"henry jenkins"

What real elections can learn from reality TV voting

In time for July 4, Henry Jenkins has written a fascinating history of the emergence of political parties among voters for reality TV shows like Big Brother and American Idol. The much-bandied stat that more Americans vote for American Idol than the American President is debunked (American Idol voters openly cast more than one vote; American President voters only get to do this if they have friends at Diebold). In its stead, he leaves us with an account of the voting strategies employed by different blocs trying to keep their favorites on reality TV, and what these have to teach us about real-world elections.

Here's what they were advocating for the Big Brother election:

Vote for Chicken George to go back into the Big Brother house! The man cracked under the pressure of BB1, not even really having to evict people. Putting him back in the house would be excellent. Also, his wife staged the first ever VFTW by getting an entire town to vote for someone else to save George. We owe it to the chicken family to make the crazy chicken man an All Star.

Why "Chicken George"? Once again, there's a history here: during the first season, a fan campaign sought to smuggle messages into the house, where guests were allegedly kept in isolation, renting planes to fly over, lobbing balls containing messages inside, trying to convince the houseguests to walk out in mass and leave the producers holding the bag. If you've seen The Truman Show, you've got a pretty good idea of what this campaign looked like.

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Media scholar Henry Jenkins starts blogging

MIT prof Henry Jenkins is pretty much the sharpest person I've ever met when it comes to the cultural implications of fandom, fannish activity, fan fiction, and participatory culture (a phrase he coined). He's started a blog, and just from the first handful of entries I know I'm going to be finding gems there every day.

First, the Snakes on a Plane phenomenon has been building momentum for well over a year now. In the old days, the public would never have known about a film this far out of the gate. They might have learned about it when the previews hit the theatre -- a phenomenon which itself is occurring earlier and earlier in the production cycle -- or even given the fairly low-brow aspirations of this particular title -- when the film actually hit the theatre. In the old days, this would have been an exploitation movie of the kind that Roger Corman used to crank out in the 1950s and 1960s and destined to play on the second bill at the local drive-in. The goal would be to use a easily exploitable concept, a vivid poster and advertising campaign to generate heat quickly: then get into town and out again before anyone knew what hit them.

But, these days, grassroots intermediaries such as Ain't It Cool News are feeding the public's interest for inside information, starting to generate buzz almost from the moment rights are purchased or stars cast for a forthcoming production. Much as day traders have used the online world to become much more aware of every tick and twitch of the Fortune 500, the movie fans are ever attentive to anything which might impact a film's performance at the box office.

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MP3s from "Economics of Open Content" conference

Last month's excellent "Economics of Open Content" conference in Boston has published the audio of all its sessions online as MP3s. Speakers included James "Wisdom of Crowds" Surowiecki, Yochai "Coase's Penguin" Benkler, Terry Fisher, Henry Jenkins and others!

Collaboration and the Marketplace New Models of Creative Production in the Digital Age Keynote Address: Openness as an Ethos The Wealth of Networks The Economics of Knowledge as a Public Good The Economics of Open Courseware The Economics of Open Text Convergence Culture: Consumer Participation and the Economics of Mass Media The Economics of the Music Industry If Only We Knew Yesterday What We Know Today The Economics of Open Archives, Museums, and Libraries I The Economics of Open Archives, Museums, and Libraries II The Economics of the Public Domain The Economics of Film and Television I The Economics of Film and Television II The New Economics of Gaming Everything is Miscellaneous Business Interests in Open Content Next Steps: Cooperation Across Institutions and Industries

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Transcript: Octavia Butler's conversation with Delany at MIT

Henry Jenkins of MIT's Comparative Media Studies program has posted a bunch of Octavia Butler related material in Ms Butler's memory. Octavia Butler was the first widely read African American woman science fiction writer, and her works wrapped up complex treatments of gender and race in palatable, fast-paced sf stories. She died on Saturday following a fall, leaving many of us shocked and saddened for the loss of one of literature's strongest, bravest, most inspiring voices.

Jenkins has posted the transcript of two of Butler's appearances at MIT, one a solo act, the other a conversation with novelist Samuel Delany, as well as a sharp essay Jenkins wrote following her visit.

Butler: I don't have access to this kind of thing on computer but, oddly enough, what you're talking about sounds very much like the way I start looking for ideas when I'm not working on anything. Or when I'm just letting myself drift, relax.

I generally have four or five books open around the house--I live alone; I can do this--and they are not books on the same subject. They don't relate to each other in any particular way, and the ideas they present bounce off one another. And I like this effect. I also listen to audio-books, and I'll go out for my morning walk with tapes from two very different audio-books, and let those ideas bounce off each other, simmer, reproduce in some odd way, so that I come up with ideas that I might not have come up with if I had simply stuck to one book until I was done with it and then gone and picked up another.

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How fanfic makes kids into better writers (and copyright victims)

Here's an amazing Technology Review piece about how kids are writing Harry Potter fanfic and editing one-another's stories in order to become great and prolific writers. The author, Henry Jenkins, characterizes this as an "unconventional" way of teaching creative writing, but I think that fanfic is more conventional than he credits (the first story I wrote was set in the Star Wars universe; I was six -- and the first long-form work I wrote was a Conan pastiche, at 12). The biggest difference between the kids' fanfic of yore and that of today is that back in the old days, kids had no way to readily collaborate with one another on their creations -- nor to expose themselves to copyright infringement liability from overzealous rightsholders who indiscriminately shut down kids' sites with threatening letters.

FictionAlley, the largest Harry Potter archive, hosts more than 30,000 stories and book chapters, including hundreds of completed or partially completed novels. Its (unpaid) staff of more than 200 people includes 40 mentors who welcome each new participant individually. At the Sugar Quill, another popular site, every posted story undergoes a peer-review process it calls "beta-reading." New writers often go through multiple drafts before their stories are ready for posting. "The beta-reader service has really helped me to get the adverbs out of my writing and get my prepositions in the right place and improve my sentence structure and refine the overall quality of my writing," explains the girl who writes under the pen name Sweeney Agonistes?a

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