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In Medias Res

The Newsletter of MIT Comparative Media Studies

summer 2006

CMS to Dean Khoury: Thanks for Everything!

By Henry Jenkins and William Uricchio, CMS directors he recent news that Philip Khoury will be ending his 15-year tenure as the Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and assume a new position as associate provost at MIT requires some reflection on his role in helping to create the Program in Comparative Media Studies. As some of our readers know, film studies courses at MIT go back to 1978. David Thorburn played a decisive role in pulling together key faculty and courses to begin to construct a coherent curriculum in the area of film and media studies. More than a decade ago, Khoury hosted a retreat of the leadership of the school to explore the challenges and opportunities posed by media education at MIT. Out of that retreat came a committee headed by Henry Jenkins, which would explore the potential for graduate education; and a second, led by Isabelle de Courtivron,

which would explore the needs of the interactive pedagogies projects. Khoury then helped to fund a conference that brought leading media scholars to MIT to provide a sense of the current state and future

--Donna Coveney/MIT

Dean Philip Khoury has been a long-time supporter of Comparative Media Studies. directions of the field and he provided resources to support a series of brown bag lunches with internal faculty about how their own work might contribute to such a program. Khoury helped to find funds to hire William Uricchio to become a key leader of the new initiative and has worked with us tirelessly to identify donors who could help to fund students and support our research. From the start, Khoury encouraged us to think big, to develop a graduate program worthy of MIT,

Inside In Medias Res

Metamedia, 3 Public Insight Journalism, 4 People, Places, Things, 5 Education Arcade, 7 New Media Literacies, 9 Cool Japan Symposium, 11 Convergence Consortium, 12 New Arrivals at CMS, 13, 16

one that would help to define future directions for our field. And he has been there every step of the way, helping to clear administrative hurdles, providing funds and encouragement. One of the most important parts of Khourys legacy as dean of the School of Humanities is CMSan interdisciplinary program with a global reputation that is helping prepare future professionals and which connects in vital ways to MITs core mission, one which exploits the value of doing cultural work in the context of the worlds leading technological institution. We know that our relationship with Khoury is not over. His new job will make him a key ally working with the top levels of MITs administration to support international and interdisciplinary programs. We wish him luck and look forward to having friends in high places. Across this newsletter, you will see evidence that Khourys support of CMS is yielding real fruit: DOne of his parting gestures as Dean has been to help us to establish a Post-Doc program, which is bringing exciting younger scholars and media makers to MIT to support both the teaching and research efforts of the program. We will be joined this fall by Alice Robison (working in the areas of games, media literacy, and learning),
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Directors Visit Singapore Looking for Research Partners

MS Directors Henry Jenkins (far left in photo) and William Uricchio (far right) visited Dr. and Mrs. Tony Tan while in Singapore to explore potential research collaborations with Singaporean partners. They assessed research capacities in various universities, arts schools and institutes; met with colleagues; and identified and explored areas of mutual interest. While there, Uricchio and Jenkins had a number of meetings with Tan, head of the National Research Foundation and Singapore Press Holdings. Tan hosted several dinners on their behalf, giving them an opportunity to discuss the special needs of culturally based research with leaders from the academic and governmental worlds. tine Walley who all received promotion or tenure this term. DThis issue contains reports from several recent alums of the program Joellen Easton (on the graduate level) and Nick Hunter (on the undergraduate level) giving testimony to the impact this program has had on their professional development. These are only two of the many stories we are hearing from our alums and we hope to share more with you in future issues. DThis issue reports on recent successes across the programs core research initiatives the field testing of work in Project NML, the successful conference hosted by the Convergence Culture Consortium, the many archives built and deployed by Metamedia, and the early work being done on the Games to Go project. Each demonstrates the value of applied humanism at work. DThis issue describes some of the facultys innovative new approaches to media education, including Condrys Cool Japan project and Edward Barretts new efforts in the area of mobile media. DAnd read between the lines here, you will see signs of what promise to be new developments on the horizonpotential research collaborations with Singapore, new partnerships through C3, and an extended new phase of work with MacArthur on media literacy. Dean (soon to be Associate Provost) Khoury, thanks again for your vision, leadership, and support during the rocky early years of the program. We look forward to working with you in your new position and to forging a partnership with a new dean as we chart our course for the next few years.

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Hugo Liu (working in the area of taste cultures, aesthetics, and computational media), and Joshua Green (working in the areas of creative industries and convergence culture). Khoury was also instrumental in helping us to get support to bring Frank Espinoza as a Martin Luther King Jr. visiting scholar to MIT next year to teach courses in the area of character design and world building. DThis past year has seen a bumper crop of promotions for core faculty who have been involved with CMS through the years, many of whom were recruited under Khourys leadership. Congrats to Junot Diaz, Eric Klopfer, Ian Condry and Chris-

New Website in the Works MS is Beta testing a new website. Currently located at, the test site, built by CMS graduate students Geoff Long 07 and Ivan Askwith 07, is open to the public and we encourage users to let us know what they think. Send comments to

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Metamedia Project Five Years in the Making

