Archive for the 'Media' Category

theorycast.65 :: Why organizations need their Chief Culture Officer

In this episode of theorycast, I interview anthropologist Grant McCracken (@grant27) on his recent book, Chief Culture Officer.

This interview took place at the Futures of Entertainment 4 conference at MIT, on November 21st, 2009. The video I captured from his book talk within the ROI of ROFL session panel is also included. From the video, you will see examples of cultural mistakes that major corporations have made, the penalties they face, and how they could have done better if someone within the company were responsible for providing cultural foresight.

Having studied American culture and business for 25 years, McCracken’s previous work included Transformations (2008), Flock and Flow (2006), Culture and Consumption II (2005), Big Hair (1996), and Culture and Consumption (1988).

In Chief Culture Officer (CCO), McCracken argues that culture now creates so much opportunity and danger for the corporation that we need senior managers who can devote time to focus on culture. In effect, these CCO become the early-warning system for companies to help navigate their relevant cultural landscape, as well as provide to more intimate cultural acuity into the way companies craft their brands.

In effect, McCracken is hoping to create a new occupational destination for people who can understand their organization’s cultural locatedness (e.g. social science grads), but are not presently channeled to draw upon their insight for the organization. It sounds to me that whoever fits the role of the CCO would also be similar to what Seth Gordin dubs as the Linchpin (2010), that is, someone indispensable to the organization.

The idea of of the Chief Cultural Officer is to…
Make commerce that inhales and exhales culture,
Make culture that inhales and exhales commerce,
Make a living, breathing corporation.

Download theorycast.65 :: Why Organizations need their Chief Culture Officer (.mp4 / 122mb), or watch this on Blip.tv. Feel free to subscribe to theorycast on iTunes.

theorycast.64 :: Visiting Brandtology – an online brand intelligence startup from Singapore

During my Singapore vacation in October ’09, I caught up with Kelly Choo, co-founder of Brandtology.com, to learn more about their online brand intelligence service.

While there are numerous online sentiment monitoring companies in the States, such as Radian6 and Omniture, this space is relatively new and growing in South-East Asia.

As mentioned before, my friend Ben Koe works at JamiQ, which differentiates from Brandtology’s intelligence suite with a straightforward, hands-on approach to social media monitoring. There’s also ThoughtBuzz, which I recently read about.

To better understand the strengths of each startup, check out SG Entrepreneurs’ interviews with Brandtology’s Kelly Choo, JamiQ’s Ben Koe, and the ThoughtBuzz team.

Businesses have traditionally (and still do) debated about the lack of proper social media metrics. As many in the online space would explain, there’s in fact a deluge of metrics which leads to a dilemma of choice. While concepts of viewership and circulation were somewhat sufficient for traditional media, social media affords a broader range of metrics. The real first step is really determining what we want to measure.

MarketingSherpa.com: Leveraging Social Media

For instance, as seen in MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Social Media Marketing & PR Benchmark Guide (PDF), it’s been found that social media is very effective at building brand awareness and reputation, while it’s yet to prove itself at driving online sales. There’s no silver bullet; every media has varying levels of richness, with leaner media tending to be more distributive. Our choice of media involves a host of factors, which is why media intelligence (social or not) gets more valuable than ever.

Did You Know: The music in the end credits comes from Starfish Stories’ latest album, Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula. It’s track 5, “Stroke of Midnight v2.3″, which I bought for a dollar.

Download theorycast.64 :: Visiting Brandtology (.mp4 / 35mb), or watch this on Youtube and Blip.tv. Feel free to subscribe to theorycast on iTunes.

theorycast.63 :: What is Transmedia?

Download theorycast.63 :: What is Transmedia? (.mp4 / 52mb), or watch this on Youtube, Facebook and Blip.tv. Subscribe to theorycast on iTunes.

At the Futures of Entertainment 4 conference in MIT, I asked academics Xiaochang Li, Sheila Seles and William Uricchio of the Convergence Culture Consortium on their definitions of transmedia.

As defined by Henry Jenkins in his book Convergence Culture (2006 // see book and video), transmedia storytelling is published across multiple forms of media with each element making distinctive contributions to a viewer/user/player’s understanding of the story world. By using different media formats, it attempts to create “entrypoints” through which consumers can become immersed in a story world. Jenkins also compares highlights sticky media vs. spreadable media, where we once stuck viewers into specific media, now we’re now encouraging the content to be perpetuated across media and users.

