Participant Media & Lear Center's Media Impact Project Collaborate to Measure Social Media Impact of Entertainment
Team Will Examine the Power of Storytelling to Inspire Social Change
In a unique collaboration between entertainment and academia, Participant Media, a leading provider of entertainment that inspires and accelerates social change, and the Lear Center's Media Impact Project (MIP) announce an arrangement to develop new insights about the social impact of entertainment media. The joint team will produce cutting-edge research shaped by Participant Media's expertise in social-change-oriented entertainment and the Media Impact Project's mission to assess the social impact of media.
Named The Participant Index (TPI), the research will assess the impact of both Participant and non-Participant supported projects across range of entertainment including: narrative film, documentary film, scripted and reality/alternative TV, short online videos, CSR, and branded entertainment. The first wave of research begins in the first quarter of 2014.
Harnessing the evolving tools of big data analysis, the collaborative arrangement will enable the two organizations to support and further develop The Participant Index, the new media-impact measurement system created by Participant Media with consultation from the Lear Center; TPI combines public opinion data, social media metrics and audience viewership data in a customized algorithm that assesses the social impact of a piece of entertainment media on its audience. Read the full press release.
Much Ado About Moocs...a short two years after educators and techies embraced Massive Online Open Courses as the gateway to a new golden, egalitarian age of higher education, the cursor seems to be stuck, blinking, on the screen: a new study shows that only half of those who registered for a course ever watched a lecture, and then only 4 percent completed the courses. And a joint San Jose State University-Udacity experiment has failed completely. ThisNYTimes article explains the reboot.
There's a new tool in the struggle to get action on climate change on everyone's agenda: insurance company actuarial tables. more>>
There's no link between exposure to media violence and actual violent behavior, right? Not so fast. A new meta-analysis of 217 studies published between 1957 and 1990 suggests that exposure to media violence is a risk factor for violent behavior, much in the same way that second-hand smoke is a risk factor for cancer. more>>
Did you ever think chocolate could be entertaining, and compellingly so? Watch what some clever Germans have devised. more>>
Fox News seems to have discovered the science behind making people distrust science. A new study explains how. more>>
Do you tweet during television shows? A new study analyzes the interesting connections between Twitter and TV. more>>
Can puffs of air be the next big thing in online entertainment interactivity? Disney Research thinks so and their new tool, Aireal, is pretty dazzling. more>>
Are you still just playing Grand Theft Auto on your Kinect? Take a gander at what a dance company and engineering firm in France have been doing with the gaming device. more>>
Since the NSA leaks were revealed, "meta data" has been all the buzz. Find out what it means and what it looks like here.
If all you've got in your paintbox are pixels, can you still be an artist? The exhibit "Into the Pixel" offers some interesting answers. more>>
A mobile game that explores Jewish cultural history? Who knew? Check out Jewish Time Jump: New York and discover how augmented reality, GPS and rich source material can put you in New York City a century ago, immersed in the world of Jewish immigration and the women's and labor movements. more>>
Are celebrities now the canaries in the coal mine, alerting us to the imminent death of American culture and democracy? Author and journalist George Packer (The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America) thinks so and regards the current crop, ascending as most Americans stare at a growing abyss of economic inequality, as particularly craven: people, who've become personas, then brands, then empires. more>>
What's the latest tool for historians and other archival researchers? It's probably in your hand: your smartphone. more>>
After reading Angelina Jolie's moving and brave NYT op-ed about her recent prophylactic double mastectomy due to her possessing the BRCA1 gene, watch TV writer Jessica Queller tell her own BRCA cancer story at a Hollywood, Health & Society event.
Remember 24, the show that graphically convinced viewers, military recruits and interrogators for eight seasons that torture works? It's baaaack, next summer on Fox, and Americans will have another chance to gauge the impact of a fictional TV show on real political choices and military behavior in the field. more>>
When you're one of the biggest computer companies on the planet, what's the cool way to announce your breakthrough discovery? Watch IBM's movie assembled out of mere atoms, the tiniest movie ever, to find out.
