Jan 012012

Originally published Oct 2011 in Wired Magazine ‘Change Accelerators‘ by Gary Hayes 4 of 5

Image by Gary Hayes

When planning your next holiday to London with the fam, don’t forget to sync up your iGlasses and load up the London experience packs. On arrival, slip on your augmented reality sunglasses and take a look around: Roman-era London appears before your eyes. Slaves and gladiators walk through the streets and chariots rush past. You can add your own comments leaving virtual “We Were Here” graffiti for all time. The experience is part documentary, part user-generated narrative, and entirely pervasive. In other words, augmented reality meets living history.

In our everyday lives, we engage with stories in many ways, whether it’s eye-to-eye contact with a stranger that sparks an instant connection or a well-crafted movie or TV show. But what if we started experiencing those stories in the outernet’s layers?

While online networks are evolving traditional entertainment, such as TV and web series, we are also witnessing the rise of a new form of media called “augmented reality storytelling.” I’ve dubbed this new form of diversion ’ntertainment, as a shorthand for immersive augmented reality entertainment.

At its broadest level, augmented reality is about enhancing the physical world through digital elements, such as images, sound, and information. Now technology is enabling us to further situate and layer our digital stories in places where other narratives can’t reach. Right now, we see this happening when someone holds up a camera on an iPhone or tablet and shares objects or stories from the real world.

The opening Roman London example is based on an existing service called Londinium, which is a collaboration between the History Channel and the Museum of London using augmented reality video layered over real-world streets to re-create an alternate history. Coincidentally, London is also used as a site in the globe-spanning Ghost Tours 2.0. Haunted London encourages visitors to explore the city’s eerie side using locative AR (augmented reality). Likewise, another situated project is Witness, which draws participants into the dramatic and seedy underbelly of criminal Berlin. In this case, players are the hero: They watch graphic video scenes at different city locations and are then sent detective challenges to uncover the truth. But here’s the twist: The story might just bite you back! Augmented reality games and stories can even get physical, like the recent example of Chelsea FC playing the world’s largest Space Invaders game in a stadium using projection AR.

Gaming is leading the way. New consoles, like Vita, allow users to literally take game characters orreality fighters into the streets. Other gaming advances like AR games on Nintendo’s 3DS start to recognize place markers placed around a player’s city, transforming screen-based MMORPG(massively multiplayer online role-playing games) into an LMMOG (location-based massively multiplayer online games).

Augmented reality storytelling is starting to appear across our smart GPS mobile devices. Several marketing campaigns are taking the initiative by spearheading real-time AR challenges, such as Vodafone’s Buffer Monsters, which challenged German smartphone users to download a mobile app to capture virtual creatures and win a lifetime plan. This is only one example, other AR advergames encourage users to competitively run around cities on scavenger hunts for real-world prizes, such as the Droid Bionic AR Game. Similarly, this October, Gundam, the Japanese anime giant, release an iPhone/iPad app called Gundam Area Wars. The game uses the devices’ camera and gyroscopic sensors to show life-size 3D models situated in the player’s real-world landscape.

Given these above examples, I return to my earlier travel scenario and I wonder how commonplace it will become for people arriving in a new location to start experiencing it through augmented reality storytelling and gameplay? The traditional guidebook has already morphed into digital form. The Lonely Planet is already a downloadable app. Is it a big jump to imagine AR and location-based storytelling won’t soon allow travelers to engage history on a whole new level? One might even argue a deeper and more meaningful one than just the 2D sightseeing experience of looking at crumbling ruins. So many guidebooks have been written on the principle of making history come to life—AR actually makes it possible.

One could even take this one step further and question, why do we need to travel at all when we have our own personal Holodecks at our fingertips? Fast Company recently reported on Tour Wrist, a virtual tour that lets iPad users move around a global location with unlimited zoom and freedom. “Travelers” are virtually transported to that place and able to immerse themselves in it becoming the hero in a remotely situated, digital storyworld.