MIT Press Bookstore FOE4 selection
MIT Press Bookstore selection @ #FOE4

Why is transmedia a big deal now?
I expect that the first point is technology, where we see the proliferation of networked media forms, such as video games, the Internet, and mobile platforms. The second point is cultural, such as the Web 2.0 movement, where the participatory design, distributive ease and integrative form of digital media lends itself well to stories flowing across media platforms.

Inspired from Lucian’s analogy of greek mythology, one of the obvious questions on transmedia lies in its distinctiveness. If stories have been reiterated across media (even tablets and statues) since the early B.C., isn’t that already a form of transmedia? If so, how is it different from cross-media or intertextual forms of productions?

From our video interview, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, Prof. Urrichio, describes transmedia as a new “lens” for us to make sense of experiences, both present and past (thus history is ever exciting). The concept clearly existed long ago, but only now are we gathering more precise vocabulary and practice for it. Perhaps it’s like seeing new colors for the first time.

An instance of transmedia in the everyday is Wikipedia, where users are co-creating and co-sustaining the continuity of the online encyclopedia, as well as reproducing the content in print and through development of mobile applications. Prof. Urrichio argues that the magic of transmedia practices, like Wikipedia, lies in its algorithm. In any transmedia practice, it is the algorithm (I offered rule-making) which defines the social outcomes of the story. If a transmedia story were an organism, it seems to me that the algorithm is much like its DNA. Open user participation on a transmedia story means that we can’t really predict how users (or fans) would re-shape the storyline, but with its algorithm in place, we can expect how it would eventually look like.

Futures of Entertainment 4
FOE4 session 3: Transmedia for Social Change (video). The Harry Potter Alliance is ingenius!

Transmedia inevitably offer a canvas for free-play, which leads us into the idea of games, specifically alternative reality games (or ARGs). To explain, Cayden Mak shared with me a neat paper by Henrik Örnebring entitled Alternate reality gaming and convergence culture: The case of Alias (2007). In it, Örnebring describes Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as a form of internet-based mystery game in which participants are immersed in a fictional world and engage in collective problem-solving.

What makes this paper particularly interesting, is that it takes into account the potential exploitative aspect of transmedia (and ARG) practices. While part of fan culture, the paper problematizes the fact that many ARGs are actually marketing tools.

An ARG I’ve personally observed was called ILoveBees.com, in which a seemingly innocuous web site gets hijacked by an A.I., offering clues throughout the site. As documented by ARG researcher, Christy Dena, “I Love Bees (42 Entertainment, 2004) was a radio drama delivered through fragmented sound files that were released one-by-one to the players as they answered over 1,400 payphone, in over 50 states, in eight countries. Once a call was answered and a challenge was successfully completed, an ‘axon’ (sound file) was unlocked for the players online.” Thing is, I Love Bees was essentially a marketing campaign for the Halo 2 game.

While not explicitly a game, we do see online services such as Facebook come under fire when their terms of agreement seizes the copyright of media shared by its users. On the other hand, Wikipedia threads the line carefully as it remains non-profit and posts no ads. This awareness of potential online exploitation brought about the recent conference called The Internet as Playground and Factory (Nov 12-14, 2009).

I vote @mikemonello for Best Laptop Lid Theme evar  #foe4
@mikemonello, best known for producing The Blair Witch Project, has awesome laptop stickers from Vinylville

FOE4 Conference Aftermath
If you’re wondering how the Futures of Entertainment 4 conference went, let’s just say there’s way too much for me to write about. Thankfully @rachelclarke liveblogged all the sessions, so just scoot over to her blog and search under “FOE”. Here’s my favorite session which she documented, FOE: Producing Transmedia Experiences: Participation & Play. Also, videos from the FOE4 sessions are out on MIT TechTV. I video captured some of the sessions and tweeted them from my iPhone OWLE rig, but they’re not as professional.

Update 1: This theorycast video is now featured on ConvergenceCulture.org (thanks Sheila!) and the MIT Comparative Media Studies web site (thanks Andrew!).

