Last night I went to a talk (publicity tour) by Henry Jenkins, Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.
His latest book, Spreadable Media, was the topic of conversation and despite the entire lecture and Q&A being fascinating, I couldn’t ignore the constant irony of the situation I found myself in.
Our host for the evening was University of Westminster’s Professor David Gauntlett, who after 10 minutes, managed to tweet out the live stream URL from his personal account and immediately requested we all follow suit using the event #tag. Fine, I can get in on that. Oh wait, there is no signal on my phone or available wifi to use (in fairness I imagine most of the students there would have had access).
Oh well, on with the talk without the distraction of updating my social followers and friends with content to ignore.
First slide: QR code…. I really hope this was here for humour, but without being online, who’s to know?
Second slide: Prof Jenkins describes his previous book “Convergence Culture”, its premise, it’s content and how it was out of date the second it was written, only to move further into obsolescence as it “rotted in a warehouse somewhere”.
Third slide: here’s my new book “Spreadable Media” which I am publicising with this lecture tour due to the afore mentioned academic decay.
So far, lots of negativity from me, but sincerely this was an interesting talk, it was just the void between slow and methodical academia and the fast paced subject, making me laugh at every turn.
So onto the content that caught my eye…
Circulation Vs Distribution:
Top down, controlled distribution of media via prescribed, scheduled channels.
Bottom up consumer circulated tweets, updates and memes.
It’s hardly breaking news to say that old models of traditional media distribution are being replaced with consumer circulation. Whether this is a piracy debate or user-generated meme makes little difference. What fascinated me was this observation became more and more diluted throughout the lecture to the point where the last question from the audience prompted Prof Jenkins to agree that currently brands and media COs are:
Distributing from the bottom up and circulating from the top down.
This to me describes how the free, democratic, web 2.0 (2.0 being something that Jenkins thinks of as the monetization of social networks rather than the technology itself) has quickly been assimilated by the corporate world.
Now, I think I have ripped this enough and so, not wanting to be impolite to those involved in a free and interesting talk, I will get on and share some of the points that caught my eye.
– Taking an average of the array of stats on news media circulation, it is fair to say that 50% of people are involved in circulating news media. A number far higher than the 1, 9, 99 rule would have you believe.
– Deliberately opening your content up to ‘piracy’ can be the best market research you could ever ‘buy’
– Comms is not the same as broadcasting. Communication is a full duplex conversation.
– ‘Astroturf’ the term to describe fake grassroots media or ‘circulating from the top down’
– Humans like to look after their offspring, to be successful we must think like a dandelion, ‘spread without care’.
– Circulating media for free generates it’s own emotional currency.
– Finally, and David Cameron could do with knowing this if Rebekah Brooks is to be believed (is she?), LOL (laugh out loud) is not the product of the txtspk (text speak) generation. It was actually invented by the American amateur printing press community 150 years previously, as were numerous other abbreviations, initialisms and acronyms, to save time on the laborious process of typesetting their ‘zines by hand.