This is a review of Henry Jenkins’s new book Convergence Culture. The review is a bit longish, so I will do it in three separate posts today; Friday; and Monday.
Jenkins is a media studies professor at MIT, and his job is the fantasy job of a 12 year old: watch Survivor and American Idol and count it as work. His new book Convergence Culture is a sequel to his 1992 work Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. Both books examine participatory media, that is, a popular culture that directly involves fans in the defining of the culture. This convergence isn’t about technology—one screen (or one box) to rule them all—but rather about the way that the bright lines separating content creators from content users are becoming increasingly fuzzy. A convergence of creators and users-as-creators.
The book is a fun read—examining not only Survivor and American Idol but also “transmedia” storytelling in The Matrix and Harry Potter and Star Wars fan fiction—and is an almost anthropological examination of new trends in fan participation. Fan participation also raises important legal issues (especially for copyright) and Jenkins spends some time on those, though they are not, understandably, the focus of the book.
Continue reading "Book Review: Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins" »
Continue reading "EULAgizing Amazon Unbox" »
A story in today’s Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) about the continuing troubles at Bristol-Myers raises troubling questions about the government’s use of strong-arm tactics to extract corporate governance and other concessions from firms under threat of litigation-induced firm death.
In the aftermath of the demise of Arthur Andersen, firms are especially leery about the possibility of being indicted. As the Andersen case makes clear, the risk from indictment is enormous, and even exoneration by the Supreme Court isn’t enough to bring back the dead. It was in the wake of Andersen that the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey negotiated a so-called “deferred prosecution agreement” (DPA) with Bristol-Myers to settle allegations that the firm engaged in deceptive inventory practices to meet quarterly earnings estimates. DPAs, which are adapted to the corporate crime context from the pre-trial diversion programs used to monitor juvenile and drug offenders, have been used in 43 corporate crime and fraud cases since 1993. These agreements raise issues about privilege waiver and corporate versus individual accountability, but the Bristol-Myers case highlights the danger of governance reform aspects of these agreements.
Continue reading "Governance at Gunpoint" »
Mayor Daley has vetoed Chicago's Big Box Ordinance, though this chapter of local history remains open until is known whether the City Council will override the veto - and whether a new, somewhat different ordinance will be proposed. Proponents might draft a yet more refined minimum, or "living," wage bill. The federal minimum is $5.15; the Illinois minimum is $6.50 (another example of asymmetrical preemption by federal law); the proposed Chicago minimum would have been $9.25 (plus some benefits and then increases over several years) but only for firms that are $1 billion in size and then in business properties occupying 90,000 square feet or more. My subject here is what to make of such targeted minimum wages.
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The latest craze in corporate activism is majority voting for board elections. The intuition is simple if misguided: boards are elected by shareholders to run the firm; elections everywhere (except maybe North Korea, Cuba, and, er, Chicago) are decided by majority vote; therefore board members should be elected only if they win a majority of shareholder votes. (Currently, shareholder votes in ordinary elections are not dispositive, as board members can be elected with a plurality of votes—only in expensive and rare proxy fights when a rival slate of directors is run do votes actually matter.) This campaign is being waged on many fronts, including by law professor Lucian Bebchuk, who has personally lobbied firms in which he owns a few shares to adopt bylaw amendments requiring majority rule. A recent court decision highlights the problems with this approach, and a new paper offers some alternatives.
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We should start with the basics. Amazon has apparently struck deals with a large number of content providers, including major TV networks, such as CBS, Fox, Nickelodeon and others (but not ABC or NBC) and deals with a number of major movie studios including Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.
Continue reading "Designing Access: Amazon’s Unbox Video" »