The More We Know: Academic Games Research and Industry Collaboration (Part Three)

In many ways, iCue was also designed to respond to some of the challenges confronting contemporary journalism. What insights did you take from this project about the difficulties of engaging young news consumers and the challenges of reforming current journalism practices?

This challenge was part of the original vision, but NBC was quite wary of what students might do with their media if left to their own devices, or what they might report on if they were the ones doing the reporting.  The remix ideas were quite limited through the games.  And the participatory journalism was a successful small scale experiment that was cut from the larger rollout.


You frame this book as an account of a “failure,” yet you end with some hope that the lessons learned through iCue have informed subsequent initiatives by NBC News. In what ways?

NBC has learned a lot about what it takes to make something for the education market in terms of design, marketing and messaging.  Many of the same staffers remain in their NBC Learn department. They can now use that knowledge to do some interesting things.  They are certainly taking an incremental approach to making such change though, starting from the place that they know teachers are interested in and then slowly pushing those boundaries.  They have told us they want to bring back games and social media in their project.  The market is certainly more ready now than it was six years ago – we hope that they take that risk.

To its credit, NBC has also elevated the public conversation around education through the annual Education Nation summit and its associated workshops and presentations around the country.  To see a major network devote its “A Team” and multiple channels to shine a spotlight on important issues is perhaps one of the greatest outcomes of the “failures” that their project team encountered early on.  As we said, many of the core team, including the senior producers who believed in the initial project enough to leave the safety of their traditional roles, are still fully engaged in NBC Learn.  Their commitment to improving education is laudable and should be recognized.  They are warriors for the cause.

Many academic projects proceed with the assumption that “if we build it, they will come.” What might be a better approach for academic researchers wanting to establish a community around their educational interventions?

Marketing.  Academic projects don’t think enough about this and often funders don’t provide for this portion of the project.  But academic projects need marketing too in order to get out there.  Yes, there are viral successes that have foregone this step, but those are few and far between.  We have seen marketing work in our project Vanished, which got thousands of kids playing an alternate reality game about science over the course of 6 weeks, and we have also seen in with our recent Lure of the Labyrinth challenge, which attracted tens of thousands

How did the iCue project contribute to the development of the Learning Games Network? What new model have you adopted for promoting innovation in education around games-based learning?

The challenges we confronted in getting the NBC team to understand the research and then apply it in design inspired us to start a non-profit that would help bridge the gap between research and practice.  We realized we could be better advocates for change as partners with a wide variety of stakeholders, supporting their efforts through the entire game-based learning pipeline, from design and production to implementation and student assessment.  Coming to understand the myriad challenges that are both shared and unique to textbook publishers, national broadcasters, and international technology companies as they strive to innovate in the education market has helped us explore better, we think, strategies to support their business goals.  We want to enable market leaders to succeed because those victories, small and large, ultimately raise the awareness of the power and potential game-based learning products and services. In turn, this enables our colleagues in academia to raise the level of scholarship they pursue.

What do you see as the biggest successes so far to come out of the work of the Learning Games Network team? How do you define success in this space? what factors do you feel contributed to their success?

Our biggest success is a somewhat personal one.  Having been working together for the better part of 12 years, first as colleagues at MIT and now as a group with our hands (and feet) in different organizations, our core team is still intact.  The fact that the four founders of Learning Games Network bring such different perspectives in scholarship, creative design, and business makes us uniquely strong and effective.  We each trust what the others bring to the table in solving challenges, which is really unique and especially necessary since game-based learning is such an interdisciplinary enterprise.

That trust manifests in the culture that’s emerged in our Cambridge and Madison studios.  We are developing professionals who are strengthening skills that are a hybrid of academic, technical, and commercial backgrounds, as well as encouraging that kind of cultivation with our partners.  Over the past few years, our efforts have been rewarded by grants from major foundations and contracts with market leaders.  Our most recent success came at this year’s Meaningful Play conference, where Quandary, a game we produced in our Cambridge studio to support ethical thinking among young people, and Fair Play, a game produced in our Madison studio that sensitizes players to the challenges of race and equity in science, both won awards among a very competitive field of submissions.




Eric Klopfer is Professor and Director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT.  Klopfer’s research focuses on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems. He is the co-author of the book, Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with StarLogo, and author of Augmented Learning: Research and Design of Mobile Educational Games from MIT Press.  Klopfer is also the co-founder and President of the non-profit Learning Games Network.

Jason Haas is Graduate Research Assistant in the Media Lab and in The Education Arcade at MIT. His research focuses on the design and efficacy of learning games. Recent research and design has been for The Radix Endeavor, a Gates Foundation-funded MMORPG for science and math learning. Previous research has involved the role of narrative in learning in the casual physics games Woosh, Waker, and Poikilia and in large-scale collective intelligence gaming  in Vanished.

Alex Chisholm is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Learning Games Network, a non-profit organization bridging the gap between research and practice in game-based learning.  He has collaborated on product and program development with Microsoft, LeapFrog, NBC Universal, BrainPOP, Federal Reserve Bank-New York, and the Hewlett and Gates Foundations, among others.

The More We Know: Academic Games Research and Industry Collaboration (Part Two)

The last time I reported about iCue on this blog, it was part of an overview of the work of The Education Arcade. In what ways were the choices made on iCue informed by the Education Arcade’s previous experiences developing prototypes for “serious games”? What are some of the factors which have made it hard to get university-based games research beyond the prototype stage and into the world where it might have greater impact?

There is a lot of pushback in the system where change is required.  If there is a change required in the way teaching and learning are perceived, then it is much harder to get adoption.  As such, the teachers never really came for the games, but rather the other parts that they could adopt or adapt and plug into existing structures. In turn, NBC didn’t take the games as seriously; they didn’t grow the more innovative or risky ideas, and, due to the financial crisis in 2008, they couldn’t really even update them.

Thinking about how we moved from previous work into this project, we were working in a much more constrained space then we were used to.  Rather than having the flexibility to build something rich and multi-faceted as we had with Revolution, we were working in the narrower starting space of media archives and integration with the AP curricula.  That restricted the game space, but provided perhaps more realistic constraints than we were used to working within.

What do you see as some of the major hurdles which academic researchers face in terms of working with industry partners?