By Kurt Fendt, Metamedia project manager hen dance professor Thomas DeFrantz first used the Metamedia project for his Traditions in American Concert Dance course, he was impressed by how deeply engaged his students became in the analysis of a six-minute dance piece. Observing how his students creatively combined, annotated, and shared images, video, and texts about dance, DeFrantz described their active learning style as writing with media, a fitting slogan for the Metamedia project, which has supported the teaching of humanities subjects at MIT for the past five years. With support from the Alex and Brit dArbeloff Fund for Excellency in Education at MIT, Metamedia has worked with faculty to create two dozen media-rich archives, broadening the learning experience by offering new forms of online study, learner interaction, and online collaboration. Conceived by Literature Professor Peter Donaldson, CMS Director Henry Jenkins, Foreign Languages and Literatures Research Associate Kurt Fendt (now the Metamedia project director), Metamedia provides faculty with the technical framework and expertise for bringing relevant materials online. Metamedia reduces the time between content development and use in the classroom to a few weeks instead of months. Metamedias development approach in which faculty, students, and software and content developers work closely within the same group allows for rapid feedback

and development of new tools for students. One of Metamedias first projects was Wyn Kelleys work on

oped in collaboration with MIT Libraries, making them interoperable with other MIT initiatives including DSpace and Stellar. The next major release will Recent Metamedia Projects include new feaArchive historique du Marais (Gilberte Furstenberg) tures such as integration with other Beijing Film Academy Animation Archive media repositoBelgium Visual Archive (Cathy Culot) ries and drag-andEurasian Visual Archive (Emma Teng) drop building of Hip-Hop Japan (Ian Condry) media collecRevolving Doors (James Buzard) tions. Over the next Moby-Dick, which has since grown five years, Metamedias hosting into a robust American Authors lab, the HyperStudio, will expand Archive to which she recently and build upon the rich experience added a British Authors Archive. acquired in working with MITs Over the past years, Metamedia humanities faculty and students. has added teaching modules in anChanges in the way we access thropology, foreign languages, and use educational materials from media studies, and theatre, among multiple devices along with the others. way we communicate and collaboGilberte Furstenbergs cross- rate seamlessly over distances afcultural Cultura project is a partic- ford new pedagogical approaches ularly fitting model for Metamedia that still ensure that the focus reas it encourages students from two mains on the students and their endifferent countries and languages gagement in learning. to discuss and share views of their respective cultures. CMS Holds Media Spectacle Metamedias Open Standard n Wednesday, April 26, CMS From the beginning, Metamedia held its 2006 Media Spectacle wanted to ensure that all media in MITs Stata Center. The winning materials audio, video, text, and undergraduate submission was A image files could be supported Piece of Cake by Anna Wexler and over a long period of time, regard- Nadja Oertelt, both brain and cogless of the underlying technology. nitive science majors. Wexler and The project team therefore de- Oertelt were awarded the Chris cided on using open metadata stan- Pomiecko Prize in honor of CMS dards to not only allow the transi- former program administrator. tion to newer technologies as they The winning graduate film subbecome available but also to pro- mission was Amnion by Rajesh vide an easy way to exchange ma- Kottamasu, a student in urban terials with other, similar projects. planning. All materials in Metamedia have a descriptive metadata record, devel-

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Changing Journalism? Yes, and One CMS Grad Hopes for the Better
By Joellen Easton 05 as they direct their comments to program producers. m a Public Insight Analyst. Dont know what that If we at American Public Media can develop a way for is? Neither did I until I was surfing the web last our public sources to engage with each other as well spring and saw the position posted. As I read, I as with us ( begins to hint at this) well create what I coined in my CMS thesis as high-interthought.wowthis sounds like me. Now Im living in Los Angeles, introducing the activity radio (see graphic 2). Around the office, I fairly new concept of public insight journalism (PIJ) just call my blue-sky vision PIJ 2.0. to American Public Medias But perhaps the greatest challenge is to diplomatically national programs Marketencourage reporters and editors place, Marketplace Money and to open up their editorial Weekend America. The work is still evolving, but the bottom process and be receptive to surline is that I help APM reprises and angles they hadnt porters, editors and producers consideredall prompted by incorporate insight and knowlinsight shared by our network edge from the public into their sources. These are reporters reporting and newsgathering and editors who do a fine job process. and have their routines, estabGraphic 1. Public Insight Journalism Sounds easy, right? The first lished relationships and dechallenge is getting people Process, (Minnesota Public Radio 2005) pendable Rolodexes. So why into the Public Insight Network: Through on-air and would they want PIJ? Because we can help them find website promotion, presence on discussion boards, a great interview with a new voice, a fresh angle on a surveys and email, I recruit people to become public report, or if I can contribute early enough in the edsources. They agree to share their knowledge and ex- itorial process unexpected stories. periences to help us report the news. They do this by I believe that public insight journalism can help responding to targeted queries I e-mail to them (see make our reporting demonstrably more compelling graphic 1). and more connected to our listeners lives: a more When someone joins our meaningful media experience. network of more than 17,000 As a CMS student, I hoped public sources, they engage that my graduate education with their media in ways enwould be relevant to what I abled by digital technologies, would choose to do next. I especially the Internet. Culturcame to CMS as a radio proally, people want more from ducer with a strong interest in their media today than they ethnography and cultural imused to: they expect to interact, plications of technology, and and that their contributions struggled to develop thesis remight make a difference to the search that would address those broadcast or printed product. I interests, incorporate what I focus on growing our network Graphic 2. New interactive directionalities in was learning at CMS, and be an nationally, getting stories out high-interactivity radio, (Easton 2005) asset in the job market. So far, of the network, and involving public sources in our Id say the plan worked out OK. news coverage. Easton can be reached at At CMS, I spent a lot of time lurking in radio programs online discussion spaces. I discovered that the most meaningful way listeners engaged with shows online was to engage with each other at the same time

