers will provoke
plenty of great discussion amongst our corporate partners this summer.
We also plan to package together some of the work that has appeared on
our blog and in the C3 Weekly Update over the past academic year in a
"yearbook" format to distribute amongst our corporate partners and
We look forward to C3 Principal Investigator
William Uricchio leading our opening comments for the retreat next
Thursday. While many of you have
had the opportunity to meet and interact with Principal Investigator
Henry Jenkins over the past couple of years, several of you have not
much of an opportunity to interact with William, as he was on
sabbatical for all of 2007 and out of the country during most of that
hope that corporate partners and consulting researchers alike are
excited about our two Friday morning panels, featuring a mix of
and academic voices discussing transmedia and online community. And we
are excited to get everyone involved in the afternoon session, which
will begin with a panel-led discussion of the intersection between
media studies research and the media industry, followed by breakout
on marketing and advertising, audience measurement, participatory
culture, global media flow, and video games that will get everyone in
involved in the conversation. Finally, Henry Jenkins will be leading a
conversation afterward about how the Consortium might be able to
conversation among these various groups.
For those of you joining us, please let us know if
you only plan to attend part of the event, if you have any dietary
needs, etc. Again, there is no charge
for the event, and it is open to any employee of our partner companies,
as well as our consulting researchers. So look forward to hearing
from any final registrants tonight and to seeing several of you here in
Cambridge next week!
The Opening Note this week features an essay from
C3 Consulting Researcher Shenja van der Graaf on the potential
of pro-social games, in preview from an upcoming session she will be
in for the 10th anniversary of Harvard University's Berkman Center.
be participating in the breakout discussion on video games for the
The Closing Note this week is a thought piece from
Researcher Eleanor Baird with her take on teasing out some of the
issues of spreadable
media we've been discussing within the Consortium this past year, in
particular in terms
of the concepts of "interactivity" and "participation." While the
Consortium as a whole
has been devleoping a position paper on our concept of "spreadable
media," we wanted to share
Eleanor's thoughts on potential models for undersatnding participation
online with the C3 Weekly Update readership.
If you have any questions or comments or would
like to request prior issues of the Update, direct them to Sam Ford,
editor of the C3 Weekly Update, at email@example.com.
In This Issue
Opening Note: Shenja van der Graaf on Pro Social
Glancing at the C3
Closing Note: Eleanor Baird on Participation and
Interactivity Online (1 of 2)
Thursday, May 08, and Friday, May 09
C3's Spring Retreat
Thursday, May 15, and Friday, May 16
Center 10th Anniversary
C3 Consulting Researcher Shenja van der Graaf will be joined by
MIT Comparative Media Studies' GAMBIT games lab and Harvard's Gene Koo
called "The Dilemma of Games: Moral Choice in a Digital World" at this
Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26
for Social Impact, Conference of the
Interntional Communication Association
C3 Research Manager Joshua Green will make two presentations at this
Montreal event. Details forthcoming.
Thurs., June 19, to Sunday, June 22
Culture Theory Conference 2008
C3 Director Henry Jenkins, C3 Research Manager Joshua Green, and C3
Project Manager Sam Ford are going to be panelists for a plenary
this Suffolk University event here in Boston. More information
Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22
MIT Futures of Entertainment 3.
The Consortium's annual public conference is scheduled
for the weekend before Thanksgiving. We look forward to seeing a
variety of our partners at the event and will have more information
forthcoming after our Spring Retreat.
Intuitively, we know that individual values, qualities
of leadership, and character play a vital role in the success of
organizations, societies and markets, and yet their impact are terribly
difficult to measure empirically. Now that tens -- indeed hundreds of
millions of people are spending a significant portion of their social,
recreational, and economic lives online, there is an unprecedented
opportunity to analyze rigorously people's online behaviors and the
interaction of individual values, reputations, and social institutions.
Furthermore, should it be possible to demonstrate the
measurable effect of individual and institutional values upon economic
and social outcomes for online activities, it might also be possible to
design value and reputation-based social technologies to improve a wide
variety of online activities: economic production, social co-operation,
digital media, education, and scientific research.
