DIGITAL MEDIA FROM THE INSIDE OUT: My focus is digital content -- production, distribution, collaboration, innovation, creativity. Some posts have appeared across the web (HuffPo, Tribeca's Future of Film, The Wrap, MIPblog, etc.). To receive these posts regularly via email, sign up for my newsletter here.

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Fan Centric Media

I work with, an interactive media company offering a cloud-based co-creation platform for storytellers and brands. The focus of our work recently has been what I like to call "fan-centric" media. Once known by the geeky acronym UGC (user-generated content), fan-centric media is, in a real sense, taking over the world. Of course, all media works because of some kind of mysterious psychic exchange between the artist and the audience, each working according to rules of the story form -- that's why adaptations of books into movies often annoy hard-core fans of the former, and movies into games, well, I digress.

The emergence of true fan-centric media has come about because of the Internet, and especially socialized media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc. Again, each of these and many other platforms vary in how they address the issue, but what is new here is the interconnection between content created by fans or average people with professional content. was born to support a story world, a fictional town called Beckinfield, where the residents were all fans of the show. Unlike an open UGC platform like YouTube, Theatrics invites fans to co-create a story by uploading content (video, images, text) in a contained and defined story world with guidance from the show creators and other fans. Over time, as content is uploaded and the story or experience grows, the general audience has many ways to access and experience the content. It's multi-dimensional.

Next week Theatrics will launch two new shows with some excellent partners. I will post more details when the content is released on Monday, but in the meantime, here is a presentation on the topic of "Fan-centric Media," adapted from a talk I gave at Story Code in mid-September 2013. (Story Code is the New York City transmedia meet-up.) Also presenting was Elaine McMillion with a reall remarkable interactive documentary about an Appalachian town, called HOLLOW. 

Story Code posted a video of the talk on YouTube (Elaine is first. My talk starts around 46:30). Here are my slides:


Hello, New York: Upcoming Talks

I’ll be in New York City in September (a gift, IMHO) for two talks and booking meetings during available times 9/16-19. Pop by the following, or ping me if you’d like to grab some time.

FAN-POWERED MEDIA: Inviting your audience into the story with is an interactive entertainment startup whose flagship product enables the creation of crowd-sourced online storytelling. The cloud-based system allows show creators to create and manage a story environment in which audience members can create characters, respond to story prompts, engage and share their content. Recent examples include the steampunk adventure Aurelia: Edge of Darkness; USA’s Psych Social Sector and “Wecome to Sanditon,” the sequel to the popular web series “Lizzie Bennet’s Diaries.” 

STORYCODE, September 17, 7pm at Ogilvy Headquarters - 636 11th Avenue (btw 46th and 47th St). Also presenting: Elaine McMillion, with interactive documentary “Hollow.”

See if U can find me....


It all starts with the content: the TV networks, the online video websites, the buzz on social media. This panel focuses on creating content that works on digital platforms.


Rich Cusick, Vice President of Entertainment and Women’s Lifestyles, Yahoo!
Reid Genauer, Chief Marketing Officer, Magisto
Shane Rahmani, VP, Corporate Development, Electus
Nick DeMartino, Head of Business Development,
ModeratorPaul Kontonis, General Manager, Magnet Media Originals and Chairman, International Academy of Web Television

DMW Future of Television Conference, September 18, 10am - Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place





Week's Best Reads - Digital Media Biz, Transmedia & Higher Ed

This post looks at recent trends in three areas that I'm tracking, the overall digital media business, the impact of the internet on higher education, and storytelling forms (transmedia). Please share, and post your comments.


Readers of this blog will remember my post last year when Warner Bros bought Flixster in which I argued that the studios needed to use the data generated by audiences to create relationships that move beyond their historical "wholesale" business model. Instead, we learned, Flixster was turned into a storefront for the studios digital locker project, Ultra Violet, and clumsily at that. 

Now, finally, Flixster is launching "Social Movies Targeting," an initiative that crunches user activity on its sites to predict future trends and to improve targeting for advertisers, according to this interesting Media Post report.

As the web world and the finance world (hell, the entire world) focuses upon the pending Facebook IPO and the enormous wealth being created, it's interesting to understand why. One factor is the ecosystem of startup companies creating apps for the FB platform, as this thorough article by Mike Swift of the Mercury News articulates.

Gunther Sonnenfeld examines what it means to distribute and scale stories across multiple platforms in a series on his blog that you'll find very thought-provoking. I know I did, in part because he positions today's "transmedia" storytelling paradigm within the history of distribution and story formats. 

Legendary investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel teaches at Stanford. I stumbled across this summary of his lecture (by Stanford Law student Blake Masters)  on "distribution" which is comprehensive and fascinating. This is dense, but may be worth the trouble if you want to understand the critical and changing role of distribution in the digital ecosystem. 

Speaking of distribution, its dominance in the digital universe helps Ben Elowitz make the case for the "Chief Audience Officer" in a world where "Content is No Longer King."

As ISPs start restricting Internet band witch, this post asks, "Is Web TV's Free Ride Over?" Not if the trend towards original web programming continues to gain traction.

The rise of made-for-broadband video content also means an upsurge in M&A activity, exemplified by the acquisition of Revision3 by mainstream cable broadcaster Discovery Communications. 

Two posts that look at crowd-funding trends from different perspectives: "Has Kickstarter become just a storefront?" in which the writer argues that the premiere crowd-funding site is star-struck. And "What does crowd funding mean for the VC business?" asks investor Fred Wilson, and then answers. 


Education is yet one more industry in the throes of revolutionary change as the web and entrepreneurial innovation upend many of the historical institutional verities. 

Last week Harvard and MIT announced edX, a platform for online courses, mostly lectures. This alone is nothing new, with similar initiatives dating all the way back to the first dot-com bubble days. (Here's some perspective in a smart post from

Could online learning, along with accelerator-style education and various web-based continuing education platforms spell the end of the MBA, a cash-cow for many universities? This is a well-reasoned case for just that.

While MIT, Harvard and other prestige universities are porting their lecture content to the web, Stanford is undertaking the real revolution in education, according to an interesting Tech Crunch post, by embracing the "flipped" classroom model pioneered by Khan Academy. 

This surge in web-distributed college courses will only become significant, argues this provocative post, when we "jailbreak" consumers from the full degree. Why can't accreditation occur at the course level?

In another online education move, Washington University's Law School will offer a master's degree entirely online, in partnership with a commercial company, reports the NY Times. 


Fourth Wall's interactive web series "Dirty Work" debuts with a lot of attention, and with a lot riding on it and the platform (pun not intended).

Transmedia is on the rise in television, or more specifically in ad-supported television, according to this post from ad agency JWT., the group that grew out of the NY Transmedia Meet-up, held a "story hack" a few weeks ago, stimulating a flurry of posts by the transmedia true believers (like this one from Queen Spade Creative). This Washington Post story does a nice job of contextualizing the event, and why it's ground-breaking.

Transmedia Storytelling Berlin interviews USC prof and transmedia theorist Henry Jenkins, who is now on a European tour. I would expect more as he makes his rounds.

"Prison Dancer" is a transmedia musical (and YouTube phenom) that launched back in 2007 with a video of prisoners jailed in the Phillipines dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller. Now you can interact with a 12-part web series, as described in this extensive post from

"Steampunk Holmes" is a new multi-platform fiction project from a group in Minneapolis that looks like a lot of fun, and which just raised $43K on Kickstarter. HT to @randyfinch