summer 2006
people, places, things

In Medias Res / 5

Summer Looks Busy for CMS Faculty and Students

Faculty Christopher Capozzola (History) will offer a new subject this coming fall, 21H.221: The Places of Migration in United States History, an undergraduate subject exploring the history of migration to, from, and within the United States in the context of global labor history and cultural and ethnic studies. The course covers the late nineteenth century to the present by looking at case studies of places marked by migration, including physical places such as south Texas, Chicago, and New Yorks Lower East Side, as well as conceptual places such as The Border, Hollywood, and Ellis Island. Ian Condrys (Foreign Languages and Literatures or FL&L) first book Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization will be published this fall by Duke University Press. Condry will spend the summer in Tokyo to do research for his second book project Global Anime: The Making of Japans Transnational Popular Culture. He will focus on fieldwork in Japanese animation studios with support from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. For the 06-07 academic year, Condry will be on leave as an advanced research fellow at Harvard Universitys Program on USJapan Relations. See page 11 about Condrys Cool Japan symposium. His promotion to associate professor in FL&L will take effect in July. Peter Donaldson (Literature) delivered the Humanities Informatics Lecture at the Glasscock Center for the Humanities at Texas A&M University on April 24, and has been appointed the first holder of the Lloyd Davis Visiting Professorship in Shakespearean Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia. Aden Evens (Writing) continues to labor over his book project, Interface: Creativity and the Digital. Current efforts include a chapter on whether or not the World Wide Web is a medium, a chapter on creativity in computer games, and a chapter on programming. His article on intuitionist mathematics and creativity appeared in the recently released Virtual Mathematics: the Logic of Difference edited by Simon Duffy. In the fall, Evens will start his new position as assistant professor of new media studies in the Department of English at Dartmouth College. tion School, CMS and FL&L, this years festival also focused on Chinese animation. In the fall, he will serve on the jury of the International Film Festival of Film Schools. Also in the fall, Fendt will be teaching 21F.414 German Culture, Media, and Society with a focus on contemporary German radio art and short film. Michael Fischer (Anthropology & STS) spent part of January in Iran on an exchange hosted by the Iranian National Academy of Sciences, giving talks at the Academy, the Institute of Philosophy, and the Institute for Science and Ethics in Terhan, and at Mofid University in Qum; and talking to a few participants in the Fajr Film Festival. Spring term he gave presentations in New York at the Carnegie Foundation, Milwaukee at the Society for Cultural Anthropology, Montreal at the Canadian Anthropological association, and participated in a workshop in Bellagio on science in the Islamic world. Gilberte Furstenberg (FL&L) authored a chapter on computer-mediated communication in the book Internet-Mediated Intercultural Foreign Language Education. In May, shell present Developing Students Cross-Cultural Understanding: The Cultura Model, Uses and Adaptations at the Computer Assisted Language Instruction Conference (CALICO) in Hawaii. A CD-ROM authored with Kurt Fendt will be published in June.
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Kurt Fendt (FL&L) held a visiting professorship at the Institute for Media and Communication, University of Klagenfurt, Austria where he taught a course on media and narratives. This spring, he organized the second MIT Short Film Festival, presenting new European short films from festivals and European film schools. Thanks to the new collaboration between Beijing Film Academys Anima-

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Stefan Helmreich (Anthropology) received MITs 2006 Levitan Prize in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences for his ongoing research project on the science and culture of contemporary marine biology. He is at work on a book tentatively entitled Alien Ocean: An Anthropology of Marine Microbiology and the Limits of Life, forthcoming with the University of California Press. Diana Henderson (Literature) has been elected trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America, and will be participating in international Shakespeare conferences in Brisbane, Australia and Stratfordupon-Avon this summer. Her book Collaborations with the Past: Reshaping Shakespeare Across Time and Media is now available from Cornell University Press. She has been promoted to full professor, effective July 1. Henry Jenkins (CMS) spent much of May making various kinds of spectacles of himself. First, experimental filmmaker and artist Christian Jankowki asked if he could take an impression of Henry's head for use in a forthcoming horror film and art installation, Lycan. See page 15 for details. Second, Jenkins worked with CMS graduate student Sam Ford and played the part of the heel in a public mud-wrestling match with his wife, Cynthia, as part of the festivities at this years Steer Roast. They consciously imitated the conventions of World Wrestling Entertainment in both the action in the ring and in Fords announcing. Third, Jenkins played the part of

the patriarch at a conference hosted by UCLA to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games conference and book (both of which Jenkins organized with Justine Cassell and MITs Womens Studies Program). Eric Klopfer (Teacher Education Program) has been involved in two augmented reality (AR) projects, one consisting of math and literacy games for middle school students in collaboration with Harvard and the University of Wisconsin; and another on controversial issues in science and society for the iCampus project. Another project, in collaboration with Henry Jenkins and Maryland Public Television, brought seasoned educational game developer Scot Osterweil on board to design math and literacy games for the middle grades. Klopfers StarLogo: The Next Generation, a simulation and game development environment for kids, was released to the public. Anthony Lioi (Writing) will attend the July meeting of the Association for Computing in the Humanities (ACH) in Paris as a beginning to ethnographic work on humanists and their relationship to information technology. He is also writing an essay about Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and his new form of postmodernism. The essay is an elaboration of the argument he presented at Ian Condrys Cool Japan Symposium in April (see page 11). Martin Marks (Music) is music curator for a new DVD film collection for the National Film Preservation Foundation called Treasures

