Archive for the 'Media' Category

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Watch Henry Jenkins discuss Transmedia Storytelling (video)

Henry Jenkins is the director, Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT. In this viral-info-snack he discusses the power of media in a 21 century trans-mediated world. A world where converging technologies and cultures give rise to a new media landscape.

Thanks to the ever wise Cross-Media Specialist @ChristyDena, I checked out Henry Jenkin’s short video on transmedia, which discusses the origin of media and how it’s transformed today. The video showcases much of the phenomena I’ve been illustrating in my recent presentations on the social web.

Starting with storytelling shared within tribes, it goes onto the modern day commercialization of media owned by a few powerful conglomerates, and finally today’s re-tribalized media which is reproduced and remixed by anyone handy with digital tools as well as participates in online social networks (e.g. Youtube, Facebook). Evidence of this remix culture can be seen in Youtube spoofs of major events such as the Gitmo torture and the Obama campaign.

More importantly, Jenkins discusses the emergence of transmedia, which is an affordance of such democratic media tools. In short, transmedia refers to the idea that a story can be told across various media. A popular example would be The Matrix, where the story is told across three movies, an animation series, a video game and so on. Extending further, we could also consider fan-made works as part of the transmedia experience, where we see variations (e.g. spoofs) produced and shared by fans all over the world.

In summary, today’s experiences are best served flowy. It’s not just about letting content be in the hands of fans, but enabling them to remix them in their own image. This participatory way of production isn’t simply fan-inclusive; it invites them to help us sustain our stories beyond our means.

theorycast.56 :: Is “MINE” the future of magazines?

Thanks to @JessManocchio and @joonian, I’ve got my first issue of MINE. It’s an experimental, personalized magazine from Time Warner Inc. Is it a worthy mashup or a frankenstein of a magazine? See what I’ve to say.

MINE: My Magazine. My Way.

What is Mine magazine?

  • A free five-issue, 10-week, experimental magazine
  • User-mashup of five Time Warner/American Express Co. magazines
  • Personalized magazines end up with 56 possible combinations
  • MINE has been compared to a printed, expanded RSS feed
  • 36-page print edition for first 31,000 respondents
  • Online version goes to remaining 200,000 respondents
  • MINE magazine has mobile reader version, including a Blackberry app
  • Features four single-page ads for the Lexus 2010 RX
  • Lexus ads personalized based on subscriber’s geography and taste (see video)
  • Probably environmentally friendlier than traditional distribution
  • Magazine personalization isn’t new: Xerox helped subscribers put their own photo on the cover of WIRED (March-July, 2007)

mine - the future of magazines?

References
USA Today: Made-to-order magazine lets readers choose by Ryan Nakashima (March 18, 2009)
Fast Company: Time Inc.’s Mine Magazine is a Printed RSS Feed by Ariel Schwartz (March 18, 2009)
Will Time’s Customized “Mine” Magazine Be a Print Success Story? by Leah Southers #PublicRelations (March 26, 2009)

Japan’s cyber homeless living on the net

BBC’s Matt Frei visits a cyber cafe just outside Tokyo, where some homeless young people are choosing to live in the tiny cubicles. Some take-aways from this short, depressing BCC report:

  • 60 x “coffin-sized” cubicles for rent at around US$500/month in Tokyo
  • No windows to the outside world, except for computer
  • Cubicle residents mostly young, intelligent, retrenched
  • Cubicle neighbors rarely talk to one another, no friendships
  • Sense of sadness and lifelessness. Respectful = silent?

Reviewing similar cyber-drifter reports from other news agencies:

  • Cyber-homeless are nicknamed “freeters” – a compound of “free” and “Arbeiter” (German for “worker”)
  • “Freeters” are a by-product of the economic crisis that hit Japan and its lifelong employment guarantees in the 1990s
  • “Freeters” drift between odd jobs, earning around US$8/hour (1,000 yen)
  • A modest 30 square metre (320 square foot) flat in Tokyo easily cost US$1,250/month
  • Living in such Internet cafes costs $12-$20 a night. Residents get free soft drinks, TV, comics and Internet access. This prices even beat those of Japan’s famous “capsule hotels”, where guests sleep in plastic cells.
  • Living in cybercafes also grants an official registered address to many laid-off contract workers. Critical for job hunting.

I’ve seen similar partitioned cubicles in cybercafes in parts of China, though I must say that the ones in Japan seem to have the most privacy.

I’d appreciate any photos / videos you might have taken or found of cybercafes around the world. I’d like to compare social conditions.

