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Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Postmillennial Pop) [Hardcover]

Henry Jenkins , Sam Ford , Joshua Green
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Mar 2013 Postmillennial Pop
Spreadable Media maps fundamental changes taking place in our contemporary media environment, a space where corporations no longer tightly control media distribution and many of us are directly involved in the circulation of content. It contrasts "stickiness" - aggregating attention in centralized places - with "spreadability" - dispersing content widely through both formal and informal networks, some approved, many unauthorized. Stickiness has been the measure of success in the broadcast era (and has been carried over to the online world), but "spreadability" describes the ways content travels through social media. Following up on the hugely influential Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, this book challenges some of the prevailing metaphors and frameworks used to describe contemporary media, from biological metaphors like "memes" and "viral" to the concept of "Web 2.0" and the popular notion of "influencers." Spreadable Media examines the nature of audience engagement, the environment of participation, the way appraisal creates value, and the transnational flows at the heart of these phenomena. It delineates the elements that make content more spreadable and highlights emerging media business models built for a world of participatory circulation. The book also explores the internal tensions companies face as they adapt to the new communication reality and argues for the need to shift from "hearing" to "listening" in corporate culture. Drawing on examples from film, music, games, comics, television, transmedia storytelling, advertising, and public relations industries, among others - from both the U.S. and around the world - the authors illustrate the contours of our current media environment. They highlight the vexing questions content creators must tackle and the responsibilities we all face as citizens in a world where many of us regularly circulate media content. Written for any and all of us who actively create and share media content, Spreadable Media provides a clear understanding of how people are spreading ideas and the implications these activities have for business, politics, and everyday life.

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Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Postmillennial Pop) + Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide + A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling: How to Captivate and Engage Audiences across Multiple Platforms
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: New York University Press (25 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814743501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814743508
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 14.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 181,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Something new is emerging from the collision of traditional entertainment media, Internet-empowered fan cultures, and the norms of sharing that are encouraged and amplified by social media. Spreadable Media is a compelling guide, both entertaining and rigorous, to the new norms, cultures, enterprises, and social phenomena that networked culture is making possible. Read it to understand what your kids are doing, where Hollywood is going, and how online social networks spread cultural productions as a new form of sociality." -Howard Rheingold, author of Net Smart "By critically interrogating the ways in which media artifacts circulate, Spreadable Media challenges the popular notion that digital content magically goes 'viral.' This book brilliantly describes the dynamics that underpin people's engagement with social media in ways that are both theoretically rich and publicly meaningful."-Danah Boyd, Microsoft Research "Finally, a way of framing modern media creation and consumption that actually reflects reality and allows us to talk about it in a way that makes sense. It's a spreadable world and we are ALL part of it. Useful for anyone who makes media, analyzes it, consumes it, markets it or breathes." -Jane Espenson, writer-producer of Battlestar Galactica, Once Upon a Time, and Husbands "A wide-ranging examination of the contemporary media environment as individuals increasingly control their own creation of content." Kirkus Reviews, October 2012 "It's about time a group of thinkers put the marketing evangelists of the day out to pasture with a thorough look at what makes content move from consumer to consumer, marketer to consumer and consumer to marketer. Instead of latching on to the notion that you can create viral content, Jenkins, Ford, and Green question the assumptions, test theories and call us all to task. Spreadable Media pushes our thinking. As a result, we'll become smarter marketers. Why wouldn't you read this book?"-Jason Falls, CEO of Social Media Explorer and co-author of No Bullshit Social Media

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
First of all, I want to commend Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green on their 46-page Introduction that, all by itself, is worth more than the cost of the book while "setting the table" for an even more substantial feast of information, insights, and counsel in the seven chapters that follow.

As they explain, their book "examines the emerging hybrid model of [content] circulation, where a mix of top-down and bottom-up forces determine how material is shared across and among cultures in far more participatory (and messier) ways...This shift from distribution to circulation signals a movement toward a more participatory model of culture, one which sees the public not as simply consumer of preconstructed messages [e.g. book reviews of this book] but as people who are shaping, sharing, reframing, and remixing media content in ways which might not have been previously imagined."

In this context, I am reminded of Henry Chesbrough and the open business model for which he is so widely and justifiably renowned. As he explains in Open Innovation (2005), "An open business model uses this new division of innovation labor - both in the creation of value and in the capture of a portion of that value. Open models create value by leveraging many more ideas, due to their inclusion of a variety of external concepts. Open models can also enable greater value capture, by using a key asset, resource, or position not only in the company's own business model but also in other companies businesses."

