We are living in an age when changes in communications, storytelling and information technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of contemporary life -- including how we create, consume, learn, and interact with each other. A whole range of new technologies enable consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content and in the process, these technologies have altered the ways that consumers interact with core institutions of government, education, and commerce.

I have increasingly come to prefer the term, media convergence, to describe the full context of media change. In "Convergence? I Diverge," one of my Technology Review columns, I offer a basic overview of different kinds of convergences -- technological, economic, aesthetic, organic, and global -- which are redefining our media environment. It is a good starting point for understanding much of my other recent writing on this topic.

"The Work of Theory in the Age of Digital Transformation", published in Toby Miller and Robert Stam's A Companion to Film Theory, makes the case for a new mode of media theory which reflects the opportunities and challenges of the media age. Central to this argument is a consideration of the ways that digital change is provoking theorizing not only with the academy but across all of those sectors being reshaped by the new media and an urge for academic theory to move beyond the classroom to engage in a larger public conversation about those changes.

"From Home[r] to the Holodeck", presented at the Post-Innocence: Narrative Textures and New Media Conference at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia in 1998, represented another attempt to define the place of the humanities as a means of responding to the challenges of the changing media environment and includes some ideas about theorizing the process of media change which are developed more fully in "Media in Transition: An Introduction," co-authored with David Thorburn.

One important discourse on media change has come through science fiction, which emerged in the 1920s as part of a larger effort to promote popular access to information on scientific discovery and technological innovation. I developed a series of forums involving contemporary science fiction writers discussing the key themes of media change underlying their work. Transcripts of these conversations with Gregory Benford, Octavia Butler, Orson Scott Card, Joe Haldeman, James Patrick Kelly, Ellen Kushner, Frederick Pohl, Allen Steele and Sarah Zettel can be found on the Media in Transition website. I provided an overview on the relationship of science fiction and media change intended as an introduction to the various transcripts entitled "Media and Imagination: A Short History of American Science Fiction."

With Christopher Weaver, I developed an MIT course on Popular Culture in the Age of Media Convergence. The syllabus of that course is on-line and provides a good reading list for anyone wanting to know more about this topic. An important aspect of this site are the various student critiques of contemporary media product which display, with varying degrees of competency or mastery, some of the core concepts to emerge from the class.

I am currently developing a book proposal exploring more fully how these various forms of media convergence are impacting contemporary popular culture. Watch this space for more news as the book develops.

If the phrase, media convergence, can be used to describe the kinds of technological and economic changes which are fostered the flow of media content across multiple delivery technologies, cultural convergence describes the new ways that media audiences are engaging with and making sense of these new forms of media content. I have argued that cultural convergence has preceded, in many ways, the full technological realization of the idea of media convergence, helping to create a market for these new cultural products. I first introduced the concept of "cultural convergence" in "The Stormtroopers and The Poachers," a talk which I gave at the University of Michigan which was transcribed for circulation of Philip Agre's Red Rock Eater News mailing list. I later fleshed out that essay more fully for an anthology on cult audiences which will be published in Paris next year.

"Interactive Audiences?", which will be published in xx, explores how Pierre Levy's Collective Intelligence might shed light on the behavior of media audiences in this new era. Specifically, I explore how the knowledge culture of fandom is transformed through the use of networked communications and how the new media alter reader's relations to texts, to media producers, and to each other. I trace various ways that the media industries are responding to the challenges of a more participatory culture.

I wrote an introduction to Kurt Lancaster's Interacting with Babylon 5 that explains how Babylon 5 might be read as symptomatic of this larger process of media and cultural convergence.

Across a range of journalistic pieces, mostly published in Technology Review, I have developed these concepts of media and cultural convergence to describe the present moment as a kind of Renaissance culture, one being transformed -- for both better and worse -- as the social, cultural, political, and legal institutions respond to the destabilization created by media change. Among the topics I have addressed have been digital media's impact on Journalism ("..."), the emergence of new forms of global culture ("Culture Goes Global"), the potentials of interactive television ("TV Tomorrow"), the production of knowledge in an information rich environment ("Information Cosmos"), the emergence of new youth cultures in cyberspace ("The Kids are Alright Online"), and the impact of digital media on our understanding of intellectual property ("Digital Land Grab.") Although not published in Technology Review, "Contacting the Past," can be understood as part of this same strand in my writing -- explaining how the early history of radio as a participatory medium might shed light on our current period of media transition.

I have become increasingly interested in studying new aesthetic forms that have emerged in response to the potentials of digital media. One such area of interest is digital cinema. Digital cinema can refer to many different things, ranging from the use of digital cameras in film production or digital projection in film exhibition to the use of the web as a delivery system for films. Our Digital Cinema conference explored many different aspects of this topic.