Update 2: I have to point you to the Futures of Entertainment 4 conference videos. If you have time, they are a treasure throve of real-life case studies and experiences. A must-watch is the keynote session by Henry Jenkins entitled “Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Five Key Principles of Transmedia Entertainment”. Session 3 “Transmedia for Social Change” is relevant to folks like me. Very inspirational session, esp the Harry Potter Alliance project (mindblowing!). Session 4 “The ROI of ROFL” is where Grant McCracken, author of Chief Culture Officer, lead the panel on the disconnect between “corporation and culture”. I’ve yet to blog about my interview with him. Watch them all 8 sessions here, or download all 8 videos to iTunes, then sync to your iPod to watch.

Minds for Sale: Jonathan Zittrain explores the rise of Cloud Labor

It’s been a LONG while since I’ve blogged, mostly because I’ve been:
a. out of it
b. at mindblowing conferences
c. swamped with short-term work (while job hunting)

While working on my paper, I chanced upon a video of Jonathan Zittrain’s talk entitled “Minds for Sale”. It’s similar to the one he presented at “Internet as Playground & Factory” which I recently attended (*yet to be blogged). You can download the video via Berkman Center’s page.


Here’s his abstract:

Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, explores the evolving world of cloud computing. Cloud computing is not just for computing anymore: you can now find as much mindshare as you can afford out in the cloud, too. A new range of projects is making the application of human brainpower as purchasable and fungible as additional server rackspace. What are some of the issues arising as armies of thinkers are recruited by the thousands and millions? A fascinating (and non-scare-mongering) view is offered of a future in which nearly any mental act can be bought and sold.

What’s so significant about this talk is that it not only encapsulates the buzz I’ve picked up from the transmedia conferences I’ve just returned from, but he recognizes a pattern which finally takes us beyond the material, and into the conceptual. I’m referring to the emergence of shared cognitive power or rather, cloud labor as he calls it.

In his hour long presentation, he discusses…
2:05 Ubiquitous Human Computing or “Minds for Sale”
2:32 The Tween Bot
4:14 Crowdsourcing “The Future of the Internet”
7:36 A tour of the Ubiquitous Human Computing pyramid
8:37 Example 1: The X-Prize
10:24 Example 2: Innocentive
12:08 Example 3: LiveOps
15:43 Example 4: SamaSource
16:16 Example 5: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk
20:13 Example 6: The ESP Game
22:47 Example 7: Human Computing for Electronic Design Automation
24:01 Example 8: Google
25:24 Why Should We be Pessimistic?
26:38 Child Labor on PBS
28:11 Laboring for a Devious Cause
29:23 US Border Webcams
30:05 Smart Drive
30:45 Internet Eyes
32:09 Identifying Protesters
33:21 A Speculative Example
35:05 Mechanical Turking your way to a Fake Reputation
39:36 Mechanical Turking your way to a Political Movement
41:20 Captchas Sweatshops
43:03 “Crowding Out”
44:41 The Future of Crowdsourcing and How to Stop It
47:14 Clickworkers of the World Unite!
50:45 Monetizing Kindness

Enjoy!

theorycast 59 & 60 :: Michelle Thorne’s walkabout with Creative Commons Singapore

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 01
Big Trouble in Little Chinatown…

As a fan and community manager for Creative Commons Singapore, Ivan Chew took a day off to bring CC Project Manager (International) Michelle Thorne (@thornet & blog) on a tour of Singapore’s Chinatown. I tagged along to learn about recent developments and challenges for Creative Commons in the international space.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 03

On an overcast Monday morning (12th Oct), we started the day with a relaxing Chinese tea drinking session at D’Art Tea Station on 63 Temple Street, Singapore 058608 (Tel: 62258308). Not only did store assistant Ms Cheong educate us on the intricacies of Chinese tea drinking, but we managed to use it as a springboard for critical discussion into how tea drinking seems to run counterculture to contemporary consumerism (i.e. slowing down, minimalism, tradition vs. efficiency). Watch the hour long video below to see what I mean…


theorycast.59 :: Tea-drinking with Creative Commons Singapore

Next, we met up with Chung Nian, who serves as the Legal Project Lead for CC Singapore. We discussed the intricacies of CC adoption in Singapore, and shared ideas on how we could make CC more relevant to Singaporeans.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 10

An exciting idea was to offer localized starter kits which catered to different genres of creators. For instance, I could volunteer to produce an Educator’s CC starter kit, which might include online videos, project ideas and Powerpoints which instructors could readily use in their classes to teach students about Creative Commons.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 14