There are certainly competing interests.  In academia, we can take a longer view, learning and refining over time.  These learnings are valued in and if themselves.  Of course, we also need a successful product, but we can take the time to get there carefully and be thorough. We can be risk prone in the short term.  In industry, pressure to return revenue quickly creates risk aversion.  Even though NBC News’ then-CFO, Adam Jones, protected iCue against those pressures more than the average project, it still had to make compromises that we had to stomach. For instance, there was early hope that the site would feature remix tools for young people to author their own content, but NBC Standards and Practices department shut down that talk almost immediately.

What factors make the education marketplace a particularly challenging one to navigate?

There are big issues around who pays for products, and who makes the decision to buy.  Are schools paying? Can a teacher make the decision, or must they appeal up the food chain to their principal or district? Are parents going to pay? Would any of these stakeholders accept a free-to-play model with sponsored advertising?  Then, depending on these factors, how do you design and market the product? There are also issues of metrics and measurement—how do you show that your product is working?  Does it leverage existing metrics (which may be poor), or new metrics (which aren’t yet implemented or validated)?

Further, are the schools and teachers even ready for the product, both pedagogically and technologically?  Do they have the preparation they need to use the tool effectively?

Finally, if you can settle all of those questions but have a new product approaching learning in a new way, how do you communicate that to your audience?  It can be difficult to transmit that kind of messaging through the standard, narrow channels to schools and teachers.


If you could go back and time and leave a message for yourself at the beginning of the process, describing what you now know, what would it say?

Instead of moving our research team to an evaluation position on the project, stay on the design side.  Convince NBC News that the need to sell something quickly shouldn’t obscure the original vision of what this product might do in the hands of students (where it never really got).

We would also push back on timelines and growth models.  We might have seen more success if we had started in a more targeted area and grown from there. That would have almost certainly been a more effective model instead of jumping all in right away, diluting much of the opportunity for participatory learning and deeper learning experiences.

What challenges did you face working with the educational establishment? Were teachers ready for what iCue sought to do? Were students?

Teachers might have been ready, but ultimately the site lacked the depth and frequency of updates it needed to really achieve its goals.

Students might also have been ready, but iCue was a space populated with teachers when they arrived, perhaps sending the signal that it wasn’t a space for them.

The jury is still out on whether students can and will come to an academic social space like iCue was envisioned to be.  That is an interesting question that we continue to explore in our work.


Eric Klopfer is Professor and Director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT.  Klopfer’s research focuses on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems. He is the co-author of the book, Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with StarLogo, and author of Augmented Learning: Research and Design of Mobile Educational Games from MIT Press.  Klopfer is also the co-founder and President of the non-profit Learning Games Network.

Jason Haas is Graduate Research Assistant in the Media Lab and in The Education Arcade at MIT. His research focuses on the design and efficacy of learning games. Recent research and design has been for The Radix Endeavor, a Gates Foundation-funded MMORPG for science and math learning. Previous research has involved the role of narrative in learning in the casual physics games Woosh, Waker, and Poikilia and in large-scale collective intelligence gaming  in Vanished.

Alex Chisholm is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Learning Games Network, a non-profit organization bridging the gap between research and practice in game-based learning.  He has collaborated on product and program development with Microsoft, LeapFrog, NBC Universal, BrainPOP, Federal Reserve Bank-New York, and the Hewlett and Gates Foundations, among others.


The More We Know: Academic Games Research and Industry Collaboration (Part One)

The following is an excerpt from the foreword I wrote for a new MIT Press book, The More We Know: NBC News, Educational Innovation, and Learning from Failure, which was authored by two of my former MIT colleagues Eric Klopfer and Jason Haas. Klopfer and Haas are part of the Learning Games Network, a joint initiative between games-based learning researchers at MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and it describes the iCue project, which began while I was still back in Cambridge.

First, a bit from my foreword, and then, over the next few installments, an interview with Kopfer, Haas and Alex Chisholm about this book, which recounts some of the potentials and pitfalls in collaborations between industry and academia:

Three immovable objects walked into a bar. The first was the current world of corporate media (and especially what remains of traditional network news), the second was the current world of higher education (as it lurches towards new funding models and institutional practices), and the third, perhaps, the most immovable and intractable of them all, was the current policy and institutional mess we call public education (which is shaped by a profound mismatch between what we know of how students learn and policies setting standards that in no way reflect those insights). Each wanted to buy the others a drink, give them something that might ease their stress, sooth their tempers, or at least let them forget their problems.  But they couldn’t agree on what the ingredients of this beverage should be, or how it should be paid for, or how they should decide what it should contain, or what kind of relationship would be implied by the buying and selling of drinks, or in what order they should be drinking or….

[Imagine there’s a punchline somewhere around here.]

This is the story of the book you hold in your hand reduced to the level of a farce, as in you’d best keep laughing in order to keep from crying. But of course, the iCue saga is more than a farce. It might also be called a tragedy, in which the best of intentions are waylaid, malformed, and brought low through a series of fatal flaws which prevent each of these institutions from fully embracing change, which block them from seeing the future that the others see so clearly, or which require them to sell out what they value the most if they are going to make any progress forward.  Yet, calling the story you are about to read a tragedy is to imply that it was a perfect failure from start to finish.

And we all know nothing’s perfect.

In fact, as The More We Know makes clear, there were many localized successes along the way and as a consequence of the efforts described herein, other good things have happened. It is rather a story about imperfect failures and imperfect successes, about unintended consequences, unreached goals, and unanticipated results.

It is also an epic, involving a constantly changing cast of characters, each embodying as any good epic does, the contradictions of their times, and featuring multiple heroes, who push greater boulders up to the tops of high hills, only to watch them roll back down again.

The More We Know is also an adventure story set on the bleeding edge of innovation and reform, one which will offer some guideposts for those of you who would follow in the protagonist’s footsteps. There are relatively few post mortems on how great ideas and good intentions do not always turn out the way we expect. I would probably put this on my book shelf next to Brenda Laurel’s Utopian Entrepreneur, which describes the rise and fall of Purple Moon and the girls game movement, or perhaps Sandy Stone’s account of working at the early days of Atari. It certainly, as the authors suggest, provides a personal and extended example to illustrate some of what Mimi Ito has told us about the creation of educational software or what Collins and Halverson have suggested about the resistance of educational institutions to new technologies and practices.

Whatever its genre, The More We Know is the story of the people in the trenches on the front lines of media change and the authors, themselves key participants, tell it very well here….