Finally, in the near future, we might all have the capability to create duplicates of our surroundings in 3D for others. This Microsoft R&D initiative to map the world uses the fastest selling piece of tech on the planet, the Xbox Kinect. This would allow everyday people to create unlimited user-generated 3D AR—foreseeable as easily as snapping a digital picture. In addition to this, there is a saturation of location-stamped social stories inside services, such as Google Earth, TagWhat, HistoryPin, Facebook Places, CheckIn+, Foursquare, and Gowalla, among others. What will result from all these stories becoming interconnected and navigable using AR devices?

From that point on, we will be co-creating an augmented entertainment eternity. Together. Will you be a part of it?

Jan 172011

Social media is a humbling experience much of the time. For one it is a super fast barometer of many aspects of our digital persona made up partly of a) our online influence, b) what people ‘feel’ about you (sentiment) and c) who we are connected too but more recently with the introduction of Twitter Lists we now have an element of ‘labelling’ aka ‘tagging’. Like most I am not keen on being pigeon holed, filed and rubber stamped as ‘this kind’ of person or someone who only ‘thinks/creates/is involved’ in those things, but I was fascinated this morning in doing what Laurel Papworth did some months ago, looking at how others saw me based only on my Twitter activity.

I have currently been added to 700 lists (which I think is up in the top 10% or so?) –

the key of course is that these lists are created un-prompted by those they follow, they have selected ‘you’ quietly in the background to be a part of a personal filter, carefully structured by users who want a way to distill the vastness of a 140 character universe of noise, that is twitter – making lists for themselves of a few key personal influencers through to hundreds of sharing tweeters across several lists on quite broad topics, the lists themselves followed by thousands.

There were over 6.5 million twitter lists at the start of 2010 so I suspect at least double that for 2011 according to TNW and there are hundreds of tList directories on the web now such as ListAtlas that focuses on the most popular lists such as 22 000 following the @bieberarmy :: justinfollowplease list of 91 fans who “want to be followed” by JB himself or  38 verified world leaders compiled into this list @verified :: World Leaders followed by 15 000 or so. But back to my own little world…I am not sure if the lists below represent ‘who I am’, especially as 75% of my twitter activity is sharing links, but they certainly represent areas I work in and am interested by.

… without further ado – I quickly used TextWrangler to pull out key words and broke the 700 lists (I am on) into smaller ‘categorised’ batches. This serves as a one stop shop for me to dip in and out and decide which lists I will follow and for you to possibly find ones you may find of interest.

What do your lists say about you?


  1. http://twitter.com/tlists/transmedia-995 The most listed Tweeters on 37 lists about Transmedia
  2. http://twitter.com/#!/aliciakan/transmediatweeps Teaching me a little bit more about transmedia, everyday
  3. http://twitter.com/#!/annabelroux/transmedia
  4. http://twitter.com/#!/matthanson/screen-bleed Media theories & futures in a multiplatform world.
  5. http://twitter.com/#!/brand_candy/transmedia-storytelling People interested in transmedia storytelling
  6. http://twitter.com/#!/bulldogmi/isthistransmedia A list of crossmedia, transmedia and storytelling tweets
  7. http://twitter.com/#!/Ch_Larue/transmedia
  8. http://twitter.com/#!/daniele_ferrari/crossmedia-transmedia
  9. http://twitter.com/#!/DilemmaLA/transmedia
  10. http://twitter.com/#!/eceilhan/transmedia
  11. http://twitter.com/#!/FilmThreat/transmedia-artists A self-updating filtered list of people I follow (generated by http://twitter.com/#!/formulists)
  12. http://twitter.com/#!/FLB_AlainThys/media-innovation tweets about media innovation, crossmedia, transmedia and other interesting media developments
  13. http://twitter.com/#!/frank_tentler/transmedia-avangard List of Transmedia and Transmedia Storytelling Avangard on Twitter
  14. http://twitter.com/#!/geoffreylong/transmedia Scholars and practitioners in transmedia.
  15. http://twitter.com/#!/helloflow/worldoftransmedia all people you want to follow on transmedia storytelling!
  16. http://twitter.com/#!/ivanovitch/transmedia People working in, interested in, thinking about Transmedia.
  17. http://twitter.com/#!/jlsimons/transmedia TM
  18. http://twitter.com/#!/KH_enthu_Ziasm/transmedia well, are you transmedia ready ?
  19. http://twitter.com/#!/melaniemcbride/gaming-transmedia-10 Makers, observers, researchers and players of games/transmedia.
  20. http://twitter.com/#!/nouners/transmedia
  21. http://twitter.com/#!/nwangpr/transmedia This list follows those who are exploring new storytelling opportunities for brands and agencies.
  22. http://twitter.com/#!/nyuji/transmedia
  23. http://twitter.com/#!/onceuponaword/transmedia A list of people who regularly tweet smart things on transmedia
  24. http://twitter.com/#!/pascalmory/transmedia
  25. http://twitter.com/#!/paulalexgray/transmedia
  26. http://twitter.com/#!/Pixel8studio/transmedia Stories to be told.
  27. http://twitter.com/#!/pseudonymDK/transmedia Important people to follow to learn more about transmedia
  28. http://twitter.com/#!/Sarn/transmedia-2
  29. http://twitter.com/#!/tactica/transmedia
  30. http://twitter.com/#!/TedHope/transmedia
  31. http://twitter.com/#!/WebVideoMedia/transmedia-storytelling
  32. http://twitter.com/#!/nativeshell/trans-incidental Transmedia news and peeps


