Futures of Entertainment at MIT

When it started four years ago, Futures of Entertainment (FoE) was grappling with wild problems.  Everything seemed hard to think. 

What was social media?  What was trans-media?  What was blogging and (later) tweeting?  It wasn't just that we didn't have the answers.  It was hard to prosecute the argument.

Every so often, we (or at least me) would have to go back and ask, "Ok, what's the formal definition of that term again."  It was like learning to ride a bicycle.  You would make a little progress and then suddenly forget even the fundamentals and come crashing down.  They were very wild problems indeed.

Four years later these are tame problems.  We have thought about them, and with them, often enough that the sheer difficulty has come out and what remains is the mobbing up. 

Well, no.  That's too simple.  What's still not clear is the practice.  How you make culture, communities, media, marketing out of these things, that remains to be seen.  How we answer these questions will be very interesting indeed. 

We heard David Bausola talk about what I came to think of as his story engine, aka Purefold.  He has found a way to source things from the web and use them to craft narratives.  We could use David's story engine as a kind of identity engine.  We can be any of the people he sources from the world, surrounded by the what, the how, the when and the where he sources from the world as well.  It's a fabulous culturematic, a fantastic "what if" machine.

Ken Iklund described his scenario game called World Without Oil, World Without Oil, the massively collaborative online “historical pre-enactment” of a global oil crisis.  Jedidiah Jenkins gave us a glimpse of the work he is doing on Invisible Children in Africa.  Victoria Jaye showed us how transmedia was transforming the BBC.  Dan Goldman discussed how he means to transform the world of comics.  Stephen Duncombe told us about transmedia during the New Deal.  Paul Dalen shows what it is to manage musicians in the digital era. 

It didn't matter who you listened to.  Just about everyone was remarkably interesting.  And it didn't matter who you talked to during the break.  Shuffle the deck as you will, there wasn't a
dud in the group. 

The organizers were kind enough to devote a session to Chief Culture Officer and that was fun.  The crowd seemed to lean in and listen hard.  A good sign with a group this discerning.  I couldn't help feeling that I was seeing CCOs everywhere.  Certainly, most of the graduates of the MIT program could claim a shot at this title. 

David Spitz looked like a guy who has built himself a fast track.  Here's how he is described in the FoE catalogue:

As Director of Business Development for WPP, David works with parent and operating company management to drive partnerships, investments and new product offerings in the areas of digital marketing and analytics. David joined WPP in 2005 as part of the group’s MBA rotation program, holding operating company roles with WPP’s Ogilvy and Mediaedge:CIA units prior to joining the corporate strategy and business development team in 2007. Before WPP, he was a management consultant with Deloitte’s Media & Communications practice. David has a BA from Princeton, MS from MIT (Comparative Media Studies) and MBA from Columbia Business School.

Mauricio Mota comes to FoE most years and more and more seems to be a CCO for some part of Brazil.  Here's the way the catalogue describes Mauricio. 

Maurício Mota is Chief Storytelling Officer and co-founder at The Alchemists Network, a Transmedia Storytelling ThinkDO Tank based in Rio de Janeiro and LA. Before founding The Alchemists he was involved with branded entertainment and advertising companies where he worked for clients such as Danone, Unilever, Nokia and other important local brands in Brazil. The Alchemists’s main objective is to incite a shift in the content and storytelling landscape by applying the concepts found in Jenkins’s Convergence Culture for brands, networks and education. Working with him on the initiative is Mark Warshaw (former Heroes’ Transmedia Director). The Alchemists initiative takes the form of a blog, workshops, consultancies, transmedia productions and an IPTV show. They are also involved with the Convergence Culture Consortium (C3) at MIT, and Maurício was responsible for bringing to C3 the first sponsor companies from outside the US.  Maurício started his career as an entrepreneur at age 15, when he developed Autoria, the first Storytelling Game in Latin America, based on a PhD thesis about Roleplaying Games. He launched the game through his first company, and in two years it was applied in over 4,000 schools, sold in stores all over the country and is being used as an innovation and creativity tool by companies and institutions including the United Nations, Kraft Foods and TV networks.

Lara Lee wowed us by dispatching tricky questions effortlessly.  Her bio:

Lara Lee is a principal at Jump Associates, a growth and innovation strategy firm based in San Mateo, Calif. At Jump, she leads the firm’s brand community and sustainability practices and is a member of the executive management team. Named one of BusinessWeek’s top 25 “Masters of Innovation,” Lara is a frequent speaker at business, sustainability and marketing forums, most recently presenting at the Sustainable Brands ’09 conference, the Marketing Science Institute’s “New Art & Science of Branding” conference and the International IDSA conference. Additionally, Lara’s commentary and writings on sustainability, marketing, and business strategy have appeared in numerous publications, including The Harvard Business Review, BusinessWeek, Forbes and The New York Times.  Lara has over 20 years of corporate experience in strategy, marketing, finance and general management, working around the globe with Fortune 500 organizations. Prior to Jump, Lara was VP of Enthusiast Services at Harley-Davidson, leading a division that included experiential services, a new business incubator and the company’s online presence. Over 14 years at Harley, Lara developed numerous self-funding marketing programs, served as founding director for the company’s ground breaking museum, launched a rider training business, and led a diverse set of community building programs to attract a new generation of riders, especially women. Lara holds dual master’s degrees in business administration and international affairs from the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Business, and a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language from Brown University.

2 thoughts on “Futures of Entertainment at MIT

  1. David Bausola

    Thanks Grant – you’ve described my design process on Purefold, as usual, in a lovely way – thanks!

    Looking forward to reading your book – it’s traveling around with me.

  2. Grant McCracken

    David, thanks for your note, sorry the post was so ragged, I was on a train, heading for a tunnel and facing the blogger’s greatest fear: loss of signal. Best, Grant

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