In our classrooms, we were teaching our students that media change takes place through evolution rather than revolution, but in our labs, we still wanted to change the world, we wanted to blow down the walls and reshape core institutions, and we were painfully, awkwardly, sweetly naive. The path forward turned out to be harder than idealists predicted but not nearly as impossible as skeptics and cynics might insist.

The book you hold in your hands describes some of the walls we hit and the ways our faculty,research staff, and students worked around and through them. My hope is that readers will take from this the right set of lessons.  We succeeded sometimes, failed sometimes, and learned a great deal always about what it takes to make change in the imperfect world around us. The More We Know is not a warning to “avoid this path – there be monsters here”; it is a challenge to “follow us if you dare.”




The More We Know is, in some senses, what game designers would call a “postmortem.” What do you see as the value of this genre of writing and why do you think we see so few postmortems coming out of academic research projects compared to their prominence within the games industry?

Much of this boils down to how differently industry and academia perceive “failure.”  There is a perception within academia that funding follows success, and that small, successful projects attract bigger funding.  In industry, there is (at least sometimes) a feeling that failure can lead to learning for teams, which, in turn, become more fundable based on that learning.  This means that in academia we only want to talk about successes.

There is another issue, though.  For academia, we perceive failure to be a failure of our product—the thing we made.  But in industry one can perceive failure any place in a system – failure of marketing, timing, audience, etc.  They can think about the whole ecology surrounding the product.  Academics aren’t as prone to thinking about these things as much.  As such, we feel the failure to be much more personal,  even as the failure of academic products can be attributed to many parts of that ecosystem as well.


Describe to us the iCue project. What were its initial goals? What problems was it intended to address? What partners did it try to bring together?


Stated simply, the iCue project was originally conceived to bring younger people to the NBC News brand while supporting important learning goals through the repurposing of old media assets and the creation of a new digital experience.  More pragmatically, NBC News needed a cost-effective strategy to digitize its vast archives without breaking the bank.  Education and the perceived abundance of technology funding in schools provided the roadmap for what this project could possibly be.

The original pitch for iCue was that it was one part media archive, one part social learning network, and one part learning games and activities.  iCue was imagined to provide young people with media and tools for learning in a more engaging way, creating a bridge between the curricula and traditional media their teachers were comfortable with on the one hand and the interactive world in which they’ve grown up on the other. It was intended to be supplemental, enabling teachers and students to engage with it in support of Advanced Placement curricula in English Composition, U.S. History, and U.S. Government.  Since NBC News is a broadcast company with radio and television assets extending back to the very earliest days of broadcasting, project leaders sought to bring together a diverse set of education, archive, and print partners, including the College Board, Washington Post, and the New York Times, among others.



Eric Klopfer is Professor and Director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT.  Klopfer’s research focuses on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems. He is the co-author of the book, Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with StarLogo, and author of Augmented Learning: Research and Design of Mobile Educational Games from MIT Press.  Klopfer is also the co-founder and President of the non-profit Learning Games Network.

Jason Haas is Graduate Research Assistant in the Media Lab and in The Education Arcade at MIT. His research focuses on the design and efficacy of learning games. Recent research and design has been for The Radix Endeavor, a Gates Foundation-funded MMORPG for science and math learning. Previous research has involved the role of narrative in learning in the casual physics games Woosh, Waker, and Poikilia and in large-scale collective intelligence gaming  in Vanished.

Alex Chisholm is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Learning Games Network, a non-profit organization bridging the gap between research and practice in game-based learning.  He has collaborated on product and program development with Microsoft, LeapFrog, NBC Universal, BrainPOP, Federal Reserve Bank-New York, and the Hewlett and Gates Foundations, among others.

More Spreadable Media: Rethinking Transmedia Engagement

Let it spread, let it spread, let it spread.

By now, you know: Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture is a new book, being released by New York University Press at the end of January 2013, written by myself, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green. Around the book will live thirty or so online essays written by colleagues, former students, and others who have been associated with the Futures of Entertainment Consortium through the years, which both engage with the content of the book, and are, in turn, taken up as part of the book’s core argument.  We are hoping you will do your part to help spread these essays throughout your own social networks, and let the conversation start before the book even gets released to the world.

Today’s crop, the last before the new year, offers new perspectives on transmedia entertainment and more generally, on the issue of audience engagement, both central themes in the book, as those of you who regularly read this blog might imagine. For more information, check out the book’s home page.

Forensic Fandom and the Drillable Text


While the rise of spreadable media is a major trend of the contemporary era, another development within media seems to pull in an opposite direction: narrative complexity of media storytelling, especially on television. Since the late 1990s, dozens of television series have broadened the possibilities available to small-screen storytellers to embrace increased seriality, hyperconscious narrative techniques such as voice-over narration and playful chronology, and deliberate ambiguity and confusion. These trends, which I’ve explored at length elsewhere (Mittell 2006), are tied into transformations within the television industry and technologies of distribution that have enabled programs to be viewed more consistently by smaller audiences and to still be considered successful.

Such long-form complex narratives as Lost, The Wire, 24, and The Sopranos seem to run counter to many of the practices and examples of spreadable media found elsewhere in this book. These shows are not the ephemeral “video of attractions” common to YouTube that are shared and commented on during downtime at work. They are the DVD box sets to be shelved next to literary and cinematic collections, long-term commitments to be savored and dissected in both online and offline fora. They spread less through exponential linking and emailing for quick hits than via proselytizing by die-hard fans eager to hook friends into their shared narrative obsessions. Even when they are enabled by the spreadable technologies of online distribution, both licit and illicit, the consumption patterns of complex serials are typically more focused on engaging with the core narrative text than the proliferating paratexts and fan creativity that typify spreadable media.

