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Wired TV

Laboring Over an Interactive Future

edited by Denise Mann

Publication Year: 2014

This collection looks at the post–network television industry’s heady experiments with new forms of interactive storytelling—or wired TV—that took place from 2005 to 2010 as the networks responded to the introduction of broadband into the majority of homes and the proliferation of popular, participatory Web 2.0 companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.Contributors address a wide range of issues, from the networks’ sporadic efforts to engage fans using transmedia storytelling to the production inefficiencies that continue to dog network television to the impact of multimedia convergence and multinational, corporate conglomeration on entrepreneurial creativity. With essays from such top scholars as Henry Jenkins, John T. Caldwell, and Jonathan Gray and from new and exciting voices emerging in this field, Wired TV elucidates the myriad new digital threats and the equal number of digital opportunities that have become part and parcel of today’s post-network era. Readers will quickly recognize the familiar television franchises on which the contributors focus— including Lost, The Office, Entourage, Battlestar Gallactica, The L Word, and Heroes—in order to reveal their impact on an industry in transition.While it is not easy for vast bureaucracies to change course, executives from key network divisions engaged in an unprecedented period of innovation and collaboration with four important groups: members of the Hollywood creative community who wanted to expand television’s storytelling worlds and marketing capabilities by incorporating social media; members of the Silicon Valley tech community who were keen to rethink television distribution for the digital era; members of the Madison Avenue advertising community who were eager to rethink ad-supported content; and fans who were enthusiastic and willing to use social media story extensions to proselytize on behalf of a favorite network series.In the aftermath of the lengthy Writers Guild of America strike of 2007/2008, the networks clamped down on such collaborations and began to reclaim control over their operations, locking themselves back into an aging system of interconnected bureaucracies, entrenched hierarchies, and traditional partners from the past. What’s next for the future of the television industry? Stay tuned—or at least online.Contributors: Vincent Brook, Will Brooker, John T. Caldwell, M. J. Clarke, Jonathan Gray, Henry Jenkins, Derek Johnson, Robert V. Kozinets, Denise Mann, Katynka Z. Martínez, and Julie Levin Russo

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

I undertook this collection thinking it would be a quick and easy endeavor — a cleansing of the palate, if you will — aft er the long and arduous task of completing a single-author book. Aft er putting this project aside multiple times to attend to various pressing demands, I looked up and realized that nearly a...

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Introduction: When Television and New Media Work Worlds Collide

Denise Mann

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pp. 1-31

In a 2005 trade article entitled “The End of Television (As You Know It),” a cable executive reduced the vast cultural-industrial transition then under way to a singular, technologically driven event — the incongruous conjoining of two black boxes — by stating, “The computer has crashed into the television set.”1 In fact, the situation is far more challenging and elusive to describe, given...

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1. Authorship Up for Grabs: Decentralized Labor, Licensing, and the Management of Collaborative Creativity

Derek Johnson

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pp. 32-52

In one of the most dramatically tense storylines offered by the “reimagined” television series Battlestar Galactica (2003 – 2009), the crew of the titular spacecraft encounters another military battlestar, the Pegasus, which had also escaped the Cylon attack that destroyed their homeland and the rest of the Colonial Fleet. This joyful reunion gives way to a power struggle, however,...

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2. In the Game: The Creative and Textual Constraints of Licensed Video Games

Jonathan Gray

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pp. 53-71

When the video game industry’s blockbuster hits pull in huge earnings, as for instance when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 grossed $550 million in its opening week, the press is fond of comparing these profits to those from film or television hits, as if the different media were locked in mortal combat.1 But far from competing with each other, Hollywood and the video game...

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3. Going Pro: Gendered Responses to the Incorporation of Fan Labor as User-Genereated Content

Will Brooker

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pp. 72-97

On January 15, 2009, a soaring female vocal cut through the recorded announcements at London’s Liverpool Street station. Passengers on the busy concourse stopped and smiled, recognising Lulu’s “Shout.” And then two of them started to dance. And then three. Th e music stuttered through a mix into...

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4. Labor of Love: Charting the L Word

Julie Levin Russo

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pp. 98-117

The 2007 Writers Guild of America strike foregrounded the fact that labor, in both the institutional and the general sense, is an issue pivotal to current transformations in the entertainment industry. This dispute between screenwriters and executives illuminated the present-day predicament of mass media, which is hard pressed to keep up with a proliferation of content and platforms...

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5. The Labor Behind the Lost ARG: WGA's Tentative Foothold in the Digital Age

Denise Mann

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pp. 117-139

At a Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) workshop in March 2010, Lost showrunner Carlton Cuse observed that, given the rapid rate of change in the entertainment industry, the innovative series might already be part of network television’s past. “We’re like blacksmiths in the Internet era,” he mused. “We’re making a show that I’m not sure will ever be replicated given the tremendous...

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6. Post-Network Reflexivity: Viral Marketing and Labor Management

John T. Caldwell

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pp. 140-160

Post-network television today is characterized by a set of resilient industrial habits involving collective, critical self-representation. I argue in this chapter that the recent explosive growth and popularity of onscreen self-referencing, self-disclosure, and organizational transparency in the post-network era has been stimulated by at least four general factors: the wide-ranging breakdown...

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7. Fan Creep: Why Brands Suddenly Need "Fans"

Robert V. Kozinets

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pp. 161-175

In the world of new product development and innovation, the term “feature creep” is given to the tendency of designers and engineers to keep adding features to a product. For example, a cellphone manufacturer might first add a high-definition video camera to the phone, then a digital voice recorder, then a remote car ignition apparatus, a bottle opener on the side, and finally, a small...

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8. Outsourcing The Office

M. J. Clarke

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pp. 176-196

In a 2002 episode of The Simpsons, the animated family is forced to flee their termite-infested home and find refuge by being cast in a new reality television program, “The 1895 Experiment.”1 The show within the show, which challenges contestants to live as if it were 1895, is the brainchild of an executive of “The Reality Channel” who calls himself the program’s creator but admits...

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9. Convergent Ethnicity and the Neo-Platoon Show: Recombining Difference in the Post-Network Era

Vincent Brook

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pp. 197-222

Convergence in mass media has typically been analyzed in economic and technological terms: tightly diversified conglomeration and the rise of Big Media on the one hand, merging of media platforms on the other. The combined effects of these industrial forces on programming forms and audience....

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10. Translating Telenovelas in a Neo-Network Era: Finding an Online Home for MyNetwork Soaps

Katynka Z. Martinez

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pp. 223-243

The promotional video that introduced the press, network executives, and advertisers to MyNetwork TV at a 2006 upfront referenced what were perceived to be five factors behind the inevitable success of the soon to be launched network. Although it was touted as the “biggest change in primetime television,” MyNetwork TV was also associated with the decades-old...

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11. The Reign of the “Mothership”: Transmedia's Past, Present, and Possible Futures

Henry Jenkins

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pp. 244-268

Transmedia storytelling has always been a blue-sky concept, the idealized intersection between the hopes of production personnel to gain more respect for their creative contributions, of networks to intensify viewer engagement, and of fans for more “complex” forms of storytelling. The chapters in this book...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 269-272


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pp. 273-296

E-ISBN-13: 9780813564555
E-ISBN-10: 0813564557
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813564548
Print-ISBN-10: 0813564549

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 21 illustrations
Publication Year: 2014