C3 Weekly Update

Editor's Note

Welcome back! With the summer behind us and the new semester in full swing, we are moving ahead at full speed here at the Consortium. The semester sees the launch of a range of new things here at C3. In the coming weeks we will release the first of our Research Memos, the new format we have developed to present the various research underway. We'll talk more about that in the next issue of the C3 Weekly Update.

This issue of the Weekly Update also inaugurates our new bi-monthly format, which will expand in the coming weeks. In this edition Graduate Researcher Sheila Seles writes with an update on how she spent her Summer, including time with C3 Partner Company Turner Broadcasting and the Advertising Research Foundation. We also have an introduction from Alex Leavitt, the newest addition to the C3 team. Finally, C3 Research Manager Joshua Green discusses some of the plans for this year's Futures of Entertainment 4 conference, introducing some of the panels and participants at this year's event.

This issue of the C3 Weekly Update was prepared by Joshua Green. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email him.


In This Issue

Editor's Note

Opening Note: Strategic Engagements in Corporate America, or What I did on my Summer Vacation, Sheila Seles - C3 Graduate Researcher

Glancing at the C3 Blog

Comment: Hajimemashite -- An Introduction by Alex Leavitt, Alex Leavitt - C3's newest Researcher

Closing Note: Futures of Entertainment 4: Transmedia, Activism and Uncertain Business, Joshua Green - C3 Research Manager


November 20 & 21
Futures of Entertainment 4. Hosted on the MIT campus, Futures of Entertainment brings together scholars and key thinkers from television, advertising, marketing, and entertainment industries to discuss the unfolding future of the entertainment landscape.

For full conference details, check the website


Opening Note

Strategic Engagements in Corporate America, or What I did on my Summer Vacation

I spent the summer in New York City working two internships -- one with C3 partner Turner Broadcasting and the other with the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). Between these two jobs, I had the chance to learn about the challenges facing the media and advertising industries. I also gained the practical experience necessary to refine my research goals for C3 and for my second-year graduate work in Comparative Media Studies.

Sheila at Coney Island

At Turner, I worked with Sue Rynn and the Strategic Audience Solutions group (SAS). My main projects included researching and tracking trends in digital media consumption and preparing a report on competitive mobile applications. I also met with several technology vendors to see the solutions that networks and MSOs will be deploying in the coming months and years. These experiences gave me a chance to see the opportunities publishers have to leverage their content across integrated digital distribution channels. Throughout the industry, publishers are working toward strategies to make the most of digital affordances on three screens. This doesn't only mean making content available on linear TV, online, and on mobile platforms: coordinated advertising and sponsorship allows advertisers to brand programs wherever audiences encounter them. Cross-platform advertising solutions have become an vital part of cohesive branding strategies. The networks that can develop integrated ad sales will no doubt emerge as digital leaders.

I had very little experience with mobile, so that part of my research was especially interesting. Mobile technologies are (literally) changing every day, so getting relevant services and applications to market has become a vital part of the content business. Turner has many mobile offerings in the works across their brands. Within the Turner family and across the cable landscape, CNN remains at the forefront of mobile, web, and advanced TV. CNN's digital content will continue to set the standard for cable news across all three screens.

My work at the Advertising Research Foundation gave me a completely different perspective on the media and advertising industries. I spent the summer as an Executive Research Intern working with ARF CEO Bob Barocci. I was tasked with writing a paper about how behavioral science can be applied to advertising. This was a great job because I got to read all summer. On my list were Predictably Irrational by MIT's Dan Ariely, Nudge by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini, Animal Spirits by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, Herd by Mark Earls, and a number of scholarly and popular articles on behavioral economics and behavioral psychology. After doing this research, I came to the conclusion that advertising can use behavioral science in two ways: first, behavioral science can give advertisers insight into how to influence purchasing decisions; and second, advertisers can use behavioral science to help people make more informed decisions about products and services. The paper I wrote goes into more detail about these two applications and gives concrete suggestions for implementing behavioral science into marketing strategies.