One of the key challenges, however, will be to capture
and organize the right kind of data so that they can be analyzed in a
meaningful way to measure the effects of values. For instance, my
fellow fellow at the Berkman Center, John Clippinger, is working
towards undertaking this task by developing a 'meta' social network of
networks, layering on top of existing social networks, where natural
experiments can be performed with large samples of subjects who are
naturally pursuing online social and economic lives. While Clippinger
focuses on social networks, my other colleague Gene Koo and myself are
interested in this domain by way of 'pro-social' values of games.
One of the major obstacles to producing commercially
successful games that convey pro-social values and behaviors is finding
talented game developers who not only share the vision of pro-social
gaming but who also have the resources and the skills to create
compelling games that appeal to broad audiences, including
However, it is not enough to have engaged talented game
makers; game publishers have to be convinced there are markets
significant enough for pro-social titles that they are willing to
invest the required resources to produce such games with or without
additional financial underwriting. The cost of developing a modern,
commercially viable game have become so extravagant that game
developers are increasingly unwilling to take risks on untested ideas
like pro-social games. Violent games are not only proven in the market
but are also backed by developers with the experience needed to deliver
profitable titles. By contrast, games that are not only social but
pro-social lack market credibility and developers expert in their
We believe that, although some advocates worry that
games depicting violence might promote aggressive behaviors in players,
games also have the potential to advance pro-social values and
behaviors. After all, games offer choices, and such choices could
invoke ethical, civic, or moral dilemmas.
We are now framing a research project focusing on those
pro-social values: social entrepreneurship (games that inculcate the
values, skills, and behaviors necessary to build businesses with
“double bottom lines”), compassion (games that lead to provoke
reflection about other persons and invoke a desire to alleviate
physical, emotional, or mental suffering, particularly where such
efforts would require a significant cost or sacrifice), fairness (games
that raise the question of what constitutes fair play, explore the
costs/benefits of cheating, or invites players to structure new rules
of fairness), and trust (games that demonstrate the causes, costs, and
benefits of reliability, reputation, or deception; our primary focus
should be on the value of or dilemmas associated with trustworthiness,
not strategic analysis of whom to trust).
Some examples of working hypotheses that we intend to
- Pro-social values have no positive impact upon the
outcomes of the social and economic production of social networks.
- Pro-social values are only evolutionary stable
strategies for 'repeat games.'
- Pro-social values are only evolutionary stable when
reputation scores are visible and cannot be changed or forgiven.
Every few weeks, some folks from the GAMBIT games lab at
the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT and the Berkman Center
here at Harvard come together to discuss these and other issues
surrounding pro-social games. Some of our thoughts make it to our blog.
I also welcome you to the 10th anniversary celebration
of the Berkman Center to be held on May 15 and 16. There is a special
session covering valuable games on Friday, May 16, called "The Dilemma
of Games: Moral Choice in a Digital World," led by Gene Koo, some
GAMBIT members, and myself. We will focus on ways games may promote
such values as compassion, charity, or sacrifice. Can they marry these
values to the kind of "systems thinking" that games promote and which
are becoming more vital in our networked world?
WGBH, the renowned public television station, is
launching a transmedia TV show and game that tackles these questions
head-on. In this workshop, we seek your input in shaping this project
that aims to teach children about environmental systems and their own
choices within that system.
For more information look here.
Shenja van der Graaf is a
fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law
School and the Research Center for Information Law at the University of
St. Gallen and is also conducting research at the London School of
Economics and Political Science. Her research focuses on the
organization and management of innovation and technology, especially
demand-side innovation, product development, and media uses in media
and software industries. Over the years, she has worked with an
extensive international network of companies including Hakuhodo, Valve,
and Ericsson. She will be joining us at next week's retreat,
participating in the games breakout session being led by GAMBIT
researchers Geoffrey Long (an alum of C3) and Doris Rusch (a C3
Glancing at the C3 Blog
Hiring Research Director. The Consortium shares its job description
for the new research director position with its blog readership. The
application process is ongoing, so please forward the link to anyone
you think might be interested.
Do You Think I Am?: My Life as a Cartoon Character. C3 Principal
Investigator Henry Jenkins shares a post from his blog on his
appropriation as a comic strip image and the various ways in which his
image has been used through this user-generated comic strip template
Followup from Lynn Liccardo on Listening to Consumers and P&G Soap
Operas. Sam Ford shares a response from Lynn Liccardo on her piece
from earlier in the week on the disconnect between how P&G manages
its product brands and how the cultural products of Procter &
Gamble Productions are produced. Liccardo served as one of the advisors
for Ford's thesis research when he was a CMS graduate student.
