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MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing-logo

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

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Cambridge, MA






Has Silicon Valley Lost Its Humanity?

Silicon Valley innovations have given rise to a class of tech titans wielding immense economic and political influence and has paved the way for a cultural shift towards individualism. Has this resulted in historically marginalized groups being left behind once again? Noam Cohen, a former New York Times technology columnist and author of The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball, argues that the disruption touted by Silicon Valley occurs...

Duration: 01:47:51

Fall 2017 Alumi Panel

Hear from four alums of the graduate program in Comparative Media Studies as they discuss their experience at MIT and what their careers have looked like in the fields a CMS degree prepared them for. Panelists include: Matthew Weise, ’04, a game designer and educator whose work spans industry and academia. He is the CEO of Empathy Box, a company that specializes in narrative design for games and across media. He was the Narrative Designer at Harmonix Music Systems on Fantasia: Music Evolved,...

Duration: 01:29:28

Cloud Policy: Anatomy of a Regulatory Crisis

Jennifer Holt examines the legal and cultural crises surrounding the regulation of data in “the cloud.” The complex landscape of laws and policies governing digital data are currently rife with unresolvable conflicts. The challenges of distributing and protecting digital data in a policy landscape that is simultaneously local, national, and global have created problems that often defy legal paradigms, national boundaries, and traditional geographies of control. She examines these...

Duration: 01:09:28

Mapping Climate Change: Contested Futures in New York City’s Flood Zone

As seas rise, coasts erode, deserts spread, and permafrost melts, climate change is altering everyday life in many places. Even with immediate, drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, sufficient warming is already “baked in” to ensure ongoing disruption. What this disruption will look like, however, depends not only on the extent of global warming and its effects but also on the way these effects and their attendant risks are measured, mapped, and managed. This talk explores how...

Duration: 01:09:36

An Evening with Sarah Vowell

Overthrown Hawaiian queens, religious zealots, swindlers, cranky cartographers, presidential assassins, and the people who visit their memorials on vacation are all fodder for historian and humorist Sarah Vowell. Vowell’s seven nonfiction books, many of which have topped the New York Times’ best sellers list, explore America’s not-so-squeaky-clean past and creates a framework for understanding our modern day values. Vowell brings her wit to the MIT Communications Forum for a moderated...

Duration: 01:34:20

The Mediated Construction of Reality - From Berger and Luckmann to Norbert Elias

Nick Couldry outlined the project of his recent book, The Mediated Construction of Reality (Polity October 2016, co-written with Andreas Hepp). The book offers a critical reevaluation and rearticulation of the social constructivist ambitions of Berger and Luckmann’s 1966 book The Social Construction of Reality while radically rethinking the implications of this for a world saturated not just with digital media, but with data processes. Couldry outlined how a materialist phenomenology can...

Duration: 01:29:29

Platforms in the Public Interest: Lessons from Minitel

Platforms such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook dominate the internet today, providing private infrastructures for public culture. These systems are so massive that it’s easy to forget that the digital world was not always like this. More than two decades before widespread Internet access, millions of people in France were already online, chatting, gaming, buying, selling, searching, and flirting. This explosion of digital culture came via Minitel, a simple video terminal provided for free...

Duration: 01:30:22

Walter Menendez: "Engineering Virality: BuzzFeed’s Scientific Approach To Creating Content"

If you’ve heard of BuzzFeed, you probably think about our famous articles and quizzes, such as The Dress and Which State Are You Actually From?, as well as our video escapades, such as The Try Guys Try Sexy Halloween Costumes and our famous Watermelon Explosion experiment on Facebook Live. The success of our content might seem accidental, but as a result of BuzzFeed’s experimental approach to producing content, the virality of these posts is actually a very scientific and calculated...

Duration: 01:14:26

Playful Practice: Designing the Future of Teacher Learning

All across the world, educational systems are exploring new ways to encourage more ambitious teaching and learning in classrooms: shifting away from recitation and rote learning to more engaging forms of collaborative, active, problem-centered learning. For this shift in classrooms to occur, we need to dramatically increase the quantity and quality of learning opportunities available to educators in these systems, and new forms of blended and online learning experiences will be central to...

Duration: 01:25:46

Nicole Hemmer: "From Taft to Trump: How Conservative Media Activists Won — and Lost — the GOP"

As Donald Trump built his lead in the Republican primaries, the editors of National Review came out with an entire “Against Trump” issue, a full-throated — and ultimately ineffective — denunciation of the GOP nominee. Soon conservative media personalities were taking sides, culminating in the hiring of Breitbart’s Steve Bannon to run the Trump campaign. But the centrality of conservative media to presidential politics is not a new development. As early as the 1950s, conservative media...