During my time at the ARF, I also worked with the Executive Research Intern Team to interview more than a dozen industry leaders about "the value of advertising." We spoke with C-level executives from content publishers, ad agencies, advertisers, and research companies to get a sense of how each group thought about advertising. Not surprisingly, everyone we interviewed saw advertising as a valuable means of communicating a message. Opinions were more varied when we asked what advertising communicates and why that communication is valuable. Over the course of our interviews several themes emerged: research remains a vital part of successful advertising campaigns; brand awareness can be as important as sales figures; and no one really agrees on how advertisers should use social media, but they all agree that brands can't afford not to use it.

All of my work this summer gave me a chance to see what's important to people working in the industry -- this perspective will be invaluable to the more theoretical work I'm doing in C3 and CMS. The exposure I got to advertising and media research also reinforced the value of C3 as a resource. I encountered very few -- if any -- research companies that have the ability to blend high-level media theory with day-to-day professional practice. C3 consulting researchers and RAs can provide insights that combine a rich understanding of media history and theory with the practical considerations of the industry. I've come back to MIT ready to start applying what I learned over the summer to what I'm learning in my coursework and C3 research. I'm looking forward to a great semester.

Sheila Seles is a Graduate Research student with the Convergence Culture Consortium. Sheila's research is focused on commercial non-broadcast television distribution. You can read her 2009 C3 White paper It's (not) the End of TV as we Know It: Understanding Online Television and its Audience by logging into the back-end of the C3 website. If you need a reminder of you username and password, drop us an email.

Glancing at the C3 Blog

Selling Out on YouTube: vloggers weigh in on brand integration online - Xiaochang Li discusses recent conversations in the YouTube community about product placement and disclosure. She sums up the arguments swirling around noting that "ultimately, for brands, the best way to integrate your brand into communities online and launch campaigns that depend on social media participation is to offer yourself as a resource and let the participants decide how to make you valuable."

Audience Measurement 4.0 - Sheila Seles reports from the Advertising Research Foundation's Audience Measurement 4.0 conference held in June 2009. Of particular note, was Alan Wurtzel's (NBC Universal's President of Research and Development) presentation calling for differences to be put aside in pursuit of a much needed common, reliable measurement. Sheila links to video of three of the keynotes from the event.


Transmedia Storytelling and Entertainment: A Syllabus - In a post that has generated a considerable amount of interest, Professor Henry Jenkins details the syllabus for his Transmedia Storytelling class, taught this semester at USC. The syllabus is packed with the work of C3 researchers and friends, and Henry's post includes links to a lot of great material as well as bibliographic details for some invaluable resources.

International Development Enterprises India: Can a Mobile Cinema Truck Be a Transmedia Extension? (Part 1 of 2) - Riffing on some thoughts Henry Jenkins posted at his Aca/Fan blog, C3 Project Manger Daniel Pereira muses about the potential for transmedia strategies to draw attention to spaces requiring intervention for social good.

Follow the Blog

Don't forget – you can always post, read, and carry out online conversations with the C3 team at our blog.


Hajimemashite -- An Introduction by Alex Leavitt

My name is Alex Leavitt, and I am a researcher with the Convergence Culture Consortium. This past May (2009), I graduated from Boston University with a degree in English Literature & Language and Japanese Literature & Language, with a focus on literary theory and comparative literature. One semester prior, I was immersed in the foreign but vibrant culture of Kyoto, Japan, studying there through the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. Come December, I had finalized my application to the masters program in Comparative Media Studies; however, two days later, I discovered that the program had frozen admissions for the next academic year. But after a woeful and worrying summer, I must enthusiastically thank both Joshua Green and Daniel Pereira -- as well as Henry Jenkins, who originally suggested contacting the Consortium -- for enlisting me with the C3 team.

I suppose that researching for the Consortium comes naturally. I grew up with the Nintendo Gameboy, Saturday morning cartoons, and; I was trained in middle school as a professional singer, musician, and music theorist at the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School in Harvard Square; and I have also worked as a research assistant on the Digital Natives project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. And, although my interest in Japan blossomed out of an obsession with origami in primary school, I have been heavily immersed in Japanese popular culture -- in particular, animation (anime) and comics (manga) -- so much that for the past few years I have traveled around the States giving talks at fan conventions, such as Anime Boston, Anime Expo (Los Angeles), and Otakon (Baltimore).

