Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?

04/12/2009

1. Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings (3 – 5 sentences) (8pts)

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In “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry,” Jenkins walks the uninitiated through the ways in which media allows or does not allow for mashups, remixes, and collaborations with the audience. Specifically described are the ways in which Star Wars, Manga, The Sims, Online Gaming Universes, Modding and Movie production see audience collaboration as either a nuisance, a source for direction, an inspiration, prohibited, creative, or dangerous, and how the more restrictive the re-use of the media, the more limited its potential for adoption and longevity. The Lessig view of folk collaboration and read write culture is compared with the corporation as cornered and threatened by dilution culture, and while the writing is far from biased, it’s clear that there is a suggestion to producers to allow for audience collaboration in return for the many potential benefits of doing so.

2. Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

1. Media producers who decide that audience-as-collaborator is a threat to their creation are going to have a great deal of work keeping people from doing it and may damage their fan base in the cease and desist effort.

2. Media producers who allow or encourage audience collaboration may be able to gather feedback about new directions for the franchise, may gather stronger ties with audiences, may be able to discover new talent for their creative teams, and may be able to develop new avenues for their content.

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3. While outright outlawing of audience media manipulation will likely result in an audience backlash, the audience as creator will often accept suggestions for what is legitimately allowed within the recreation of stories, ideas, and characters of the franchise. This can be done using media contest rules, community rules, and official sponsorship of media that respects the rules.

3. Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

“The Star Wars franchise has been pulled between these two extremes both over time (as it responds to shifting consumer tactics and technological resources) and across media (as its content straddles between old and new media). Within the Star Wars franchise, Hollywood has sought to shut down fan fiction, later, to assert ownership over it and finally to ignore its existence; they have promoted the works of  fan video makers but also limited what kinds of movies they can make; and they have sought to collaborate with gamers to shape a massively multiplayer game so that it better satisfies player fantasies” (p. 134)

“If, as some have argued, the emergence of modern mass media spelled the doom for the vital folk culture traditions that thrived in nineteenth-century America, the current moment of media change is reaffirming the right  of everyday people to actively contribute to their culture.” (p. 132)

“With the consolidation of power represented by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, American intellectual property law has been rewritten to reflect the demands of mass media producers — away from providing economic incentives for individual artists and toward protecting the enormous economic investments media companies made in branded entertainment; away from a limited duration protection that allows ideas to enter general circulation while they still benefited the common good and toward the notion that copyright should last forever; away from the ideal of a cultural commons, and toward the ideal of intellectual property.” (p. 137)

Lawrence Lessig
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4. Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings. Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)I am wholly personally invested in the idea of Creative Commons. I am a Lessig fanboy. I release most of my creative work under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license, which allows for commercial re-use, modifications, and incorporation of my ideas into projects, as long as I’m credited, and as long as the resulting work is licensed in the same fashion. My most challenging concept is why Lucasfilm, Wil Wright, and other creators who have given great breadth of creativity to the audience in remixing and collaborating with their brands won’t consider licensing some (or most) of their work in the same way. Maybe I’m dreaming, but I think it could do great things in terms of longevity and expansion of the brands.

5. Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

Padre de Familia, Star Wars
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In what ways have you participated in Popular Culture remixing? Has anyone here modded a game, written fan fiction, mashed up a scene from Star Wars, or made a parody of mass media?

Does anyone have an example of a audience created piece of media that affected their feelings positively or negatively about the original media that inspired it?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

I feel that the ideas presented in this week’s readings are reflective of my own feelings about the topic. I feel that media that have been commercially produced are enhanced, extended, and recieve benefits from mashups and remixes. The only one who can potentially lose is the original producer who sees the remix as a threat, and who does not embrace it as a way of promoting their own brand. By attacking fans who are simply trying to celebrate the work (even in the form of a critique perhaps) you might only serve to alienate other fans.