Liccardo on P&G and Listening to Consumers. Sam Ford shares a
piece from longtime soap opera critic Lynn Liccardo
on recent comments from P&G CEO A.G. Lafley about the importance of
listening to consumers and how that has translated poorly in the ethos
of the television production branch of P&G.
Passions: Abigail Derecho on Filipino Viewer Protests Sam Ford
writes about C3 Consulting Researcher Abigail Derecho's recent research
presented at the 2008 Console-ing Passions conference focusing on
Filipino viewer protests of The Daily Show and Desperate
Housewives based on what they felt were inappropriate remarks, the
role of communication technologies in the spread of this sentiment, and
the underlying cultural tensions that help contextualize these tensions.
Passions: Heather Hendershot, Abortion, House, and BSG.
Sam Ford writes about television scholar Heather Hendershot's work on
religion and abortion in contemporary television, based on the research
she recently presented at Console-ing Passions.
Passions: Fan Studies Workshop. Sam Ford shares some thoughts on
the recent workshop he helped lead at Console-ing Passions as a
follow-up conversation on the Gender and Fan Studies/Culture/Fan Debate
conversation involving 44 scholars that took place on C3 Principal
Investigator Henry Jenkins' blog and LiveJournal. Joining him was Bob
Rehak, Julie Levin Russo, Suzanne Scott, and Louisa Stein.
Passions 2008. Sam Ford writes about the media studies conference
in Santa Barbara he
attended last weekend and some of the discussion about the conference
around the blogosphere.
the Target Demographic: Surplus Audiences in Wrestling and Soaps (3 of
3). In the final part of this three-part series, Sam
Ford looks at how the
target demographic has caused many industry problems for the world of
soap operas, where the transgenerational patterns of soap opera
viewership ran counter to the 18-34 and 18-49 female demographic logic
of the television advertising industry.
the Target Demographic: Surplus Audiences in Wrestling and Soaps (2 of
3). Sam Ford writes about target demographics and the world of pro
wrestling, where World Wrestling Entertainment's overall approach
benefits from attracting all age groups but whose television product is
particularly aimed at teenage and young adult males, the group being
commodified for advertisers.
the Target Demographic: Surplus Audiences in Wrestling and Soaps (1 of
3). Sam Ford shares a thought piece he developed for a workshop he
was helping lead at the 2008 Console-ing Passions conference. For more
on the workshop and the conversation that inspired it, look here.
Appropriation of Indiana Jones.
C3 Graduate Student Researcher Ana Domb writes about Raiders of the
Ark: The Adaptation and the creative benefits of allowing more
freedom for audiences to create their own work with copyrighted
Follow the Blog
Don't forget – you can always post, read, and
online conversations with the C3 team at our blog.
If You Build It, Would They Come?
(1 of 2)
The Interplay of Interactivity and Participation, Stickiness and
Around the Consortium in the last few months, we have
been giving a lot of thought to the term "viral marketing" and the ways
in which content can be passed along through online social networks.
We've also been thinking of the complimentary concepts of stickiness
and spreadability. Henry Jenkins, C3's founder, has theorized that
"sticky" content, designed to draw in audiences, has given way to
"spreadable" content, designed to be circulated by grassroots
My latest research focuses on patterns in the most
discussed and viewed video on YouTube related to the top 10 movies of
summer 2007. Many of the trailers posted by the audience members had
been taken down in response to copyright claims. This made me wonder
about how the studios had promoted the films, and if they were relying
on a sticky or spreadable model. Regardless of what was going on on
YouTube, were they encouraging fan promotion and sustainable engagement
by building in interactive and participatory features?
The conclusion was, simply put, no. Most of them had
created fairly standard microsites with few, if any participatory
features. There was a lot of reliance on interactivity and pushing
audiences to a microsite, rather than on enabling audiences to
participate in pulling others towards the property incorporating
participatory elements. Overall, I found that most studios are relying
sticky model for developing a film's presence online, representing a
lost opportunity to invite the audience to be actively engaged with the
film itself, and in promoting it.