from American Film Archives 3: Social Issue Films of the Silent Era. As for the previous two Treasures sets, he will supervise the preparation of new scores for all the films in the collections, creating and performing many of them himself at the piano, and drawing upon MIT composers and performers for several others. Treasures 3 is scheduled for release in fall 2007. The project has been awarded an NEH grant of $350,000. Charity Scribner (FL&L) plans to finish her book on the aesthetic response to the rise and fall of leftwing militancy in Germany while on sabbatical next year. Her first article from the book is forthcoming in the journal Grey Room. Irving Singer (Philosophy) has just finished a book on the films of Ingmar Bergman. It is entitled Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher. This book is a sequel to Irvings Three Philosophical Filmmakers: Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir. William Uricchio (CMS) spoke in Tokyo at the MIT-Hakuhodo Foresight Conference on the topic of High Connectivity: Branding, Community, and Digital Culture. The event was organized by CMS research affiliate Yuichi Washida and included talks by Foreign Languages and Literatures Section Head Jing Wang and CMS research affiliate Shenja van der Graaf from the London School of Economics. In May, Uricchio will give the keynote address at the Nordic Media Days conference in Bergen, Norway, followed by lectures in Utrecht, The Netherlands,
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summer 2006

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Learning Games to Go Gears Up for Education Arcade

By Scot Osterweil, Education and welcomed the idea that student Arcade project manager engagement through games might ork has begun in earnest prepare the ground for formal on the Learning Games learning in the classroom. Weve to Go project. The Edu- been invited to make a presentacation Arcade will design four tion to the US Department of Edugames addressing middle school cations meeting of Star Schools math and literacy learning, with project directors in Washington particular attention to the needs of DC. underserved populations. These Eric Klopfer and the Teacher games will be served on the web, Education Program continue to dewith components offered on hand- velop Augmented Reality simulaheld devices. tion games to be played collaboraGraduate students Alec Austin, tively by groups using PDAs. Kristina Drzaic and Dan Roy are Projects currently in developworking to determine the math ment include a simulation of an topics that will be covered, and to avian flu-like outbreak, involving create a framework that will im- players in differentiated roles as merse students fully in a game world, while also engaging them with concepts and processes that reinforce their in-school learning of pre-algebra. As part of our preparation, we will be collaborating with the Young Peoples Project. Well observe kids involved in after-school math activities this spring. In the summer, we hope to meet with YPP participants to test our Design draft for the Ghost at MIT project. own paper prototypes, and to share with them our understanding doctors, public health officials, and of game design and careers in the medical technicians. game industry. A second game tackles issues afIn April, we traveled to Balti- fecting a community in which a more to present our ideas about bio-terror lab is being planned. learning games to our advisory Developers are exploring interestboard of math educators and our ing models for simulating the collaborating partners: Maryland spread of conflicting ideas in a disPublic Television, Johns Hopkins persed civic debate. University, and ORC Marco, the Grad Students at CGDC project evaluators. The teachers on the advisory In March, graduate students panel spoke of the pressures of de- Ravi Purushotma and Dan Roy livering a test-driven curriculum, presented their work on language

learning games at the 2006 Computer Game Developers Conference in San Jose. They demonstrated a module of The Sims used in basic vocabulary learning, and a second module of Grim Fandango for conversational practice. By all accounts the talk was well received, and appears to have sparked some interest in the game industry. Ideas In Development Ghost at MIT, the project that may some day turn the MIT campus itself into a massively multiplayer online game, is poised to enter a pilot phase, with several dorms set to be modeled as test-beds for further game development. Big thanks to James Nadeau for shepherding this project over the last few months. Other ideas currently in development include language learning games (based on Ravi and Dans work), games about weather and oceanography, and a possible extension of Augmented Reality games into the commercial market. While these ideas are still in the proposal phase, we are optimistic about the prospects for some of them being funded in the near future.

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on television as a new medium. From there, he will move on to Bologna, Italy for his favorite festival, Cinema Ritrovato, a showcase for restored films from the worlds archives. Uricchios book Media Cultures was recently published Jing Wang (FL&L) signed an advance contract with Harvard University Press and will be finishing her book Brand New China: Advertising, Media and Commercial Culture during this summer. Graduate Students Alec Austin (07) continues his research into how production and distribution processes in serial entertainment media (such as TV, comics, and video games) affect the content produced for those media. He is working with the Education Arcade to design a game for Maryland Public Television, and is in the process of writing a white paper on the PR ramifications of intellectual property for the Convergence Culture Consortium. He will be spending the summer working for one of Activisions development studios as a game design intern. Vanessa Bertozzi (06) is finishing her thesis, Unschooling Media: Participatory Practices among Progressive Homeschoolers. Bertozzi and Orit Kuritsky have been teaching assistants for Terrascope radio and anticipate a

great final show this spring. With the Project NML team, Bertozzi continues to develop new media literacy activities for schools and after school programs. She also finished a video project on her cartoonist brother, Nick Bertozzi. Bertozzi and Henry Jenkins are putting the final touches on their Young Artists project, a chapter in an anthology on transformation of participation in the arts due out in the fall by Routledge. Tracy Daniels (07) will continue her thesis research and enjoy the summer in New York and South Asia. Sam Ford (07) will supplement work at Kentucky newspapers this summer by editing his essay about wrestler Mick Foley for the anthology Bodies of Discourse and his ethnography on wrestling fans for The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Ford will work for the Convergence Culture Consortium and finalize plans for the wrestling class he and Anthony Lioi will teach in spring 2007, in addition to finishing his part of a book about First Amendment issues in campus journalism. He will continue working on his thesis about the interaction between fans and producers and transmedia storytelling in the soap opera As the World Turns. Amanda Finkelberg (07) plans to spend part of her summer augmenting her student income while working on the effects for commercials in Los Angeles. Additionally, she is arranging a MIT-Siggraph party to celebrate the conference in Boston this year, continuing work with the New Media Lit-