There's a brilliant new tool for non-profit organizations: Comedy. Actor Matt Damon has launched a drive for increasing awareness of global water and sanitation issues via a funny, mock press conference about a new strategy he's adopting on behalf of his charity Water.org. more>>
What's the next, new entertainment feature for your home? Um, how about a window? With enough of these "light-taming" windows installed you could actually live inside your very own entertainment center. more>>
A wave of new research is in on the effects of violent gaming....and nothing is clear. more>>
The Chinese once turned to Confucius for wisdom. Now they study....episodes of Friends -- in a Beijing cafe that's an exact replica of the series' Central Perk coffee shop. Chinese university students watch reruns of the show to learn English and discover American culture, and to some, Chandler has become an inspirational figure. more >>
When is a video game not a video game? When it is a "notgame." Take a look at Bientôt l'Été, a new game that discards video game clichés. more>>
Most Americans think Ronald Reagan was the first actor to become President. This LA Times article, however, makes the case for an earlier White House thespian: FDR. more>>
MoMA -- home to Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Van Gogh's The Starry Night -- has acquired for its collection the first 14 of a planned 40 video games. Among the titles now embraced as high culture are Pac-Man, Tetris, Another World and Myst. more>>
Social media takes the stand in Florida's Trayvon Martin murder case. The attorney for defendant George Zimmerman embraced the Web from the start, setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as a legal defense Web site for his client. more>>
Criminal Minds for the defense? A ten-year old boy claims he thought he would escape punishment for killing his abusive father after watching an episode of the CBS drama that showed a fictional boy doing just that. The boy, now 12, has been charged with murder. more>>
Getting It Right: The Art and Craft of the Obituary
January 2, 2014
American Historical Association
Chair: Martin Kaplan, University of Southern California
Panel: Janice R. Hume, University of Georgia Adam Clymer, New York Times Adam Bernstein, Washington Post
TENT: Pop Music - Lear Center's Popular Music Project Hosts Weeklong Seminar
TENT: Pop Music is a weeklong seminar, based at the Norman Lear Center in Los Angeles, which will bring together aspiring musicians, producers, and entertainment writers to explore the genre-blending history of Jews in the American pop music scene. Instead of viewing Jewish music as a type of music that conforms to a particular genre or harkens back to a traditional "Jewish" style, this seminar will explore why so many Jews have been drawn to the flexible, line-blurring world of pop music.
This event is made possible through a grant from the Yiddish Book Center and is part of its TENT: Encounters with Jewish Culture project. TENT seminars are immersive, intense, free workshops held across the U.S. and Canada, for anyone, ages 21 to 30, who's curious about the connections between Jewishness and modern culture.
Former FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps, who's been a tireless advocate for the public interest in telecommunications as well as a long-time friend of the Lear Center, has issued a striking call to action to America's journalists, in the face of increasing media consolidation and America's failure to roll out a national broadband infrastructure. Read his urgent op-ed.
Neal Gabler: "Dylan: The Times Have Changed"
Lear Center Senior Fellow Neal Gabler takes a stony look at what one of America's greatest artists has been up to and isn't happy about what he sees. Read Gabler's blog post here.
Game Changers: How Women & Social Media Drive Innovation
Although there are more adult men in the global internet population, women outnumber men in every age group on social media sites, and they spend significantly more time there than men. As traditional media companies and advertisers grapple with the realities of an always-online, networked audience, women's dominance of social media will have profound consequences for all businesses intent on connecting with female consumers and recruiting a workforce fluent in the use of networking and collaborative technologies. Lear Center Managing Director & Director of Research Johanna Blakley will discuss how businesses, particularly in the tech sector, can effectively build and engage a diverse workforce and use social media to drive business innovation.
The Lear Center's Johanna Blakley will discuss her research on women and social media during a fascinating panel of scholars and activists at One World Week, the world's largest student-run international event, held annually at the University of Warwick.
During One World Week, the University of Warwick campus comes alive through a series of debates and discussions, parades and performances, a variety of sporting tournaments, as well as cultural exhibitions and workshops. The conference includes over 200 student volunteers and more than 10,000 participants each year from 125 countries.
Other panelists for this Forum include: Colm Dempsey, a policeman from Ireland who created a powerful exhibition featuring anti-violence posters from over 50 countries that attracted international attention; Dr. Laurel Forster, a lecturer in the Media Studies department of the University of Portsmouth, who studies women's magazines; Anna Span, Britain's first female porn director and former Liberal Democrat candidate for Gravesham.