Perhaps we need a different metaphor to describe viewer engagement with narrative complexity. We might think of such programs as drillable rather than spreadable. They encourage a mode of forensic fandom that invites viewers to dig deeper, probing beneath the surface to understand the complexity of a story and its telling (Mittell 2009a). Such programs create magnets for engagement, drawing viewers into story worlds and urging them to drill down to discover more. READ MORE


A History of Transmedia Entertainment

As embraced by industry professionals and media consumers alike, transmedia storytelling promises to bring greater institutional coordination, added narrative integrality, and deeper engagement to the various pieces of contemporary media franchises. Comic books, video games, and other markets once considered ancillary now play increasingly significant and recentered roles in the production and consumption of everyday film and television properties such as Heroes, Transformers, and the reenvisioned Star Trek in ways that only very few innovators (such as George Lucas and his carefully elaborated and expanded Star Wars empire) had previously conceived in the twentieth century. Yet, while contemporary convergence culture has set the stage for a greater embrace of transmedia entertainment, the processes by which stories have been spread across institutions, production cultures, and audiences from different media have a much longer history. Although we might recognize transmedia storytelling as something newly emergent, we also cannot deny its relationship to long-established models of media franchising whereby the creative and economic resources owned by monolithic corporate entities were nevertheless widely used and shared across production communities and industry sectors. The franchise models that multiplied one Law & Order into several sister series and turned X-Men comic books into action figures worked by spreading resources among a network of stakeholders brought into social relations by virtue of their parallel (though often imperfectly aligned) interests. Thus, neither transmedia entertainment nor convergence point to the end of industrial models of cultural production in favor of some new social media; instead, the transmedia storytelling of convergence offers an opportunity to see how spreadable media extend, reorient, and reimagine existing historical trajectories in the industrial production and consumption of culture.

Understanding transmedia in terms of cultural exchange across and transformation through different media experiences means recognizing traditional processes of adaptation and translation of content as a foundation for the social exchange of spreadable media today. READ MORE.



Performing with Glee

Some producers developing cross-platform media franchises are experimenting with distribution models that engage consumers on a quotidian level, capitalizing on personal audience networks and not-quite-official distribution routes to help content spread. For FOX’s television franchise Glee, the network integrates traditional, legal distribution practices with experimental tactics that engage loyal fans, in addition to harnessing unofficial distribution channels that fall into legal gray areas.

The production team has embraced the show’s fans—known as gleeks, a fusion of “Glee” and “geek”—fashioning a popular (brand) identity and catering specifically to them. In addition to conventional broadcast, Hulu and allow viewers to catch previous episodes, and FOX offers additional content such as cast interviews and behind-the-scenes clips. Glee’s thematic fusion of high school comedy and Broadway musical provide opportunities for musical guests from both Broadway (such as Kristin Chenoweth) and the popular music circuit (such as Britney Spears and Josh Grobin), bringing new viewers into the Glee fan club while keeping current fans engaged.

To retain fan interest after season one ended, FOX partnered with CoincidentTV to create the “Glee Superfan Player.” The online platform integrates social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter with other fan-enticing elements—such as links to buy music on iTunes and to create “photobooth” pictures with the cast—in a unified space that plays episodes while viewers multitask. While the player only provides access to material on Hulu and, rendering the experimental platform useless once episodes eventually expire, it at least represents an attempt to create a consolidated cross-platform fan experience. Other recent experiments include a MySpace karaoke contest, in which fans record themselves singing hits from Glee, and live concert tours that sold out in four American cities—so successful that the cast plans to tour the UK in mid-2011. READ MORE

Valuing Fans

Why work toward a model for valuing fans?

The U.S. media industry has run into some significant economic problems in recent years. Study after study suggests that Americans are watching more television and consuming more movies, music, and information than ever before, but, at the same time, it is neither as captive nor as concentrated as before. New ways to discover emerging artists and projects, as well as increasing choice in media platforms and content, are challenging how ad-supported media is bought and sold and rendering direct funding for some media content much harder to come by.

It was this situation that gave rise to the popularity of “engagement” a few years ago, a tactic to sell advertisers audiences whose enthusiasm is believed to translate to more awareness of and receptivity to product placement and commercials. How much more “engaged” and receptive this new audience is than the older, bigger one was considered crucial in setting a price for the advertising that supports media production. Conspicuously absent from these discussions was the role that fan communities (groups whose various interests in a media property may range widely) play in contributing economic value beyond paying attention to commercials. READ MORE


The Online Prime Time of Workspace Media

Ask a producer of digital content about website usage patterns, as I have, and they will tell you how important the audience accessing their content from work is to daily website traffic. According to NBC’s vice president of digital content and development, Carole Angelo, designs its daily production schedule to service its workweek “lunch hour” audience. Fox Sports Digital (2009) also adopts this production strategy, as it summed up in its 2009 slogan “lunchtime is the new prime time.” Reporting on this trend, the New York Times observed that American cubicle dwellers were increasingly choosing to spend their break time watching online videos, playing Flash games, and engaging in social network sites instead of heading to the water cooler (Stelter 2008). The entertainment industries are creating digital content for the work space because they see this audience as a dependable online consumer demographic.

Programming for the workspace media audience is crucial to entertainment industry efforts in the online space. It allows producers to adapt familiar television programming strategies for the Internet. In television, producers have long programmed according to “day parts”—segments of the broadcast day designed for particular audiences and viewing contexts. Nick Browne has argued that the scheduling of day parts enabled television companies to reflect and reinforce a “socially mediated order of the workday and workweek” to “mediate between the worlds of work and entertainment” (1994, 71). Each day part carries with it certain assumptions about the needs and desires of audience segments, as well as expectations of modern labor. The scheduling of a workday day part demonstrates the influence that technology has had on the blending of work and entertainment. READ MORE

The Cost of Engagement: Politics and Participatory Practices in the U.S. Liberty Movement

From time to time, I am sharing through this blog some of the research being generated by the MacArthur Foundation-support Youth and Participatory Politics Research Network. This team, headed by Joseph Kahne from Mills College, is seeking to map the ways that the practices associated with participatory culture and the technologies of networked computing are impacting the political lives of  youth, primarily in the United States but also in other parts of the world. See for example earlier posts about the YPP survey and about our case study of DREAM activists.

Today, I am proud to share a new report, a case study of the political and cultural experiences of young Liberatarians, as they seek to find their own voice, forge their own community, in a space defined both by participatory dimensions of their own informal networks and by the influence of powerful conservative think tanks and funding organizations. This report was prepared by Liana Gamber Thompson, a Post-Doc who has been working as part of my USC-based research team, Media Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP), as we develop ethnographic case studies of innovative organizations and networks that have been successful at increasing civic engagement and political participation amongst youth.





PLAY (Participatory Learning and YOU!)

