Ben Goldsmith from the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School is the next featured presenter at ATOM2006. His focus here is particularly on new media and institutions (as well as perhaps also on new media institutions). He begins by noting the convergence of communications networks, computing and information technology, and content (as explored for example by Henry Jenkins). Such convergence touches on technological, industrial, cultural, and social aspects - and it is defined both from the top down (by media conglomerates) and from the bottom up (by consumers and DIY content creators). People (and not only the young) can now control content flows, collaborate, access, and build collective intelligence, and create new content as well as remix old content - and this has a profound impact on the development of the mediasphere. Ben also notes Mark Pesce's view that television died on the day that Battlestar Galactica was accessed by viewers in the U.S. via Bittorrent after its premiere in the UK (rather than waiting for the SciFi Channel to broadcast it some months later) - and yet it is notable that this did not affect BSG's ratings when it eventually did screen in the U.S.
This phenomenon is widespread now, across television and cinema as well as other media forms (the recent worldwide television premiere of Jericho is another example). We now operate on a find -> filter -> forward model, and this has created a participatory, produser culture of user-generated content, a personalised 'me' media culture, and a pull-driven media environment where programming schedules are dying. (At the same time, MTV have just created a virtual world for its Laguna Beach show where users can view scheduled episodes of the show before they screen on television itself...)
This is driven in part by the Web 2.0 phenomenon - however poorly defined that term may still be. (And Kevin Maney suggests that Web 2.0 is a little like Pink Floyd lyrics - they can mean different things to different people...) Ben notes here the example of the company Commission Junction, which claims to be able to track user or consumer behaviour over very long periods of time (e.g. paying commussions to advertisers of books even if consumers only buy those books from Amazon years after seeing the advertisement). Ben also points to a piece by Brandon Schauer, asking what put the 2 in Web 2.0, and notes a number of other resources about Web 2.0 on the Programmable Web site. In particular, that site also follows Web 2.0 mashups - projects which use the APIs of existing Websites like Google and Amazon to provide new ways of accessing and combining information.
Next, we're off into the blogosphere, and Ben spends some time exploring Technorati to show the width and depth of the blogosphere - he's also kindly pointing to my own blog, so we're getting awfully circular here as I'm blogging his presentation as he speaks... From there, Ben moves on to wikis, showing (of course) the Wikipedia, but also the AFTRS wiki and the Stanford University wiki. Next up is podcasting, shown for example through the Podcast Network, the ABC Online video podcasting site, the Education Podcast Network, and AFTRS's LAMP, and from here Ben moves on to Flickr, showing for example the Flickr Brisbanites group as a place for content sharing and co-creation. But now there's also video sharing, done for example through FourDocs (yes, there's life outside of YouTube!).
Where it gets even more interesting is in media mashups, of course - for example, there is now a mashup site for the recent Ten Canoes film by Rolf de Heer, enabling users to remix parts of the film; there was an international remix competition at the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival, enabling audiences to remix excerpts from the movies shown; Eyespot, which offers online video editing tools (similar to Jumpcut); and of course the vast library of remixable content on the Internet Archive. Further, Ben notes the rise of social bookmarking (e.g. on del.icio.us) as a form of user-driven content tagging that relies on the wisdom of crowds, and also describes the rise of social networking through sites such as MySpace (he shows musician Lily Allen's MySpace site as an example), Trouble Homegrown, Bebo, Friendster, and Facebook. Further, there are more specialised social networking sites such as Sticky.net.au, SBS's Freeload.com.au, and DeviantART.
And the big buzz at the moment is around YouTube, of course - which has already racked up some amazing statistics in its relatively short existence. This, Ben suggests, shows the obliteration of the traditional mass audience, and the rise of new media forms (such as the YouTube-based fake videoblog Lonelygirl15) using such Web 2.0 tools - and of course right now there are significant rumours around Google looking to buy YouTube: a clear sign of success. Another alternative is Google Video, of course, and AFTRS has begun to use Google Video for its own content now, too.
Ben argues that media educators must absolutely begin to come to terms with such tools - and indeed he's even pointing to Gary Hayes's suggestion that a Web 3.0 might not be too far away. Are institutions still relevant in this context? On the one hand, Rupert Murdoch has made a strong argument that user-led content creation is the wave of the future - on the other, his company NewsCorp has begun to buy up the leaders of this new field, and thus there may be more media concentration to come, not less... So much to talk about - but unfortunately Ben's out of time!