eracies exemplar library and interning at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York on a project to collect, archive and display VFX materials in a museum setting. She plans to spend free time this summer reading visual effects theory for her thesis, planning a wedding, and of course roller skating along the beach. Neal Grigsby (07) spent his first semester as a research assistant for the New Media Literacies project creating a video interview archive about novelist and blogger Cory Doctorow. Other endeavors during the term included continuing development on the upcoming CMS Journal and co-authorship of a transmedia narrative project with Geoffrey Long and Peter Rauch. Over the summer hell be continuing his work for NML and preparing for his thesis about adolescence narratives across media. Orit Kuritsky (07) produced a video portrait of radio reporter Sean Cole, as well as related curriculum material, for Project NMLs web-based exemplar library. As a teaching assistant for MITs Terrascope radio class, she guided, together with Ari Epstein and Vanessa Bertozzi, Terrascope freshmen in their production of radio stories, among others on Chilean survivors of the 1960 Tsunami. In April, Kuritsky presented a proposal for a thesis on American makeover shows and practices of their consumption, which she intends to write over the summer.

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New Media Curriculum Testing is a Tale of Two Cities

By Margaret Weigel, New Media Literacies project manager ast fall, the New Media Literacies (NML) team created the Transmedia Improv afterschool activity. Designed with junior high students in mind, the activity teaches participants the fundamentals of storytelling, and allows them the opportunity to author their own fictional work in PowerPoint using characters from the cantina scene in Star Wars IV. Our original goal was to test the curriculum with the students at our partner institution, the North Kenwood-Oakland (NKO) charter middle school administered by the University of Chicago. But our friends at the Boston YWCA suggested that their students, ages 13-18, could test the activity as well, and we jumped at the opportunity to test the materials at a second site.

Local Testing Site 1 YWCA, March 1 and 8, 2006: The NML team went to the YWCAs Youth Voices Collaborative afterschool program in early March to run a test of our Transmedia Improv materials. The YVC teaches students from atrisk populations about mass media, ethics and production methods, and spend their afternoons creating custom podcasts, blogs and even a cable TV program. In general, the testing was a great success. The students come to the center from 4-6pm after school and are usually a bit tired, and during the first hour it showed. As the activity progressed, though, the students started having fun. At the end of the first session,

Anna the facilitator approached me and asked if it would be OK if the students worked on their slideshows before we reconvened in a week! (I said sure). The second week, Anna apologized for being a bit frazzled, and although the activity was successful, it was clear that the success of this and any activity is de- Making media at Kenwood-Oakland Charter pendent on a strong fa- School in Chicago, where NML tested digital storytelling materials in March. cilitator presence. Having said that, the activity went well, and we learned the activities, and one pair even dethat it was well suited for high- cided to do the optional activity of school aged students as well as taking pictures of one another acting out some of their scenes, and younger students. uploading them to their story file. Chicago Testing Site 2 NKO Chicago testing March 15 and 16, 2006: On March 15 and 16 NML Educa- MIT Provides Center tion Coordinator Katie Clinton and For Multimedia Work I observed a testing runthrough of ITs New Media Center is a the Transmedia Digital storytelling do-it-yourself cluster of G5 workshop materials at NKO. NKO students each have their PowerMacs and iMacs loaded with own laptop that they use in school, multimedia software. The NMC is located in 26-139, afterschool, and at home; they were quite adept at using media which has a keypad lock to allow tools ranging from computers to access to students, faculty and digital cameras to overhead pro- staff. Type tellme nmccombo at an Athena prompt to get the code. jectors. The center is open to the MIT Katie and I learned a great deal community 24 hours a day, 7 days about the realities of successfully executing curriculum. One lesson a week when it isnt being used by is to keep it simple. Another is to a class. You can check the NMC take into account the fact that even website at for a though the NKO students were re- schedule, but at press time the site markably bright, they were also had not been updated for a while. Contact 10-13 years old and prone to bouts of wrestling on the floor. In gen- for more information. eral, though, the students enjoyed

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Geoffrey Long (07) spent his spring semester living out of a suitcase and banging away on his laptop. Events of note this term include visiting Turner Broadcasting, The Cartoon Network and Fidelity Investments with Henry Jenkins; attending the SXSW Interactive 2006 conference in Austin, Texas; spending spring break traveling across the countryside of Japan with his girlfriend; developing a video game pitch with CMS undergrad Chris Casiano and fellow CMS grad student Dan Roy; designing, building and launching the new official CMS website with Ivan Askwith; and conducting research on transmedia storytelling and mobile media for the Convergence Culture Consortium. James Nadeau (06) is finishing up his thesis on technology and the early days of video art. He is in the midst of finalizing funding for the Ghost at MIT project. In May, he will be working on the Boston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival held at the Museum of Fine Arts where he

will be participating in a panel discussion on the history of LGBT Film Festivals. He gave a paper on this topic at the Communication in Crisis conference at UMass Amherst in March. Nadeau will attend the Provincetown International Film Festival where he is a member of the jury for college films. He has been invited to teach video art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the fall of 2006. Ravi Purushotma (06) will be finishing his thesis looking at the application of transmedia storytelling and remix culture to improving the practice of foreign language learning, at He is also working with Mylene Catel, a French teacher at SUNY Potsdam, who has been using the video game The Sims 2 in her classrooms. Peter Rauch, Neal Grigsby and Sam Ford are working on The Journal of Comparative Media Studies, Peter Rauch (07) has been working on the CMS Journal with Neal Grigsby and Sam Ford, and hopes to publish issue 1 sometime next year. He has also written an article about the statistical construction of women in roleplaying games, and continues his research into the potential of videogames to make moral arguments. Karen Verschooren (07) dedicated the spring semester to research on new media art, focusing on Internet art and its relation to traditional art and academic institutions. She started exploring a busi-

ness-perspective on the rapidly changing media industries and non-profit organizations by cross registering in management classes, and she co-organized the MIT Short Film Festival in April. At the Metamedia research group, she worked on a variety of media-rich archives. Over the summer, she will divide her time between an internship at Argos, a new media art center in Brussels, her personal research and catching up with friends and family.

