Also, must be able to handle obsurd fan and booster pressure, win national championships every year, and NEVER lose to Ohio State again.
I spent last Friday and Saturday attending the MIT Convergence Consortium’s Futures of Entertainment 2 conference, featuring an amazingly diverse array of panelists that I was really excited to see, from MMORPG guru Raph Koster, NBC’s Heroes Writer/Co-Executive Producer Jesse Alexander, as well as marketing folk like Faris.
Overall it was great to just be able to talk to people who aren’t in advertising about all of this convergence junk. Sometimes I think we spend a little bit too much time talking to ourselves rather than talking to people who make stuff that people actually ENJOY.
The much more comprehensive live blogs of the event can be found here. My notes and thoughts can be found below. Prepare for pain.
Panel 1 – Mobile Media
Panelists – Marc Davis, Social Media Guru at Yahoo!; Bob Schukai, VP of wireless and broadband technologies for Turner Broadcasting; Alice Kim, Senior Vice President of Digital Distrubution and Partner Relations for MTV networks; and Anmol Madan of the MIT Media Lab
They spent a lot of time talking about the wireless technology disadvantage we have in the US. In fact, Bob Schukai went as far as saying we are now second-class citizens. We’re two years behind Europe and 3-4 years behind parts of Asia. In the US we’re still talking about coverage as an issue, which apparently isn’t an issue anymore in the rest of the advanced world. We were sitting in an auditorium at MIT, one of the technological capitals of the world, and didn’t have cell coverage. That illustrated the point well. The problem isn’t so much the technology, its in breaking down the business models in the US.
The conversation then turned to the role of cell phones moving forward. The fact that they have become network aware video cameras, or network aware personal computing devices that can tell where you are, what time it is, and who you’re near. This allows the visable world to become a new realm for fictional stories to be told.
Other notable topics
- Innovation is the least of the problems in mobile, breaking down business models is the way forward
- The best platform to understand peoples intentions is the phone – Mobile is the future of user-gen metadata
- The distinction between web self and real self is breaking down, and mobile devices are the bridge
- China has a completely different wireless standard than the rest of the world, which should make the Olympics interesting for those attending from abroad
Panel 2 – Metrics and Measurement
Panelists – Bruce Leichtman, President of Leichtman Research Group, Inc.; Stacey Lynn Schulman, Senior Vice-President of Turner Entertainment Ad Sales Research; Maury Giles, Vice President and Director of Accountability and Analytics at GSD&M’s Idea City
Basically it boils down to this: there isn’t a system in place that can effectively measure communications as they exist now, no matter how much any one business can claim they can do it. Maury from GSDM had the best outlook on it I thought, which is to set business goals for projects before beginning, and track success against those goals.
I think the biggest problem with trying to measure media for new technology world is that a lot of people will argue that it was never done competently in the first place with the simplified communications world of 10 years ago…so how can we expect anything better now?
Oh and the other thing that came out of this that I totally agree with is the need for perspective with dealing with new media. According to Comscore, only 6 minutes of online video is being consumed per user, per month. That is per user, it would be much lower with a base of every Internet user. The Colts/Patriots game was the most watch non-Superbowl NFL game ever. So while mediums like online video are growing quickly, it’s important to realize that media habits are in evolution, not revolution. People are still watching TV.
Panel 3 – Fan Labor
Panelists – Mark Deuze, Indiana University and Leiden University; Catherine Tosenberger, Fan Fiction guru; Jordan Greenhall, Co-founder and CEO of DivX (until last July); Elizabeth Osder, Senior VP of Audience at Buzznet.com; Raph Koster, President of Areae Inc.
This was an interesting conversation about Web 2.0 and the rights of those who are actually creating the content. I thought Raph had the most interesting things to say about it. He argued that owning the content isn’t what Web 2.0 is interested in, they want the metadata … who owns the user profile is what matters, not who owns the content. These companies invite participation so they can measure it and watch people “skitter across the content.” And something that I hadn’t thought about before was that the basic premise of making a Facebook application is to steel Facebook’s database. These are essentially just fancy ways to find out information about consumers and then use that information to make money. In fact, it was argued that most Web 2.0 companies don’t care at all about what the content actually is unless it begins to affect their business model.
Later, the discussion moved to fan generated online communities and our old friend authenticity raised its head. Most of these communities, especially fan-fiction type-sites, are started and thrive based by people who genuinely love the subject. These are really fragile ecosystems that have often birthed what the group termed “cool new shit” without the help (read: interference) of large companies. These communities are held together by authenticity, and once the users catch the scent of a “suit” that is running things rather than a member of the community, its over. One of the unwritten rules of fandom is to not make money on it.
Couple of other things:
- Mass broadcast is good at monetizing scale, but small scale media is good at monetizing passion
- Whether professionals are ready to admit it or not, they are competing with amateurs in content creation
- And my favorite line of thinking that came out of the conference was this: culture IS the medium.
Day 2 notes to follow soon. I'm currently at my parents house in Williamsburg, VA which is keeping me surprisingly busy and isolated from the Interweb.
