Two weeks ago, MIT hosted the 6th Annual Futures of Entertainment (FoE) conference. Founded by a group of faculty and researchers in the MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Department (where OpenDocLab is also housed), FoE routinely brings industry professionals and scholars together to hash out some of the challenges– and opportunities– facing the media and entertainment industries.

The FoE panel on the “Futures of Public Media,” featuring A.I.R.‘s Jessica Clark as moderator, might be of particular interest to the documentary community. Today, public media is simultaneously constrained by budget cuts and political pressure and opened up by the storytelling potentials of digital technology. The panel asked,

How do the freedoms and constraints of public media shape creators’ work in unique ways? How have innovations happening in independent media, civic media, and the commercial sector impacting those creators? And what can we all learn from their innovation and experiences?

MIT Professor and frequent OpenDocLab collaborator Sasha Costanza-Chock sat on the panel, “From Participatory Culture to Political Participation,” exploring the links between media, storytelling, and social action. According to the panel description,

Around the world, activists, educators, and nonprofit organizations are discovering new power through their capacity to appropriate, remix, and recirculate elements of popular culture. In some cases, these groups are forging formal partnerships with media producers. In other cases, they are deploying what some have called “cultural acupuncture,” making unauthorized extensions which tap into the public’s interest in entertainment properties to direct their attention to other social problems.

Futures of Entertainment also featured panels on the future of videogames, U.S. copyright policy, and over-hype of new technologies, or “the shiny new object syndrome.”

Videos of the entire conference lineup are available on MIT’s TechTV.

Katie Edgerton/MIT