April 6, 2007

Weekend of April 06, 2007

*Editor's Note

*Opening Note: Joshua Green on the Upcoming Retreat for Consortium Members.

*Glancing at the C3 Blog

*Closing Note: David Edery Writes from the Belly of the Leviathan on Utilizing Creativity

--------------- EDITOR'S NOTE ---------------

Welcome to this week's Weekly Update from C3. As usual, this week's update includes links to all the entries published during the week on the Convergence Culture Consortium Weblog. Also, the site features tools to favorite the blog on Technorati, so be sure to do so if you read on a regular basis.

This week's update features an opening note from Joshua Green about our upcoming C3 partners retreat, entitled Collaboration 2.0, which will take place April 20-21. We hope that you will be able to join us.

The closing note is from former C3 manager David Edery, who writes from his current position at Micrsoft about the need throughout the media industries to better utilize innovative thinking from both consumers and employees.

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 Weekly Update, at samford@mit.edu.

--------------- OPENING NOTE ---------------

Collaboration 2.0 Set for April 20-21 at MIT

By: Joshua Green

Plans are underway for the C3 Partners colloquium on April 20 and 21st. Titled Collaboration 2.0, the event draws together a range of international speakers to discuss issues of convergence and collaboration.

Collaboration 2.0 provides a chance for the C3 team here at MIT to connect with some of its faculty partners and representatives from each of C3's five corporate partners in a partners-only event. The colloquium is an opportunity to conduct a conversation across the consortium about contemporary issues facing the media industry and future directions for media companies, research, and the consortium.

We're kicking off with a reception on Friday afternoon, including a presentation from MIT Comparative Media Studies graduate student Sam Ford, a researcher on the C3 project, who will talk about how to draw value from fan archives.

The main event takes place on Saturday the 21st and features speakers from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, York University in Canada, the University or Arizona, and MIT.

Jean Burgess (QUT) will discuss Flickr as a best practice model for user-led content creation, while Dr John Banks (QUT) will draw on his experience in the games industry to discuss the mechanics and challenges of capitalizing on gamers as co-creators. C3 Affiliated Faculty Kevin Sandler from the University of Arizona will discuss Scooby Doo, fandom and brand value, while C3 Affiliated Faculty Rob Kozinets from York University will talk about Star Trek and collaborating with fans to revitalize a brand. MIT CMS graduate student Ivan Askwith, a researcher with the consortium, will present work from his Master's thesis on measuring television as an engagement meeting. The day will close out with presentations from the partner organizations on creative happenings internally, providing a forum for discussion across the group about the challenges of working in a convergence media space.

We look forward to a challenging, provocative event, and we hope that you will be able to take part. Those affiliated with C3 are welcome to attend, and subscribers from our corporate partners should spread the word to anyone in their organization who might be interested in attending.

If you require more information or would like to attend, please contact myself (jbgreen@mit.edu) or Sam Ford (samford@mit.edu).

Joshua Green is the research manager for the Convergence Culture Consortium and a Postdoctoral Associate at the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT.

---------- NEWS FROM THE C3 BLOG -----------

Lyro: What's the Worth of an Online Business Card? Is this Web 2.0 business model going to be value particularly because of its narrow focus and simplicity, or is a site that houses an online business card directory just not providing enough features to be beneficial to its users?


Gambling Inside Second Life: What Are the Legal Issues? Reuters' bureau within Second Life recently ran a story about whether gambling within Second Life with Linden dollars was illegal and also whether Linden should be held responsible. These questions tie into a continuing C3 focus on the behaviors, economic models, and policy surrounding virtual worlds like Second Life.

Behind the Scenes: Super Deluxe. Henry Jenkins cross-posts an interview with C3 partner Turner Broadcasting's Jim DiStefano and Erlene Zierke, who help run the Turner comedy site which mixes original professional content with user-generated videos.

Google Launching into the TV Advertising Realm. Google's plan to auction TV time and measure results based on second-by-second views for the particular commercial through Echostar raises questions about advertising accountability and the true best way to measure a commercial's success.

Cereality as an Interesting Example of an Experience Economy. The growing chain of restaurants offers no more than your favorite breakfast cereals, but the experience and the brand proves that food isn't all that drives people to a restaurant.

GodTube and "Baby Got Bible." Nothing shows the way in which niche video sharing sites may draw a dedicated audience quite like GodTube, with its creative Christian mash-ups and parodies, such as the religious version of Sir Mixalot's memorable ode to ample derrieres.