In their book, Jenkins, Ford, and Green focus on the "social logics and practices that have enabled and popularized [social media's] new platforms, logics that explain [begin italics] why [end italics] sharing has become such a common practice, not just [begin italics] how [end italics].
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bland and evasive... 13 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
By its own admission, this book is a bit of a mess. Actually, it seeks to be three books in one, and whilst one occasionally stumbles across a gem, or a practice previously unknown, by and large it ducks questions rather than answers them. The complex dynamics of our attraction to and seduction by technology are treated quite superficially, and it seems like more of an opportunity to justify a disparate group of academics who, whilst working together, have agreed on very little in a respectful way. The result is a bit of a damp squib, and I would have preferred to see the issues examined with greater seriousness.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST BOOK I'VE READ IN TTIIIIIMMMEEE 4 Mar 2014
By Marty93
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is constantly filing in my understanding of current media and bridges so many gaps. AMAZING READ and i'm only 10% in!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ingenious but perhaps too multi-faceted look at why media spreads and why we want to spread it 24 Feb 2013
By T. Sales - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's a little bizarre that a popular (at least according to Amazon sales figures) book about passing along media or commentary has gone over a month without having a review posted. I think it's because this is an ingenious, yet jam-packed book that looks at online participation and the sharing of information from a unique perspective that just plain forces you to think. This is not a quick read.

While there are plenty of social media books out that look at the "new phenomenon" of sharing as an organizational strategy or as platforms of tools as compelling new ways to share, the authors of "Spreadable Media" look more at the material itself that is or isn't being shared. What characteristics of materials make people want to spread them? What's in it for the sharer? When people read, hear or watch something that makes them want to circulate it, what triggers that decision? The authors point out there's nothing really new about this motivation. The passing down of keepsakes, family heirlooms, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, family trees, etc. has gone on for generations. First the photocopier and now social media platforms have just made it easier and almost instantaneous.

The main focus of the book is on the broadcast, mass-media business model of "stickiness" of content vs. the parallel concept of "spreadability." It's becoming increasingly apparent that if media doesn't spread today, it's dead--like a film/song/book/work of art/best practice no one sees/hears/reads/studies/tries. So while there's a loss of control in allowing your audience to manipulate and pass along one's creative effort, there's also an expanded opportunity that it will uncover new audiences and be more widely acclaimed than if you protect it and threaten users for "stealing it." Corporations, institutions, universities and other power structures are starting to recognize that.

Perhaps one reason "Spreadable Media" may be slow to generate reviews is in the sheer breadth of their analysis. My personal reason for reading "Spreadable Media" was to create company communities where members will pass along content to co-workers and customers to expand product knowledge and benefits and ultimately to increase sales. Some of the most insightful information I've read about this topic is indeed covered in this book. The authors portray "lurkers" (the bane of online communities where the vast majority of members who only consume others' information without contributing any of their own) as only learning and biding their time until they too understand the rules and start to participate. In Chapter 5 they even describe what makes materials sharable. This will help me to completely rethink the development of content rather than just to focus on why community members are either engaged or not.

The density issue comes into play, however, as they go through a variety of entertainment, mass-media examples about how and why we are all moving toward spreadability. These examples are interesting to consider but can be difficult to digest. There are probably few readers who have all these perspectives who can follow these various threads. So if the authors have done anything "wrong" in the book it is just the amount of commentary on how much our culture is changing to address ways that we learn across all aspects of our lifestyles. In summary then, "Spreadable Media" is a great book but prepare yourself for some pretty deep but original thinking as Jenkins, Ford and Green argue for the increasingly networked world we're all living in.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The significance of the shift from a culture shaped by traditional media toward one fostering greater grassroots participation 11 Mar 2013
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First of all, I want to commend Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green on their 46-page Introduction that, all by itself, is worth more than the cost of the book while "setting the table" for an even more substantial feast of information, insights, and counsel in the seven chapters that follow.

As they explain, their book "examines the emerging hybrid model of [content] circulation, where a mix of top-down and bottom-up forces determine how material is shared across and among cultures in far more participatory (and messier) ways...This shift from distribution to circulation signals a movement toward a more participatory model of culture, one which sees the public not as simply consumer of preconstructed messages [e.g. book reviews of this book] but as people who are shaping, sharing, reframing, and remixing media content in ways which might not have been previously imagined."

In this context, I am reminded of Henry Chesbrough and the open business model for which he is so widely and justifiably renowned. As he explains in Open Innovation (2005), "An open business model uses this new division of innovation labor - both in the creation of value and in the capture of a portion of that value. Open models create value by leveraging many more ideas, due to their inclusion of a variety of external concepts. Open models can also enable greater value capture, by using a key asset, resource, or position not only in the company's own business model but also in other companies businesses."

