Spreadable Media

Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture

Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green

Spreadable Media and Gaming

Monday, March 23, 2015   9:00

We have been excited to see ideas from Spreadable Media picked up in several of case studies and essays of video games and gaming communities. See some of the latest games-based research that uses the book as a resource below:

  • In her 2013 piece for The Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, “Diggy Holes and Jaffa Cakes: The Rise of the Elite Fanproducer in Video-Gaming Culture,” Esther MacCallum-Stewart references Spreadable Media within the trajectory of co-author Henry Jenkins’ longstanding work within fan studies—as MacCallum applies fan studies questions to researching player communities and gaming texts.
  • Kiri Miller’s January 2014 New Media & Society piece, “Gaming the System: Gender Performance in Dance Central,” draws on Spreadable Media’s description of how a media text becomes fodder for community discussion/debate when looking at YouTube videos created about the game Dance Central and the charged debates about gender identities that take place in the comments section.
  • In their January/February 2014 TechTrends piece, entitled “Participatory Scaling through Augmented Reality: Learning through Local Games,” University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers John Martin, Seann Dikkers, Kurt Squire, and David Gagnon list Spreadable Media among the texts they draw on for their analysis.
  • In their piece presented at the June 2013 International Association for Media and Communication Research entitled “Videojuegos y Violencia: Hacia la Búsqueda de una Autorregulación Ética,” on self-regulatory ethics regarding video game violence, Oscar Jaramillo Castro and Lucía Castellón Aguayo from Universidad Mayor Escuela de Periodismo draw on co-author Henry Jenkins’ work, including Spreadable Media…in particular, referencing the book’s distinction between stickiness and spreadability.
  • Arcadia University’s Jonathan Church and Michael Klein use a case study of commentary, criticism, and reviews surrounding the game Assassin’s Creed III to look at how gamers “produce a ‘culture of history’ about the game they play through their commitment to commentary and critique” in reviews and gaming websites. In the process, they draw on Spreadable Media to establish how gamers participate in activities surrounding games as part of “the generation and competition of gaming capital” and to establish how today’s online publishing and circulation tools have given “greater persistence and availability” to these gamer activities. Their research, “Assassin’s Creed III and the Aesthetics of Disappointment,” was presented at the Digital Games Research Association 2013 Conference: Defragging Game Studies.

Spreadability and Writing/Publishing

Monday, March 16, 2015   9:00

Some interesting provocations and research projects have been published in the past several months about changes in the publishing industry and/or in writing, in relation to concepts from Spreadable Media. Check out some of the work below:

  • Lucy Montgomery and Frances Pinter from Knowledge Unlatched published a piece back in January on “Data Innovation and Open Access” at the Big Innovation Centre, using Spreadable Media and other works to help set the stage for an environment where publishers are more open to new publishing schemes.
  • At the June 2013 Bled, Slovenia, eConference, eInnovations: Challenges and Impacts for Individuals, Organizations and Society, the University of Maribor’s Andrej Duh and Dean Korošak presented “Reshaping Knowledge Tools Using Social Media Solutions.” Their work, while using Spreadable Media to help establish the current landscape, goes in a different direction as Spreadable Media’s focus: looking at technological ways for publishers to create new algorithms and systems to use data streams for more personalized content recommendations.
  • Writer Chris Meade uses Spreadable Media, among other pieces, as a catalyst for exploring potential futures for fiction writing.
  • In his piece for The European, Gunnar Sohn writes about the difference in pricing ebooks between the U.S. and Germany, using Spreadable Media’s ebook as the U.S. example. Also, here is the piece in German on his site and on Netzpiloten.