January 31, 2014
One World Forum: The F Word One World Week 2014
University of Warwick Students Union
Coventry, United Kingdom
Women & Innovation
There is strong culture for innovation in Iceland but the startup scene generally lacks female participants. Current research demonstrates that gender diversity is crucial in tech development and that long-term profitability for startups can depend upon it. The Lear Center's Johanna Blakley will join entrepreneurs and innovation experts to discuss how women might be encouraged to embrace innovation and pursue careers in technology, where women are few and far between.
Additional speakers: Einar Gunnar Guðmundsson, expert on innovation at Arion bank, founder of Startup Reykjavík; Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir, producer at DICE/Electronic Arts; Stefanía Sigurðardóttir, founder of WhenGone & participant in Startup Reykjavík; Helga Waage, entrepreneur
Women and Innovation
February 4, 2014
Hollywood, Health & Society in Produced By Magazine
Health and Climate Change 411 for Hollywood Storytellers
Z Holly, the former vice provost for innovation at USC and host of the first TEDx ever, sure knows me well. A newcomer to the prestigious TTI/Vanguard Board, Z thought I would be good fit for their next conference on Embracing Blur.
Um, she couldn't have been more correct. I have long been fascinated by the interplay between representations and reality (my last TEDx talk dealt with this pretty directly). And I'd venture to say that the majority of my work at the Lear Center explores the cultural and commercial ramifications of this blur.
What Z didn't know was that my dissertation was actually about "betweenness" - something I saw as a key formal and thematic characteristic of avant-garde modernism. Many of my friends and colleagues wondered how a high-theory English PhD ended up in a think tank studying the impact of media, but it all seems quite rational to me: isn't the key formal and thematic characteristic of 21st century media the blur between representation and reality? What we considered avant-garde in literary Paris at the turn of the 20th century is the (often unacknowledged) cultural dominant of contemporary global pop culture.
A flood of technologies is washing away traditional boundaries between work and play, companies and governments, war and peace, near and far, virtual and physical, society and the individual. In its wake, a global nervous system is emerging as we connect billions of people with each other and with billions of newly smart objects. This unbounded organism is developing an unsurpassable intelligence, resistant to human control. Where is it taking us? Can we hope to understand it, control it, contain it?
Z had to warn me though - there's one thing about this conference that is very atypical: every attendee (and there's over a 100 of them) has a mic and can interrupt you at any point during your presentation.
Of course I said yes, and I'm so happy I did. Not only were the other speakers amazing (more on that shortly), but the audience was filled with "Big Gets," people you'd kill to get at your own event.
One of my favorite speakers at the event was Larry Hunter, a computational biologist at the University of Colorado, Denver, who also turned out to be a fantastic drinking buddy. Larry has a deep background in computer science and molecular biology, and this has led him to create some very smart open source software that allows us to move beyond
Those who tell the stories rule the world, it's said, but it's hard to tell a story unless you know the ending.
We don't yet know the ending of the climate change story. The beginning of the ending, though, happened in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, where delegates from 37 industrialized nations and the European Union agreed to the binding greenhouse gas reductions known as the Kyoto Protocol. This is the best that the people of the world have been able to do so far to prevent our own extinction. Unfortunately, the Kyoto emission cuts didn't go into force until 2008; Canada, one of the world's biggest oil producers, wouldn't sign it; the U.S. didn't ratify it, nor did Australia, one of the world's top coal producers; China, India and the rest of the developing world weren't covered by it; and its limits lasted only until 2012. The result of the treaty was that 20 percent of the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide since people lived in caves occurred between 2000 and 2011.
When 2012 arrived, the world, meeting in Doha, gave itself an extension until 2020. But because China (now the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the U.S.), India (in third place), Brazil and the developing world were again given a pass, and the U.S., Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine didn't sign on, the caps currently in effect cover only 15 percent of the world's emissions - making way for last year's news that for the first time since millions of years ago, the concentration of carbon dioxide blanketing the earth had hit 400 parts per million.
So when 2020 rolls around, and the Kyoto Protocol expires, what plan will be in effect for the decade beyond? Scientists say our fate will likely be sealed by 2030: "Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies." These coming 15 years of negotiation and enforcement are arguably the most important 15 years in human history. If we want to have a meaningful agreement in place for 2020, a plan that the U.S., Russia, China, India and the rest of the developed and developing world will commit to, and that will actually move us back from the brink, we better move our global ass.
Adam Amel Rogers
Adam Amel Rogers is Project Specialist at the Lear Center.