Media Content Sought For New MIT Website

IT has launched a new website called ZigZag for presenting news and other information about whats going on around campus. The site located at carries the following description: ZigZag is a periodic video magazine featuring stories that capture and communicate the richness and diversity of the MIT experience. Subject matter will range from the arts, research, student life, interesting people, special events, technical innovation, sports, and the occasional hack. The site concluded its pilot phase this term. Jeff Silva, a multimedia specialist with MIT Video Productions, which manages the site, told In Medias Res, We would love to get media savvy CMS students involved in ZigZag. We have always wanted student field correspondents to contribute video segments, so this could be an exciting opportunity for them. Silva and colleagues can be contacted at

Jenkins and boyd Begin Discussion of MySpace

MS Director Henry Jenkins and Berkeley graduate student danah boyd were recently interviewed by Sarah Wright of the MIT News Office about MySpace and other social networking websites, youth and online predators, and the Deleting Online Predators Act. The interview is posted at myspaceissues.htm, and readers can comment on the topic.

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In Medias Res / 11

Japanese Popular Culture Explored During MIT Symposium

t MIT on April 14 and 15, Paradox of Anime anime being both strangely foreign assistant professor Ian During Fridays panel discus- and yet intimately accessible. Condry (Foreign Lan- sion Helen Hardacre, (Harvard, guages and Literatures and CMS) Religious Studies) discussed Dark Sides of Cool led a two-day symposium on Vio- anime used as a proselytization On Saturday afternoon, a second lence and Desire in Japanese Pop- tool for a new religion; Ikumi panel discussion included Anne ular Culture. The symposium fo- Kaminishi (Tufts, Art History) an- Allison (Duke, Anthropology) discused on Japanese animation alyzed the hypersexualized and hy- cussing her new book Millennial (anime), and included presenta- percommodified superflat work Monsters, which explores the place tions by professors from Harvard, of Takashi Murakami; and Antho- of contemporary youth in Japan Tufts, Duke, and MIT, as well talks ny Lioi (MIT, Writing) theorized amidst bullying, school refusal, by professionals in the anime busi- the uses of environmental apoca- hikikomori, and other dark sides of ness. A film screening and cool. discussion on Friday night John ODonnell, coexplored the cultural implicafounder of anime distributor tions of a current anime TV Central Park Media, exseries that remixes classic plained why it was otaku ensamurai themes with contemtrepreneurs in the USnot porary Japanese hip-hop. big media in Japan nor the The symposium was orUSwho enabled the emerganized as part of an ongoing gence of this exploding marresearch project Cool Japan: ket. Ian Condry discussed Media, Culture, Technology, anime fansubbing as a workwhich is jointly sponsored by ing alternative to lawsuits the MIT Japan Program and against online media piracy. Harvard Universitys ReisThe Cool Japan research chauer Institute of Japanese project will continue in the Studies. Foreign Languages 2006-07 academic year with Anime image used to promote the TV show and Literatures and Compara- Samurai Champloo from semi-monthly seminars as tive Media Studies also prowell as a symposium in the vided support for this years sym- lypse in the films of Hayao spring 2007. For example, one posium. Miyazaki. session will be led by Sharon KinAnime is a driving force in the On Friday evening, writer Kou sella, author of the book Adult globalization of contemporary Furukawa discussed the TV show Manga, who will be teaching in Japanese culture, and the sympo- Samurai Champloo which uses Foreign Languages and Literatures sium offered an opportunity to as- Japanese hip-hop music and style in the Fall 2006. sess the media and cultural impli- as an integral part of the story Overall, the research project cations of this flow. Since part of about three travelers in Japan in the aims to explore issues of Japan, the appeal of anime lies in its treat- 1800s. Furukawa, who worked popular culture, media and globalments of technological apocalypse, closely with director Shinichiro ization. The goal is to understand youth violence, and alternative Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), eluci- the political potential, cultural consexualities, the discussions aimed dated cross-cultural references to sequences, and dangerous distorto analyze the intertwining of vio- such characters as swordsman tions of cool. lence and desire from an interdisci- Musashi Miyamoto, Andy Warhol For more information on this onplinary perspective. and graffiti artist Phase 2. In both going series, contact Ian Condry sessions, discussions revolved ( around the paradox of Japanese

summer 2006

In Medias Res / 12

Convergence Consortiums Busy Term Concludes in Cambridge

By Parmesh Shahani, C3 project manager ork at the Convergence Culture Consortium (C3) has ramped up quickly. After the success of the three white papers produced in the fall semester, there are four more in the pipeline due to be completed at the end of the spring term. Geoffrey Long is looking at Internet protocol television (IPTV) and transmedia properties in the mobile media space. He will use his findings to sketch out possible directions for narrative development and business opportunities. Ivan Askwith has immersed himself in the world of alternative reality games and hopes to develop guidelines for future ARG campaigns. Ilya Vedrashko is undertaking a review of major developments in the advertising models landscape that have taken place recently and are likely to have a strong impact on the media and advertising business in the near future. Finally, Alec Austin is cutting through the heated rhetoric about