After all the talk (and tea), it wasn’t long before we were starving. We paid a visit to People’s Park food center for lunch, then rounded it off with Bubble Tea at Koi Cafe, which lets us stipulate how much sugar we wanted in our drink. Michelle apparently loves Bubble Tea, which is pretty unusual for a caucasian from my experience.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 17

Our last stop was the new Popular bookstore franchise called [prologue] at Orchard Ion. Over coffee, we took turns to interview one another. I like the idea of passing the video camera around… it’s reciprocal and balances control of the discussion among participants.


theorycast.60 :: Roundtable with Creative Commons Singapore

In this roundtable discussion, we each shared how we first encountered Creative Commons, how we’re involved with CC, and what CC meant to each of us.

Singapore Tour for Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons - 06

The day ended with the appearance of Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter Bihr (@thewavingcat & blog), who was himself a web strategist based in Berlin. I wish we all had more time to learn more about one another, but it was bittersweet while it lasted. I hope to encounter both Michelle and Peter sometime in the near future. Thanks Ivan Chew for making this one of the most spectacular Mondays for me ever ;)

Fun Fact: Thorne claims to be the inventor of Nutellachino, a dessert combining Nutella and cappuccino powder.

Remaindered Photos: See slideshow of extra photos from our Chinatown tour.

Conference: The Internet as Playground and Factory (Nov 12-14, 2009)

"Internet as Playground and Factory" conference (Nov 12th-14th 2009)

Media activist, educator and human-connector, Trebor Scholz, has opened registration for his present-future conference, The Internet as Playground and Factory.

If you haven’t guess it, this conference is based on the idea of digital networked labor as it questions whether we are being exploited through our everyday online activities. I often get asked how web services like Youtube and Facebook are “free for use”, so this conference is set to explore what we actually trade in return, be it our individual privacy or labor within privatized commons.

As seen from Trebor’s conference introduction:

[…] The revenues of today’s social aggregators are promising but their speculative value exceeds billions of dollars. Capital manages to expropriate value from the commons; labor goes beyond the factory, all of society is put to work. Every aspect of life drives the digital economy: sexual desire, boredom, friendship — and all becomes fodder for speculative profit. We are living in a total labor society and the way in which we are commoditized, racialized, and engendered is profoundly and disturbingly normalized. The complex and troubling set of circumstances we now confront includes the collapse of the conventional opposition between waged and unwaged labor, and is characterized by multiple “tradeoffs” and “social costs”—such as government and corporate surveillance. While individual instances are certainly exploitative in the most overt sense, the shift in the overall paradigm moves us beyond the explanatory power of the Marxian interpretation of exploitation (which is of limited use here). […]

This reminds me of what iconic Obama street artist Shepard Fairey once said in a CBS news feature: “It’s not appropriate for only advertisers to own the public graphic communication space”. Extending Fairey’s idea across all realms, we are living in an era where all public space is being commodified. Is the situation worse online?

Trebor’s been working on the digital labor idea since I was a student of his, and he’s gathered a formidable force of around 84 artists and academic thinkers (including esteemed friends Alex Halavais, Chris Barr and Stephanie Rothenberg) to discover how legitimately concerned about exploitation we as digital natives should be.

It’s FREE (monetarily at least) to participate, goes from Nov 12th to 14th, and will be held at The New School, Eugene Lang College in NYC (Google map). You’re invited to register and for your convenience, I’ve created an upcoming.org event for it so you can easily add it to your iCal and Google calendars.

Pending available accommodations, I am planning be there to help cover the event. If you’re thinking of going and would like a buddy to introduce you around, drop me a comment. BTW, I found the perfect t-shirt to wear for such an event.

theorycast.57 :: Social Media – Strategy Instead Of Tools @ PRSA Buffalo (Part 2)

As promised, here’s a video of the talk I gave yesterday at PRSA Buffalo/Niagara to kick off their Sunrise Seminar series.

Since it’s hard to see the slides in the video, view or download them from Slideshare.net while watching me take fifty communication professionals on a thinking journey through the strategic uses of social media.

You can read the full background story and grab links to references from the talk in Part 1 of this blog series. Also see what others had to say via #PRSAtalk on twitter.