  1. http://twitter.com/#!/thatgreg/new-media-2 People actively changing the way media is created and ultimately consumed.
  2. http://twitter.com/#!/chicklitgurrl/new-media-9
  3. http://twitter.com/#!/ftiwa/new-media
  4. http://twitter.com/#!/iamlowetion/new-media
  5. http://twitter.com/#!/Morgan_Flood/new-media
  6. http://twitter.com/#!/pascalroeyen/new-media
  7. http://twitter.com/#!/RichGarner/new-media


  1. http://twitter.com/#!/AaronMarshall/augmented-reality Cool folks tweeting interesting things about Augmented Reality.
  2. http://twitter.com/#!/ayaLAN/augmented-reality
  3. http://twitter.com/#!/Balubab/augmented-reality Augmented Reality universe
  4. http://twitter.com/#!/bobbyverlaan/augmented-reality
  5. http://twitter.com/#!/BrianSe7en/augmented-reality
  6. http://twitter.com/#!/chrisgrayson/augmented-reality-peeps People & Companies involved in Augmented Reality, as well as AR Blogs
  7. http://twitter.com/#!/claudiochea/augmented-reality-ar
  8. http://twitter.com/#!/fbeeper/augmented-reality
  9. http://twitter.com/#!/Franck_Briand/augmented-reality
  10. http://twitter.com/#!/jamesalliban/augmented-reality
  11. http://twitter.com/#!/renatefischer/ar
  12. http://twitter.com/#!/konterkariert/augmented-reality
  13. http://twitter.com/#!/mikeyjhay/augmented-reality
  14. http://twitter.com/#!/RWW/augmented-reality
  15. http://twitter.com/#!/eduardovalencia/augmentedreality
  16. http://twitter.com/#!/tomyun/ar
  17. http://twitter.com/#!/GaryPHayes/alternate-augmented
  18. http://twitter.com/#!/siyann/immersive virtual worlds, augmented reality, immersive experiences
  19. http://twitter.com/#!/dromescu/ar Augmented Reality
  20. http://twitter.com/#!/jlapoutre/mobile-ar Mobile Augmented Reality


