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SXSW: Unbranded and Branded Content, Documentarians, and Journalists

Beginning with the EndBranded content, from advertising to sponsored work, has long used the skills of filmmakers and (often ex-) journalists. At SXSW 2014, unbranded content--sponsored but without an obvious pitch for product or even necessarily a direct link to the sponsor--was in full flourish, with companies recruiting for talent.  The biggest question for recruits may be ethics. Read more...

SXSW: The Colors and Cultures of Documentaries

The Great InvisibleIs diversity an afterthought in film fest programming or is the production pipeline just really skewed toward the same race and class segregation as the rest of society? And is there anything to do about it? The SXSW lineup is only the latest to provoke that thought for me, and AJ Schnack’s gutsy call to harder-edged, more thoughtful discussion in docs triggers the thought to raise it in public, even though festivals are typically a moment to celebrate achievement. Read more...

SXSW: Net Neutrality and Netflix

Comcast MergerNet neutrality is something every media maker has to care about, explained Free Press’ Craig Aaron at SXSW 2014. 

Net neutrality means that Internet providers treat equally all the information that they transmit, rather than prioritizing the information they own or favor. The term is a loose one; in a literal sense this doesn’t really happen now, and couldn’t without freezing the Internet. But in general, you don’t want a provider to do a deal with its favorite, say, newspaper or movie service, at the expense of others. That’s why the FCC made it a condition of Comcast’s 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal.  Read more...

SXSW: Privacy, Surveillance and Media

Edward SnowdenThe focus on Internet privacy and surveillance at SXSW 2014 had implications for both techies and media makers.

Edward Snowden’s precise and elegant presentation, delivered via Google Hangout (irony duly noted) and along seven (!) proxies, was well-paired with another beamed-in interview with journalist Glenn Greenwald, who reinforced Snowden’s concern. Read more...

How Shall We Think about Teens Online? danah boyd Explains It All to You

It's ComplicatedWhy are teens burying their faces in their screens? How can we protect young people from online predators? And stop cyberbullying? Oh, and can those digital natives fix our phones?

At a talk at the New America Foundation, communications scholar danah boyd showed why all these questions are the wrong ones to ask. Teens, she explained, are mostly using social media as a way to enable and enhance social life, often because their access to each other has been limited by curfews, suburbanization and school choice, and parental panic, to mention some larger social factors. So don’t blame them for texting, any more than you decried teen phone use or note passing in study hall in the past. Read more...