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Researching Entertainment Experiences

The next presenter in this session at ICA 2010 is CarrieLynn Reinhard, whose interest is in human sensemaking when engaging in virtual worlds. Lab-based experimental approaches to this are sometimes criticised for stressing internal over external validity, and for being unable to prove causality without the black box of the experimental setup - they rely on holding a number of variables constant in order to observe the effects of a predetermined, measurable variable in order to determine causality.

Researching Transmedia TV Consumption through Online Diaries

The next speaker at this ICA 2010 pre-conference is Nele Simons, whose focus is on the reception side of the emerging 'TV 2.0'. The two constituent trends here are digitisation (detaching TV content from the TV screen) and convergence (leading to cross- and transmedia forms) - so what does it mean today to engage with a TV series; how may we study it?

We need to reconsider our methodological approaches - one approach, which Nele explored, is a semi-structured, online TV diary that helps researchers understand audience members' viewing practices, with online follow-up and in-depth interviews. The semi-structured diary included categories such as watching episodes of a series (in whatever format), consuming media-related extras), consuming other extras, producing related content, and communicating about the TV series.

Fansubbing in China as a Form of Produsage

Hong Kong.
The final speaker in this session at The Internet Turning 40 is Donna Chu, who highlights the different forms of content creation which are emerging in Web 2.0 environments as the nature of production and consumption is shifting. Does this mean that users are empowered or exploited in this environment? What forms of civic participation are possible here?

Some of these questions are not new, but continue similar discussions in the area of fandom - fans have been creating content for a very long time, and have now simply moved online to share that content. Fans mobilise in support for discontinued TV shows, create petitions to save characters which are to be dumped from TV shows, etc. TV fans who participate in this way, though, are also contributing free labour to these TV shows, and could be seen as being exploited.

The Coming Convergence of China's Television, Mobile, and Broadband Networks

Hong Kong.
The second presenter in this session at The Internet Turning 40 is Huang Sheng-min, who will present in Chinese with a translator; his focus is on the developing Chinese media and telecommunication industry, with a growing integration of telecommunication and television networks.

There have been significant struggles around this over the past ten years in China: both the broadcasting and telecommunication industries in China are still immature, and both were affected by a directive which required both networks to merge into one to avoid the construction of duplicate physical networks - this was suspended, however, and both industries pursued their own developments, separately. Over the past year, then, the broadcasting industry pursued a digitalisation programme, while the telecommunications industry moved from 2G to 3G. In 2010, however the integration idea was put back on the table.

Students' Use of TV Content across Different Platforms

Hong Kong.
The final session for this first day of The Internet Turning 40 starts with a paper by Louisa Ha on the use of multiplatform TV by students. Video is now consumed using TVs, computers, iPods, DVRs, DVD players, and mobile phones, but what are the patterns of such consumption and how does the usage of one affect usage of others? How is this related to different personal factors (gender, etc.), especially for user-generated videos? And how satisfied are the users of these different platforms?

Louisa undertook a national survey in 2008 of some 210 (US) college students in six public universities, 91% of whom watch online video (22% watch TV for more than16 hours per week). 47% were early adopters, having watched online video for more than three years at that point; they mostly came across such videos through surfing or (in 25% of cases) through peer influence. Online, 48% watched user-generated videos exclusively; 34% both user-generated and repurposed videos. Key sources here were YouTube (nearly 100%), Facebook, and MySpace, and mainly comedy and music entertainment videos.

Towards the Probability Archive

Hong Kong.
The final speaker in this opening session of The Internet Turning 40 is my CCI colleague John Hartley, who argues for a shift towards new understanding of archives: in the modern time, they were characterised by galleries and museums as archives of essence, collected and curated by professional experts - of actual things. In postmodernity, broadcast TV systems provided a mediated archive through time-based, intangible objects; today,we have probability archives containing digital and virtual objects online, co-curated by users and containing objects whose status and existence is undetermined.

Critiques of News Media by Replay-Relay Audiences

The next speaker at Transforming Audiences is Christian Christensen, who begins by highlighting the emergence of what he calls the 'replay-relay audience'. One example here is the discussion between Daily Show host Jon Stewart and MSNBC financial host Jim Cramer about the quality of MSNBC's financial coverage; another is Stephen Colbert's White House Correspondents' Association dinner speech in 2006, which tore into both the Bush administration and the mainstream media for their coverage of Bush's administration; yet another is Jon Stewart's 2004 appearance on CNN's Crossfire, which ultimately led to the demise of that show after Stewart fatally critiqued the show's format and its effect on journalism and public discourse in America.

Governmentality and Social Control in Contemporary Television Talk Shows

The second and final day of Transforming Audiences starts with a keynote by Peter Lunt; who highlights the overall focus on new media at this conference, and shifts our focus to television in response. TV still has a key role to play in mediating public participation and engagement, both in politics and in cultural engagement in everyday life.

One of Peter's projects, Talk on Television, especially examined the role of television talk shows in the UK in this context; their evolution points to the transition of popular television as it combines factual broadcasting with entertainment and thus moves towards infotainment formats. This can be seen as a sign of a new populism in public service broadcasting, aiming to address the individual and to invite them to participate more directly in the programme. Such shows are still tightly scripted, but in a different way that also allows for more openness in their plot.

The Homemade Crossover Genre of Fan Videos

The next speaker at Transforming Audiences is Sebastien Francois, whose interest is in the fan videos deliberately combining material from various movies and television shows which are posted to spaces like YouTube; Sebastien describes this as 'homemade crossover'. Such videos are created only by a relatively small number of fans, of course, but may provide useful insights into active audiences.

Sebastien has studied such videos on YouTube using the ContextMiner analysis tool to examine the titles, descriptions, and other identifying characteristics of such videos. Such videos are often relatively short, with creators coming from a wide variety of countries; they exist at the intersection of vidding (adding popular music to edits of TV shows) and trailer mash-ups (parodies adding the soundtrack of movie trailers to collages of other movie or television material). Homemade crossover videos as Sebastien defines them do not necessarily use popular music, and are not necessarily parodic in intent - but instead often touch on the narratives within the original material.

The YouTube Debate in the 2008 New Zealand Elections

The final speaker in this ANZCA 2009 session is Bronwyn Beatty, speaking about the YouTube election debate last year, hosted by New Zealand's One News. This follows similar events in other countries, chiefly the US - it is part of an ongoing YouTubeification of politics, some have said.

TVNZ had an agreement with political leaders in New Zealand for three debates between the two main candidates. For the final of these debates, it invited video questions from its audience, uploaded through YouTube. This was framed as participating in the democratic process, and closely followed the model established by CNN for its debates between the US presidential candidates - TVNZ selected 'the best' of the user submissions to show to the candidates.


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