Of course, I have also continuously been fascinated with the Internet. I grew up alongside its popular form, with the early days of AOL Instant Messenger, Hamster Dance, and In essence, I am the epitome of who Prof. Jenkins likes to avoid calling digital natives. But I live and breath online communication and subculture, and it's common to spend more time online during the day than sleep at night. After meeting Tim Hwang through the Boston-area Students for Free Culture collaboration and getting involved with the ROFLcon team, I have recently been working and publishing with Tim and a team of researchers for the Web Ecology Project, where we analyze the flow of communication, community, and culture across social networks, dynamic platforms, and other online spaces.

So, what am I doing here? Well, I would explain, but I have too many interests that intersect with the Consortium's research! Derived from my extracurricular interests, I'm aiming to study fandom in a new light, from the perspective of the audience: How is the concept of an audience redefined through its ever-changing practices on- and offline? Whether this research constitutes fans of anime or fans of the Olympics, we'll see in a few months. But I'm intrigued also to explore the intersection of fandom and one of C3's primary concepts, transmedia: How does transmedia affect a viewer's interpretation of a text? Finally, I would like to pursue the aesthetics of the transmedia concept -- transmedia storytelling, adaptation, franchise, and branding -- in relation to the physical structures of the media landscape. Does the combination of BitTorrent, online streaming, and fansubbing with television rips, live streaming, and HD standards affect how an audience absorbs a work, especially when some of these elements are intentional (eg., levels of quality, cultivated by producers) while others are unintentional (P2P sharing, unexpected by these same producers).

I am very excited to be part of the Convergence Culture Consortium's team this year. To take up Sam Ford's mantle, I will be representing the primary voice on the C3 blog throughout the academic year, while I help organize this year's vigorous Futures of Entertainment 4 conference. Certainly I am looking forward to a personal sort of cultural immersion in the relationships fostered by the Consortium; hopefully I will meet many of you IRL during our events. Until then, yoroshiku (it's good to meet you)!

Alex Leavitt is a researcher with the Convergence Culture Consortium. His primary research interests include the intersection of fandom & transmedia, Japanese animation & manga, and Internet (sub)cultures. In addition to the C3 blog, Alex writes at the Department of Alchemy and you can follow him on Twitter (@alexleavitt). He can be contacted at

Closing Note

Futures of Entertainment 4: Transmedia, Activism and Uncertain Business

We are deep in the planning stages for this year's Futures of Entertainment conference. This is the fourth time we've held this event, and the line-up and topics we have for this year's event promise to make Futures of Entertainment 4 one of the best in the series.

For those of you who have never attended FoE before, the conference draws industry and academic speakers together with researchers from across the Consortium, providing a unique opportunity to participate in dynamic discussions about the future entertainment and media landscape. The event is organized around a "talk-show" style model, with panelists participating in moderated discussions about key issues affecting the future of the culture and creative industries; Futures of Entertainment 4 once again brings clever thinkers from both industry and the academy together for long conversations. Over the last three years this has produced deep, thorough treatments of issues ranging from the ethics of social media, effective strategies for participating in virtual worlds, the future of media metrics and measurement, and the challenges of building compelling transmedia experiences.

Futures of Entertainment 4 banner

This year's conference will feature an entire day dedicated to interrogating some of the issues around the creative and business practices behind transmedia projects. Looking at the evolving business challenges of creating narratives, programs and campaigns that stretch across multiple platforms, Futures of Entertainment 4 will engage with questions around managing, producing, financing and positioning transmedia efforts, and how to identify the value created from transmedia projects. The event will look at some of the creative challenges that emerge from managing every larger franchises and which come from developing content for multiple mediums. Finally, day one of the conference will ask some serious questions about the future sustainability -- both from a creative and a business perspective -- of transmedia events.