Meanwhile, here are some of the fine folks I got to meet yesterday…

Fine folks @ PRSA Buffalo
PRSA’s Jennifer on the left, while the girl closest to me is Jess Manocchio. Jess has been awesome for connecting me with the local PRSA chapter.

Fine folks @ PRSA Buffalo
Finally got to meet the amazing Rebecca Bernstein (@virtualr), mastermind behind the award-winning UB Web Team. I also got to meet Joe Brennan, Associate Vice President for University Communications at University at Buffalo. They plan to get UB more involved in the social media realm.

Fine folks @ PRSA Buffalo
@LarryRoth is president at BrandLogic Interactive, located in Rochester. He’s a swell guy on twitter too. :)

Fine folks @ PRSA Buffalo
Barbara Keough is Vice President of Operations at advertising agency Flynn & Friends, Inc. flynnandfriends.com. She’s invited me to join in one of their agency’s LOTs meetings (Learn On Thursdays).

Fine folks @ PRSA Buffalo
Kevin Manne (@k3v2) works for Catholic Charities as a Communications and Public Relations Specialist. He’s worked on all kinds of media, from print, to billboards, to television, and now he’s venturing into the realm of social media.

Fine folks @ PRSA Buffalo
Tessa Walker and Amy White chatted with me in length about how they were involved with the Obama campaign on the social web. They do great work at the Planned Parenthood of Western New York, which they explained had helped out on the campaign. I hope to learn more about their first-hand experience in what I’d believe is the most elaborate social media empowered national campaigns ever.

As I’ve mentioned over twitter (which got decent retweets): “Being rewarded for doing what you love is the best feeling in the world”. I love giving these talks because it’s a visceral, self-actualizing process. My lingering thoughts aren’t just shared, but fashioned by those willing to listen and talk to me about what they see as well. We’re essentially making sense of our crazy world together. :)

Speaking @ PRSA Buffalo: Social Media – Strategy Over Tools (Part 1)


PRSA: SocialMedia - Strategy instead of Tools
You can now download the slides (.pdf) directly from Box.net

Thanks to Jess Manocchio, I’ve been re-invited to speak at PRSA Buffalo, kicking off their Sunrise Seminar series on social media.

While my previous talk in February focused on listening in social media (Part 1 & Part 2), this time I’ll be bringing folks on a journey through how social media strategies are created. Along the way, I’ll recommend the use of conversation filtering and analysis tools such as cotweet and JamiQ. You should be able to follow along 8am EST today (Aug 5th) via twitter #PRSAtalk.

For your convenience, the must-have books I’ve mentioned in my talk today include:
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (2008) by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
Community Building on the Web : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities (2000) by Amy Jo Kim
Designing for the Social Web (2008) by Joshua Porter

UPDATE 1: Jess told me that we had around 50 happy participants today! I’ve added the my presentation slideshow at the top of this post, and you can download the slides (.pdf) from Box.net (easier) or Slideshare.net. Please share these slides if you see fit, and do let me know what your colleagues think about it.

UPDATE 2: Part 2 is now available and it features the video from this talk. Enjoy! :)

Lunch with fellow Amazon Kindle users…

Over lunch at the UB Commons, Jim Milles, Kristina Lively, Joe Hsu and I chat about our Amazon Kindles.

We casually discuss our user experiences with each version of the Kindle, and make quick predictions on the future of books.

I couldn’t resist a family portrait of our entire line of Kindles…
Yay! The WHOLE Kindle Family

On Tiananmen’s 20th anniversary: How China is becoming a Giant Singapore

Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tank Man: Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 – Jeff Widener (The Associated Press). Also see NY Times “Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen

You might be aware that I’ve been on a blog hiatus since I writing on my dissertation on Cyberactivism in China. With the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square this week, I’d like to brain dump what I’ve come across so far. Please let me know what you think.

When veteran filmmaker Antony Thomas went to China in search of “The Tank Man“, he showed this iconic picture to undergraduates at the Peking University. Back in 1989, this university served as the nerve center of the Tiananmen Square protests.

None of the students recognized the photograph.

Lacking any context, the four Chinese students mustered their best effort and proposed that it was some kind of military parade (watch 1 minute into video). Continue reading ‘On Tiananmen’s 20th anniversary: How China is becoming a Giant Singapore’