Comparative Media Studies

Miku: Japan's virtual idol and media platform

On Saturday July 2, I attended an unusual live show, the US debut of a virtual idol from Japan. I think she can tell us something about civic media.

Miku Hatsune performed at the Nokia Center in Los Angeles, part of the festivities at Anime Expo. The sold-out concert drew over 4000 fans, many in costume, who screamed and waved glowsticks as Miku rose out of the floor, a “human size” image projected on stage alongside live musicians.

Miku crooned and pranced along the length of a 20’ long parabolic mirror, never breaking a sweat, as she tore through her set of mostly frenetic techno-dance pop. Video close-ups of her and other band members were projected beside the stage. She made a little small talk: “I’m Miku, nice to meet you.” She introduced the band (guitar, bass, keys, drums) and a six-piece orchestral string section. We cheered her on.

“We’re making history,” a young women sitting next to me said to her friend. It felt like it. And it forced me to rethink what I thought I knew about politics and about pop.

Learning in a Participatory Culture: A Conversation About New Media and Education (Part Four)

This is the final part of my interview with Spanish educational researcher Pilar Lacasa for Cuadernos de Pedagogia, a Spanish language publication, about my research on the New Media Literacies. Here, we discuss learning games, mobile technologies, civic engagement, and my advice to parents and teachers.

Our challenge is then building bridges between culture and participatory democracy. Can you explain more?

The challenge is how we can help build the bridge between participatory culture and participatory democracy. I am starting to do research on what I see as proto-political behavior: the ways that these hobby or fan or game groups educate and mobilize their members around issues of collective concern. I believe that if we better understand these practices, we will be in a position to foster a new kind of civic education which starts where young people are already gathering but helps them to expand their understanding of their roles as citizens. A striking feature of these new social structures is that they are defined less through shared geography than through shared interests.

"Geeking Out" For Democracy (Part One)

On the eve of our conference at MIT on "Learning in a Participatory Culture," Cable in the Classroom has joined forces with Project New Media Literacies to edit a special issue of Threshold which centers on the work we've been doing and the vision behind it. Among the features are a wonderful graphic showing the new learning environment and how informal, individual, and school based learning can work together to reinforce the core social skills and cultural competencies we've been discussing; a transcribed conversation with Benjamin Stokes, Daniel T. Hickey, Barry Joseph, John Palfrey, and myself about the challenges and opportunities surrounding bringing new media into the classroom; James Bosco adopting a school reform perspective on these issues; and a range of pieces by the core researchers on our team describing what happened when we introduced some of our materials into schools or after school programs.

"Geeking Out" For Democracy (Part One)

On the eve of our conference at MIT on "Learning in a Participatory Culture," Cable in the Classroom has joined forces with Project New Media Literacies to edit a special issue of Threshold which centers on the work we've been doing and the vision behind it. Among the features are a wonderful graphic showing the new learning environment and how informal, individual, and school based learning can work together to reinforce the core social skills and cultural competencies we've been discussing; a transcribed conversation with Benjamin Stokes, Daniel T. Hickey, Barry Joseph, John Palfrey, and myself about the challenges and opportunities surrounding bringing new media into the classroom; James Bosco adopting a school reform perspective on these issues; and a range of pieces by the core researchers on our team describing what happened when we introduced some of our materials into schools or after school programs.

Loomings 2009: What Obama Might Have Learned from Moby-Dick

The following post was written by Wyn Kelley, a Melville scholar, who is collaborating with Project NML (New Media Literacies) on our teacher's strategy guide on "Reading in a Participatory Culture." The work we've been doing on Moby-Dick would not have been possible without Wyn's passion for the topic and her commitment to teaching. More than any one else, she helped me to see that there are fans of serious literature just as there are fans of popular culture and that we have much to learn from each other about how we engage with texts that really matter to us. She recently shared with me these interesting reflections on Obama's reading preferences and what they might tell us about his vision for the country. I wanted to share them with you -- along with my own best wishes on the dawning of a new era in American history.

"Loomings 2009"
by Wyn Kelley

"Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States."
"WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL."
"BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN."

Loomings 2009: What Obama Might Have Learned from Moby-Dick

The following post was written by Wyn Kelley, a Melville scholar, who is collaborating with Project NML (New Media Literacies) on our teacher's strategy guide on "Reading in a Participatory Culture." The work we've been doing on Moby-Dick would not have been possible without Wyn's passion for the topic and her commitment to teaching. More than any one else, she helped me to see that there are fans of serious literature just as there are fans of popular culture and that we have much to learn from each other about how we engage with texts that really matter to us. She recently shared with me these interesting reflections on Obama's reading preferences and what they might tell us about his vision for the country. I wanted to share them with you -- along with my own best wishes on the dawning of a new era in American history.

"Loomings 2009"
by Wyn Kelley

"Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States."
"WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL."
"BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN."

Race in Digital Space (Revisited): An Interview with Sarah N. Gatson (Part One)

"In Cyberspace, nobody knows your race unless you tell them. Do you tell?" Several years ago, I put this slogan on a poster advertising an MIT-hosted public forum about race and digital space. The resulting controversy was an eyeopener.

Like many white liberals, I had viewed the absence of explicit racial markers in cyberspace with some optimism-seeing the emerging "virtual communities" as perhaps our best hope ever of achieving a truly color-blind society.

Race in Digital Space (Revisited): An Interview with Sarah N. Gatson (Part One)

"In Cyberspace, nobody knows your race unless you tell them. Do you tell?" Several years ago, I put this slogan on a poster advertising an MIT-hosted public forum about race and digital space. The resulting controversy was an eyeopener.

Like many white liberals, I had viewed the absence of explicit racial markers in cyberspace with some optimism-seeing the emerging "virtual communities" as perhaps our best hope ever of achieving a truly color-blind society.

Framing the Candidates (Part Three): The Daily Show Parodies

Over the past two posts, I've suggested ways educators could use the campaign bio videos produced for the two national conventions as a way of encouraging civic literacy. I've suggested that they are powerful examples of the different ways that the parties "frame" their candidates and platforms. The focus on personal biography brings to the surface what linguist George Lakoff calls the GOP's "Strict Father" and the Democrat's "Nurturing Parent" models, both of which see the family as a microcosm for the way a president will relate to the nation. I've also suggested that the videos surrounding the Vice-Presidential candidates help to broaden the appeal by bringing in aspects of the other party's "frame" so as to speak to swing voters.

Framing the Candidates (Part Three): The Daily Show Parodies

Over the past two posts, I've suggested ways educators could use the campaign bio videos produced for the two national conventions as a way of encouraging civic literacy. I've suggested that they are powerful examples of the different ways that the parties "frame" their candidates and platforms. The focus on personal biography brings to the surface what linguist George Lakoff calls the GOP's "Strict Father" and the Democrat's "Nurturing Parent" models, both of which see the family as a microcosm for the way a president will relate to the nation. I've also suggested that the videos surrounding the Vice-Presidential candidates help to broaden the appeal by bringing in aspects of the other party's "frame" so as to speak to swing voters.

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