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Mark Burnett with Brian Solis: Convergence

Author:
Burnett tells Solis, I pitched 'Joe Lieberman's Connecticut, but nobody bit.

The full title of this session was “Convergence of media and the future of unscripted drama on the web.” Brian Solis (author of Engage and creator of the Conversation Prism infographic you’ve used in at least three slide decks so far this year) interviewed Survivor creator Mark Burnett on how networked communication is challenging, supporting and transforming shows like his.

Cartoon: Jeff Probst tells a contestant 'You've been voted off the island. But on the brighter side, you're trending on Twitter.' It was a fascinating conversation, starting with the essential importance of story to both blogging (something Solis speaks about so eloquently that I wonder if he might have the same kind of spec screenplays buried on his hard drive that I do) and shows like Survivor, where Burnett invoked Joseph Campbell and walked us through the show’s imagery of life, death and  rebirth.

From there, the two looked at the way the online backchannel has transformed water-cooler conversations. Those conversations now start during the show itself, and take place everywhere, Burnett said. “The water cooler is now omni-present.”

Cartoon: two people at a water cooler. One asks: 'So, didja see the liveblogging for Survivor last night?'

The conversation ranged over football legend Jimmy Johnson’s appearance on a rescheduled Survivor to the MTV Movie Awards, before they launched into Burnett’s latest project, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. He described Alaska as “epic”, and we became the first audience to see promotional footage from the upcoming show.

Burnett tells Solis, I pitched 'Joe Lieberman's Connecticut, but nobody bit. Then, at the end, Solis announced a surprise: the footage was being released to the world not through the usual channels, but via Steve Garfield’s YouTube channel. (Burnett acknowledged the plan may have initially caused some agita in the executive suites at TLC.)

TLC exec's head exploding. But tastefully. And educationally. And here, for your viewing pleasure, is that very video:

Rob Cottingham is a cofounder of social media strategy firm Social Signal, a blogger since 2001, and the pen behind Noise to Signal for the past three years. Find him on Twitter at @robcottingham.


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