He’s BA-A-A-ACK!

My blog, begun at MIT some years ago, has now successfully relocated onto USC servers. And so I am now going to return to my normal blogging activities.

As I do so, I wanted to use this first post to play catch up on a number of recent developments around projects that I am involved with, so today will feel like a series of announcements (many of which you already know if you are following me on Twitter).

New Media Literacies Conference

Project New Media Literacies is collaborating once again with the fine folks at Home Inc. to put together a conference, back at MIT, on new media literacy as a “21st century skill” on Oct. 24 2009. The key note speaker will be Alan November.

Here’s his bio:

November is an international leader in education technology. He began his career as an oceanography teacher and dorm counselor at an island reform school for boys in Boston Harbor. He has been director of an alternative high school, computer coordinator, technology consultant, and university lecturer. He has helped schools, governments and industry leaders improve the quality of education through technology and was named one of the nation’s fifteen most influential thinkers of the decade by Classroom Computer Learning Magazine. In 2001, he was listed as one of eight educators to provide leadership into the future by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse. In 2007 he was selected to speak at the Cisco Public Services Summit during the Nobel Prize Festivities in Stockholm, Sweden. His writing includes numerous articles and best-selling book, “Empowering Students with Technology”. Alan was co-founder of the Stanford Institute for Educational Leadership Through Technology and is most proud of being selected as one of the original five national Christa McAuliffe Educators.

November will be speaking about “Digital Nation – Education in Transition to 21st Century Learning.” Other participants will include Erin Reilly, the Research Director for Project New Media Literacies; Jenna McWilliams, formerly the curriculum development specialist on our team, now at Indiana University’s Learning Sciences Program; Chris Sperry from Project Look Sharp; Home Inc’s Alan Michel; Wheelock College’s Susan Owusu and Bill Densmore from the Media Giraffe Project. I wish I was going to be there, since I’ve very much enjoyed participating in other events in this series, but I am committed elsewhere over those dates. Here’s where you can go to register.


Futures of Entertainment 4 Conference

The Convergence Culture Consortium is really kicking into high gear as it is getting ready for our Fourth Futures of Entertainment Conference, which is going to be held at MIT on November 20-21 2009. I am going to be the opening speaker of the first day which centers on issues of transmedia entertainment. Speakers already booked include:

* DAVID BAUSOLA – Co-founder of Ag8

* NANCY BAYM- University of Kansas

* BRIAN CLARK – Partner and CEO, GMD Studios


* DAN GOLDMAN – Illustrator of Shooting War (Grand Central Publishing [US] and Weidenfeld & Nicolson [UK])

* NOESSA HIGA – Visionaire Media

* JENNIFER HOLT – UC Santa Barbara

* VICTORIA JAYE – Acting Head of Fiction & Entertainment Multiplatform Commissioning, BBC


* DEREK JOHNSON – University of North Texas

* BRIAN LARKIN – Milbank Barnard College

* JUYOUNG LEE – Co-Founder & Chief Scientist, ACE Metrix


* JASON MITTELL- Middlebury College

* AVNER RONEN – CEO & Co-founder, Boxee

* FRANK ROSE – Contributing Editor,Wired

* LORRAINE SAMMY – Racebending

* ANDREW SLACK – The Harry Potter Alliance

* DAVID SPITZ -Director of Business Development, WPP

* LOUISA STEIN – San Diego State University

* JORDAN WEISMAN – CEO and Founder, Smith & Tinker

* MARK ZAGORSKI- Chief Revenue Officer, eXelate Media

I am particularly excited about moderating a session on Transmedia Activism, which grows out of some current work I am doing on the ways we might bridge between participatory culture and public/civic participation. I hope to write more about this session and its underlying framework as we get closer to the event.

If you have come to our events in the past, you know how exciting Futures of Entertainment can be. If you have not, all of our previous sessions are now available as webcasts. Here, for example, is a conversation I had at FOE 3 with Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks.

We see the conference as a vital meeting ground between people working in the media industry and academics, both of whom are doing cutting edge thinking about current trends impacting the realms of entertainment. So, register now and help us spread the word.


Diversifying Participation

I am also working with the MacArthur Foundation to help organize the “Diversifying Participation” conference which will be held Feb. 18-20 2010 at the University of California, San Diego. We’ve just announced our keynote speakers, both of whom will be well known to regular readers of this blog — Sonia Livingstone (London School of Economics), author of Children and the Internet: Great Expectations and Challenging Realities, and S. Craig Watkins (University of Texas-Austin), author of The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future. You can read my interview with Livingstone here and my interview with Watkins here. The conference is accepting proposals for panels (in all kinds of formats) through October 30 here.


GAMBIT “Game of the Week”

GAMBIT, the MIT-Singapore Games Lab, is continuing to run a series of blog posts, showcasing the games which were produced during their summer program this summer. Each week, they showcase one game, including artwork, design materials, and comments from team members. If you have not had a chance to play this year’s titles, you really should check them out. Several of them have already started to generate buzz across the games blogosphere and like previous titles, are certain to be competitive where-ever independent games are being shown. I had a chance to sit down with the Gambit team during a recent visit back to MIT and was as always impressed by their output, which is consistently breaking the mold in terms of the design of play mechanics, visuals, and sound. Their mandate is to stretch the limits of our understanding of what games can do. Each game serves a larger research question, but Philip Tan, the Lab’s director, makes sure that the most important thing created on his watch is FUN!


Understanding Superheroes

I will be speaking this coming Saturday (Oct. 24) at the University of Oregon as part of a conference and art exhibition they have organized around “Understanding Superheroes.” It sounds funny to say that I am keynoting a superheroes conference — like Aquaman couldn’t make it! My topic will be “‘Man Without Fear’: David Mack and the Formal Limits of the Superhero Comic.” While I have been writing and speaking about comics for a while, this will be the first time I’ve really dug deep into the formal conventions of superhero comics. My primary focus will be, as the title suggests, the work which Mack has done within the mainstream continuity of Marvel’s Daredevil Franchise though more generally I will be exploring what happens when experimental and mainstream comics intersect each other. Other speakers at the conference include creative artists such as Danny Fingeroth, Kurt Busiek, Matt Fraction, and Gail Simone as well as scholars and critics such as Douglas Wolk, Charles Hatfield, Corey Creekmur, Jonathon Grey, and Matt Yockey. The conference was organized and the exhibit curated by Ben Saunders. I will be sharing my impressions of this event on my blog next week.


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    Woot! Good to have you back! Will there be a chance to see that daredevil presentation in paper form? Two further quick questions:

    1. Did anyone win that West Wing contest?

    2. Do you have an e-mail that we fans of your can contact you @ in longer form?

  3. I am hoping to get some version of my Daredevil paper up on the blog at some point, but since it was a talk and not a written paper, and since it is visually intense, I haven’t had time yet to convert it into a prose account. Good to know that there’s interest.

    I did receive a West Wing fan story last year, which met my criteria. I am now getting fuzzy on the particulars, though. Too many big events in my life since then.

    And, if you want to write me, my new email address is hjenkins@usc.edu

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