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Week 3 Reading Review and Questions

02/08/2009
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1.  Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings  (3 – 5 sentences)   (8pts)

Jenkins’ chapter on Spoiling Survivor went to great lengths to describe the new interplay and blurred roles between producer and consumer, and how each influences, plays with, and sometimes frustrates the other with their new interactions on discussion boards, fan sites, and conferences. Bill Hilf‘s article on the reinvention of the World Wide Web talks about the ease with which we analyze and plan new medium with the limitations of the old in mind, and the ways in which that can bring the limits of the precedent media in new forms to the ‘successor’ medium. Hilf goes on to talk about how the advent (now current practice) of semantic web building through XML and the DOM will allow for new, not yet imagined mediums to reuse and make portable existing content that has traditionally been locked together with the medium and fixed to it (inked words and page, exposed film and images, etc).

2.  Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

1. Consumers and producers roles are becoming increasingly convergent and interactive.

Collective intelligence

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2. Thinking of new media in terms of its relationship and similarity of old media is tempting, but we should resist the urge, as it may color our interpretation of the new media.

3. Choosing highly structured ways to encapsulate content will allow for the automated and spontaneous use of it in not yet imagined media formats which will make use of them.

3.  Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

Jenkins described the online spoiling activities of ChillOne, firstly a consumer of the show Survivor, secondly a producer of insider information about the show, and thirdly an expert because of his personal relationships with people who had information about the show. Jenkins contrasted this with Mark Burnett, an actual producer of the show, who watched the online spoiling discussions, actively worked to throw out misinformation about the show he knew to not be true, and therefore participated as a producer and consumer in the spoiling community. Burnett was an expert in that he had first hand knowledge of the show’s production. Both ChillOne and Burnett were part of a collective intelligence that participated in creating a collective truth that may or may not be the actual reality.

(L-R), AOL Ch...

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Hilf indicated that looking at the internet simply as an extension of television, or seeing the internet as a black box where radio, television, and all other media are replaced and converged is too simple a way of looking at things, and also negates the other possibilities of what the Internet can be. By focusing mostly on what comes before, we may have blinders that block innovations in media that eclipse what the previous mediums were capable of.

XML and the DOM will allow highly structured content, such as news stories, blog posts, and other data to be easily connected with other related data, and also be far more portable in the future. For example, if blogging goes the way of traditional web sites, the content in those blog posts will be much easier to move to new mediums and destinations because the content was built using XML structures and the DOM, which will provide an easy path to a new destination, placing the actual content in the new system unaltered, but changing the look, feel, handling, treatment, and usability. An exampe is when highly structured content in a blog post is automatically reformatted for a cell phone browser. That’s a function of XML, CSS, and the DOM.

4.  Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings.  Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

I feel that as more and more work is done by large production companies to prevent their ideas from being unearthed and their productions from being interfered with (the Big Brother tennis balls) it makes it far more difficult for the comanies to stay focused on the entertainment’s quality because all of the distractions. Also, I feel like the fan community and spoiler community which is arguably a production company of its own becomes less and less able to produce effectively, because of the imposed restrictions of the primary production company. I feel like this situation needs mediation, but I don’t think that it will be easy to arrange, nor likely to occur.

5.  Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

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Who in the class participates in a spoiler style community, and in what ways does it affect the producer in the relationship?

Can anyone explain some of the benefits of XML markup and Cascading Style Sheets?

Do you belong to any groups that act as a production company? Is your office a production company of sorts?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response.  (8pts)

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I feel like my interactions on Netflix, Facebook, my blogs, LinkedIn, and Flickr all have a potential effect on those or other creative communities. Spoiling Survivor goes into the details about just one of those relationships. On my beer blog, for example, I’ve often had the opportunity to speak with Brewers about their brews, gotten compliments on my photography, gotten critiques of my critiques, and met quite a few people who are interested in the same things I am.  I’m both producer and consumer, interacting with both producers and consumers of the content, the object (beer, photography, writing, etc.). The Hilf article talks about how because of the way in which I’m publishing, the content I’m creating becomes part of the Semantic Web, is auto-related to other content, highly portable and re-useable, and won’t be stuck when and if blogging dies sometime in the future in the same way that static web sites are now.

