By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn February 12, 2009 at 8:55AM
In November of last year, I attended the Futures of Entertainment conference at MIT and was really impressed with the depth of insight in the series of discussions that took place over the weekend. Professor Henry Jenkins isn't a filmmaker, and you might not hear about his work on a Sundance panel, but his research into fan culture and the nature of viral media can really help filmmakers -- especially those who promote their own work -- understand the importance of maintaining an active online presence. Jeknins, who will soon ship off to California for a teaching gig at USC, is currently working on his next book, "If It Doesn't Spread, It's Dead." You can read the first chapter at Jenkins's blog.
Some readers, especially non-academic types, may find this type of research-based writing a bit heady and, well, heavy. But those willing to take a patient approach will be richly rewarded with a sharper understanding of how viral media works, and why "viral" might not properly describe the phenomenon at all.