In "The Director Next Door," one of my Technology Review columns, I explore how the development of the web as a distribution channel might empower amateur filmmakers not only to make new kinds of films but also to reach new audiences. I briefly discuss here the ways that commercial media is starting to recruit media makers and content from the web.

I explore the intersection between commercial and amateur media making more fully in "Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?: Parody and Appropriation in an Age of Cultural Convergence," which will appear in Bart Cheever and Nick Constant's d. film anthology. Here, I argue that Star Wars functioned as a "catalyst" encouraging fans to embrace the potentials of digital production and distribution, resulting in an enormous grassroots movement of Star Wars parodies. As a result of this essay, I was asked to develop a festival of fan-made films to be shown at the Walker Art Institute and to develop program notes explaining my choices.

I became interested in computer and video games more than a decade ago when my son purchased his first Nintendo. A short time later, I wrote my first essay, "x Logic: Placing Nintendo in Children's Lives," which sought to review an emerging body of scholarly literature on games and to stress the importance of atmospheric design and spatial narrative to this emerging medium. I built on that concept of spatial storytelling through a dialogic essay, "Nintendo and New World Narrative," which I co-authored with Mary Fuller and which appeared in Steve Jones's Communicating in Cyberspace. I took a more social historical approach to game space in "Complete Freedom of Movement: Video Games as Gendered Playspace" in From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. Here, I argued that a comparison between traditional gendered play spaces and computer games might shed light on the challenge of developing games which might appeal equally to girls and to boys. I have recently returned to reconsider the relationship between space and narrative in "...", which thinks about game design as a form of informational architecture which provides the preconditions for emergent and embedded forms of storytelling.

In "Art Form for the Digital Age," published in Technology Review, I make the case that games are a new "lively art," along the lines outlined by Gilbert Seldes in the 1920s, and explore what we might learn about game aesthetics through analogies to the silent cinema. These ideas are fleshed out more fully in "....", an essay which will appear in ....and in "...", an essay developed in conjunction with "Game On," an exhibition of games as art at London's Barbican Art Center.

Another important aspect of my interest in games centered around the challenges of expanding the diversity of games content in order to attract more girls to gameplaying. I hosted an MIT conference which brought women in the games industry to campus to explore the then emerging "girls game" movement and to engage in dialogue with academic feminists who had written on this topic. The book, From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games, which I co-edited with Justine Cassell, grew out of that conference. Our introductory essay, "Chess For Girls?" explores the contradictions which surround the girls game movement, seeking to complicate easy ideological judgements about the value of these new kinds of software for girls. "Voices From the Combat Zone" brought together online writings by women gameplayers, showing an alternative version of digital feminism which focused on empowering women to do combat with men in digital playspaces rather than designing more traditionally feminine kinds of games. "Before the Holodeck: Tracing Star Trek Through Digital Media", coauthored with Janet Murray for Greg Smith's On A Silver Platter, tackles the challenge of designing games for women from a different angle. Using Star Trek as a case study, I argue that those aspects of the original television series that attract female consumers have been systematically stripped away as the franchise was translated into video and computer game formats. Here, the issue isn't whether games should be redesigned to attract women but why decisions are being made to cut back on aspects of existing material which has already proven successful in engaging female consumers.

I have increasingly sought to engage in a larger dialogue with people in the games industry about the current state and future potential of games as a medium. In collaboration with the Interactive Digital Software association, I helped to organize the first national academic conference on video and computer games, bringing together leading game designers and game critics (academic and journalistic) for a two day conversation about the medium. More than 400 pages of transcripts of that event have been posted on the web and constitute an important resource for anyone who wants to understand the current state and future direction of the games industry.

Through the Comparative Media Studies program, I have organized a series of creative leaders workshops with Electronic Arts, a leader in the games industry, to explore issues of character, narrative, emotion, and community and to point towards some new directions for game design. We have helped to organize a series of workshops and presentations at such industry gatherings as the Games Developers Conference, E3 (The Electronic Entertainment Exposition), and Siggraph, which have helped to enlarge the industry conversation about games.

We are currently working with Microsoft to explore the potential use of game for learning. Our task is to make the case for games as a potential instructional and simulation platform and to develop prototypes of how one might combine state of the art game play with MIT quality science and engineering instruction.

As we have taken this conversation about games into the public sphere, my work has gained a great deal of attention within the games press and general interest publications alike. My favorite stories to date include a far reaching interview with Kurt Squire in Joystick 101, a conversation on games and violence in Gamasutra, and ....

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