NMC Online Conference Keynote

Larry Johnson from the New Media Consortium has invited me to participate in an online conference in March.  I am thrilled that I will be presenting in any context with prolific writer and expert on all new media and culture phenomena, Henry Jenkins!

Here’s my title and abstract – comments welcome while I construct my talk over the next couple of weeks!


Evocative Spaces and Aesthetic Grabs: How youtube and video blogging are redefining self expression

I will begin this talk with a discussion of how youtube and video blogging have become a mediating space for what Sherry Turkle calls “evocative objects”: objects, or in this case spaces, that we use to think about ourselves.  I argue that the act of viewing ones-self in public performances, and acknowledging public commentary on those acts, provides dual reflective lenses which serve to reconstruct, reinvent and redefine one’s identity.  To demonstrate I discuss a number of examples in which the nature of the autobiographical is countered and transformed through the performance of self for the public.

Next I will draw on Senft’s notion of “the aesthetic of the grab” – a way of re-articulating the dynamics of spectatorship and participation in new video communities.  I will discuss the notion of commodity fetishism and the ways in which “grabbing” bits and pieces of other people’s video performances is then being reconstituted into one’s own performances of identity.  This includes but goes beyond one’s amusement at memes, desire for a shared cultural context and networked solidarity, in that it presents a “shopping for truth” about one’s place in the world.  It also includes the notion that what is public and telepresent can be owned and manipulated for one’s own desires.

Finally I will raise the question about what it might mean for the millions of youth participants in youtube and videoblogging with respect to ethics, consequences and reputation management in an age where the personal is political.

Here is the Call for Proposals: 

Call for Proposals: NMC Online Conference on the Convergence of Web Culture and Video

March 21-22, 2007

Proposals for presentations for the NMC Online Conference on the Convergence of Web Culture and Video, a special 2-day, live, online event to be held March 21-22, 2007 entirely via the Internet, are being solicited through February 23.

See http://www.nmc.org/events/2007spring_online_conf/proposals.shtml for full details.

Video as we know it, produced by experts and consumed by viewers, is metamorphosing into a different genre altogether, blurring the lines between producers and audiences. New video-based forms of self-expression are emerging, with notable examples like video mashups, jumpcuts, and video blogging. Nonlinear narratives abound in this format, in which stories unfold across a series of 1 to 3-minute clips and web viewers are drawn into mysteries such as the story of Lonelygirl15. Brand-new forms like machinima are emerging that bridge virtual worlds, gaming, and storytelling, all through the medium of the small video.

We are seeing the emergence of a production culture, one where, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 48% of American adults have published content on the Internet. For this generation, video is becoming the medium of choice for content and expression, and as the video shrinks in both program length and physical size, the way we think about video is changing significantly. The 100 million-plus examples on YouTube (and the company’s $1.65 billion price tag) and the nearly 1 million videos on Ourmedia are, for the most part, nowhere near the quality of professional video, but the sheer numbers of viewers who watch them is clear evidence of the compelling nature of the form.

A key factor in the rise of the new video is that production, access and distribution are easier than ever before. A variety of new viewing devices, including Internet-enabled mobile phones, easily record digital video, and posting those videos to the web has become a trivial matter. The explosion of new content is enabled by cheap and easy- to- use equipment as well as new web-based editing and production software.

Join keynoters Henry Jenkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Angela Thomas, University of Sydney, and Cynthia Calongne, Colorado Technical University, for this 2-day examination of the convergence of web culture and video.

The singular focus of this gathering is to consider how these developments are impacting our lives, and how they are affecting the ways we work, learn, collaborate, and even socialize. The conference is designed to spark an examination that explores both the positive and negative aspects of this phenomenon on learning, social interaction, self-expression, and more.

The conference will be conducted entirely online. Sessions, which will be conducted live, can incorporate a variety of visuals and rich media, and are generally about 45 minutes in length, with about half that time devoted to dialog with participants using voice over IP.

Proposals are encouraged on the topic in any of the following areas, but this list is not exhaustive and selections will not be limited to these categories:

* Cultural impacts and trends
* Reflections on identity, self-image and new forms of expression
* Tools and techniques
* Learning applications
* Student-produced content
* Pedagogical potentials and implications

Proposals may be submitted online at http://www.nmc.org/events/2007spring_online_conf/proposals.shtml

This event is the ninth in the ongoing series of specially focused online gatherings that explore new ideas and issues related to technology and learning. The NMC Series of Online Conferences is itself an exploration of emerging forms of collaboration and tools, and this particular conference will focus on ways in which the conference sessions can each be highly interactive, in real time.

Additional information about the conference can be found at http://www.nmc.org/events/2007spring_online_conf/

Posts will be made here when the registration period opens on March 1.

Please circulate this announcement to any and all areas on campus that may be interested in participating.

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