piracy to survey the pragmatic legal, financial, and emotional issues surrounding digital rights management and file-sharing. C3 is also conducting a qualitative study of media consumption in a Boston college dormitory environment, the interviews for which are being conducted by Sam Ford and undergraduate researcher Rachel Greer. Our Sloan team of graduate students (Timothy Crosby, Felicita Holsztejn Tarczewski and Cheng Han) is in the process of number crunching the over 900 responses received to its questionnaire, for the quantitative accompaniment to this study. C3 Retreat in Cambridge The consortium team has embarked on some successful out-oftown trips over the past few months. Henry Jenkins traveled to Atlanta and Austin to speak to our corporate partners (Turner and GSD&M, respectively) on fan cultures as well as consult with different divisions of their organizations on the media convergence chal-

lenges faced by them. Long and Ford both visited Turner, while Parmesh Shahani and Vedrashko accompanied Jenkins to visit GSD&M in Austin and enjoy some Southern style ribs and bluegrass. Beth Coleman, Sam Ford, Ivan Askwith and CMS research affiliate Grant McCracken met up with our corporate partner MTV Networks in New York on different occasions. The biggest meeting of all Convergence 2006 the C3 retreat, will have taken place by the time this newsletter is out. Our theme for this years event is that there is no box. As Henry Jenkins notes in the conference invitation, In The Matrix, we learned that there is no spoon only the idea of a spoon. Stuck in an old paradigm shatter it. Lets stop talking about thinking outside the box. There is no box! Well update you about the conference happenings in detail in the next newsletter.

In Medias Res
is published three times a year by: Comparative Media Studies (CMS) Massachusetts Institute of Technology 14N-207 Cambridge, MA 02139 617.253.3599 / Please send newsletter comments to Brad Seawell at

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summer 2006

In Medias Res / 13

Undergraduate Nick Hunter Heads to Electronic Arts

By Nick Hunter, CMS undergaduate 07 to develop some chops and become a real really want to tell you all about this great programmer by prototyping some of the dejob that I just landed. Contractually speaksigns laid out by Matt Weise 04. ing, however, thats a big no-no. I can tell Its amazing what one can learn when you that Ill be starting with EAs Maxis divitheyre properly motivated. By the start of sion in July, and that theyre going to have me fall 2003, I was prototyping all manner of work as a mix of designer, prototyper, and crazy ideas put forth by Philip Tan 03, producer. The story I should really be telling Matt, and Brett Camper 05. My experithough, is how I got there. ences working with them pushed me to grow as a proOne cold, freshman afternoon, I attended a seminar grammer and designer. In my last weeks at MIT, Im finding that more and on the transmedia properties of Lord of the Rings. I met Kurt Squire. I had been desperately more aspects of my education are relevant searching for a game-related research po- To CMS, I just want to what Im heading off to do. Im also resition, and it turned out that Kurt was just to say Thanks. alizing that there is a wealth of scholarship that I have yet to tap into. However, I go about to start up Revolution, the Education Arcades game about Colonial America. I took away secure in the knowledge that when I have questhe job thinking I would work in a design and content tions about narrative patterns in television or the culdevelopment capacity. tural significance of some new trend, I can always Instead, I became the projects lead programmer. shoot off an email to Henry or William and at least get They took a major risk by putting me in that position. pointed in the right direction. Up until that point, the only experience I had with proI owe a lot to the CMS community, and for that, I gramming was MITs 6.001. I was given the summer just want to say, Thanks.

Media Studies Welcomes New Scholars

rank Espinosa, an MIT Martin Luther King Jr. scholar, will have a joint appointment in CMS and the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. He will teach a course in the fall entitled Introduction to Character Design and World Making and in the spring he will teach Advanced Character Design and World Making. As Director of Character Design for Warner Brothers, Espinosa produced the award winning Character Design Manual; and redesigned the complete Looney Tunes characters making them one of the top grossing properties of all time. After leaving Warner in 2003, Espinosa created Rocketo: Journey to the Hidden Sea, the first book of a series of multiissue graphic novels. ugo Liu, a joint CMS/Media Lab post doc, will co-teach with Irving Singer in the fall and teach his own course in the spring. He has just defended his Ph.D. at the MIT Media Lab, where his research focuses on computational models of taste and culture, which are inspired by semiotics and cultural theory. He writes widely on artificial intelligence and has

published over 30 academic articles on topics ranging from automatic programming to simulations of human aesthetical judgment. This summer, Liu looks forward to co-hosting a unique workshop on computational approaches to beauty and happiness, to be held in Boston.

lice Robison will join CMS in September as post-doc fellow. She will work on the New Media Literacies project and teach courses on games and literacy. She will receive her Ph.D. from the Rhetoric and Composition Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this summer. Her primary areas of interest include new literacy studies, videogames potential for learning and literacy, and writing processes and pedagogies. Her book chapter What Videogame Designers Can Teach Literacy Instructors, will be published by Tamkang University Press in the fall. Robison is an experienced classroom teacher and the recipient of several campus-wide teaching awards.