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Week 2 Reading Review & Questions.

02/01/2009
15 minutes of fame.

15 minutes of fame.

1.  Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings  (3 – 5 sentences)   (8pts)

The Federman article on The Cultural Paradox of the Global Village talks about the Internet and the ways in which it is analyzed in terms of McLuhan’s ideas about media.  The article talks about ideas surrounding media such as implosion, metaphoric centripedal and centrifugal force, visual and acoustic space, the concept of Ma, and the DigiSelf, a construct of the author. It also predicts the future of cinema (in what I see as already unlikely), reviews recent media events shaped by blogging, and our new found fascination with our digital self, along with our responsibilites in relation to it.

The introduction to Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins entitled “Worship at the Altar of Convergence” did a very good job, in my opinion, of defining convergence by definition, example, counterexample, and discussion. It described how media’s effects on people, participatory culture, big media, ownership, copyright, mash-ups, and living room or pocket black boxes are all in play in today’s existing convergent culture experience.

2.  Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

A key idea of Federman’s is the concept of the DigiSelf, his concept of our identities online which may become a more real us than us to observers, may or may not be owned by us, and which is a literal creation more so than an existence, in which we are the creator (2003). I personally think the name needs some work. A key idea in Jenkins’ introduction was defining convergence itself, which is the idea that traditional and newer mediums, cultural norms, delivery methods, collaborations, are all struggling to be defined in some convergent monolithic way which is unlikely to happen (2006). Another idea of Jenkins’ is that there is no monolithic black box, per se, though many media pundits content producers and delivery companies would love for it to be so — the reality is that each of us loves the way that certain media are interacted with in different contexts, and trying to apply a one size fits all solution would likely only anger consumers (who are also possible participants in the production) (2006).

3.  Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

On page 5, Federman writes that

“what was once integral – our self, our person, our identity – is now split among our self in the physical world and our many digiSelves, each having an autonomous life of its own. Thus we disconnect from the normal experience of physical and corporeal time and space when we live vicariously through our digiSelf on the Internet (2003).”

Jenkins talks about an early prophet of the idea of convergence, Ithiel de Sola Pool, and quotes Pool (from 1983) as a way of helping to define Convergence, and the Internet’s (and digitization’s) essential role in the process:

“A process called the ‘convergence of modes’ is blurring the lines between media, even between point-to-point communications, such as the press, radio, and television. A single physical means — be it wires, cables, or airwaves — may carry services that in the past were provided in seperate ways…the one-to-one relationship that used to exist between a medium and its use is eroding. (2006, p. 10)”

Jenkins quotes Cheskin Research in explaining the monolithic Black Box fallacy: “The old idea of convergence was that ll devices would converge into one central device that did everything for you (a’ la the universal remote). What we are now seeing is the hardware diverging while the content converges (2006, p. 15).”

4.  Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings.  Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

I would say that the most difficult concept for me this week is still the idea itself of convergence — it seems that there are a hundred different interpretations of it, some contradicting each other, some negating each other. The authors note that it is not an end, but rather a process, and I think that moving target aspect of the concept makes it very difficult to nail down comfortably. This is what I’m getting: Convergence is about different people, cultures, media, and processes now twisting, turning, and reversing roles, exchanging ideas, being entertained, informed, and taught, using one’s own most preferred method, time, and media. Messages are just the beginning — where will they be delivered, how, to whom, between whom? Will the originator of the message retain the ability to keep the message as they intended? Probably not — the viewer has the power of producer, co-producer, reinventor. It’s a wonderful, scary, brilliant, and exciting time in terms of media exchange, but it is not easy to understand all of what’s contained in that magic term, Convergence.