Last time, I shared Shall We Play?, a report funded by the Gates Foundation and distributed by the Annenberg Innovation Lab. Today, we are releasing its companion report, PLAY (Participatory Learning and YOU!), which is authored by Erin Reilly, Vanessa Vartabedian, Laurel Felt, and Henry Jenkins. It continues our exploration of insights gained from our year-long work with elementary and secondary teachers from the Los Angeles Unified School District as they sought to develop a more participatory environment in their classroom.

Through this research, our teams has identified five core principles for participatory learning:

1.     Participants have many chances to exercise creativity through diverse media, tools, and practices;

2.     Participants adopt an ethos of co-learning, respecting each person’s skills and knowledge;

3.     Participants experience heightened motivation and engagement through meaningful play;

4.     Activities feel relevant to the learners’ identities and interests;

5.     An integrated learning system – or learning ecosystemhonors rich connections between home, school, community and world.

In this report, we will discuss each of these principles, describing specific examples of how they were applied through the workshop process, what impact they had on the teachers and students involved, and what some of the challenges we face in bringing about this kind of change within the current public schools system.




Shall We Play?

Earlier this term, I shared through this blog Designing with Teachers: Participatory Approaches to Professional Development in Education, a white paper funded as part of a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and released by the Annenberg Innovation Lab. The report, edited by Erin Reilly and Ioana Literat, featured case studies of innovative professional development initiatives ( Vital Signs, PLAY, Scratch, Ask Ansai, the Participatory Assessment Project) with a larger exploration of what it might mean to adopt a more participatory model for working with teachers.

Today, we want to expand upon that report with the first of two reports that emerged from our own PLAY (Participatory Learning and YOU!) project, discussing core insights we derived from a year-long program working with teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District to develop more participatory approaches in their classrooms. The teachers spaned both grade-levels and curricular categories, allowing us to develop new approaches together that work in a variety of contexts.

The first of these reports, Shall We Play?, was written by Erin Reilly, Henry Jenkins, Laurel Felt and Vanessa Vartabedian. It represents a revisiting of my original MacArthur white paper, Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture, and lays out what we see as core principles for participatory learning.  It includes some core reflections on what has happened in the Digital Media and Learning movement over the past six years as we have sought to bring a more participatory spirit to those institutions and practices that most directly touch young people’s lives.

Spreadable Media Goes Retro: Pass It Along!

We continue this week with the process of rolling out the essays commissioned to accompany Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture,   the book I wrote with Sam Ford and Joshua Green and which is being released to the world at the end of January, 2013. You can start to get a sense of the shape of the book’s argument by reading these essays, week by week, as they get unleashed upon the world. This week, for example, we are sharing essays which are designed to accompany the book’s second chapter — Reappraising the Residual — which explores competing regimes of value, competing processes of appraisal, and especially the ways that old media content might regain value from the ways it moves within and across social networks online.

For those who would like a bit more of a road map of Spreadable Media, below is the breakdown of the chapters:

Introduction: Why Media Spreads                                                                                                               

Chapter One: Where Web 2.0 Went Wrong

Chapter Two: Reappraising the Residual

Chapter Three: The Value of Media Engagement

Chapter Four: What Constitutes Meaningful Participation?

Chapter Five: Designing for Spreadability

Chapter Six: Courting Supporters for Independent Media

Chapter Seven: Thinking Transnationally



To learn more about the book, check out our main website. You can go there to read the whole essays (or follow the links below).

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Today’s big brands are all rooted in the past. Tide, Coca-Cola, BMW, and even Apple are all connected to bygone decades. When these brands extend and use their existing brand name to introduce a new product or service, the past meanings and images that it invokes become an important element to be managed, understood, wielded, and shaped by managers. This short essay discusses and analyzes a form of brand extension strategy that has gained prominence, in which tired or even abandoned brands have been reanimated and successfully relaunched. Management will deliberately reach into the past and consciously seek to gain new value from old brands and the meaningful relationships they convey. Stephen Brown (2001) terms this a “retro revolution” in which the revival of old brands and their images have become an increasingly attractive option for marketing managers. Over the past decade, I have been involved either independently or with coauthors in a growing body of research that looks at how the past is consumed, valued, revalued, and managed, beginning with a study of the values and images of the Wal-Mart retail chain (Arnold, Kozinets, and Handelman 2001). Stephen Brown, John Sherry, and I define retrobranding as “the revival or relaunch of a product or service brand from a prior historical period, which is usually but not always updated to contemporary standards of performance, functioning, or taste,” seeing retro goods as “brand-new, old-fashioned offerings” (2003b, 20). Old brands retain value simply by being old: the value of nostalgia, the so-called retro appeal. There is also value in the communal or cultural relationships that the brand has built over its lifetime. Finally, there are values on an individual level that relate to the former two other values.

In a set of studies cutting across three different retro, “cult brand” products—the Volkswagen Beetle, Star Wars, and Quisp breakfast cereal—Brown, Sherry, and I have sought to explain the underlying principles of retrobranding and the way consumers responded to it (2003a, 2003b). The VW Beetle was a popular car associated with the 1960s era and hippies and also immortalized in Disney’s Herbie films, a series of four films originating with 1968’s hit The Love Bug (the series itself later updated and retrobranded into Herbie: Fully Loaded, a 2005 motion picture starring Lindsay Lohan). Star Wars is one of the most successful media franchises of all time. And Quisp cereal is an American breakfast cereal released in the 1960s using cartoon advertising created by Jay Ward, the creator of cult animation hit Rocky and Bullwinkle, and employing some of the same voice talents.

In each case, the entertainment connections of the brand have helped spur a type of residual and actual “brand fandom” that led to the possibility of a revival. In the case of the VW Beetle, this was the 1998 launch of the VW New Beetle. For Star Wars, it was the much-maligned 1999 prequel The Phantom Menace. For Quisp cereal, it was the quiet and limited redistribution of the cereal into select markets in the 1980s, after it had languished without support since the late 1970s. As well, Quisp’s fan-spurred and eBay-supported emergence in the mid-1990s marked it as the first so-called Internet cereal.