Recent Research Drawing on Spreadable Media

Monday, March 9, 2015   9:00

We were excited to see Spreadable Media cited in a range of interesting academic studies and contemplative pieces of late about the nature of audience research, global mobile media studies, “cognitive surplus,” and the performative aspect of online social media use:

  • In Vol. 3 of Comunicazioni Sociali, published in 2013, Francesca Pasquali, José Manuel Noguera Vivo, and Mélanie Bourdaa co-author “Emerging Topics in the Research on Digital Audiences and Participation,” which lays out areas the authors believe should be the focus on forthcoming audience research. One of the areas the authors advocate for focus on is “the social experience that surrounds and penetrates the consumption of information and media content,” which “is becoming as important as the information itself.” The authors use Spreadable Media as a reference point to underscore the importance of more work in this area. The piece also appeared in the January 2014 Building Bridges: Pathways to a Greater Societal Significance for Audience Research, published by COST—European Cooperation in Science and Technology.
  • In his 2013 review of Gerard Goggin’s book Global Mobile Media for The Information Society, Andrew Schrock writes on how Goggin’s interest in “difficult questions about how mobile devices similarly serve as cultural platforms and business goals” mirrors similar concerns in Internet studies, such as Spreadable Media’s examination of the gift economy versus the market economy in Web 2.0.
  • The Wikibooks Digital Media and Culture Yearbook 2014’s chapter on “Cognitive Surplus” includes a reference to Abigail De Kosnik’s work, including her piece for the Spreadable Media enhanced book.
  • Juan-Carlos Duran, who consults on reaching Hispanic audiences to media producers and brands, recently wrote a piece entitled “The Masks of Social Media,” inspired by reading the book, about how social media profiles are performances to an audience.

Other Reactions to Viral

Monday, March 2, 2015   9:00

We’ve seen a wide range of other authors with their own thoughts, reactions, and studies “going viral” and which have drawn on Spreadable Media. Here are some of them:

  • In his 2011 piece “Recombinant Comedy, Transmedia Mobility, and Viral Video,” David Gurney draws on one of the original white papers that were part of the Spreadable Media project to look at the distinction between “viral” and “spreadable” and considerations for how comedy works in relation to spreadability.
  • Clare Wells draws on Spreadable Media in her blog post at Digital Universe, “You Can’t Make It Viral,” looking at the ways in which some media makers and advertisers try to force “vitality,” only to have it backfire.
  • In his work on “Can the Retweet Speak? Agency in Viral Video Diffusion,” Jay Owens draws on Spreadable Media to help set up his quantitative study of how videos are shared via Twitter. This abstract is based on Owens’ presentation for Theorizing the Web ’14, held in May.
  • On his A Simpler Creature blog, Abe Stein writes about whether, and  what, the “tipping point” will be for eSports to reach widespread interest. In the process, Stein mentions Spreadable Media’s critique of the “viral” metaphor and its argument that the agency of those doing the sharing must be taken into account.
  • Responding to Tiziano Bonini’s review of the Italian version of the book, Virginia Fiume responds (in English) in “A Seed Is Better Than a Virus” about how a strong critique of the idea of “going viral” corresponds with frustration she has found as a consultant.
  • In his July 2013 post on “virality,” Pedro Ivo Rogedo (in Portuguese) starts with Spreadable Media’s challenge to the ideal behind “viral media,” before exploring the aspects of a particular network that make it more likely that a media text could “go viral.”

Fair Use, Copyright, and Other Regulatory Questions in an Era of Spreadability

Monday, February 23, 2015   9:00

A range of pieces about fair use, copyright, and other regulatory issues have drawn on concepts from Spreadable Media. We recommend you check out this work:

  • In Beatrice Zuell’s 2014 piece “The Vision of Global Internet Freedom” in The International Journal of Computers and Communications, she begins her piece on “striking the balance between regulation and protection of interests” with a quote from Spreadable Media about the opportunity for change and “for diversity and democratization” that is “worth fighting.”
  • Olivia Conti’s 2013 M/C Journal piece, “Disciplining the Vernacular: Fair Use, YouTube, and Remixer Agency,” references Spreadable Media’s consideration of alternative, non-market forms of value that audiences receive from “user-generated content platforms,” as well as its consideration of how YouTube’s policies regarding copyright infringement give unbalanced power to “the largest rights holders.”
  • In his 2013 Flow piece, “Prisoners of Permission: Advancing the Cause of Fair Use,” the University of Oklahoma’s Ralph Beliveau draws on Spreadable Media’s case study of AMC’s reaction to fan-created Twitter accounts to raise questions about how fans provide meaning and value to media texts.
  • In his Master’s thesis work for the 2012/2013 European Legal Informatics Study Program at Leibniz Universiät Hannover’s Institut für Rechtsinformatik, entitled “Copyright Protection of Formats in the European Single Market,” Maximilian von Grafenstein draws heavily on Spreadable Media to help set up the issues of copyright “between culture industry and participatory aka. remix culture” and examine the shift “from television to transmedia formats.”
  • And…to carry out a theme in Spreadable MediaThe Pirate Bay.