summer 2006

In Medias Res / 14

Kainan University Scholars Visit MIT

ichael Tang, the president of Kainan University in Taiwan, led a group of scholars on a fact-finding mission to MIT in April. The Kainan delegation met with Communications Forum Director David Thorburn, CMS Directors William Uricchio and Henry Jenkins, Literature Head James Buzard, members of the Literature and Foreign Languages faculties, and others including Phillip Long of Academic Computing and Steven Lerman, Director of the Center for Educational Computing Initiatives (CECI). Dean of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Philip Khoury hosted a dinner for the group. The visit took place as Kainan and MIT inaugurated a colloaborative program in which the Tai-

CMS Staffers Win Awards

MITs Phillip Long (left) greets Kainan University President Michael Tang during an April visit.

wanese institution supports the MIT Communications Forum and sends four students and two faculty members to MIT each year. Four MIT representatives will visit Kainan on May 25-26 to speak at a conference on digital technologies and education. Such conferences are to be held every two years in Taiwan.

ouglas Purdy and Brad Seawell won School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Infinite Mile Awards, which are given each spring in recognition of contributions by staff. Purdy, who manages the Humanities Film Office located in 14N-428, won a Positive Energy Award. Seawell, who coordinates the Communications Forum and edits In Medias Res, won an Unsung Hero Award. Award nominations are made each year by members of the MIT community including students, staff and faculty. In a lunch-time ceremony, the awards were conferred by Dean of Humanities Philip Khoury who is leaving his post to become associate provost at MIT.

Direkova-Designed Game To Be Released Next Year

n spring 2007, Konami will release the game Brooktown Senior Year, which was designed by CMS grad Nadya Direkova 03. The game simulates high school dating and social life, Direkova wrote in an email. Its inspired by Breakfast Club-style teen movies and the dating games popular in Japan. Interact with other students, each with their own distinct personalities and cliques, reads the description on the Konami website. Find your niche and hang out with jocks, nerds, preppies, and more. The release of the game was announced at this years Electronic

Bains Baby on A&E

Screenshot from Brooktown Senior Year.

Entertainment Expo (E3), the gaming industrys annual trade show. Direkova, who bills herself as Designer and Mischief-Maker for Backbone Entertainment, can be reached at

.J. Bain 05 spent the better part of 2005 working on a documentary about a young unmarried couple that finds out theyre going to have a child. Oh Baby...Now What? is now showing on A&E. Im proud of my work on this project, Bain wrote in an email. This was a huge learning experience for me in numerous ways and a large portion of the footage in the final cut I shot myself. Bain shot the show for Reality Pictures where he was associate producer on the television show 30 Days. Bain can be reached at

summer 2006

In Medias Res / 15

Motorola Helps Offer Mobile Technology Class

his past semester, MIT and Motorola Labs teamed up to offer a special section of 21W.780, Communicating in Technical Organizations. The new class is centered around mobile technology, with emphasis on cell phones and ambient communications. Motorola has donated fifteen A780 Linux phones for the students to use, and a Deans Fund grant covered the cost of the service contracts for the semester. Edward Barrett, senior lecturer in the Writing and Humanistic Studies, Frank Bentley, research engineer at Motorola Labs in Chicago, and Daniel Bersak, graduate student in CMS co-taught the course. While some weeks Bentley flew to Boston for the class, other weeks he joined the proceedings live via webcam. In addition to reading cuttingedge research papers and contributing to the class blog, students used their phones as platforms for media delivery, and later as tools for media creation. Students broke into groups to complete semesterlong class projects covering a diverse array of functionality. One group worked on a location-aware application for people in the real estate market. Another group created a virtual digital pet, and yet another group put together a mobile photo sharing platform. Other projects included an application for routing concrete to construction sites, a social network aggregator, a wireless meeting planner, and a location-based alarm clock. The course will be offered again in spring 07.

Henry Jenkins Gets Plastered at CMS

n May, experimental filmmaker and artist Christian Jankowki dropped by CMS headquarters to make an impression. He wasnt out to influence anyone, but to make an impression of Director Henry Jenkins head for use in a forthcoming horror film and art installation, Lycan. Jenkins underwent a two-hour process during which his head was coated with several layers of synthetic material, plaster and bandages. CMS administrative assistant Evan Hinkle documented the pro-

cedure with photos, some of which are shown below. While under wraps, Jenkins breathed through two nose holes, and once the coating materials had dried, a mold of Jenkins head was formed. From there, the artist will spend more than 60 hours duplicating the patterns of his facial hair and matching the design of his glasses. The finished product will be used in the film and will be displayed in a glass case as part of an art installation.

1. A prosthetic artist began by layering a synthetic material over Jenkins neck and head.

2. Jenkins ability to breathe during the two-hour procedure was ensured by clearing the nose holes.

3. Once the synthetic material dried, a plaster coating was applied.

4. Once all material was removed, artist Christian Jankowki had a mold of Jenkins head that he will use in a film and art installation.

Take our new site at for a spin and tell us what you think at

summer 2006

In Medias Res / 16

Convergence Culture Consortium Gets New Manager from Down Under

oshua Green is the new project manager of the Convergence Culture Consortium, replacing Parmesh Shahani. Green received his Ph.D. in media studies from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, where his dissertation looked at the construction of American teen dramas and their scheduling and reception in Australia. He was a research associate in the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT, writing about media history, the public sphere and Australian television. In 2006, he collaborated with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, Australia, preparing content and developing an accompanying publication for TV50, an exhibition celebrating 50 years of Australian broadcasting. Greens current research interests include television branding strategies, the history and future of broadcast television, co-created media production and the knowledge produced by passionate amateurs.
New C3 project manager Joshua Green is interested in television branding strategies.

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