Existing in dialectical tension with contemporary games which trumpet their photorealistic graphics, sprawling storyworlds, and intricate, extended, networked play, retrogames preserve and celebrate a prior era of gaming often referred to as a “golden age” of arcade standards (such as Asteroids, Tempest, and Donkey Kong) from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Increasingly, the category also covers the decade that followed the industry crash of 1983, when the locus of gaming shifted to home consoles such as the Nintendo and Super Nintendo Entertainment Systems (NES and SNES), the Sega Genesis and Dreamcast, and home microcomputers such as the Commodore 64 and Amiga, as well as the first generation of PCs and Macintoshes. Compared with games for contemporary consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 that occupy gigabytes of memory, resurrections of 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit video and computer games look like the mathematically downscaled primitives they are: their blocky resolutions, limited color palettes, and blip-bleep-bloop sound reproduction are matched by equally simple and repetitive gameplay. However, retrogames are not hopelessly antiquated museum pieces lacking the good sense to stay buried in gaming history. Their continued presence complicates easy (and industry-friendly) conceptions of technological and aesthetic progress, in which the newest equals the best equals the most expensive.

Older games thrive alongside their more sophisticated descendants, gaining popularity and influence with each passing year. Retrogames continue to be played in both authorized and unauthorized forms. Their minuscule memory footprint, easily grasped rules, and convenient fit within the interstices of daily routine make them ideal content for mobile devices. For instance, the App stores for iTunes and Google Android phones devote sections to retrogames. The Xbox Live Arcade markets “updated retro classics” alongside its “newest hits,” while the Wii Virtual Console sells downloads from “the greatest video game archive in history”—actually licenses owned by Nintendo. These monetized properties coexist uneasily with the thriving emulator scene, where every conceivable old game has its software simulacrum and renegade read-only memories (ROMs)—files containing data images copied from memory chips, computer firmware, or the circuit boards of arcade machines—circulate beyond the bounds of copyright. For both legal and illegal purposes, the Internet functions as both archive and distribution network, supporting the sharing, spreading, and mutation of content




Clothing, almost by definition, is a medium of transmission within a spreadable media ecology. It is both the means and the site for the storage and spread of information. Clothes are made to be carried by the human body (as in the French porter and the Haitian Creole pote). Textile skins were, from their origins, portable artifacts and temporary prostheses, shaped by the demands of a mobile body and inscribed with markers of that body’s history. The demands on clothing have always been high—armor (protection against shame, enemies, and the elements) and aesthetics, comfort and durability. Clothing is portable, proximate to the human body, and eminently changeable. Clothes remain artifacts in continual flux. They convey messages to the world, and they also provide the raw material for subversion of precisely these messages.

Before the industrial era, vestments were few and far between. Their production took a great amount of human and material resources. Into their tailored forms much was literally and culturally invested. In the Western tradition, throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, clothing—once shaped to a given body—might be worn for years, sometimes carried for a lifetime. The clothing wore its owner as much as the owner wore the clothing, bearing comparable markers of a personal narrative. Through the movements of a body in time, its clothes would acquire increasingly personal and human characteristics—worn knees and elbows, a stretched waist. Stains, patches, tears, and color changes accompanied a life journey, or at least several decades thereof.

Sometimes an article’s function was portable. This was especially true when even the simplest clothing was scarce: its production costly, time consuming, and labor intensive. A coat might be cut down into a vest, or a dress into a scarf. As a garment’s function evolved, so too might the identity of its wearer. A dress might be handed from mother to daughter through a gift economy. In such instances, it carried with it signs and markers of generational passing. A master might give his worn-out shirt to his servant, for whom it could serve as either bodily cover or portable currency. In the Renaissance, it was common for servants to sell their masters’ old clothing to peasants in neighboring villages. Itinerant rag and old clothes dealing grew into a veritable calling within a commodity-based economy. This was a profession of portability. The dealer became an intermediary between wearers, marking a transitional phase in an article’s mobile life history.

Attention Transmedia Producers, Attention Transmedia Scholars…

Today, I am using my blog space to share announcements of two upcoming events which may be of interest to some of my readers

Transmedia Lab Competition at RioContentMarket 2013

The Transmedia Lab is one of the activities of the RioContentMarket, an international event on multiplatform content production open to the audiovisual and digital media industry. The Transmedia Lab aims to promote professional training and project improvement.

In the last edition of RioContentMarket, in 2012, more than 100 projects from all of Latin America were submitted and 12 transmedia projects were selected to participate in the Transmedia Lab, which lasted 4 days. The project’s authors and representatives consulted with market experts; were presented in pitching sessions to buyers, co-producers and television channels; and participated in meetings with domestic and international market players.

Besides creating opportunities for all participating projects, three awards were given and chosen by three different groups of judges:

(i)            Reed MIDEM Award (participation and pitching at MIPCube): Buenaventura Mon Amour project (Colombia);

(ii)           PETROBRAS/The Alchemists Award (participation in Transmedia Hollywood): Contatos project (Brazil), and

(iii)          Turner Broadcasting Award (USD 10,000 for project development): Contatos project (Brazil).


In the 2013 edition of RioContentMarket, the Transmedia Lab will focus on transmedia projects for TV series and 30 projects will be selected: 10 international and 20 Brazilian projects. The Transmedia Lab – Series will be held from February 17 through 22, 2013 in two steps (I) Capacitating from February 17th to 19th, and (II)Pitching and Panels, February 20th to 22nd. The Capacitating step will be held following the training of the projects’ authors for pitching and the scheduling of meetings between consultants and creative producers of the selected projects. The Pitching and Panels will be held during the RioContentMarket 2013 with keynotes and panels related to transmedia topics and pitching projects for industry and market professionals.

The Transmedia Lab objectives for 2013 are:

·                enhance television series narratives, through specialized consulting with market experts;

·                improve the transmedia projects for television series to qualify them for the audiovisual market nationally and internationally;

·                bring players together, encouraging the dialogue between independent producers and channel executives;

·                create business opportunities for the development of high quality TV series; and

·                give visibility to selected projects.

For more information, visit this site. 


Media in Transition 8: Public Media, Private Media

Conference dates: May 3-5 (Fri.-Sun.), 2013 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

An archive of previous Media in Transition conferences, 1999-2011.


Submissions accepted on a rolling basis until Friday, March 1, 2013 (evaluations begin in November). Please see the end of this call for papers for submission instructions.