In their book, Jenkins, Ford, and Green focus on the "social logics and practices that have enabled and popularized [social media's] new platforms, logics that explain [begin italics] why [end italics] sharing has become such a common practice, not just [begin italics] how [end italics]." The terms "spread," "spreadable," and "spreadability" are indeed appropriate, given the almost unlimited opportunities for communication, cooperation, and collaboration that an open business model creates for social media. The potentialities - both technical and cultural -- for connection and interaction are there to be seized by those who recognize and then take full advantage the increasingly pervasive forms of media circulation.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of coverage.

o What Susan Boyle Can Teach About Spreadability (Pages 9-16)
o Toward a New Moral Economy, Stolen Content or Exploited Labor, and Engaged, Not Exploited? (52-61)
o Value, Worth, and Meaning (67-72)
o Toward Transparent Marketing, and, We don't Need Influencers (75-82)
o Systems of Appraisal (87-90)
o From the Residual to the Retro, and, Residual Economics (100-106)
o Are You Engaged? and, The Challenges of Measurement (116-126)
o "The Total Engagement Experience" (137-141)
o A Brief History of Participatory Culture, and, Resistance versus Participation (159-172)
o Hearing versus Listening (175-182)
o The Problem of Unequal Participation (188-194)
o The Uncertainty Principle (196-202)
o How Long Is the Long Tail? (238-242)
o Learning from Nollywood (265-270)
o The World Is Not Flat (284-290)
o Spreadability Focal Points (295-300)

Before concluding their brilliant book, Jenkins, Ford, and Green identify a number of issues about a spreadable media environment that remain unresolved. For example, "If, for many of us, the long-term goal is to create a more democratic culture, which allows the public a greater role in decision-making at all levels, then a key requirement is going to be timely access to information and transparency in decision-making." Governance issues, especially regulation within a global digital community, suggest major implications for both better or worse.

Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green observe, "For the foreseeable future, these issues will be under debate between and among all participating parties. The shape of our culture, thank goodness, is still under transition, and - as a consequence - it is still possible for us to collectively struggle to shape the terms of a spreadable media environment and to forge a media environment that is more inclusive, more dynamic, and more participatory than before." I share that hope and am encouraged by the fact that achieving that vision would not have been possible only a few years ago.

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the material that is provided in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of it. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how to create value and meaning continuously at all levels and in all areas of their organization's operation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting devt on Jenkins' Convergence Culture 2 July 2013
By iain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For Media Studies teachers in particular, this book will not disappoint. A wealth of useful new reception theory for you to digest and introduce into your lessons. Also a must for digital literacy, media literacy people with whole school roles too.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun 17 Dec 2013
By Christina Olivero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fun and innovative book. I really liked the subject matter and it was an easy read. I would recommend it to anyone studying marketing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Exploration of Content Syndication Trends 24 Nov 2013
By David H. Deans - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read this book through the lens of a content marketing practitioner that was curious what new insight Henry Jenkins and his co-authors would add to the information and guidance that's already available on this topic -- both online and in other books.

The authors believe that "if it doesn't spread, it's dead." To me, that's an oversimplified explanation of today's environment. Also, most of their case studies are from the American entertainment industry. In contrast, I'm more interested in how these `spreadable media' scenarios apply to commercial (corporate brand) storytelling.

What's their primary focal point? The author's acknowledgement of the "participatory culture" of the Internet is a reoccuring theme throughout the book. Likewise, they remind us how the leadership of Big Media corporations have historically misunderstood or intentionally resisted this phenomena -- often at their own peril.

Moreover, while the basic concept of sharing and syndication is not new, those people who do much of the `social' sharing today are not sanctioned or encouraged by the content creator. To some people within the media industry, that's very unsettling. But the authors present a somewhat optimistic outlook -- believing that those fears will dissipate over time.

At the offset they're actually quite hopeful that socioeconomic advancement is likely, as a result of these progressive changes to the status quo. They say "The growth of networked communication, especially when coupled with the practices of participatory culture, provides a range of new resources and facilitates new interventions for a variety of groups who have long struggled to have their voices heard."

They question the cultural logic of believing that you can make something "go viral" -- because this notion is proven [upon reflection of the available research] to be more akin to wishful thinking than fact. They also challenge the legacy marketer's belief in content "stickiness" and point to the apparent limits of distribution models that merely count impressions or page views.

In summary, while I didn't find a significant new revelation in their text, I believe the authors have compiled a very thorough assessment of the topic and they deserve credit for that achievement. I like the way that they characterize online `influence' as a meritocracy -- and that to some degree we're all capable of becoming taste-makers of good content. Also, that the new media landscape offers a huge opportunity for creative artists that are eager to experiment and grow.

As I read the conclusion of this book I thought about all the marketers that will attempt exponential distribution of their thought leadership by paying publishers for their Native Advertising services, and yet they fail to include a Creative Commons licence on their corporate blogs -- opting instead for the restrictive traditional copyright warnings that inhibit proactive sharing and syndication.

For those readers who want to learn more about the author's point of view, they have an "enhanced version" of the book online at spreadablemedia.org
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