5.  Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

What was the last thing you modified and made your own (ranging from a discussion online to a mash up), in terms of media, that would not have been possible before digitization?

How long before the NY Times stops their print editions altogether?

When will NBC Universal turn off their broadcast signal? Have they already?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response.  (8pts)

I feel that the idea of convergence is something I’ve been immersed in for a while now. I maintain blogs on various topics ranging from beer (http://beercritic.wordpress.com) to organizational leadership (you’re looking at it) to myself (http://www.lemasney.com). I sometimes post photos or pages right from my phone. I have lots of black boxes, including the G1 from tmobile, my Tivo, my Satellite reciever, my netflix account, the radio in my var, my iPods, and my laptop. I’m always connected via wifi, 3G, or ethernet. I belong to at least 10 social networks that I’m active in, including facebook, ning.com, flickr, youtube, and friendfeed, which is a collector of content from each of them. I say this as an introduction to the idea that I spend a great deal of time still interacting with people physically, speaking, collaborating, presenting, doing workshops and sessions. I often record these and redistribute the presentation as a way of adding on to what Federman would call my digiSelves. These readings have made me begin to examine in a deeper way the impact that the convergence of media, culture, and interpersonal relationships have had (and will have) on me, and the impact that I have had (and will have) on the convegence of media, culture, and interpersonal relationships.

Questions for Introduction, Convergence Culture

1. What is convergence? Why does the author dismiss the understanding of convergence as a technological process? How does the technological process make convergence possible on the other hand? Please use some examples in your life to illustrate the convergence process.

Convergence is the idea that media, methods, culture, personalities, and identities are all coming together, which is directly opposed to the previously prevalent concept that, for instance, print media and television, would travel in divergent, separate paths of production, delivery, and treatment. Convergence in this author’s voice is specifically referring to the changes to the culture, the effects of the media on the ways that people interact, rather than any simpler explanation of 3 mediums converging upon a laptop over the internet. However, that 3 medium example gives the possibilites of the socio-cultural effects taking place, and without digitization and other keystones of the concepts of convergence, it’s impossible to have the deeper discussion. I’m affected each day by the sociocultural effects of convergence — it affects where I go to eat (yelp.com) what I do to entertain myself (netflix.com) and the way that I capture and share memories (flip camera) but further, it affects the ways in which people can find out what I’ve found out, that collective intelligence piece (friendfeed.com/lemasney). In this way, I’ve become a producer of content simply by consuming. And, it all happens to take place in one place, converging upon my laptop, my sites, and my space and time.

2. Why does the author claim that convergence is “an old concept taking on new meanings” on page 6? Is the new media going to replace the old media? How does the concept of convergence play out in the relationship between the new and old media?

Convergence has beeen happening for a very long time, during which plays had to take on the effects of movies, radio had to take on the effects of television, and live music had to take on the effects of recorded music, then subsequently the effects of digital piracy, resulting in a new resurgence in the importance of live music. It is more likely that the new media will strongly influence and ask older media to adapt, change, and be reborn in a new form. Despite design applications, drafting tables still exist. When will the touchscreen drafting tables arrive, I wonder? Convergence is about the meeting of the mediums, and the potential for the new outcomes that are hopefully better than either of the originals.

3. Please use some examples to discuss how participatory culture helps drive the process of convergence.

When I have the ability to comment, edit, redistribute, publish, discuss, mash-up, videotape, audio record, collaborate, react, and share publically online, I am a different kind of consumer — one that produces, co-produces, and creates. If I decide to participate, I converge, or become closer to one with traditional production — I may publish something on my blog about a show, possibly even editing a scene the way that I might have done it and publishing the clip, which might then in turn get the attention of the original producer. Many things can happen at that point, including influence, collaboration, payment, legal action, or gaining an audience that is more interested in my take than the original.