MTV Launching New Sponsorship Model with Integration into Content. The new MTV project takes the sponsorship model a bit farther by working in sponsor content as part of a two-hour stream of weekly programming, another of the more innovative new advertising models being tested out among television networks.

College Nielsen Measurement's Effect on Daytime. Are college students watching daytime dramas? Forbes says yes; MediaWeek says no. The difference is a look a week out and two months out, as well as a question of whether young adult males matter or not.

College Viewers in Nielsen Ratings Make Impact, But What Is the Value of Such a Small Sample? If 30 percent of the 450 Nielsen families allowed meters to be placed in their college student's dorm, does that really mean that about 135 students will quantitatively determine what college students watch?


Veoh Developing Deal with AMD to Connect High-Res Content to TV Sets. This new partnership is an attempt to compete with Apple TV and is part of Veoh's continuing drive to position itself as a leader among Internet video platforms.

Transmedia Journalism: A Story-Based Approach to Convergence. The C3 approach to journalism looks at how various media formats can be used to best tell a story, trying to distinguish between "good" and "bad" convergence in journalism.

Disney's Bob Iger, C3's Jason Mittell, and Understanding Dedicated Viewership. This response to C3 Affiliated Faculty Jason Mittell's piece on industry understandings of what active fandom means further questions the gap between the industry model and the business potential of understanding the depth of viewer interaction versus mere impressions.

Bochco's Cafe Confidential an Interesting Foray into Web Content. The famed TV creator's Web-based video project has been getting interesting reviews, with its reality TV slant on user-generated content.

--------------- FOLLOW THE BLOG ---------------

Don't forget - you can always post, read, and carry out online conversations with the C3 team at our blog: http://www.convergenceculture.org/weblog/.

--------------- CLOSING NOTE ---------------

From the Belly of the Leviathan

By: David Edery

As some of you know, I joined Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade team about six months ago. I've loved (almost) every minute of it. Unfortunately, the nature of my position is such that pretty much everything I do is confidential. How do I share what I've learned with you under these circumstances?

The unfortunate answer is that my hands are mostly tied. However, I think I can relay one message of great value. It's generic enough that it doesn't violate any confidentiality agreements. You (probably) already know it. But I'm going to tell you anyway, because it's absolutely worth being reminded, and because the vast majority of companies seem to forget this particular message all the time.

To the punch-line: entertainment companies generally fail to innovate because they generally fail to truly empower their most entrepreneurial employees (and entrepreneurial customers!)

See, I said that you'd probably heard this message before.

Want to know why Xbox Live Arcade is the big success it is today? Because a small team of extremely motivated people were given a small amount of money and told "go for it." Few restrictions, few oversight comittees, few executive check-ins, etc. Part of this was due to some insightful Microsoft executives who simply "got it." But part of this was also due to the simple fact that many people didn't think Xbox Live Arcade would ever succeed, and therefore, didn't bother to get in its way! (In most big companies, too many important projects get maimed or killed by a crush of people who insist on getting involved -- to manage or to stymie the project -- for one reason or another.)

Every one of C3's partner companies should ask themselves: when was the last time we told a talented team with an interesting idea, "here's a million bucks. Go build your idea, as long as it meets just *one* objective: [fill in the blank]."

If multiple instances spring to mind: congratulations! You work for an amazing company. If nothing springs to mind, I'd ask why.

When was the last time you explicitly ordered all relevant divisions within your company to cooperate with a scrappy but promising project team? (As opposed to leaving that team to defend itself from turf attacks and other political machinations?) Or better yet, *incentivized* all relevant divisions to cooperate?

For that matter, when was the last time you said, "Hey, our customers seem to be doing some pretty cool stuff with our assets. Let's monitor their activities and borrow their best ideas." Or better yet, "Let's identify the most talented and influential of our customers and deliberately enable them to do more with our assets. Let's raise them up and make them community heroes -- as well as our most ardent fans." That may seem like a leap from what I've been discussing till now, but it truly isn't. It all qualifies under the headline "benefiting from the labor of innovative individuals" (whether they work for you or not.)

I do what I can to promote this kind of thinking with Microsoft. In that regard, I'm rather lucky -- I'm surrounded by some very smart people, and I just happen to work in a group that embodies my arguments. :-)

David Edery is currently Worldwide Games Portfolio Planner for Xbox Live Arcade in addition to being a C3 Research Affiliate, in addition to formerly working as a manager at C3 and Associate Director for External Relations and Special Projects for the Comparative Media Studies program here at MIT. He also runs a blog about the video game industry called Game Tycoon at http://www.edery.org/.


Compiled and Edited by Sam Ford (samford@mit.edu)

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