Reflections on Media in Transition 5

This entry is a stub. My goal here is to create a space where people who attended the Media in Transition conference this weekend can share their perspectives about what worked or didn’t work during the event but also give us suggestions about what they might like to see at Media in Transition 6 which will be two years from now. This year’s focus on collaboration, creativity, and appropriation emerged from discussions among conference participants at Media in Transition 4. We were especially urged to try to develop themes which would allow more participation from artists, educators, lawyers, activists, and policy people and I am happy with the ways that this year’s conference did attract more non-academics into the mix. So far, at the closing session, there has been a greater emphasis placed on historical perspectives, which have long been a hallmark of the Media in Transition events but which were under-represented this year. There was also a desire for more critical or skeptical perspectives on media change and as always, more challenge to insure the diversity of the mix of speakers at the event. And finally we were urged to reach out to librarians and archivist who had special roles to play in preserving the past even as they are involved in insuring the circulation of culture. These were all great insights but I am sure that there are other ideas out there we should collect while the conference is still fresh on everyone’s mind. So, fire away. But keep in mind that to some degree our ability to draw in these other groups will depend on your outreach in your local community. So, talk up the conference and help us identify people you know who should be in the mix next time.

The plenary events are already available in podcasts.

Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures

Collaboration and Collective Intelligence

Copyright, Fair Use and The Cultural Commons

Learning Through Remixing

Reproduction, Mimicry, Critique and Distribution Systems in Visual Art

Summary Perspectives

We will be posting a directory of participants to our conference website as well as providing access to many of the presented papers. Indeed, there are lots of interesting papers already here

And for those of you who would like to read some live blogger accounts of some of the events, here’s some we’ve found already:

Axel Bruns

Walter Holland

Grand Text Auto

Tarleton Gillespie

So, thanks for all of you who came. If you weren’t here for the conference, check us out. And either way do let us know what you think…

Comments

  1. Henry – thanks for the invitation to contribute thoughts, and for running a great conference. I too have been blogging the conference.

    My one suggestion for a challenge of the conference that might be worked on for next time is space allocation – I like having everything on campus, but the rooms seemed even less organized and centralized this time, and technology was spotty in some of the rooms (like sound). I’m sure Brad did everything he could in planning, but it can be a problem finding rooms with so many different buidings.

    As for MIT6 topics, I really like the idea of Media Histories & Archives in the Digital Age. There are so many issues about the place of history in the face of the “new,” and the issues of archiving today’s media for tomorrow, plus the role of knowledge organizers in the face of digital access & collaboration, information literacies, etc. – this could be a great conference that could reach a nice range of practitioners…

    FROM HENRY JENKINS:

    Jason,

    The space issues are becoming more and more perplexing and they are on a collision course with two of the things I cherish most about the conference: 1)the fact that we charge no registration fee allowing more younger faculty, graduate students, international scholars, and citizens from the community to participate and 2)the “radical inclusiveness” of the people we include in the program.

    We face several problems here:

    1) MIT uses most of its classrooms for courses on Fridays which results in us having access only to a scattered assortment of rooms.

    2) We face charges for the use of some of the rooms which have the best tech and are best suited to our needs. As we try to hold down costs, we are forced to relocate elsewhere.

    3) Some of the rooms we are using are really too small to accommodate the crowds attracted to at least some of the panels this weekend.

    4) We are outgrowing the main auditoriums we use for the event. The next tier up in the MIT system is massive and also not particularly comfortable for extended sessions.

    So, we are going to have to be thinking hard about how to deal with what are in effect growing pains as the conference’s success brings in larger numbers of participants each year, resulting in more sessions and thus requiring more rooms.

  2. LR says:

    jjust to add two more blogs that followed the conference:

    redline

    Jill/txt

  3. henry jenkins says:

    Jason,

    The space issues are becoming more and more perplexing and they are on a collision course with two of the things I cherish most about the conference: 1)the fact that we charge no registration fee allowing more younger faculty, graduate students, international scholars, and citizens from the community to participate and 2)the “radical inclusiveness” of the people we include in the program.

    We face several problems here:

    1) MIT uses most of its classrooms for courses on Fridays which results in us having access only to a scattered assortment of rooms.

    2) We face charges for the use of some of the rooms which have the best tech and are best suited to our needs. As we try to hold down costs, we are forced to relocate elsewhere.

    3) Some of the rooms we are using are really too small to accommodate the crowds attracted to at least some of the panels this weekend.

    4) We are outgrowing the main auditoriums we use for the event. The next tier up in the MIT system is massive and also not particularly comfortable for extended sessions.

    So, we are going to have to be thinking hard about how to deal with what are in effect growing pains as the conference’s success brings in larger numbers of participants each year, resulting in more sessions and thus requiring more rooms.

  4. Mark Kelsey says:

    Henry,

    Best Conference Ever!

    Bulging at the seams, very thoughtful and interesting. There was a lot of excitement and one could sense the change in air. The pushback on copyright was the highpoint for me, the idea that we can make political change to oppressive copyright laws. I hope media literacy teachers will take this idea from the Center for Social Media and AIVF and use it in academic settings to further knowledge and learning.

