Futures of Entertainment 3

I’m very happy to announce that I’ll be speaking at Futures of Entertainment 3, put together by the Convergence Culture Consortium at MIT:

Convergence culture has moved swiftly from buzzword to industry logic. The creation of transmedia storyworlds, understanding how to appeal to migratory audiences, and the production of digital extensions for traditional materials are becoming the bread and butter of working in the media. Futures of Entertainment 3 once again brings together key industry leaders who are shaping these new directions in our culture and academic scholars immersed in the investigation the social, cultural, political, economic, and technological implications of these changes in our media landscape.

This year’s conference will work to bring together the themes from last year – media spreadability, audiences and value, social media, distribution – with the consortium’s new projects in moving towards an increasingly global view of media convergence and flow. Topics for this year’s panels include global distribution systems and the challenges of moving content across borders, transmedia and world building, comics and commerce, social media and spreadability, and renewed discussion on how and why to measure audience value.

Confirmed speakers for this year’s conference include: Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The Middleman), Alex McDowell (Production Designer, The Watchmen), Kevin Slavin (Area/Code), Donald K Ranvaud (Buena Onda Films), Amber Case (Cyborg Anthropologist and Social Media Consultant), Mauricio Mota (New Content [Brazil]), Alisa Perren (George State University), Amanda Lotz (University of Michigan), Sharon Ross (Columbia College Chicago), Nancy Baym (University of Kansas), Alice Marwick (New York University), Vu Nguyen (VP of Business Development, crunchyroll.com) with more to come.

It’s going to be good, so if you’re in the neighborhood or looking for a good excuse to visit Boston or bone up on the latest in fandom’s key issues, be there!

How Last.fm strengthens relationships and creates new ones

One of the big questions raised by social networking sites is what the heck those “friendships” really are. In this paper, written with my former Ph.D. student and now Ohio University professor Andrew Ledbetter, we examine this in the case of Last.fm. Based on a large survey of users, we pose the question of what predicts how strong or well developed Last.fm friendships are.

The short answer is that the best predictor is not shared taste in music (which has no effect on relational development), but how many different ways people communicate with one another. For each medium added, people’s relationships are a little closer. This means that sites like Last.fm can provide pairs with an additional way to maintain and strengthen their relationship that goes over and beyond what they get through email, instant messaging, phone calls and other means of interaction.

On the other hand, the “friendships” that begin via Last.fm don’t go very far, even if shared taste was important to the relationship’s initiation.

Overall, the “friendships” on Last.fm are pretty weak. The notion that shared taste makes people “musical soulmates” makes for good mythology, it seems, but not strong interpersonal connections.

You can download and read the paper here. For reasons I don’t understand, the tables did not get included in this PDF. If you really want to see them, email me.

If you’re in Copenhagen this week for Internet Research 9.0, drop on by and hear this presented live in person.

Fan Labor: Exploitation or Empowerment?

Hi there. Remember me? Ok, so I’ve been an epic blogging fail lately. But there’s a good reason! I’ve been writing full length things. Like the 2 papers I’m about to share here.

This coming week I’ll be in Copenhagen presenting at the Association of Internet Researchers’ ninth annual conference (Internet Research 9.0). I’m giving two papers, one about Swedish indie fans online and one about friending on Last.fm.

Here is the paper about Swedish indie fans. My collaborator Robert Burnett and I interviewed a number of mp3 bloggers, archivists, indie label guys and musicians. In this, we demonstrate the importance of the (unpaid) work fans do in spreading this music beyond the border of Sweden, making it a globally accessible and appreciated commodity, and we pose the question of whether this is exploitation or empowerment.

There is a critique of Web 2.0 that argues it is based on free labor done by users from which others profit. We argue that this critique has some merit, but undervalues the rewards fans get from doing this kind of work. We identify the costs fan laborers pay and the rewards they receive. In the end, the tension between empowerment and exploitation is one that each fan laborer has to manage on his or her own. We identify three strategies through which they do this: distancing themselves from the scene as outsiders, viewing themselves as peers of those they ‘work’ for, and viewing their work as an investment in a future career.

You can download the paper here.

Come back next week for the Last.fm paper.

First Issue of Transformative Works and Cultures

Congratulations to everyone involved in the successful launch of the new fandom journal Transformative Works and Cultures! Here is the Table of Contents and live link to the first issue.

