Go epic or go home! Open Letter to the MCDM

Hi everyone,

Wednesday on KING 5, I used a comparative look at e-readers as an entree to announce our upcoming Media Space program for UWTV.

The Media Space show site is now live, listing our first four guests: Ben Huh, Elan Lee, Kate James, Monica Harrington.  We’ll also have Scott Berkun provide commentary.

Why TV, and what does this have to do with a graduate masters in digital media?

When I became MCDM Director three years ago this month, I envisaged my mission as two-fold:

(1) To elevate the excellence of the program by focusing on our curriculum, quality of applicants, and quality of instruction.

(2) To elevate the profile of the program (thereby increasing its value to our students and alumni as a career booster), by putting it squarely at the center of the communication, content-creation and technology communities of our region.

Media Space TV continues our work on #2.  We’ve hosted a plethora of community events in the last few years, as we seek to share our thought leadership with the rest of the world.  It just so happens that digital media and communication generally are presently part of the societal “zeitgeist” — with the rise of social media, cheap but powerful digital cameras, far-reaching online distribution ecosystems, along with mobile’s imminent ubiquity.  In other words, we have an incredible wave to ride.

The Puget Sound region has an important role to play in this momentum, and we’re blessed with a number of key actors who live and work among us.  Our TEDx Seattle event in April confirmed that we’re surrounded by a number of dynamic communities — and that they’re looking for a catalyst to bring them together.  In other words, someone needs to create “bridging capital” to marshal the energies, expertise and creativity of these communities.

Judging by the success of TEDx Seattle, we are that “someone.”  Indeed, in many ways, our approach to connecting these communities speaks to what it takes to be an effective influencer in the digital age: managing relationships online and off, sharing valuable knowledge to feed those relationships, building trust through sharing, and recognizing that live events as “community scholarship” not only add to the common good, they constitute powerful content that cuts through the “noise.”  So yes, we’re practicing what we preach.

TEDx Seattle, and our Emerging Brown Bag series helped solidify our strategy this year.  Media Space TV takes it to the next level.

By all accounts, television viewership has not fallen, despite our growing online options.  Through its broad reach, it remains a powerful communications metric: if something you want to communicate makes it on TV, it usually is seen as more influential (thought sometimes that’s more perception than reality).  And it allows us to engage certain thought leaders who see clear ROI in participating in a conversation on such a powerful medium.

The more they hear about the MCDM and our philosophy, the more the world will hear about it — the more communities we can help convene.  This also creates more networking opportunities for those who embrace our mission — especially for our students. Fortunately, as UWTV reinvents itself, they have embraced the opportunity to work with us in creating this show, which they see as a centerpiece to their prime-time schedule (full disclosure: the UW President appointed me to the working group last year that helped reshape UWTV into a viable broadcast entity, and I still serve on the station’s advisory board).

Media Space TV is another tool to bring those communities together through the optic of the MCDM.  But believe it or not, there’s “one more thing.”

If you look at our new show open animation, you’ll see the four words, “Innovation,” “Community,” “Entrepreneurship,” “Entertainment.”  Those are the “Four Peaks” that we’ve identified as core elements of our professional ecosystem.  We intend Media Space TV to elevate and amplify the conversation around these Peaks (particularly in our choice of guests), and to build momentum to our signature, collaboratively-hosted event next October 2011: The Four Peaks Summit.

TEDx Seattle was just the beginning, now with like-minded community partners, we will create our own event that promotes thought leadership and the sharing of groundbreaking ideas throughout the region — and ultimately, globally.  If the 20th century transformed NYC into the “Media Capital” and LA into the “Entertainment Capital,” then Seattle could well become the 21st century’s “Storytelling Capital.”

I know, ambitious stuff.  But as Department Chair David Domke likes to tell me, “go epic, or go home.”

This wouldn’t be the MCDM if we didn’t have a plan for encouraging your participation in all of this.

(1) Participate on Media Space TV.  Next Thursday, September 23rd, we’ll be shooting our first episode, with I Can Haz Cheezburger’s Ben Huh.  We will Livestream it, as well as show the stream at a satellite location (appropriately COM 244, our very own Media Space).  Submit your questions to Ben via Livestream, or participate on-camera with a question live from Media Space (more details soon).  For future episodes, we will host an “after-show” event at the Rat & Raven as part of our new monthly Thursdays MCDM Happy Hour where we’ll actually engage in conversation over drinks related to that show’s particular subject.

(2) Consider a Media Space TV sponsorship.  This is a joint-production between the MCDM and UWTV, and is fairly cost-effective.  We’ve committed to four episodes through the end of December, but need to use these episodes to encourage outside sponsorships to keep the series going for the year.  It’s actually a really inexpensive way any organizations that you know of to gain considerable exposure throughout the region, and online.

(3) Attend TEDx Change this Monday: 600 people have RSVP’d to attend the MCDM’s hosting of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s massive TEDx Change event.  There are hosting parties around the world.  Our networking breakfast just happens to be the largest one.  So you’ll have a chance to network, and during my opening remarks, I’ll be formally announcing both Media Space TV, as well as Four Peaks.  After the talk, I’m hoping folks will connect with us to chat about how they can get involved in helping to get Four Peaks off the ground.

Yes, it’s another long missive from me.  One might even say…epic!

See you next week.

Hanson

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