How Do You Like It So Far uses pop culture to take soundings of a society in transition, exploring intersections with civic imagination and engagement, and social and political change. Henry Jenkins and Colin Maclay are your guides on this adventure.

Episode 40: Exploring the Dark Fantastic with Ebony Thomas

This week we welcome Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, author of the new book The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games. She counters the deficit-framed language describing an achievement gap among youth of color by asserting that there is a corresponding, long-standing imagination gap – that lack of representation in children’s literature and media has left them unable to imagine themselves as the center of the story, in fantasy or in life. Progress is being made in media diversity and inclusion, yet Thomas argues, we’re not keeping pace in terms of priming the audience to accept these shifts. The internet is allowing children to connect with like-minded readers outside of their immediate community “bubbles,” participate in fan fiction and expand their interpretation of what they read. But do they have the resources they need to be able to read the world differently? What are the negative effects of such limited representations? Where will alternative fantasies come from? Thomas discussed here the debates that have sprung up around Black Panther and recent projects to bring alternative perspectives to historical narratives, concluding that it’s still imperative to create a dream space with and for minority youth

Here are some of the things mentioned in this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Pew internet surveys of teens’ digital behavior

Debbie Reese and American Indians in Children’s Literature

Ebony’s essay, “The pleasures of dreaming: How Lucy Maud Montgomery shaped my lifeworlds.” can be found in A Narrative Compass: Stories That Guide Women’s Lives

Follow Ebony on Twitter

Fan Fiction resources:
Harry Potter for Grown Ups Yahoo group
Harry Potter on
Join the Kindred Spirits listserv

YA and Fantasy Reading List:
Tomi Adeyemi: Children of Blood and Bone
Octavia Butler: Kindred, Xenogenesis Series (now published as Lilith’s Brood), Parable of the Sower/Parable of the Talents
N.K. Jemisin
Virginia Hamilton: The House of Dies Drear, The People Could Fly
Alaya Dawn Johnson: The Summer Prince

And for a realist contrast, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Henry’s pick – the graphic novel Bayou by Jeremy Love (vols. 1 & 2)

For more on Afrofuturism, listen to our Black Panther episodes

For a different discussion of developing a “white lens,” listen to our conversation with NPR’s Eric Deggans

Episode 39: Gaming the Iron Curtain: Computer games as a medium for self-expression in communist Czechoslovakia

Our guest this week is Jaroslav Švelch, author of Gaming the Iron Curtain: How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games, which recounts the early history (and his own experience) of gaming and home computer use in Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. In discussing this creator/maker culture, we note how both local materials and state-sponsored infrastructure were repurposed by these ingenious participatory communities, where playing computer games and programming them were completely intertwined. As we have seen with many other fan communities, what started as a hobby and shared interest gave rise to personal expression and then social change, as people used games to negotiate the state politics that they were not allowed to participate in. We also talk about the importance of documenting what seems like very recent history, when it is still possible to gather first-person accounts and community artifacts and present an alternative to a top-down or corporate record.

Here are some more of the things mentioned in this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Please check out Dr. Švelch’s collection of artifacts, videos, and Czechoslovakian games here

Looking for additional reading?  Check out Dr. Švelch’s collection of readings here

History of Czechoslovakia

More information about the Iron Curtain

Adaptation of home computers in Czechoslovakia in the 1980s

Software traded on cassette tapes

Czech Computer youth clubs for gaming activity

Imported Computers from the West

Some games from the late 1980s-1990’s

Computers expensive, but support from parents

Could immediately start using BASIC programming language

Smuggling Computers into Czechoslovakia

DIY computer accessories

November 17, 1989 – “Velvet Revolution” led to end of Communist Party

Video game made about it shortly thereafter

1990’s – beginning of the Czech video game industry

Alternative looks at the gaming industry – Laine Nooney’s history of Sierra On-line

Who else said computers aren’t for people? Ken Olsen of Digital Equipment Corporation famously said, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”  

See Ethan Zuckerman’s Cute Cat Theory for discussion of latent capacity

Tim Wu

Singapore MIT game innovation lab – Phillip Tan – Gum game

Singapore gum chewing ban

Episode 38: Social Media Entertainment: The New Intersection of Hollywood and Silicon Valley

In this episode we talk to David Craig, Clinical Associate Professor at USC Annenberg’s School for Communication and Journalism and a Fellow at the Peabody Media Center, and Stuart Cunningham, Distinguished Professor of Media and Communication, Queensland University of Technology. They are the authors of Social Media Entertainment: The New Intersection of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, in which they interviewed more than 200 online content creators. Social media entertainment has expanded rapidly and the traditional entertainment industry has been forced to cede significant power and influence to content creators, their fans, and subscribers. In this episode we discuss the rise of social media entertainment and its impact on media consumption and production, as well as the “convergence” of these industries, with the example of Indian-Canadian YouTuber Lilly Singh getting her own late night show on traditional television. Yet, who is Lilly Singh’s community? How do fandom and audience move across the internet and back to cable? Can online content creators bring their type of unique talent to traditional, legacy media?

Here are some more of the things mentioned in this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Lilly Singh – Codename ||Superwoman||
Taking over Last Call with Carson Daly
Best-selling book
Soldout worldwide tours

Late Night Hosts Utilizing YouTube as a Platform:
James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke
Ellen Degeneres’ YouTube Channel

More Content Creators Mentioned in This Podcast:
Hannah Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen; Food Network Series “I Hart Cooking”
Vlog Brothers (Hank & John Green); Nerd Fighters
Michelle Phan
Chiara Ferragniblog
Rural Indian housewivescooking videos
Huda Kattan

YouTube Activism:
Casey Neistat (YouTube + Article)
Ingrid Nilsen (YouTube + Article) – Clairol Glambassador
Asian-American YouTubers predating “Crazy Rich Asians”
Jerome JarréLove Army

Comcast Streaming Service

Life of YouTube Content Creator

YouTubers who have more than a million followers

Schwab’s drug store Hollywood discovery myth

Available Tools from YouTube:
YouTube Creator Academy
YouTube Spaces

Disciplinary actions of brands, community and creators

YouTube Creator Advocacy

Internet Creators Guild

Is a second YouTube Adpocalypse coming?

Platform Governance:
EU platform regulations
Australian inquiry around algorithm regulator that allocates advertising
Elizabeth Warren – breaking up tech titans
Problem of Platform Governance
YouTube IP responsibility under Safe Harbor provisions

Creator regulation in China
Wanghong economy
ByteDance – Fastest-growing Tech Company (owner of TikTok), acquired
Chinese economy slowing

Attackers on NZ mosques live-streamed their attacks – referenced PewDiePie

Queer Activism:
Stonewall Riots

Social Media Activism:
Parkland teenagers
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)
Australian Senator Press Release after New Zealand Shooting
Elizabeth Warren & Rupert Murdoch both calling for divestiture of anti-trust

Internet Governance Policy Conference (American University, May 24, 2019)

Read Henry’s previous conversations with David & Stuart on Multichannel Networks and the New Screen Ecology

Ethan Zuckerman’s Cute Cat Theory

Internet Creators Guild