    The main problem at the conference, for me, was not the physical settting, but the pedagogy and admin of the panel participants and leaders during the sessions. There were way too many panels where excited PhD candidates did nothing but read aloud, word for word, their precious papers for over 20 minutes each, concluding with a couple of brief questions. End of panel! These panels painfully lacked involvement with or respect for the participants, who had come from all over the world and were in many cases greater experts than the presenters; let alone any understanding of adult education. It just goes to show you that all that Stand and Deliver/bad modeling of teaching in higher education is still a deadly serious problem! Meanwhile, presenters Pat Aufderheide and Renee Hobbs, who do know education, BTW, did such a wonderful job of including all participants. These leaders involved everyone and created a working learning community in the limited time. It made the lack of participant involvement in the other workshops pretty obvious.

    I would have also liked to have an opportunity to talk more with other media literacy practitioners in K-12 and higher ed. If you are interested in this topic, drop me a line at mark@noiselabs.com.

  5. Jean says:

    Henry/all,

    Thanks for a great conference!

    I had some comments in response to David Silver’s about the conference format, twittering and ‘continuous partial attention’. It got a bit long and maybe too specific for this space, so I turned it into a blog entry of my own and posted it here:

    http://creativitymachine.net/2007/05/01/more-on-conferencing-twittering/

  6. Kristen says:

    Henry, thanks for letting me be part of the conference. I particularly enjoyed the mobile panel and the final plenary.

    We Twitterers were proposing themes for the next conference during the final plenary too–mine: MiT6: Mobility, Geopositioning, and Tactical Media.

    One of the great draws of the conference is the international body of scholars it attracts. Is there a way to include master classes or workshops (to discuss reading distributed in advance) while we are all together?

  7. Jon Saklofske says:

    Hi Henry,

    Thanks to you and all those who worked to materialize the convergence that was MIT5… Similar to my experiences at MIT4, I returned home revitalized, energized, inspired and determined to interrogate/ emerge from the boundaries of institutionally reinforced ideas of literary scholarship that haunt me as I meander toward tenure. The Media in Transition conferences are crucial reminders of the necessity of contextualizing our specialties and of speaking across the categorical divides that we’re all subjected to in one way or another.

    I’d like to offer 2 potential directions for v6 of Media in Transition–these are loosely conceptualized beta-stages of thought, but hopefully coherent enough!

    1. Environmental issues (or issues of environment) within and between virtual/actual worlds: Computer technology helps us to visualize and communicate current and projected states of our planet’s health, and digital media can visualize, simulate and extrapolate upon actual and speculative environments–but these technologies also consume actual resources as they produce awareness. Thus, the interplay and interdependence between transitional mediation and transitional environments is vital and deserves to be highlighted…

    2. Economies and economics of media in transition: Beneath each presentation and discussion about authorship, ownership, collaboration and appropriation at MIT5 (that I attended) lurked the spectres of funding, commercialism, labour, sponsorship, patronage, etc… While issues of economy were a natural subset of this year’s topic, bringing them into focus might be fruitful…

    Regardless of the topic chosen for the next Media in Transition conference, I look forward to returning to Cambridge for MIT6 in 2009!

  8. Henry,

    thank you for a great conference that seemed both much longer than it was (due to the densely packed schedule) and much shorter (due to always too little time for catching up and meeting new folks and…sleep). Most everyone I engaged with individually was marvelously nice, but I nevertheless left the conference quite disheartened. I’ve elaborated in my own blog on my feelings about academic discourses, fan studies, and gender.

  9. Henry et al.,

    Thank you for inviting so many artists and for keeping it free! Without these two things I know I couldn’t attend. I’ve blogged some refelctions on the conference here: http://luckysoap.com/lapsuslinguae

    All best,

    JR

  10. Ron Robinson says:

    Hello Henry,

    Many thanks for a great conference and your personal encouragement and hospitality.

    (I post these reflections at the same time that it has been announced that Barack Obama, with whom I share the same racial background, has been placed under Secret Service protection allegedly because of serious and credible threats against his life).

    I realize that I made some provocative comments from the floor regarding the absence of African Americans as PI’s/co-Pi’s and stakeholders by both funders/foundations and academic institutions. It was not easy for me to say these things publicly (nor now, which is why it has taken me some time to work up the courage to post these reflections) especially since there were only about 3 of us Black Folks at the conference. Raising these issues often times causes us (including, our Latino and First Nation brothers and sisters) to be viewed as “devisive,” and many of our White colleagues, sadly, go away thinking they were accused of being “racists” because we spoke up. Subsequently, we oftentimes are then given the “cold shoulder” by these colleagues. After all, some of them have included our communities/people as “subjects/objects” of research and/or advisers/consultants on such studies, which they may honestly feel constitutes substantive “inclusiveness” on their part.