On January 20, publicist Howard Bragman sent a text to Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler that read, "The eagle has landed." The moment had arrived - standout NFL prospect Michael Sam was ready to come out.
Zeigler penned an exclusive look at the behind-the-scenes collaborative process that then led up to the public announcement, which was executed seamlessly.
This polished coming out scenario is the result of years of preparation for what this moment would and should be like. There have been numerous events and discussions about the gay/sports intersection throughout the years, including the USC Sports & The LGBT Experience conference that I co-directed last October.
I have spent many years daydreaming about what the player would be like and I even conducted a content analysis of how Hollywood has portrayed this moment. Thus far, Michael Sam exceeds all expectations. I love that he is the toughest guy on the field and that he isn't from some progressive oasis, he is from a small conservative town in Texas. I also love that he was openly gay at the University of Missouri, in the Southeastern Conference - a place and a conference that is not typically known for being LGBT friendly.
In another conference session, I had the honor of interviewing former NFL running back Dave Kopay, who was the first professional athlete to come out after retiring in 1975. Dave never thought it would take this long for an active NFL player to follow in his footsteps, but when Sam gets drafted, I'm sure it will be worth the wait.
Kopay, along with other gay athletes like former football player Wade Davis and baseball player Billy Bean were able to spend time with Sam before his coming out. They and other trailblazing athletes shared their experiences with our conference attendees and it is comforting to know that Michael Sam will be armed with their wisdom as he embarks on this trying journey.
Now it is up to the NFL to live up to the example put forth by Sam's University of Missouri coaches and teammates, who not only dealt with having a gay teammate, but they made a national title run with one. So instead of pretending that Sam isn't as good as he was a week ago and hiding behind words like "distraction" and "media circus," executives should be figuring out how the Co-Defensive Player of the Year in college football's best conference can improve their team.
3 Great Films for Teaching About Globalization & Modernization
Eileen Mattingly is Director of Education for Journeys in Film. This blog is cross-posted at Edutopia.
With the advent of modern mass communication and world tourism, dramatic change has come to nations and cultures which had previously seen little change for centuries. Each technological or social innovation has brought unexpected and unintended consequences. One of the challenges of teaching global issues in middle or high school is helping students grasp abstract economic concepts like globalization and modernization. A well-chosen film, watched actively and with supporting curriculum, can make the difference in helping students understand how these abstract processes work out in human terms.
Globalization is used here to signify the worldwide integration of previously distinct cultures and economies and the consequent exchange of products, ideas and methods of operation. In such a globalized world, many of your students will eventually enter jobs that will require knowledge and understanding of other cultures.
A simple exercise will show the extent of globalization: assign your students to go through their closets at home, looking at clothing labels and listing the countries where the clothing was made. Or send them to the supermarket to see how many imported products they can find. (As I write this, there are strawberries from Chile, cheese from Ireland and bananas from Nicaragua in my kitchen. The scallops in the Chinese-style stir-fry I plan for tonight's dinner may be from Peru, Mexico, Canada, China or Japan.) Or have students scan a major newspaper. A recent scandal for the winter U.S. Winter Olympic Team's fundraising mitten sale revolved around the fact that the mittens were made in China rather than in the U.S. And of course, we are all aware of the credit card security breach at Target late last year, resulting from malicious code allegedly written by a 17-year-old Russian and allegedly sold to Mexican scammers, among others.
All these examples come from the United States. What has happened elsewhere as a result of globalization, to a greater or lesser degree, is termed modernization. New technologies seep into, are welcomed by or forced upon traditional societies, with a consequent influence on traditional culture. Japan's adoption of Western weapons during the Meiji Revolution or Peter the Great's modeling Russian palaces after French architecture are classic examples of rulers forcing modernization upon a sometimes unwilling populace. Today, proponents of political revolutions and even terrorists rely on the growing availability of social media technology to overthrow governments.
Journeys in Film
To help your students grasp these terms, consider showing them engaging feature films from other countries. Three outstanding films, suitable for secondary classrooms, will engage students, teach them about three great traditional cultures, and illustrate the impact of globalization and modernization. Journeys in Film, a nonprofit educational publisher, has created interdisciplinary lesson plans aligned with the Common Core and available as free downloads to help you share these films with your students.