I've been tagged by Luca on the Mediasnackers meme (although I don't know what a 'meme' is) and I've thought about it for a couple days because I didn't get what the question was and then I didn't immediately have anything to say about it. So here's the gist of it: young people consume their media in tiny bits rather than in large chunks like they used to … and when I blog, do I respect the Mediasnacker.
I think the answer is no. I use this more as a way to flesh out ideas and thinking than as a platform for content. The role of the reader for me is as an accountability system for preventing laziness. If you don't blog, you'd be surprised by how guilty you feel if you haven't posted in a long time (like anyone really cares), and you'd be surprised by how effective the threat of someone reading your ramblings is at encouraging you to become a better writer.
But in meeting the Mediasnackers criteria I try to keep things brief (often unsuccessfully) but its more in response to Darth Strategist's urging me to work on brevity a couple of years ago. Its important in planning and I would think its becoming more and more important for the world at large as we are all losing more time and are required to take in an increasing amount of information in order to just get by.
We are all taught in school that we have to write incredibly long papers in order to make a point. From personal experience, imposing lengthy limits on papers only creates an immense amount of filler. A more useful exercise for the modern world would probably be asking students to write a 20 page paper and then have them write the same paper in one page without losing the point or the effectiveness of the argument.
Didn't so much answer the question (or meme) as I did ramble. And I'm still not sure that I understood what the question was…but I do feel better at having answered Luca's tag. And thats what being a modern American is all about. Making yourself feel good. Right?
Over the course of human history, creative endeavors like music, art poetry and film have been allowed to flourish because of patronage. This means that market forces have allowed and encouraged these things to exist as mass enjoyments. Naturally, drawings that I did in kindergarten haven't been circulating the art community because they weren't seen as valuable by the culture at large … there are paintings that the market has deemed as more valuable than my drawing and therefore those have become famous works of art.
Then there is advertising. One of the very few forms of creation that has bucked the naturally occurring power of the marketplace. This was able to happen for so long because advertising had a patron with the money to counteract the will of the marketplace. Marketers. Together with their patrons, ad agencies have been forcing an awful lot of ads on people for the past century or so. Some have been good, most have been abysmal, but their aim wasn't to entertain. It was to sell product.
Then Tivo and DVR's happened, along with the ability to flip to one of hundreds of channels to find something more interesting than a commercial break. People gained some power back.
Marketers have responded by placing messages in new places in new ways. Ads have crept into every little dark corner of our daily lives. Ad budgets shifted to the web. Sponsored content is creeping (badly) into sports broadcasts and (lame) product placement litters television shows. Out of home marketing has become ever more important and omnipresent.
Now things like Adblocker Plus are
emerging. Cities are beginning to legislate an end to out of home
advertising. People are gaining more and more power to tune it all out.
So what happens now?
I think we've entered into an arms race of sorts. Similar to the way internet security companies are constantly repelling hackers and virus'. Except in this case its corporations that are trying to penetrate the defenses of the people. The ad industry has created this weird dynamic where people don't want to see ads, so we're addressing that issue by trying to "connect" and "build relationships" with people using new media. Essentially, people are saying "get away from me," and advertising is responding by appearing in more places. How is this good for either party? If a real person were to behave like this, wouldn't it be an arrestable offense like harassment or stalking?
I think we can all agree that this whole thing is terribly broken. But it seems like most of the industry is busy trying to treat the symptoms, not the actual problem: we're not considering the consumer in this transaction of ideas. We get to give them a message, but in most cases they receive nothing in return.
This is why I think companies like Naked and Zeus Jones are so smart. Apple gets it, Nike gets it. Create an experience for people that they actually want to participate in. This means not only being in new places, but it means doing things for people in those places. Creating content that people actually want to engage with.
I think the idea that we make money, not art, is no longer valid. That mindset is why people don't watch ads. And like it or not, we're playing in the cultural big leagues now. Which means that Howard Gossage's quote about people looking at what they want, and sometimes its an ad, is even more right on now than it ever was. The future doesn't rest solely in the hands of media planners. Creating smart, engaging content is way more important than it ever has been. After all, in a free market, how long can an industry exist that makes things people don't want?
After ESPN made a theme song with Big and Rich for their College Gameday show, everyone else decided that they needed to make a spectacle out of their game broadcast. Although I'm not sure why. Probably a case of doing something just because someone else is. They are all pretty terrible and don't really add anything to the game … especially given the pageantry and passion that surround every college football game. Its not necessary to add production to get people excited like it is with professional sports. (my corporation is better than your corporation!)
For me, ABC's prime time Saturday night game theme is the biggest question mark. It's not only annoyingly bad, but it has nothing to do with the games, college football, or anything else. But even more strange is the choice of cast. Its filled with the typical rappers and r&b people that can be found wherever there's a buck to be made, but then there is Perry Ferrell. Perry Ferrell is the guy from Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyro's. Unlike 50 Cent, he's not a product, he probably would consider himself to have some artistic integrity. Or so I thought. I still can't figure out what was in it for him to do it, and I can't figure out why the network thought they would get out of having him in the production. He doesn't even really do anything.