Here are more reports about Japan’s cyber homeless…
Reuters: Japanese find sleep, shelter in cyber cafes (Text / May 7, 2007)
Roadjunky: The Cyber-Homeless of Japan (Video / Dec 22, 2008)
Reuters: Japan’s Internet address (Video / Dec 24, 2008)

Update: BoingBoing mentions the exploitation aspect. Cybercafe owner makes a tidy sum from their plight: 60 cubicles x $500 rent = $30,000. The polar ends of socio-economics, aka the poor get poorer, vice versa. The inescapable, perpetual dilemma.

theorycast.55 :: Touring the Retro-Media exhibit @ UB

Talk about Geek Nostalgia! Walk with us in this 20 minute historic journey into memory devices lost and found.

Science librarian Ben Wagner gives us a tour of their new Retro-Media exhibit which features all kinds of recordable media over the past century.

Everything from computer punch cards, to floppy disks, to magnetic tape for data storage, to vinyl, 8-track, CDs for music recordings, to 8mm film, U-matic, laserdiscs for video media, and so much more.

The UB Libraries have put together a wonderfully comprehensive history of recordable media on the Retro-Media web site.

Despite the Internet, geography still rules…


Click image to enlarge

As seen in my Facebook social graph, my online relationships tend to be clustered more by geography than shared interests.

To clarify, these shared interests would include events or communities, since all of this can take place in either virtual (e.g. hobbyist forum) or physical (e.g. community center) locations.

In the 90s, Barry Wellman did a related study on one of the world’s first “always-on” Internet suburbs called “Netville“. During his early visit to UB, I recalled him relating an irony of how we communicate predominantly with our physical neighbors, despite us being afforded the ability to base our communication on mutual interests with anyone in the world.

I would surmise that physical proximity still has a higher significance on our communication due to the increased potential impact (threat) it could have on our well being (survival).

See if this is true for you. Try generating your own social graph, then label your clusters. The denser cluster should be ones that are geographically centered. If you can, upload your screenshot to Flickr, then tag it: facebookclusters

UPDATE 1:
Okay so this might not be the most valid test, but it gets us thinking. Chris Lott pointed out how…

  1. The choice of Facebook for experiment skews the results, making them narrowly applicable to FB not one’s actual social network
  2. not to mention the obviousness of geographical proximity as a major force in friendships which reflect on SNs…

I would half-agree.
For the first point on the disassociation of online vs. real-life networks, I believe that given sufficient friend connections on Facebook, it would still serve as a decent sample/proxy of our real-life relationships. I did consider factors such as the digital divide, but with an increasingly broader demographic of Facebook participants, this might not impact the test as much as we might imagine. Having chatted/interviewed with a small number of new and senior Facebook users, most are amazed at how many of their friends are already there.

On the second point of obviousness of geography as cause for friendship, I relate back to the idea of the test: To see if the Internet truly encourages us to communicate (including relationship formation) on shared interests regardless of proximity. In essence, the online space would allow for geographic friendships to compete with shared interest friendships, yet geographic ones still appear as denser clusters.

A caveat for using Facebook to test how we center our communication online, would be that friending on social networking services are single-action triggers, and are unrepresentative of longer-term communication. For a more accurate test, I’d need to be able to measure who we tend to talk to (nodes), how often we do (frequency), and where that person resides (location).

I’m still trying to find a better way to conduct this Facebook test, so lets consider this a pilot. Now if we take that the average no. of Facebook friendships to be about 164, then a friendship corpus of about 200 or more should suffice for this test.

Do note that I find friendship counting irrelevant, because our current architecture of social networking services naturally grows our connections. That is, it’s easier to make connections, yet more work to break them. We’re never going to stop meeting new people throughout our lives. Interestingly, while I consider myself an active friender online (currently 620 FB friends) , my geocentric network clusters still hold true!

Here are submissions from my friends…

Joe Hsu / @jhsu / 491 Facebook friends

Denice Szafra / @denidzo / 123 Facebook friends

@denidzo said “yes, but while problematic, it does indicate that I don’t randomly friend people- that I mostly talk to people I already know.”

November Tan / @micamonkey / 836 Facebook friends / 4yrs of Facebook use

Among her thoughts, November said “I find it interesting that my family network runs in parallel clusters. One for each side of the family!”

Jeremy Foo / @echoz / 308 Facebook friends / 2yrs of Facebook use

Jeremy said “I would think that my clusters are based upon events in life rather than location. Its more often than not a classification system that is familiar to you.”

I did consider whether the classification of shared interest and location was arbitrary, since both could be mutually inclusive. An event would be an example of a situation where both coincide. However, since shared interest could exist in physical and virtual place, it’s still fair game.

As iffy as this sounds, I’ll need to compare more social graphs out there, so do contribute your annotated screenshots:
1. Generate your own social graph.
2. Label your clusters by shared interest and location.
3. Upload your screenshot to Flickr, then tag it: facebookclusters.
4. Include your friend count and how long you’ve been using Facebook.