Transformative Works and Cultures
Vol 1 (2008)

Table of Contents

Transforming academic and fan cultures
TWC Editor

Participatory democracy and Hillary Clinton’s marginalized fandom
Abigail De Kosnik

“Emotions-Only” versus “Special People”: Genre in fan discourse
Louisa Ellen Stein

Painful pleasures: Sacrifice, consent, and the resignification of BDSM
symbolism in “The Story of O” and “The Story of Obi”
Anne Kustritz

Women, “Star Trek,” and the early development of fannish vidding
Francesca Coppa

“The epic love story of Sam and Dean”: “Supernatural,” queer readings, and
the romance of incestuous fan fiction
Catherine Tosenberger

Ownership, authority, and the body: Does antifanfic sentiment reflect
posthuman anxiety?
Madeline Ashby

The unlearning: Horror and transformative theory
Michael A. Arnzen

Soap operas and the history of fan discussion
Sam Ford

And now, a word from the amateurs
Dana L. Bode

On symposia: LiveJournal and the shape of fannish discourse
Rebecca Lucy Busker

Nothing but Net: When cultures collide
Cathy Cupitt

Fan labor audio feature introduction
Bob Rehak

Interview with Henry Jenkins
TWC Editor

Interview with Wu Ming
Veruska Sabucco

Interview with the Audre Lorde of the Rings
TWC Editor

“Teen television: Essays on programming and fandom,” edited by Sharon Marie
Ross and Louisa Ellen Stein
Mary Dalton

“Fans: The mirror of consumption,” by Cornel Sandvoss
Eve Marie Taggart

“Cyberspaces of their own,” by Rhiannon Bury
Katarina Maria Hjärpe

“The new influencers,” by Paul Gillin
Barna William Donovan

Affective Audiences: This is Going To be Good

[housekeeping note: i hope to slowly ease back into more regular posting in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here's the CFP for something I am very excited about]

Call for Papers

Affective Audiences: Analysing Media Users, Consumers and Fans
Preconference sponsored by the Popular Communication Division
Date: 20th ˆ 21st May 2009
Venue: Marriott Downtown Chicago, Magnificent Mile Hotel

The study of audiences constitutes a central concern of contemporary (popular) communication research. As Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama fills football stadia addressing enthusiastic supporters and political commentators frequently refer to „Obama fans‰ and „Palin fans‰, evidence of the centrality of notions of affect and participation in contemporary mediated communication – within and beyond the realm of traditional popular culture – is abundant. This preconference aims to explore the social, cultural, textual and psychological conditions through which readers engage with, and attach meaning and emotional significance to the texts they privilege in their everyday life media consumption.

Corresponding with the theme of the 58th International Communication Association‚s conference – Keywords in Communication (21st-25th May 2009 in Chicago, Illinois, USA) – the field of audience studies constitutes a key conceptual battleground that has witnessed a number of paradigm changes over the past half century which have both reflected and contributed to the wider discourses of Social and Cultural Theory.

“Affective Audiences” explores these recent paradigm changes by offering a dedicated space within the ICA conference programme that combines empirical audience research with a thorough examination of the field‚s canon and a discussion of its conceptual challenges vis-à-vis convergence and globalization. The preconference will therefore include, but not be limited to, the following themes at the heart of contemporary audience studies:

The impact of cultural globalization and the formation of transnational audiences on (fan) communities
Affective media consumption and identity (including race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality)
Affective engagements of readers beyond the realm of popular culture
Convergence and audience participation
Fan Democracy and the role of affective media consumption in the public sphere
Aesthetics and politics of transformative audience responses
Teen and childhood media fans

We would like to invite contributions in form of 10-15 minute paper presentations and discussion papers. The organisers in particular encourage submissions focusing on new empirical fields of audience studies as well as those that critically examine its conceptual and methodological canon.

The following submission formats are permissible: full papers and extended abstracts (approx. 1000 words).

Please send papers or paper proposals to Cornel Sandvoss, (C.Sandvoss@surrey.ac.uk) by 20th October 2008 including the following information:

1.      Title
2.      If submitting a full paper, a 200-word abstract
3.      Author(s)‚ name and contact information