Thanks for your comment James. Stunting is a really good example to highlight the parallels between Kate Modern and broadcasting and is becoming apparent in other online video ‘events’ such as Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. It just confirms again how the internet is remediating television and is something I’ll definitely think more about. The idea of memory is also really intriguing and something I’ll look at more as I work on the paper. There seems to be multiple layers of memory – of ‘being there’ in front of your computer and of ‘being there’ in Carnaby Street itself - with the difference very possibly lead to hierarchies within the connected online community.
I’m curious about the responses of audiences to this blurring of content and promo. Is there an appeal in seeing fictional characters within a more ‘real’ televisual space? Or does Raymond Williams’ anecdote about watching television become even more extreme when not only is there no clear indication of where one type of content ends and another begins (both within the broadcast stream and outside it) but the same individuals (actors and characters) may be appearing in both?
Thanks for a really interesting post Liz - the connection between online content, archiving and attempts to recreate the emphemeral experience of (broadcast) TV is well made. Some might argue that the Carnaby St "episode" of Kate Modern is similar to the Network-era practice of "stunting", where there is a primacy placed on watching programming live. What’s interesting about Kate Modern in this context is that for such a programming strategy to "work" it requires direct viewer involvement - as, unlike stunting tactics in the network-era of TV, such a practice has to make the program stand out from not just 4 or 5 competitors but literally thousands of competing online video forms. To this end, such a "stunt" is really about consolidating or reinvigorating the show’s existing audience engagement with the show, rather than attracting a new audience.
On this point it’s interesting to think about your idea of hyper-ephemerality and Kate Modern’s audience. You and Avi are right to note the problematic commercial ownership of the way in which such content is archived, by bebo or other commercial owners - such as Kylie Jarrett has discussed in relation to YouTube in Media International Australia. But I also wonder whether the audience create an anti-ephemeral instinct in a "stunt" such as the Carnaby St episode: in being asked to engage with the narrative by capturing it via video, they create an archive of their own material; which is then shared, uploaded and edited as part of Kate Modern / Bebo; but that also leaves "traces" of the experience with the audience - in the form of memories. As Avi suggests, a "where were you when …" kind of feeling. It seems there is a great deal to be learnt by drawing on memory studies -such as Andrew Hoskins’ work/journal - in understanding the relationship of TV and digital media with its audience’s uses. Great Post!
Hey Liz, great post. You hit upon what I think is a really key issue for online/digital media - that is, the tension between the possibility for a vast and permanent archive of digital materials vs. the constant threat of its disappearance and ephemerality. Like Avi, I also hoard countless clips from YouTube etc. in the fear that one day the dreaded "this video is no longer available" will appear in its place. Of course, this is only useful to a certain extent, and in a "Web 2.0" culture such as this, the videos we are discussing are usually accompanied by a range of other significant materials (next to other clips, underneath ad banners, etc.) that would be hard, if not impossible to fully reconstruct.
This brings me to my second point, and something that Avi also mentions - the issue of space. One way to pursue this question might be to consider how the series was/is marketed on Bebo’s site. If there is advertising, is it from local (i.e. British) sponsors, or does it use "intelligent advertising" (an oxymoron, I know) that adjusts the advert according the IP address of the visitor? No doubt we will be discussing these ideas more in the coming months and throughout the Ephemeral Media workshop.
Really interesting clips and comment, Max. I’m struck by the way both clips use satire. In the WGA promo, The Office writers refer to themselves as promo writers in order to point out that their creative labor is being exploited, but they also readily admit that they are fine with it being labeled promotional so long as they are compensated for it. In the Friedlander pod, what is satirized is the increased use of product integration in TV content (though, interestingly, Friedlander refuses to admit his actual writer’s status for the series). To some extent, it seems as though there is a very open acknowledgment on both sides that TV writers are now pulling double duty as entertainers and advertisers, with the primary issue being one of compensation, not creative interference.