Duration: 01:22:43

The Contingencies of Comparison: Rethinking Comparative Media

Brian Larkin and Stefan Andriopoulos draw on the concept of comparison to examine how the same technologies work in radically different ways across the globe, juxtaposing media practices in Africa, Latin America, and Asia as well as in Western centers. There is an assumption that media, whether print, cinema, or digital media, were developed in the West and later exported to other places which were then in the place of ‘catching up’ with a media history that had already been established....

Duration: 01:11:36

Michael Lee: "The Conservative Canon Before and After Trump"

Michael J. Lee charts the vital role of canonical post–World War II (1945–1964) books in generating, guiding, and sustaining conservatism as a political force in the United States. Dedicated conservatives have argued for decades that the conservative movement was a product of print, rather than a march, a protest, or a pivotal moment of persecution. The Road to Serfdom, Ideas Have Consequences, Witness, The Conservative Mind, God and Man at Yale, The Conscience of a Conservative, and other...

Duration: 01:14:11

The Spiciest Memelord - An Interview with Jeopardy Champ Lilly Chin

"MIT’s Jeopardy champ talks strategy, memes -- and becoming strangers’ media object." In early 2017, Lilly Chin won the Jeopardy College Championship. The MIT senior and Comparative Media Studies minor took home a check for $100,000, but with her Final Jeopardy response “Who is the spiciest memelord?”, she also earned a spot in the same internet lore she studied. We talked to Lilly about that Jeopardy experience and discovered that sudden fame, in a digital world where anyone can reach you...

Duration: 00:37:22

An Evening With Aparna Nancherla

Named one of Variety’s Ten Comics to Watch for 2016, Aparna Nancherla has racked up appearances on Conan, Last Comic Standing, Inside Amy Schumer, and The Jim Gaffigan Show. A former writer on Late Night with Seth Meyers and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, Nancherla headed to MIT to discuss her career and tackling tough topics with humor. MIT philosophy professor Kieran Setiya moderated.

Duration: 01:27:15

Barbie and Mortal Kombat 20 Years Later

In Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat, the third edited volume in the series that includes From Barbie to Mortal Kombat and Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat, the authors and contributors expand the discussions on gender, race, and sexuality in gaming. They include intersectional perspectives on the experiences of diverse players, non-players and designers and promote inclusive designs for broadening access and participation in gaming, design and development. Contributors from media...

Duration: 01:16:35

Glorianna Davenport, "The Networked Sensory Landscape Meets the Future of Documentary"

At its heart, documentary cinema has always been an experimental medium. Its evolution has been driven on the one hand by the creativity and interests of the media maker and on the other by technological invention and the evolution of particular sensing, imaging and display technologies. Some insight into the experimental trajectory of the documentary approach can be found in definitions and naming conventions that emerged. Where as John Grierson’s famous definition, the “creative...

Duration: 01:07:53

Charles Musser, "From Stereopticon to Telephone: The Selling of the President in the Gilded Age"

Contrary to our received notions on the newness of new media, the presidential campaigns of the late nineteenth century witnessed an explosion of media forms as advisers and technicians exploited a variety of forms promote their candidates and platforms, including the stereopticon (a modernized magic lantern), the phonograph, and the telephone. In the process, they set in motion not only a new way of imagining how to market national campaigns and candidates; they also helped to usher in...

Duration: 01:45:03

Sexual Harassment and Gender Equity in Science

In October, 2015, BuzzFeed News reporter Azeen Ghorayshi broke an investigative story detailing astronomer Geoffrey Marcy’s long history of sexual harassment. Since then, more female scientists have come forward about their experiences with harassment. Ghorayshi, MIT astronomer Sarah Ballard, and Harvard history of science professor Evelynn M. Hammonds join science journalist and MIT Communications Forum coordinator Christina Couch to discuss barriers to gender equality in the sciences and...

Duration: 01:37:34

Paul Roquet: "Desktop Reveries: Hand, Software, and the Space of Japanese Artist Animation"

Independent animators often pride themselves on an intimate, hand-drawn aesthetic. But they increasingly rely on computer software not only to accelerate their workflow, but to manipulate the look and feel of their drawings. Compositing software enables subtle but decisive shifts in the spaces portrayed, through manipulations of color, texture, line, and movement. Seeking to unravel the analytical split between the “drawn” and the “digital” in animation and media studies more broadly,...

Duration: 01:09:28

Race and Racism in the 2016 Presidential Election

The 2016 Presidential election brought issues of race and racism to the forefront of American politics and forced journalists to confront how to cover these topics without providing a platform for hate groups. Slate chief political correspondent and CBS News political analyst Jamelle Bouie joins MIT Communications Forum director Seth Mnookin to explore how race and ethnicity framed the election and how journalists and content creators can improve coverage of these issues moving forward....

Duration: 01:51:21

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