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Media Strategies for a Networked World

The Internet has changed the business of media. Citizen journalists write accounts that challenge print journalism; Craigslist and Google compete with magazines as advertising outlets; YouTube offers more personalized “channels” than satellite broadcasters can hope to provide; real world businesses open outlets in SecondLife. As electronic networks become faster, consumers are becoming creators of all forms of content and new business opportunities develop where old ones fall away.

This course aims to familiarize students with the technologies of new media to enhance their perspectives on the global business, ethical and regulatory challenges and to consider the effect new technologies are having on business strategy and operations.

Students will experiment with media including audio, video, blogging, wikis, and multimedia gaming, putting context to theoretical readings and guest lectures from leaders in the field. The assessments will give realistic practice in the type of strategic issues students will face in existing media companies, entrepreneurial start ups and any organization interested in communication. The course requires no technical background.


Class divisions and reading assignments are tentative, subject to change as speakers are added and news breaks.

Network Architecture and Generativity

 Technologies of communication, access, and control
 Generative technology and content

Wendy Seltzer's slides Jonathan Zittrain's slides

Making a business viable in the networked world

 Old and new models for media companies; Funding new media strategies; Organizing for success
 Measures of success – for the bank, funders, acquirers, customers, workers
 Where to build a business?: The Network Neutrality debate
 consider BBC; The Guardian; Google AdSense; Acxiom; Claritas; Craigslist 

Slides from Jonathan Black's lecture

Branding and letting go of control

 Corporate blogging, attitudes toward parodists, interactive advertising; The hazards of over-lawyering
 consider Sun Microsystems and Microsoft corporate weblogs; Burger King's Subservient Chicken; Second Life in-game branding

Slides from Wendy Seltzer's lecture

Trust and Accountability in the online world

 Privacy, anonymity, spam, social networking
 consider MAPS RBL; SpamHaus; eBay; Friendster

Slides from Jonathan Zittrain's lecture

Copyright & technology

 Disruptive innovation and the impulse to control it
 consider; YouTube; MythTV; TiVo; iTunes/PlaysForSure/Zune;

Slides from Wendy Seltzer's Lecture

Open source, open licensing of content

 New models for information production and dissemination
 Network economics, standards, and competition 
 consider GNU/Linux; Creative Commons; BBC Creative Archive; Wikipedia; AIM/gAIM/Jabber
  • James Boyle. Smarter than Jefferson? [1] Published: May 21 2007 16:52 | Last updated: May 21 2007 16:52


  • Yochai Benkler, Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm, 112 Yale L.J. (2002)
  • Jessica Litman, Sharing and Stealing, 26 Comm/Ent 1 (2004)

Jonathan Zittrain's slides

Coping with abundance

 Community sourcing, collaborative filtering, the “long tail”, "Web 2.0"
 consider Amazon recommendations;;; compare Red Hat, IBM, Microsoft strategies


  • Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Solution (chapter 1) - we've discussed these concepts in previous lectures, particularly regarding copyright and copy protection
  • Clay Shirky, Ontology is Overrated
  • Varian & Shapiro, Information Rules (excerpts)

Look at an page, e.g. "The Long Tail" What's the point of all the sections below the title, price, and click-to-buy? Are they effective?

Mergers and Acquisitions

Valuation and preparing for sale
The role of regulation in a global environment
  • Aris & Bughin, Managing Media Companies Chapter 7, including Lagardère case study
  • Guest lecturer: Kit van Tulleken, the van Tulleken Co.
  • Discussion to include
    • Theoretical and practical methods of valuation – past, present and future
    • Case studies of recent M&A deals
    • Preparing your company for sale


Essential purchase / course textbook

Annet Aris and Jacques Bughin: Managing Media Companies John Wiley 0-470-01563-2

Recommended texts

  • Paul Levinson: Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium, Routledge 0-415-24991-0
  • Nicholas Negroponte: Being Digital, Coronet Books 0340649305
  • Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian, Information Rules: A strategic guide to the network economy, HBS Press (1999)

Further recommended reading:

  • Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, Yale University Press (2006) and <>
  • Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture, <>
  • Dan Gillmor, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People, O'Reilly (2004)
  • JD Lasica, Darknet: Hollywood's war against the digital generation, Wiley (2005)
  • Clayton Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma, HBS Press (1997)
  • John Battelle, The Search, (2005)
  • Locke, Levine, Searls, & Weinberger, The Cluetrain Manifesto, (2000)

Assessment and practical work

The course aims to give participants a practical, hands-on appreciation of new media and to share experiences with the class first in an open, unassessed way and later as part of the assessment.

Group assessment: Working in small groups, selected by the tutors, participants will develop a new media product, service, or idea for a proposed or existing organization (worth 40% of the total grade). Groups will be assigned to present their work-in-progress to the class for discussion.

Exam: the course will finish with a written exam

  • 2 hours
  • Worth 60% of the total grade
  • Section A: answer 3 of 5 questions (worth 30% of the total grade)
  • Section B: answer 1 question from a choice of 5 (worth 30% of the total grade)

Additional outside speakers will be invited to share business and legal experience throughout the term.