Finally, let me know how you’d improve the test. Also let me know if you’ve found any network tool that lets me get at the data points I’ve mentioned. Thanks!

Speaking @ PRSA Buffalo: Getting started with social media for PR practitioners (Pt.2)

PRSA Buffalo - Social Media Panel
Kara Kane, Anthony Dicembre of BuffaloMe.com and me after our PRSA panel

A nice turnout of about 80 public relations professionals showed up for our PRSA panel on social media today (see Part 1)! While we were each given 15min to infuse our knowledge and experience into the thirsty crowd, we ultimately took up 30min each. That left a mere 10min for Q&A. What can I say… Oops! ;D

Sorry no one took videos, but I did an audio recording of our presentations. To top it off, I’ve synchronized the audio with the Slideshare presentation below so you can now laugh along with the audience. Yes, apparently they found us funny. Only catch, syncing audio with the Shareshare presentation takes up a lot of my time (thus I only did mine), so I’ll only be linking to Kara’s and Anthony’s audio recording.

The diligent citizen journalists at WNYmedia have written up about our talk, with some pointed insights on the state of our local PR industry. Do read the comments for their article entitled “PR Professionals Have a Lot to Learn“.

Finally, to keep the conversation going, we’ve created a PR + Social Media learning group on BuffaloMe.com. Join Buffalo’s very own social networking service while finding peers from the PR industry.

While Anthony has made his slides downloadable, here are audio recordings of our three presentations shared via my favorite Soundcloud widget. You get to jump and comment on the parts you like:

Speaking @ PRSA Buffalo: Getting started with social media for PR practitioners (Pt.1)

Humans = Emotion Machine
I’ll attempt to explain the addictive qualities of twitter, blog, facebook, etc…

Early tomorrow from 8am to 10.30am, Kara Kane, Anthony Dicembre of BuffaloMe.com and I will be giving a panel presentation to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) entitled “Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & More: A Guide to Social Media & How It Applies to PR Practitioners (Insert TV slogan: Long Name, Amazing Results!)

With 15 minutes each, Kara will kick it off with an overview of popular social media platforms and provide tips on how PR practitioners can use these platforms to their advantage.

I’ll follow up by focusing on the importance of listening in an ever-louder social media environment. By telling the Michael Phelps vs. Kelloggs meme, I’ll demonstrate the basics of using social media search tools to give practitioners the ability to be omnipresent online as a brand, and gain leverage by responding to community issues in a timely and personal manner.

Anthony will provide step-by-step instructions to take control of brands online using social media. Go from having little to no social media presence to a sustainable long-term strategy.

Kelloggs vs Phelps meme-quake (Feb 2009).028
Trend tracking the Kelloggs vs. Phelps meme-quake (Feb 2009)

We’ll share our presentations after the show.
The presentation slides are now up on Part 2 of this article.

HyperConnected Beings // From Social Web to Networked Consciousness

Presentation Mindmap: Networked Consciousness
HyperConnected Beings (Slides)

As a guest lecturer at @panomatic‘s Designed Play visual studies class yesterday, I thought aloud of how we are increasingly inter-connected with one another. Although in varying degrees, there are some like me who are inclined to explore the extremities of self-awareness.

Perhaps not now, but little choice later…
Note that I take the perspective of being hyper-connected as a choice at this point, though I believe that it will be unavoidable in the near future. As my friend MrBig already noted, even when he tries to have online presence through pseudonymity, the dilemma comes where his friends connect back to him, verifying real-life information about himself (e.g. Facebook).

Since information shared online by others around and about you would likely be beyond your control, having some form of online presence that’s verifiable by people you know, would act as a findable official reference from which you can control. Even if you aren’t interested in promoting yourself online, having presence acts as a defense mechanism for your namesake / reputation.

To contrast the diversity modes of online presence, I talked about my personal experiences in attempting to share and store consciousness via two routes:

1. Taking the High Road – VIDEO
+ High Cognitive Bandwidth; hard to multi-task / browse
+ Visceral, im-mediate reality
+ Technological accessibility: smaller sensors, cheaper storage
+ Mobile live video streaming (e.g. Ustream.tv, Qik, etc)
+ Searchable video via thumbnails, keyframe tagging, face detection

2. Taking the Low Road – TEXT
+ Low Cognitive Bandwidth: easy to multi-task / browse
+ Imaginary, requires prior experience
+ Scalable Complexity: twitter (low) to blog posting (high)
+ Democratic participation: twitter, SMS/txting cellphones
+ Highly searchable; naturally mashable / remixable

Points discussed in class during presentation:

Finally, the means of communication often creates avenues for serendipitous encounters, which could explain why we are attracted to use social devices such as twitter.