The Cup (1999) is based on a true story about Tibetan monks, refugees living in a Buddhist monastery in the foothills of the Himalayas. Fourteen-year-old Orgyen, obsessed with Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo, is determined to bring television to his monastery in time for a World Cup soccer game. The film demonstrates to students that even remote regions and traditional cultures are no longer completely isolated. The filmmaker has been careful to introduce other examples of modernity slowly entering the monks' world -- the Coke can which has replaced the traditional vase on the fortune-teller's ritual altar, for example. Download lesson plans at Journeys in Film.
Scott McGibbon and Matt Rose
Scott McGibbon is a Project Specialist at the Lear Center; Matt Rose is Program Manager at Hollywood, Health & Society
Climate change, the looming tragedy of our lives, is happening at a speed and a scale we can barely comprehend. This threat is as dangerous to human life, liberty and happiness as either WWII or the Cold War in the last century. All of the current science indicates we face a verydarkfuture indeed. Insert joke here.
Wait - there's nothing funny about climate change. But perhaps comedy and laughter will be essential tools in getting everyone to pay attention to climate change, helping us face the culture and lifestyle changes that are imminent, and allowing us stress relief and a bit of, you know, joy, in grim times.
Russell Brand, in his recent manifesto, took pains to point out that "Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they're boring and can't compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto."
So what's funny about climate change? Well, what was funny about Hitler? Or total nuclear annihilation? In WWII and the Cold War, plenty of effort across Allied culture went into new weapons, new ways of thinking and just plain hard work and fighting, but there were many times when situations were so grim and hopeless that only humor, often gallows humor, made getting through a day possible. Witness this historical humor:
Hitler is funny here:
And later, also funny here:
You want Cold War yucks? Watch this:
So which comedy writers and performers today can see that "climate" has a funny "K" sound built right in? Where's the sharp, wickedly funny PSA campaign or regular sketch on a TV show that will help us focus on this issue and entertain us as we leave behind outdated ways of living and behaving on this beautiful blue planet?
I knew better than to expect P.L. Travers to write something sweet in my copy of Mary Poppins, but I didn't think it would be quite so medicinal.
It was 1988, and I'd been a vice president at Disney for two years. From the time I got there, studio president Jeffrey Katzenberg had wanted to make a sequel to Mary Poppins, and I was assigned to develop a script. The story we wanted: Jane and Michael Banks, the children in the first film, now have children of their own. A problem comes up, and the one person who can solve it is Mary Poppins, played again by Julie Andrews, who arrives, sets things right, and departs as mysteriously as she came. We called it the title of the second book in the series: Mary Poppins Comes Back.
But as the new movie, Saving Mr. Banks, does not depict, Mrs. Travers intensely disliked Walt Disney's 1964 version. And since she still controlled the rights to her Poppins books, my efforts at getting a sequel off the ground were entirely theoretical. But in 1987, when Mrs. Travers was 87, Walt's nephew Roy had been approached by writer Brian Sibley, an acquaintance of his and a longtime friend of hers. Sibley told Disney she was open to doing a second movie at the studio, and within a few months their agent closed a deal, but she extracted a steep creative price: Unlike every other features deal at the studio, this one gave away control of the story, settings, and characters to the author of the underlying material. To her.
And so, because the studio needed her approval of our Banks-children's-children approach, Katzenberg and I went to London bearing porcelain Disney figurines, plus a bottle of Jack Daniels, which Sibley told me she liked, and paid a call on Mrs. Travers at her Chelsea row house. Her sitting room looked like it hadn't changed for 30 years.
We pitched our next-gen sequel. She coolly blew us off.
Then she and Sibley told us what the story would actually be. It would take place a year after the first film, not a generation. Things are going badly for Mr. Banks at work because some documents have gone missing, leading to financial disaster for the family and requiring them to put Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane up for sale. The only point of agreement with our scenario was that she wished Julie Andrews to play Mary Poppins.
She also unloaded her grievances about what Walt Disney did in his version, and her edicts about this one. Mary Poppins must never wear red. We must never see her undergarments; even if she's upside down, her skirt must cling to her ankles. There must be absolutely no intimation that she and Bert have a romantic relationship, as they seem to do in the 1964 film's "Jolly Holiday" sequence (whose mix of live action and animation, by the way, was a terrible decision), nor may Bert, a character who is not in the books, have as prominent a part in the sequel, nor may he do any magic on his own, nor may Dick Van Dyke play the role again. In fact, no American may play any role in the movie.