The distinction between public and private – where the line is drawn and how it is sometimes inverted, the ways that it is embraced or contested – says much about a culture. Media have been used to enable, define and police the shifting line between the two, so it is not surprising that the history of media change to some extent maps the history of these domains. Media in Transition 8 takes up the question of the shifting nature of the public and private at a moment of unparalleled connectivity, enabling new notions of the socially mediated public and unequalled levels of data extraction thanks to the quiet demands of our Kindles, iPhones, televisions and computers.  While this forces us to think in new ways about these long established categories, in fact the underlying concerns are rooted in deep historical practice.  MiT8 considers the ways in which specific media challenge or reinforce certain notions of the public or the private and especially the ways in which specific “texts” dramatize or imagine the public, the private and the boundary between them.  It takes as its foci three broad domains: personal identity, the civic (the public sphere) and intellectual property.

Reality television and confessional journalism have done much to invert the relations between private and public. But the borders have long been malleable. Historically, we know that camera-armed Kodakers and telephone party lines threatened the status quo of the private; that the media were complicit in keeping from the public FDR’s disability and the foibles of the ruling elite; and that paparazzi and celebrities are strategically intertwined in the game of publicity. How have the various media played these roles (and represented them), and how is the issue changing at a moment when most of our mediated transactions leave data traces that not only redefine the borders of the private, but that serve as commodities in their own right?

The public, too, is a contested space. Edmund Burke’s late 18th century invocation of the fourth estate linked information flow and political order, anticipating aspects of Habermas’s public sphere. From this perspective, trends such as a siege on public service broadcasting, a press in decline, and media fragmentation on the rise, all ring alarm bells. Yet WikiLeaks and innovative civic uses of media suggest a sharp countertrend. What are the fault lines in this struggle? How have they been represented in media texts, enacted through participants and given form in media policy? And what are we to make of the fate of a public culture in a world whose media representations are increasingly on-demand, personalized and algorithmically-designed to please?

Finally, MiT8 is also concerned with the private-public rift that appears most frequently in struggles over intellectual property (IP). Ever-longer terms of IP protection combined with a shift from media artifacts (like paper books) to services (like e-journals) threaten long-standing practices such as book lending (libraries) and raise thorny questions about cultural access. Social media sites, powered by users, often remain the private property of corporations, akin to the public square’s replacement by the mall, and once-public media texts, like certain photographic and film collections, have been re-privatized by an array of institutions. These undulations in the private and public have implications for our texts (remix culture), our access to them, and our activities as audiences; but they also have a rich history of contestation, evidenced in the copybook and scrapbook, compilation film, popular song and the open source and creative commons movement.

MiT8 encourages a broad approach to these issues, with specific attention to textual practice, users, policy and cultural implications. As usual, we encourage work from across media forms and across historical periods and cultural regions.

Possible topics include:

  • Media traces: cookies, GPS data, TiVo and Kindle tracking
  • The paradoxes of celebrity and the public persona
  • Representing the anxieties of the private in film, tv, literature
  • MMORPGs / identities / virtual publics
  • The spatial turn in media: private consumption in public places
  • Historical media panics regarding the private-public divide
  • When cookies shape content, what happens to the public?
  • Creative commons and the new public sphere
  • Big data and privacy
  • Party lines and two-way radio: amplifying the private
  • The fate of public libraries in the era of digital services
  • Methodologies of internet and privacy studies
  • Creative commons, free software, and the new public sphere
  • Public and civic WiFi access to the internet
  • Surveillance, monitoring and their (dis)contents

Submit an Abstract and Short Bio
Short abstracts for papers should be about 250 words in a PDF or Word format and should be sent as email attachments to no later than Friday, March 1, 2013. Please include a short (75 words or fewer) biographical statement.

We will be evaluating submissions on a rolling basis beginning in November and will respond to every proposal.

Include a Short Bibliography
For this year’s conference, we recommend that you include a brief bibliography of no more than one page in length with your abstract and bio. 

Proposals for Full Panels
Proposals for full panels of three or four speakers should include a panel title and separate abstracts and bios for each speaker. Anyone proposing a full panel should recruit a moderator.

Submit a Full Paper
In order to be considered for inclusion in a conference anthology, you must submit a full version of your paper prior to the beginning of the conference.

If you have any questions about the eighth Media in Transition conference, please contact Brad Seawell at

The Affordances of Technology for Media History Research (Part Two)

The Media History Digital Library seeks to bring together communities of scholars and fans. How do you see the relationship between scholarly research and fandom in your own work?


Eric Hoyt


The title of Henry’s blog where we are having this discussion—“Confessions of an Aca-Fan”—speaks to the way that personal passion and scholarly inquiry shape one another.

I am certainly an aca-fan of both historic and contemporary Hollywood. I tend to pursue research questions related to law, culture, and industry, rather than film style or aesthetics. But the whole reason I focus on the film and media industries—rather than, say, the corrugated box industry—comes from a deep love and fascination with films and television programs.

As a Film & Media Studies academic, I also feel grateful to study an area of culture that holds such broad popular interest. I think it’s a shame if we don’t connect with that broader public. We miss an opportunity to share our research. We also miss out on a chance to learn.

Something that many scholars already know but bears repeating is that many of the materials on the MHDL only exist because of fans. From the 1910s forward, fans purchased magazines, such as Motion Picture Story and Photoplay, to extend and deepen the movie-going experience. Most libraries in the early-20th century considered these magazines to be mere ephemera and did not keep them. So many of these magazines only exist today because fans bothered to keep them. I am grateful to fans and collectors for keeping these documents of film history and supporting the MHDL in its endeavor to make them freely available online.


Andy Myers:

As Eric mentioned, many of these publications are, in multiple ways, inextricable from the context of fan culture. Fans have not only collected and preserved these publications — their interest and investment in film culture actually provided the necessary market demand for these magazines to exist in the first place. Fan magazines like Photoplay were in constant dialogue with their audience and thus can provide scholars key texts in the history of fan discourse. For me, the eclectic fan letters reprinted in these magazines are one of their most fascinating and entertaining features because they offer so many surprising insights into the breadth of film fan culture.

Kathy Fuller-Seeley:

Various aspects of fandom have always been central to my own work, as the questions that sparked my dissertation research were how did Americans in small towns and rural hinterlands come into contact with motion pictures in everyday life, and how did the growing movie fan culture engage them. I second Eric’s gratitude to fans back in the day who saved fan magazines and ephemera and who compiled scrapbooks and kept diaries. Libraries long turned up their noses at saving such disposable popular culture. We are fortunate that archives like the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and Northeast Historic Film have amassed robust collections.  Today, individual collectors still hold the most fascinating moviegoing ephemera – real photo postcards of nickelodeon theaters, posters, illustrated song slides, pressbooks, trade journals, theater accounting ledgers, etc. I’m very appreciative of the generosity of many who have shared their archival treasures with me.