    As you pointed out in your post, based on feedback from MIT4 “We were especially urged to try to develop themes which would allow more participation from artists, educators, lawyers, activists, and policy people.” I know you will agree that such a focus on “domain diversity” does not address the issues that I have raised. In this regard, I appreciate your commitment to insuring a “radical inclusiveness” in the future, which as the saying goes, “Why put off till tomorrow what can be done today.” As such, may I offer a few framing thoughts pertaining to both men and women of color (and majority women more generally, who experience some of the same issues) as we move forward towards creating what I will call an agenda of “Transformative Inclusiveness and Collaboration.”

    First, the absence of communities of color, both women and men, makes a difference regarding how problems/issues/solutions get framed. Witness how the issue of participation was framed after MIT4 and the resulting complexion of MIT5. Both Juan and Ricardo spoke to this outcome at the Remixing and Learning Plenary, and Suzanne at the Summary Plenary (where the issue of including women was also raised). Within the academy, this ommission is a frequent occurrence and has, at minimum, the following consequences, which many scholars of color throughout the academy and beyond have discussed among ourselves over many years. We have also discussed that we should share our insights more widely, when possible, so that they might be reflected on as we move forward in hopefully inspiring our majority colleagues to embrace collaborations that are more inclusive, transformative and fruitful:

    1) Our communities/people are too often not welcomed into the social/professional networks through which our expertise can be recognized, enhanced, and rewarded by stakeholder appointments/invitations.

    2) Our White colleagues, both men and women, are denied the opportunity to have their own knowledge base enhanced by experiencing us as true and equal partners. This is especially poignant since beyond our academic expertise and intellectual acumen, many of us also have substantive “experiential knowledge” and the social and emotional intelligence that comes from being immersed in the communities we come from and are deeply committed to.

    3) Sometimes these additional competencies are seen as potentially competing with and/or overshadowing those of our colleagues, and therefore not welcomed.

    4) Because a critical mass of us are not included as vital and integral components of the Collective Intelligence circuitry, this reduces its potential power to address the substantive problems and injustices that effect the country and the world, and that disproportionately impact our communities, locally and globally.

    5) As my old MIT Professor, Don Schon, used to say, how you frame a problem determines the solutions you design. Frame it improperly and the solutions you design will only exacerbate it. Our absence at the “framing table” has too often led this unfortunate outcome for our communities and people.

    6) The longstanding and deep-seated stigma of our presumed intellectual and cultural inferiority to White men and women gets reproduced as we continue to be omitted as key stakeholders.

    7) We have to prove ourselves in ways our White colleagues are spared just to be given consideration, let alone citation, true inclusion, etc.

    Using myself as an example of numbers 6 , 2, and 3 above, I felt compelled to simultaneously obtain two master degrees from MIT (Civil Engineering and Urban Studies and Planning) in 1981. However, after many years working in the Commercial Real Estate industry, my commitment to addressing the substantive issues that inner city African Communities face, led me to pursue first one PhD, while living and teaching public high school in one of the poorest and most challenging urban communities in California, and then another PhD as well (in progress).

    Too many times as a teacher I saw perky grad students from Stanford and Berkeley show up to the high school, with no connection to the community at all, to do research, with their PI’s subsequently proposing “analysis” and “solutions” that did not substantively address the key needs of the kids, their community or the teachers that served them. But the “solutions” and “analysis” sure did look good on paper and Power Point presentations. Too often, people like myself, women and men of color with both experiential and academic knowledge as well as immersive commitments to our communities are seen as quaint curiosities, crazy for giving up lucrative careers to teach/research, though perhaps worthy of being contacted for some information that can be used in others’ research, but not in the way that most benefits our communities.

    Just how much this hurts is difficult to express. It hurts us not just as individuals, but it hurts us as people of color and our communities/people, many of whom are deeply marginalized, stigmatized and often scapegoated as the cause of the demise of the country. For example, just witness the so called “illegal immigration debate” and how LAPD dealt with protesters in Los Angeles, or how the Imus controversy has evolved. In the latter, the worst examples of commercial hip-hop and African American male rappers in particular were scapegoated as the progenitors of a culture that normalized Imus’ derogatory, racist and sexist comments – not the larger context and American history that long ago normalized such discourse and social practices.

    Nor were the commercial/corporate radio stations and broadcasters called to account. They will not play the great hip-hop and artists with positive messages, some of whom Craig Watkins identified in his excellent presentation on the “digital underground.” Nor did the press or newscasters bring light to the Urban League’s annual State of Black America Report, which came out at the same time all the negative attention was being placed and continues to be placed on Black male youth, post-Imus.

    I apologize for the length of this post, but I truly hope that these opening, framing comments will be taken in the spirit of helpfulness and hopefulness with which they are offered, and I welcome any feedback that anyone is willing to offer at the following email address:

    ronaldbrobinson@alum.mit.edu

    Thank you for having the courage and big heartedness to allow me to post these comments here.

    Blessings and Good Cheer to All,

    Ron Robinson

  11. Ron Robinson says:

    P.S.

    I also offer my post just as the Queen of England finished her speech at the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Va. and refused to apologize for slavery.

    rr