Spreadability in Advertising/Marketing/PR

Tuesday, February 17, 2015   9:00

Here are a few of the pieces from academics and practitioners that draw on Spreadable Media in an analysis of advertising, marketing, and PR issues:

Spreadability in Public Media

Monday, February 9, 2015   9:00

A range of great research has been conducted in the past several months that draw on Spreadable Media in some way in relation to looking at the public media space. Find some of those pieces below:

  • José van Dijck and Thomas Poell’s 2014 Television and New Media piece, “Making Public Television Social? Public Service Broadcasting and the Challenges of Social Media,” argues that public service broadcasters “have historically not only played a role as creators of public programs but also as promoters and facilitators of public value outside their institutional space.” The piece draws on Spreadable Media to build the argument that public service broadcasters must develop new initiatives for producing and distributing content outside their proper channels, despite the imperfections and imbalances that raises, in order to “promote audience engagement and push public value content through the transnational flows of media circulation.”
  • Maura Edmond’s 2014 New Media & Society piece, “All Platforms Considered: Contemporary Radio and Transmedia Engagement,” draws on Spreadable Media’s description of “transmedia engagement” and active audience engagement practices surrounding transmedia strategies in an in-depth application of transmedia concepts to radio.
  • Ren Reynolds’ “Managed Not Edited—How Participative Platforms Operate” references Spreadable Media within co-author Henry Jenkins’ range of work advocating for rethinking the “producer/consumer” dichotomy in light of “fan culture and other participatory practices.” Reynolds examines massively multiplayer online role-play games and Wikipedia and questions what public service media can learn from these case studies. The piece appears in Michał Głowacki and Lizzie Jackson’s 2013 book, Public Media Management for the Twenty-First Century: Creativity, Innovation, and Interaction.
  • In their piece “”The Mass, the Audience and the Public: Questioning Preconceptions of News Audiences” for Michał Głowacki and Lizzie Jackson’s 2013 book Public Media Management for the Twenty-First Century: Creativity, Innovation, and Interaction, Heikki Heikkilä, Laura Ahva, Jaana Siljamäki and Sanna Valtonen draw on arguments from the Spreadable Media project that media companies must be prepared for their audiences spreading content to places or via contexts that may go against the intent of producers, in their advocacy that media managers must “take into account—and appreciate—the critical and sometimes unruly features associated with the role of audience.”

Transmedia Storytelling & Spreadability

Monday, February 2, 2015   9:00

Several researchers have drawn on concepts from Spreadable Media via a study of transmedia storytelling from various angles. See the pieces below:

  • Matthew Freeman’s 2014 International Journal of Cultural Studies piece, entitled “Branding Consumerism: Cross-Media Characters and Story-Worlds at the Turn of the 20th Century,” references both William Uricchio’s essay and Derek Johnson’s essay for the enhanced Spreadable Media book as “further work on the historicisation of cross-media strategies, particularly that which begins to re-interrogate the past as that which grounds and provokes the claims of the present.”
  • Marta Boni’s 2013 online publication for Edizioni Ca’ Foscari’s series Innesti (Crossroads), entitled Romanzo Criminale: Transmedia and Beyond (revised in English  by Craig Lund), draws on Spreadable Media to underscore how media texts are transformed into material to be circulated on sharing platforms.
  • In their 2013 piece in the Spanish journal Historia y Comunicación Social, entitled “Transmedialidad y Ecosistema Digital,” Pilar Carrera Álvarez, Nieves Limón Serrano, Eva Herrero Curiel, and Clara Sainz de Baranda Andújar look at structural features of “transmedia storytelling” and “offer a tentative definition of ‘transmedia storytelling’ from a processual perspective.” Spreadable Media is included among the sources on which they draw for the piece.
  • In her Master’s thesis for Liberty University’s Communication Studies Program, “Lost in Trans’media’: Where the Intersection between Media Convergence and Missions Is Found,” Tabethia Cosner draws on the Spreadable Media book, as well as work from Jason Mittell and Derek Johnson related to the project, to explore whether the concept of transmedia storytelling can be applied to Christian mission work.