I wonder how the WGA strike and the public demands writers have made for payment for their online work, be it creative, promotional, or hybrid, will reverberate with the growing cadre of fans freely laboring to produce creative vids that are then turned into promotional fare by the nets under similar circumstances (often requiring fans to watch an ad before accessing their own work)?
Those are some really interesting points Avi, thank you - I’ll certainly think more about how ephemerality can have geographical consequences as well as temporal ones. I’m intrigued by whether Kate Modern was sold outside of the UK. It’s a spin-off from Lonelygirl15 so there’s definitely potential for a market outside of Britain. The local status of this particular sequence becomes even stronger when you take into account another episode that led up to these two, where viewers were asked to identify Carnaby Street through some photos - although the answer was reasonably easy if you know that part of London if you don’t you would have not only been left out but would also have the stigma of not knowing the right answer.
You’re also very right about who controls access to this content. I think the distinction between ‘official’ content (i.e. that commissioned and/or produced by a broadcaster or production company) and fan content (even when endorsed by a broadcaster) is important. The status of such content for the industry may not always be the same as its status for the audience - which can easily lead to conflict.
Really interesting post Liz and a nice way to kick off the theme week. I agree that online content like Kate Modern can simultaneously offer viewers anti-ephemeral access and hyper-ephemeral experiences. I believe that TV has attempted similar manoevers in an era of DVR and DVD commercial skipping options, such as when series like American Idol place time limits on when viewers can vote for their favorite performers.
What I find fascinating about Kate Modern inviting fans to show up at Carnaby Street to be part of the series as it unfolds, was how this strategy defies the global distribution logic of web-based series by promoting the hyper-ephemeral experience as also a very localized one, where only London-based fans could really partake. In this sense, I wonder if there is an important relationship between the experience of temporal ephemerality and spatial specificity engendered through such strategies (a sort of ‘do you remember where you were when…’ experience, now reconfigured for the participatory logics of convergence)?
One final thought about permanent access: I think we also need to be attuned to who controls these archives. I was recently heartbroken to discover that the Sci-Fi network had removed hundreds of fan-submitted videos for Battlestar Galactica because their promotional value to the network had expired. Much like with physical archives, someone is making decisions over what online content has permanent value and what can be discarded. I now make certain to burn copies of anything online I might later want, just as I do with my DVR and TV.
While watching Ruben & Lullaby I started projecting present and past relationships onto the couple. The interactive piece definitely taps into emotional terrain that seems to elicit our psychic participation. I can see how emotions will take games to a new immersive phase, and together with touch, establish empathy. The emotions of fear are so prevalent in games already—the Alien-derived Dead Space (EA, 2008) comes to mind. Emotional immersion based on identification and participation in horror also raises the stakes for game play, increasing the cathartic effects.
Focusing on emotions in videogames also reminds me of a Ted presentation I watched recently “David Perry: Will videogames become better than life?”
This is interesting in relation to another subset of SF wildly popular today, the superhero movie.
Contrast the above scene in 28 Weeks Later to the fantasy of superhero control in the recent Iron Man movie, where Tony Stark’s HUD automatically separates the friendlies from the terrorists, allowing him to surgically target them out of a dense crowd.
Geoff Klock: "…superheroes most often occupy a reactionary role, traditionally emerging only to meet a threat to the status quo. Large-scale social changes are a supervillain signature, manifesting when one wishes to take over the world or, alternatively, to destroy all human life, allowing nature to grow without humanity’s ecological poisoning, for example. "
I am not sure that I would associate the "mob effect," or the mob effect in a hyperconnected world with any particular political orientation. It seems more of an result of hypermediation than ideological leanings. I don’t think we would have had to push very hard on the demonstrations that took place post election against the passing of Prop 8 to have those turn dangerous. I don’t think the McCain camp had this in mind at all, and they quickly lost control of it. Notice how despite McCain’s intervention in MN with the woman who called him an Arab these violent vitriolic behaviors continued.