The second day of the event will feature panels on topics including contemporary media business models, aligning new audiences with contemporary research practice and the blurring of distinctions between communication mediums.

While still staying true to the desire to privilege conversations over presentations, this year we are altering the format a little to encourage even deeper engagement with the issues at hand. In particular, two of the panels on the first day will revolve around a case-study format. The first panel of the event which looks at the creative challenges of producing transmedia narratives, will draw together speakers from production, creative design, scholarly and fan backgrounds to consider the task of transforming a classic narrative into a transmedia property. The panel immediately after this will bring together a rang of players each working in some way on the 'Purefold' project -- a project headed by the Scott Brothers (Ridley and Tony) that considers the key question at the heart of Bladerunner: "What does it mean to be human?" Included on this panel is David Bausola, co-founder of Ag8, the company behind the project.

Confirmed speakers for this year's event include:

  • David Bausola – Co-founder of Ag8
  • Nancy BaymUniversity of Kansas
  • Brian Clark – Partner and CEO, GMD Studios
  • Stephen Duncombe – NYU, author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in the Age of Fantasy (The New Press)
  • Dan Goldman – Illustrator of Shooting War (Grand Central Publishing [US] and Weidenfeld & Nicolson [UK])
  • Noessa HigaVisionaire Media
  • Jennifer Holt – UC Santa Barbara, co-editor of Media Industries (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • Victoria Jaye – Acting Head of Fiction & Entertainment Multiplatform Commissioning, BBC
  • Derek Johnson – University of North Texas
  • Brian Larkin – Milbank Barnard College
  • JuYoung Lee – Chief Scientist, ACE Metrix
  • Jason MittellMiddlebury College
  • Avner Ronen – CEO, Boxee
  • Frank RoseWired contributor and author of Welcome to the Hyperdrome (W. W. Norton, forthcoming)
  • Lori SammyRacebending
  • Andrew SlackThe Harry Potter Alliance
  • Louisa Stein – San Diego State University
  • Jordan Weisman – CEO and Founder, Smith & Tinker
  • Mark Zogorski – Chief Revenue Officer, eXelate Media

The first day concludes with a panel that looks at the potential of transmedia beyond entertainment and business. Titled Transmedia for Social Change, this panel asks "What are the potentials for transmedia to be used to affect social change? What parallels can we draw between the activities fan communities and other sites of collective activity?"

This panel will consider the cross-over between the forms of collective activity that mark participation in transmedia narratives and other forms of collective activities that harness entertainment media for social good. Fan communities are increasingly aware of their power as social networks. With the ability to mobilize (often) large and passionate groups of people quickly in response to actions that threaten their values and practices, fan communities constitute collective bargaining units acting on the behalf of consumers. These communities may deploy this power to try to protect a favorite program from cancellation (thus working hand and hand with the interests of producers); they may deploy it to challenge a decision they feel hurts the integrity of the franchise (thus pushing back against a producer's perceived interests); or to resist cease and desist letters which threaten their activities. How do buy-cotts, the tactical deployment of consumption that has emerged as a key strategies for fans to have their voices heard, resemble other forms of consumer activism?

Full conference details are available at the Futures of Entertainment site, including details on all seven of the panels we're putting together (the most we've ever had). The conference runs Friday and Saturday, November 20 and 21 on the MIT campus in Cambridge. Registration is complimentary for members of the consortium. As one of two annual events we hold, FoE is a great opportunity to bring the various members of the Consortium together to meet each other and foster communication across the network. With a keynote from Professor Henry Jenkins and a dynamic list of speakers from both industry and scholarly fields (and more to be announced), this is an event not to be missed!

Joshua Green is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT and Research Manager of the Convergence Culture Consortium. His research interests include online video, the changing structure of television networks, and evolving audience practices. His first book, YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture, is the first large-scale content analysis of YouTube's "most popular" videos, tracing connections between the site's architecture, the genre and themes of YouTube videos, and the nature of participatory culture. It is available from Polity Press.

The Fine Print

This issue of the C3 Weekly Update compiled and edited by Joshua Green ( for the Convergence Culture Consortium.


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