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May 16, 2011, 10:30 a.m.

MiT7: How changing mediums change the message

This past weekend, MIT hosted its seventh international Media in Transition conference, a confab co-sponsored by the school’s Comparative Media Studies program and the MIT Communications Forum. The first Media in Transition event was held in 1999; since then, five biennial conferences have invited academics from around the world to share their research on topics like globalization and convergence, creativity and collaboration, and the work of stories.

This weekend’s conference, MiT7, focused on “Unstable Platforms: The Promise and Peril of Transition.” And it was, as you might expect given the event’s topic and its hosts, chock full of fascinating ideas about the future of media — particularly as a function of the platforms used to distribute them.


Some of the questions considered by conference participants:

How are we coping with the instability of platforms? How are the classroom, the newsroom, the corporate office exploiting digital systems and responding to the imperative for constant upgrades. Our libraries and archives? Our public entertainments? Are new technologies changing the experience of reading? The experience of watching movies or television programs? How stable, how durable are current or emerging systems? How relevant are earlier periods of media change to our current experience of ongoing instability and transformation?

The conference included the presentation of over 100 papers about media transition in a digital age, among them a consideration of new media’s effect on story consumption (pdf), an examination of the digitization of memory through the digitization of film (pdf), an analysis of television as a social experience (pdf), and an exploration of citizenship in an age of YouTube (pdf). If you’re in the mood for some thought-provoking ideas that also happen to be at the cutting edge of media scholarship, check out the full list of conference abstacts.

And if you’re in the mood for listening rather than reading, the conference has also archived three of its public panels as MP3s. You can find the panel on “Archives and Cultural Memory” here and the panel on “Power and Empowerment” here. And the conference’s introductory panel, on “Unstable Platforms,” featured an especially journalism-relevant conversation about changing platforms’ effect on narrative, authorship, and consumer participation. (It also featured the Lab’s Josh Benton.) You can find that discussion, starting at minute 20:38, here.

POSTED     May 16, 2011, 10:30 a.m.
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