Understanding Evolving Audience Practices in TV/Film

Monday, January 26, 2015   9:00

A wide range of researchers have drawn on Spreadable Media in looking at the evolving ways that media companies are understanding and thinking about their audiences. See some of those studies below:

  • Rhiannon Bury and Johnson Li reference Spreadable Media regarding  their Television 2.0 study, in hypothesizing that more continental Europeans were using their computers for viewing television content more frequently that viewers in the U.S., U.K.,  or Canada because of “the unevenness of transnational media flows” and “the spreadability of American popular culture texts.” Their results are available at “Is It Live or Is It Timeshifted, Streamed or Downloaded?” published by New Media & Society in 2013.
  • In their 2014 piece for Revista Mediterránea de Comunicación (The Mediterranean Journal of Communication), entitled “Televisión Conectada en España: Contenidos, Pantallas y Hábitos de Visionado,” authors Patricia Diego González, Enrique Guerrero Pérez, and Cristina Etayo Pérez include Spreadable Media among their literature review of key recent studies on “the emergence of a new digital culture.” The study (in Spanish) focuses on viewing via “connected devices,” analyzing which screens are preferred and what type of media texts are preferred for these non-traditional “TV” screens.
  • Can the popularity of TV series, building from both industry-created and audience-created factors, be explained through mathematical models? In “Dynamics and Motivations of Media Marketing: The Role of Globalization and Empowerment,” published in the mathematical journal Abstract and Applied Analysis, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice management researcher Cinzia Coapinto and Università della Svizzera Italianamedia and journalism researcher Eleonora Benecchi provide such a mathematical formula, as well as a decision-making model for media companies to consider their investments in a marketing campaign, using case studies of various U.S. TV shows imported into the Italian media market. Their research draws on Spreadable Media and various other books to set the background for the importance of audience-generated activity in the modern media market.
  • University of St. Andrews Institute for Capitalising on Creativity doctoral researcher Michael Franklin references the book in his 2013 Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies piece, “What Metrics Really Mean, a Question of Causality and Construction in Leveraging Social Media Audiences into Business Results: Cases from the UK Film Industry.” Franklin uses Spreadable Media as a reference point for the media industries’ current focus on counting instances of the sharing and viewing (i.e. likes, followers, views, downloads, shares).
  • Meanwhile, Franklin’s 2013 piece with colleagues Nicola Searle, Dimitrinka Stoyanova, and Barbara Townley for Creativity and Innovation Management, entitled “Innovation in the Application of Digital Tools for Managing Uncertainty: The Case of UK Independent Film,” provides a case study meant to apply “risk and uncertainty management” to innovation in digital/social media in the film industry. The authors evoke Spreadable Media in the introduction not help lay the foundation for the current media environment these attempts at innovation in the tim industry are trying to acclimate to.
  • Steinar Ellingsen’s 2014 piece “Seismic Shifts: Platforms, Content Creators and Spreadable Media” for Media International Australia draws on Spreadable Media to describe a shift from “distribution” to “audience-driven ‘circulation’” and on the book’s consideration of evolving relationships between media producers and “grassroots intermediaries.”
  • Germán Antonio Arango-Forero’s 2013 piece in Observatorio, entitled “Fragmentación de Audiencias Juveniles en un Ambiente Comunicativo Multimedial: El Caso Colombiano,” looks at the implications of audience fragmentation through a case study focused on 17-24-year-old Colombians. The piece draws on Spreadable Media as one of multiple texts looking at more active audience behaviors in the contemporary media environment.
  • Michael Lahey’s 2013 dissertation for Indiana University’s Department of Communication and Culture, Soft Control: Television’s Relationship to Digital Micromedia, draws on Spreadable Media’s reaction against the term “viral” and argument for opportunities for a greater degree of active participation from media audiences.
  • Jessica Hutchinson’s Master’s thesis for Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication, entitled “Did You Watch #TheWalkingDead Last Night? An Examination of Television Hashtags and Twitter Activity,” draws on Spreadable Media’s distinction between appointment-based viewing and engagement-based viewing and other arguments on transmedia storytelling, audience engagement practices, and characteristics of media texts more likely to spread.
  • Cultural anthropologist (& Spreadable Media contributor) Grant McCracken looks at how poorly television shows facilitate word-of-mouth discussions about their episodes and how making TV content more grabbable and quotable can greatly benefit TV audiences and TV producers alike—drawing on the book to build his argument.
  • In her 2014 Master’s thesis for the University of Ottawa, entitled “L’industrie Canadienne de la Télévision à l’ère du Numérique: L’invasion du Multi-écrans,” Fanny-Ève Tapp draws on Spreadable Media when describing why people engage in more participatory behaviors in and around television shows and, in particular, the motivations of greater access to and control of television content.