These two newsletter pieces will examine the concepts
in brief and discuss how they relate to cultivating relationships with
Just about everything on the web is, by nature,
interactive - in navigating through a site and accessing content, we
interact with it. However incorporating participatory elements in a
site, let alone elements that encourage pass-along and "viral
diffusion" of content are indicative of not just the available
technology, but the type of relationship that an organization wants to
cultivate with it's consumers. They are different types of invitations.
First, let me explain how I see the differences between
interactivity and participation, and how they relate to one another,
based in part on Spiro Koiusis' work in the 2002 New Media &
Society essay "Interactivity: A Concept Explication;" Yuping Liu
and L.J. Shrum's work in the 2002 Journal of Advertising essay
"What Is Interactivity and Is It Always Such a Good Thing?;" and Sally
J. McMillan and Jang-Sun Hwang's work in the 2002 Journal of
Advertising essay "Measure of Perceived Interactivity."
Interactivity, in its simplest form, enables
consumer to access and control the flow of information they receive
online by sending commands through a device to a server. The most basic
website, with links from the home page to other pages or sites, is
Interactive sites or applications are often designed to
be sticky, pushing information seeking audiences to return
repeatedly to a destination to locate data or access a community. A
website that is interactive, not participatory, puts the control and
power over content, rents, and norms in the hands of the site owner.
It often enables personalization but restricts it to
specific parameters determined by the owner, and limits opportunities
for identity performance. Focusing on interactivity limits risks for a
company or brand by keeping control of the site squarely in the hands
of a small group or an individual.
Participation encourages spreadability
because it puts more control over what content is seen and shared in
the hands of consumers. The audience not only controls the information
flow, but contributes to the information itself by rating, commenting,
tagging, editing, posting, creating, and sharing content. Some of the
risks that participation does not mitigate can actually be beneficial,
most notably content that "goes viral."
Interactivity vs. Participation?
None of this is to suggest that participation is
superior to interactivity - in fact, the best websites successfully
combine elements of both. Many of the most popular sites - such as
YouTube, Facebook, eBay, Wikipedia and Craigslist - are comprised of
both interactive and participatory elements, and often blend the two
very successfully. To keep audiences returning to the site, they
provide a store of information, but also encourage participation and
spreadability of certain elements within and beyond the site.
Social networks rely on a model of invitations and
network effects, so a user has both incentive to join and stay, but
they promote participation above and beyond finding and friending. For
example, MySpace and Facebook both offer a Newsfeed feature which
combines interactivity and participation to facilitate viral diffusion
with minimal effort or intrusion for users or their networks. The
Newsfeed is interactive in that users log on to see it, and can click
on links to learn more about the people, events, and information that
is listed. This is combined with a strong participatory element: all of
the content is derived from the participatory actions of users on the
site (and with Facebook Beacon, their purchases elsewhere on the web),
from making connections with other users to joining groups, becoming
fans, installing applications, rating movies or music, RSVP-ing to an
event, and a host of other activities.
The newsfeed is a sort of passive spreadability: the
user controls what appears in the Newsfeed and has agency over that
information, but does not have to take another step to inform people in
the network. The Newsfeed further enables spreadability by inviting the
network to interact with the page, learn more about what their friend
has done, follow suit if they are interested, and then the cycle begins
again when their that action is displayed to their whole network.
Although this lacks the direct nature of a word of mouth (WOM)
campaign, it retains the advantages of endorsement and trust as a "user
generated" marketing effort.
Spreadability can also be a more active proposition,
requiring more direct participation by the user to decide how, when,
and to whom the content will be sent. For example, YouTube offers users
a variety of options to spread content across the site and to other
users using a variety of very simple, convenient methods, as shown in
this screenshot (from this
Getting audiences to come back to a site implies revenue
from advertising and, more indirectly, loyalty and affinity to a brand.
A balance of stickiness and spreadability are a way for these sites to
facilitate diffusion of content throughout various networks, and ensure
that audiences keep coming back for those features.
The second part of this piece will appear as the
Closing Note in next week's C3 Weekly Update.
has been a
Graduate Student Researcher with the Convergence Culture Consortium
since early 2007. This June, after graduating with an MBA from the MIT
Sloan School of Management, she will be taking on the role of Sales
Strategy Manager in the Telecommunications and Media practice of the
Boston-based web analytics firm Compete. Eleanor is completing her
Master's thesis on targeted online advertising, which she writes about
on her blog