Now I am wondering how we can collaborate with collectors to make more of these materials available to the public for research purposes, and I am investigating ways of digitizing my own collections online. (you can see my collection of images from the “world premiere” of the 1937 United Artists film Blockade in, of all places, Elkhart, Indiana at   along with a terrific essay by my colleague Greg Smith).

Where do we go from here?


Kathy Fuller-Seeley:


My Digitized Dream Wishlist includes

  • A full run of Motion Picture Herald
  • A full run of Moving Picture World (which the MHDL is rapidly accruing, hooray!!!)
  • Exhibitors Trade Review
  • Hollywood Reporter
  • Variety (in a more user-friendly data-searching software! It is difficult to read an issue page by page).
  • New York Clipper and New York Dramatic Mirror    (these two are available in part through the Fulton County website, but the database is clunky and its somewhat difficult to search)
  • orphaned New York City newspapers like the Herald and World and Telegraph; I still have no source for John Crosby’s radio and television criticism or Alton Cook’s radio columns. I wish Proquest would make subscriptions to multiple historic newspapers available and reasonably priced for individual researchers! One year, a membership in the Society for American Baseball Research provided access, and that was terrific.

Even better is free to the public, and I am so grateful for the work of the MHDL to make all these fascinating documents available for everyone!


Eric Hoyt:

We’ve now digitized over 500,000 pages of media periodicals. By the end of this year, we may surpass one million pages. A question that I’ve been asking myself is—once you’ve aggregated all of that data, what do you do with it? One thing you clearly need to be able to do is swiftly search through the data. I have been collaborating with a great team—which includes Carl Hagenmaier, Wendy Hagenmaier, Joseph Pomp, Andy Myers, Pete Sengstock, Jason Quist, and new collaborators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—on building Lantern, a search engine for the MHDL. Search will be an important tool for researchers and historians. It will also provide a much easier entry point into our collection for users who are passionate about classic movies and television but don’t know where to start looking.


In addition to search, though, what else can you do with all that aggregated data? It would take me years to read through every page of text in the MHDL. A computer, on the other hand, reads the data in seconds. This is the basis for full-text search, but it also opens up new possibilities that Humanities scholars interested in quantitative methods and “big data” are only beginning to explore. Google Ngram Viewer, for example, allows you to graph the frequency of words and phrases across a corpus of five million books. Here is a graph I quickly compiled of the terms 16mm, 8mm, and 28mm. This graph immediately suggests a story about the cultural, industrial, and technological importance of these “sub-standard” film stocks across a hundred year span. Now, it would tell you a better story if you could refine the searchable corpus—using the collections of the MHDL, rather than GoogleBooks. And it would tell you the richest story of all if you combined the insights of the graph with specific articles and books about non-theatrical film from the MHDL’s collections.

I see this as the direction where the Humanities and MHDL eventually need to head—combining the familiar practice of “close reading” with strategies of “distant reading” (to use the term coined by Franco Moretti). It’s not about abandoning the established critical tools. But we do need to learn from the data-intensive research that is happening in the sciences. I recently attended a “Humanities Hackathon” workshop hosted by UW-Madison’s Center for the Humanities and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm about using computational methods in Humanities research and legitimate concerns that we perform such analyses in a thoughtful way. I am excited to pursue these new techniques in my own scholarship, as well as to help build the infrastructure and tools that will enable other scholars to join the experiment.


 Andy Myers:


In the short term, as Eric mentions, our obvious goals are to add much more material, and to make system and interface improvements — such as full text search— which make it easier for users to find relevant material.

As far as long-term goals go, we want to make as much material as possible available to as many people as possible through as many avenues as possible, and we’ve been building lots of momentum. We’re not exactly declaring war on aggregators of public domain material like ProQuest — after all, we recognize that they do add value for many institutions and that these aggregators license more recent, copyrighted content too. However, with our boom in content and the upcoming launch of Lantern, we think that we are reaching a point where we can offer institutions a viable alternative to commercial providers and their high access fees. We firmly believe that our open-access model can provide better-quality material, freely available to everyone, with superior usability, at a fraction of the cost. So I really feel that in terms of growth, to paraphrase Walter White, we’re now in the empire business.

We’d also like to develop good cross-integration with other databases and resources across the web. Our digital assets are starting to be listed in the catalogs of academic libraries as electronic resources, which is a huge step to aiding discovery by researchers. I hope professors and graduate students reading this blog post right now will tell their librarians about the MHDL, and ask them to input MHDL resources into their library catalogs.  Additionally, we hope to eventually add features that will facilitate discovery of material made available by other great projects around the web. Wouldn’t it be great if a full text search on MHDL would not only search our collections, but also pointed users toward results in sites like (which hosts decades of digitized broadcasting periodicals) or the Margaret Herrick Library’s digital collections? We have yet to explore the technical details of such an implementation, but I think that kind of integration is on our distant horizon.




Eric Hoyt is Assistant Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He co-directs the Media History Digital Library in collaboration with the project’s founder, David Pierce. He is also leading the development of the MHDL’s new search platform, Lantern, which is a co-production with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Communication Arts. His articles on media, law, and culture have appeared in Cinema Journal, Film History, Jump Cut, World Policy Journal, and The International Journal of Learning and Media.


Kathy Fuller-Seeley is Professor in the Department of Communication at Georgia State University. She specializes in the history of film, radio, TV and media audiences. Kathy’s books include Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing (California, 2008, edited), At the Picture Show: Small Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie Fan Culture (Smithsonian 1997), and Children and the Movies: Media Influence and the Payne Fund Controversy (Cambridge 1996, with G. Jowett and I. Jarvie).  She has a book forthcoming on the history of nickelodeons and is writing a book project about Jack Benny’s radio program and American culture.


Andrew Myers is a doctoral student in Critical Studies at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He serves as the post-processing editor for the Media History Digital Library, which generally entails writing scripts to process images, text, and metadata. He recently received his M.A. in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA and is also the outgoing co-editor-in-chief of Mediascape, UCLA’s Journal of Film, Television, and Digital Media. His diverse research interests include media industries and production culture, archival film and television history, new media (especially video games), and documentary.