ASIDE: I’m keeping track of related information at http://theory.wikispaces.com/Social+Cyborg

UPDATE: I’ve share the presentation on Slideshare.net

How Obama could set the stage for Participatory Governance

UB Students watching inauguration
UB Students watching inaugurationUB Students watching inauguration
UB students watching the inauguration at the Capen Undergraduate Library

While the world watches the inauguration of our 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama, those of us fortunate enough to have Internet access were able to express our thoughts alongside numerous live video streams including CNN.com, UStream.tv, Hulu and Joost.

Of particular note was the CNN/Facebook collaboration on their own shared viewing experience. Since both CNN and Facebook were relatively more mainstream than say twitter, more viewers were ready to participate.

CNN.com Live - Facebook
Watch video sample taken by Dusenyao

According to Mashable, CNN served 13.9 million live video streams globally since 6am. More than 200,000 status updates were made at a rate of 3,000 users per minute, through the Facebook integration on CNN.com. Meanwhile, Twitter sees 4 times no. of tweets per minute over the course of the inauguration, peaking when Obama was sworn in as 44th President.

But it doesn’t end there. On a more intense level, we’re seeing a lot more involvement from the citizen journalism perspective, at times such coverage is given equal representation alongside mainstream production. Bottom-up, Qik.com coordinated a special Inauguration 2009 page which aggregated about 122 live videos from around 35 mobile producers today. Top-down, we see how CNN has the “Your View of History” map showing both iReporters and CNN coverage around DC:

CNN.com - Your View of History

From the era of participatory media (i.e. blogs, twitter), have we been primed to take on the more focused task of nation building through participatory governance?

The practice of crowdsourcing has been transitioning from one industry to another. Major corporations such as Dell and Starbucks have been turning to consumers for new ideas. News media agencies such as CNN and Fox News have been soliciting unique coverage from citizen reporters.

Now, virtually moving presence from Change.gov to Whitehouse.gov, the Obama transition team has been setting the pace for citizen participation on government ideas and policies. The most obvious improvement is accessibility for the new White House web site, which is 100% HTML/CSS valid (hat tip Vantan), and now features an official blog with RSS feed which you can easily subscribe to:

The White House Blog
Here’s a before and after screenshot of the Whitehouse.gov web site

While it remains to be seen how citizen participation could be ideally solicited, another front would be to allow open access to government data which could in turn be made more useful by talented individuals among us, as seen in the BART poster I saw in San Francisco:

Build your own BART apps
BART.gov Developer Tools

Barrack Obama, from the elections all the way to his presidency, has been the most connected president to date. As a reminder, his promise on the issue of technology includes 1) Protecting the openness of the internet, 2) Deploying a modern communications infrastructure (reducing digital divide), 3) Improve America’s competitiveness (investing in scientific innovations).

Eh Sai! I’m personally enthusiastic at how America turns out from our era of networked democracy, since this would set the stage for other nations (such as Singapore) to follow. Congratulations America, the world is watching and learning! For fellow Americans, ReadWriteWeb has seven tips to help Obama restore America.

UPDATE 1: CNN is soliciting for photographs of the inauguration to piece together a Photosynth called “The Moment“. FYI, Photosynth is a Microsoft technology that creates 3D spaces from anyone’s 2D photos, giving you the near ability to experience slice of time as if you’re actually there.

UPDATE 2: Megan Taylor of MediaShift has written a more comprehensive piece, “Innovation in Inauguration Coverage

UPDATE 3: Lance Miller wrote about the “pluggable government” and notes how citizens learn to wrangle. By wrangle, he mentions Bruce Sterling’s vision: “Wranglers are the class of people willing to hassle with Spimes. And it is a hassle. An enormous hassle. But its a fruitful hassle. It is the work of progress. Handled correctly, it can undo the harm of the past and enhance what is to come.” — When Blobjects Rule the Earth/SIGGRAPH, Los Angeles, August 2004

Video: Alex’s lecture on Search Engine Society

While waiting for my book to arrive, Prof. Alex Halavais has just shared the first of his many upcoming lectures from his book, Search Engine Society (hat tip Jason Nolan).

As he notes, the common misconception of publications relating to search engines, has been their attribution to the marketing of goods and services through search engines (e.g. search engine optimization or SEO).

Instead, Alex explains that Search Engine Society focuses on the media effects and cultural impact relating to online search engines, which I believe is an issue that has largely been ignored. Just as newspapers once dictated how we perceived the tone of each day, the mechanism (and failings) of search engines immensely affects the way we perceive the world around us.

If you wish to watch more, stay tuned to Alex Halavais’ blog. Here’s an earlier video overview of his Search Engine Society syllabus for 2009. Finally, you can go at your own pace by buying the dead trees version.