Spreadable Media and Protests

Tuesday, January 20, 2015   9:00

A range of scholars have been studying protest and its relationship to sharing texts and communicating online—from Brazilian and Egyptian protests to protesting the Olympics and the banking industry in Australia to the Anonymous movement to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Iraq. Check out the following work:

  • Tama Leaver draws on both the Spreadable Media book and Whitney Phillips’ essay for the book in “Olympic Trolls: Mainstream Memes and Digital Discord,” a piece for Fibreculture Journal which uses the Channel Nine Fail group’s protest of the quality of broadcast coverage of the 2012 Olympics in Australia to explore how some groups use various aspects of “trolling behavior” in online spaces but for reasons that differ significantly from how trolling has most commonly been used/understood.
  • In their 2014 Information, Communication & Society piece, “Organization in the Crowd: Peer Production in Local-Scale Networked Protests,” authors W. Lance Bennett, Alexandra Segerberg, and Shawn Walker draw on Spreadable Media’s “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead” to likewise argue that a “large-scale crowd will disintegrate if there is no connection between and circulation across its networks.” Their study looks at “stitching technologies” that connect looser, larger communities to one another to sustain a larger “crowd-enabled network.”
  • Christian Fuchs’ 2013 piece for Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, entitled “The Anonymous Movement in the Context of Liberalism and Socialism” uses video announcements posted by Anonymous activists to examine the “differences between liberal and socialist worldviews” and how both “co-exist, complement each other, and also conflict to certain degrees” within the rhetoric of Anonymous activists. In his analysis, Fuchs examines how Anonymous draws on core principles of “video activism,” referencing Spreadable Media when referring to how these tactics include including posting the videos in multiple locations to increase the likelihood of their being spread.
  • Maria Clara Aquino Bittencourt’s 2013 piece for Revista Eletrônica do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Mídia e Cotidiano (The Electronic Journal of the Graduate Program in Media and Everyday Life), entitled “About Spreading and Convergence on Social Movements: Relations between Mass Media and Social Media,” uses 2013 Brazilian protests to look at “the appropriation of social media made not only by social movements, protestors, and ordinary citizens, but also by the mass media” and the reconfiguration “at technical, social and cultural levels” where content flows between social media and mass media. Her piece draws on/reacts to Spreadable Media as a foundational text to ground her examination.
  • Stefka Hristova’s Radical History Review piece, entitled “Occupy Wall Street Meets Occupy Iraq: On Remembering and Forgetting in a Digital Age,” draws on the white paper that is part of the Spreadable Media project and on the book Spreadable Media to help describe the nature of how “memes” are spread online.
  • Miami University Anthropology and International Studies Professor Mark Allen Peterson draws on Spreadable Media in his piece “How Meme Analysis Can Help Understand The Egyptian Revolution (Not),” on the website for his book Connected in Cairo. Peterson argues against the usefulness of “meme analysis,” arguing that the “meme” concept is problematic and that such analysis misunderstands how culture spreads and what would be most useful to study about that spread.
  • In her paper for the Communities and Social Networks Online Conference 2013, Rosie Cornell studies an informal community that communicates largely online to help identify corruption in the Australian finance sector. The piece, entitled “Banking on Each Other: Online Communities and Collective Action Against the Banking Sector,” draws on Spreadable Media to underscore the importance for this group not just of connecting with one another and coordinating their efforts but on engaging in tactics that spread their message beyond their community.
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