4. On page 15, the author cites the report from Cheskin Research, “…What we are now seeing is the hardware diverging while the content converges.” Please use the media ownership concentration happening in today’s society to discuss how the media conglomerates take advantage of convergence.

Apple Computer’s iPod is the superlative front runner in the handheld media player market, and until very recently insisted that you use their DRM protected media methodology when purchasing songs from their site. By doing this, they tried to assure market share, brand loyalty (forced), and less likelihood of migration to another platform because of incompatibility with other devices. Zunes can play standard MP3s, for example, but can not play iTunes Music Store protected media. By having all of those eyes coming to one place, they were able to make the ITMS into a delivery method for other kinds of media besides just music, including movies, audiobooks, and more. When you have a single (successful) device that can replace your television, radio, phone, walkman, cd player, voice recorder, and music store, you are making the most of convergence.

5. Convergence also takes place in our every-day life besides in the media industry. We are in the age of convergence culture. How do we define convergence culture?

We can not escape the effects of convergence — because everyone is constantly being exposed to media in different forms, carrying it with them, reading it in print media, catching it in email, catching shares in Facebook, reading RSS feeds, and even watching tv and movies in varios delivery forms, we are all (even those who might decide to not be a part of the participatory culture) increasingly being influenced, and then passing on that influence passively in discussions, actively in sharing online, and internally, as we watch, as we sleep and process all the messages we saw. Convergence culture is the resulting environment that we are all a part of, being affected by our always-on mediums, their cross influences, and the results of those interactions.

Questions for Cultural Paradox article

1. What is the “intriguing paradox” the author refers to?

The author writes “What is the culture of a place that is everywhere and nowhere, that is at once global but renders the globe obsolete, that globalizes the individual yet strips our individuality?” and refers directly to the Internet, digitization, and speaks to a main issue of convergence.

2. According to this article, how is the internet often compared to TV, and how are they different?

They both have interfaces for various sized screens, audio, and video. They are both acoustic spaces, and both alphabetic visual spaces. However, the interactive nature of the internet separates it dramatically from television. The microphone, webcam, mouse and keyboard all give you a way to control and affect the medium differently than a remote control. In television, he producers and the consumers are in two very different positions. On the internet, the rules of the roles of producer vs. consumer are not just blurry, they’re missing.

3. Discuss what the author means by television’s centripetal force and the Internet’s centrifugal force?

Television expects you to take it all in — the media comes towards you, you take it in like an imploding whirlpool, and that’s it. The internet allows you to reverse the direction, spinning outward, sharing media, sharing ideas, and exploding with content going outward to everyone.

4. What does the author mean by DigiSelf, and how is it related to the Greek Narcissus myth identified by McLuhan?

The digiSelf is the author’s construct to describe an online identity. McLuhan’s belief was that Narcissus did not fall in love with himself, but rather that he did not recognize his self image, and therefore, fell in love with someone else (Fisher, n.d.). There is a connection there that says that we can easily create an online persona that we do not recogize as ourselves, that can be far more witty, interesting, and engaged than we are ourselves. We might also interact with others online as our digiSelf in ways that we would never consider (abuse, shouting, rudeness, aggressiveness, assault, debauchery) in physical reality.

5. Comment on the following: “Like acoustic space we cannot shut out the effects of the Internet on our culture and society even if we choose not to use it.”

Even if you do not use the internet, you likely know a lot about its cultural effects. Obama’s success in the 2008 election was strongly influenced by internet activity (twitter account, youtube publishing, change.gov), for example, and all of us in the US are affected by that outcome, even if we never visited a web site, wrote an email, or watched a video online.

References

Federman, M. (2003, February 10). Cultural Paradox of the Global Village. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from http://www.utoronto.ca/mcluhan/article_culturalparadox.htm.

Fisher, M. (n.d.). Flatline_Constructs 2.6 From Narcissism to Schizophrenia. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from http://www.cinestatic.com/trans-mat/fisher/FC2s6.htm.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. NYU Press.