New Media in an Adhocracy
In previous studies, I sketched a three-part typology of modern studio-laboratories
as institutions committed to research and creation in new media. In this
paper I extend and problematize the three-part categorization by examining
the transition between analog and digital technologies within a single
institution. The National Film Board of Canada was characterized by decentralized
emergent strategy formation, rather than integrated hierarchical bureaucracy.
Adhocracies, as this approach to strategy is termed by organizational
theorists, oscillate between periods of relative focus centered around
a guiding vision, and periods of divergence comprised of disjunct projects.
The NFB maintained a strong technical culture and supported highly innovatory
production that often entailed organized inventive work. From 1970 –
1973 by the NFB collaborated with the National Research Council of Canada
on character animation, using some of the first computers fitted with
artistically specified interactive techniques. The earliest hand-drawn
and computer animated films were produced from this collaboration (Metadata,
Hunger). After these brilliant beginnings, the National Film Board’s
program in computer animation faced several obstacles which prevented
it from sustaining its early prominence. Two of these obstacles will be
analyzed here, in light of the dynamics of an adhocratic organization.