“Today’s post centers on a silly feud between bickering members of the big, new dysfunctional AOL family — TechCrunch and Moviefone — now under the viselike embrace of headmistress Arianna Huffington. But it’s also about who owns the news and what can happen as a result.”
Nicely put, as only InfoWorld‘s Robert X. Cringely can do it.
It also highlights a collaboration between a Hollywood studio and Fa$ebook resulting in a really dumb game that’s also a thinly veiled data mining operation.
A(ss)OL, as the company was once popularly know, now owns all three, as well as Engadget and others, with la Huffintgon presiding, and TechCrunch’s Alexis Tsostis saw a screening of Summit’s The Source Code which, says the story, “sounds like yet another truly lame Hollywood take on high tech. (Plot synopsis: Military guy uses computer ‘source code’ to enter the brain of a terrorist and prevent him from blowing things up. Think ‘The Matrix”‘ meets every other ‘thriller’ you’ve ever seen.)”
Tsostis interviewed the star of the film (Jake Gyllenhaal) and “wrote a brief, less-than-reverent blog post about how the movie is being marketed to geeks, including an unbelievably silly Facebook ‘game’ the studio concocted to promote the film”, it goes on.
“Apparently, the post was not enough of a blowjob for Summit, and they let it be known to the AOL person at Moviefone who hooked us up with them in the first place”, says Alexis on TechCrunch.
This generated a smarmy email from Moviefone/AOL Television. It went like this:
“First wanted to thank you for covering Source Code/attending the party, etc. But also wanted to raise a concern that Summit had about the piece that ran.”
(Did Moviefone/AOL Television think they were sending a telegram? You know, where you have to pay for words used?)
Summit “felt it was a little snarky and wondered if any of the snark can be toned down?” – says the email, adding >>>
I wasn’t able to view the video interviews but I think their issue is just with some of the text. Let me know if you’re able to take another look at it and make any edits. I know of course that TechCrunch has its own voice and editorial standards, so if you have good reasons not to change anything that’s fine, I just need to get back to Summit with some sort of information. Let me know.
Says Alexis, it “deserves a re-publish here for the following reasons” >>>
a) We’ve made a loose promise that if AOL ever asked us if we could change our coverage in any way, that we’d immediately publish it. Moviefone is part of AOL, so here you go. [What's a "loose promise"?]
b) It highlights a key difference between the Hollywood and Silicon Valley media ecosystem. Granted, it’s common for the press to trade access for positive coverage across all industries (eh hem, Apple), but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the stratified environs of the movie and television industry. It’s almost like a petri dish for media manipulation.
c) What I didn’t understand when writing my candid opinion about the movie and its marketing strategy was that Summit thought that by inviting me to their party they were basically buying a puff piece. The thought never crossed my mind, mainly because I cover startups, and startups, unlike Hollywood stars, want to talk to the press.
“And while it’s inappropriate, it’s not surprising”, she says. “What is surprising, and sad, is that Moviefone/AOL actually tried to comply with their request and asked us to change our post. It’s not just sad, it’s wrong.
“So no AOL, and Moviefone, and Summit, I will absolutely not tone down my snark. This is Silicon Valley, not Hollywood.”
What got Summit’s knickers in a twist?
Said her TechCrunch review, “What’s more interesting than the story line is the fact that the Summit Entertainment has built the Facebook game ‘The Source Code Mission’ in order to promote the film, the first ‘cross-platform, trans-media campaign that transports audiences into the movie narrative using social media game play’,” adding:
“Okay but what does this buzzwordgasm mean? Well that fans can scan in Microsoft Tag codes they find on Source Code movie posters and other sundry swag, or visit Facebook or the movie’s actual site (http://mission.enterthesourcecode.com/) in order to complete ‘social media tasks’ which basically amount to posting thinly veiled promotion about the movie onto their Facebook walls. If a user completes all five tasks, their profile image becomes part of a ‘movie poster’ on the Enter The Source Code website, Influencer Project style.”
The Fa$ebook thingie
The hero, captain Colter Stevens, has “recruited you to Enter The Source Code” (DA DA!), says the movie Fa$ebook thingie, stating >>>
CLICK CONNECT TO GET STARTED!
In SOURCE CODE, Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) has 8 minutes to find the bomber of a commuter train. But he needs your assistance.
Your mission is to help him gather clues by completing the 5 tasks below.
Click “Connect” to get started now!
Log in to Facebook Connect. Your profile image will become your identity.
Where are you stationed? Post your location on your Facebook wall.
Post something you overhear in a nearby conversation, or something you see in your line of sight.
Use Google Maps to locate the nearest train station and record your distance from it.
Select a Facebook friend to help you on your Mission.
And “After you complete these 5 tasks, your profile image will become part of an animated movie poster on the SOURCE CODE website”, it says.
You also get a badge “for each task completed” which you “can share with others”.
But you have to have proven IQ of 10 or below to be eligible, says the fine print.
Who gets to share the data mined, one wonders?
No need to answer.
InfoWorld – AOL and the Fight for Editorial Independence, March 16, 2011
la Huffintgon – AOL swallows the Huffington Post, February 7, 2011
TechCrunch – AOL Asks Us If We Can Tone It Down, March 15, 2011
TechCrunch – Jake Gyllenhaal Movie ‘Source Code’ Markets Itself To Techies, March 12, 2011
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
World War III will be a global information war with no division between civilian & military participation ~ Marshall McLuhan
Net access blocked by government restrictions? Use Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Go here for details.