  1. http://twitter.com/#!/_Antonella_/ar-thoughtleaders
  2. http://twitter.com/#!/9dimension/brightside bright ppl
  3. http://twitter.com/#!/owlark/interesting-people-a1 Great people: listed or interested
  4. http://twitter.com/#!/InShot/thought-leadership James Grant Hay’s Thinking Out Aloud
  5. http://twitter.com/#!/7seashell/interesting-people
  6. http://twitter.com/#!/torridluna/minds
  7. http://twitter.com/#!/BlessTheTeacher/interesting-people
  8. http://twitter.com/#!/CelticWitch99/no-idea-but-interesting
  9. http://twitter.com/#!/holla_tweet/interesting-ppl
  10. http://twitter.com/#!/LMurphy140/from-far-far-away non local interesting
  11. http://twitter.com/#!/ManuCedat/interesting-people
  12. http://twitter.com/#!/Marcey_H/interesting-people
  13. http://twitter.com/#!/MikeFreyParadux/bloggers Bloggers! Check these wonderful blogs by interesting tweeps.
  14. http://twitter.com/#!/OwenKelly/people a miscellaneous assortment of interesting people
  15. http://twitter.com/#!/paolonieddu/insight-and-cool-shit Links to interesting stuff
  16. http://twitter.com/#!/robbnotes/interesting
  17. http://twitter.com/#!/sonjagottschalk/interesting
  18. http://twitter.com/#!/WayneNH/interesting-watch

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May 252010

…and the truth about ARGs.

Now that transmedia is everywhere and the Producers Guild of America have turned the ‘transmedia producer’ into a bona fide (or at least recognised) professional role one thing that rears it’s cross-media head is, who and where are the best transmedia producers going to come from? I have spent a good part of the last 15 years mentoring & training traditional & non-traditional media types in multiple platform content and now question where the best producers of this multifaceted ‘new’ content will come from – academia, film, book authors, social media consultants, game designers, TV, web developers, radio, advertisers, young, old, not yet born? Read on, a ‘hypothetical’ interview follows 🙂 and this is an opinion piece I cannot put in my book or lecture about!


Firstly what is it and does it actually mean anything at all? It is fantastic that the term ‘transmedia’ is now so widespread across the industry and with the official credit (attached ironically to film primarily) but is it a bubble about to burst – is what we have come to know as ‘transmedia’ in danger of being blown out of all proportion.

Here are some of the problems:

  1. Everyone is a transmedia producer – yes you’ve made a website that is attached to a TV show, your a TP. Created a mobile game that has a line or two from the comic, you’re a TP. No one will police this – is it a truly integrated story environment, does it have clever plot links or consistent characters?. A TP is a decathlete (multi-skilled, hard to get a one word answer about what they do in a bar!), gone is nice and simple mono media, a TV producer makes TV shows, film director directs films. You can be a TP if you merge your story across two or more media areas? But more on this later in the post.
  2. Transmedia as a concept is not focused. OK I know Henry Jenkin’s original definition has been spread around the web but it is a definition that is too broad. Perhaps I should exercise my floccinaucinihilipilification and suggest that something that tries to describe everything is actually worthless? Transmedia like a black hole in the universe it tries to describe sucks in everything that has come before (cross media, 360, social media, augmented reality, pervasive gaming and so on). At the other end of this spectrum citing Matrix or Blair Witch or other brand to justify the ‘field’ as mainstream it becomes apparent that the quoted definition itself is rather vacuuous. To quote Jenkins again from an LA Times article, transmedia – “means telling a story across different platforms, each element of which may or may not stand on its own but contributes to an enriched, dynamic, more participatory and “lifelike” experience.”
  3. We are still in the hype phase. Basically anything cool and different those transmedia types (and I point the finger at myself too btw) will take ownership of. I even heard the other day someone say Transmedia is the new Social media and augmented reality even gets a look in. I am not surprised those still getting their head around the ‘story’ potential of social networks or a cute mobile game find it all rather, dis-jointed. Also the increase in experimental and experiential ‘event’ based marketing suddenly meant transmedia is now inextricably linked with brand extensions (TV, film, product) – anything that is not a linear, branded film or TV show. I think for those who live in the transmedia echo chamber this has been the case for many years.
  4. It feels rather academic. Trans-media used to be an alternative semi-academic term to ‘cross-media’ (trans, from the latin ‘crossing’) but is now used to describe everything, non-linear, interactive, extension, participatory, social, brand, play, multi-platform, pervasive and so on. The idea that stories would be told in different places goes back thousands of years but in a modern media context a rich target for study and theorizing. Along came Henry Jenkins who coined the term transmedia almost a decade after the first basic cross-media incarnation. Henry admirably self confesses as being ‘too busy lecturing and presenting about transmedia, to partake’ of the industrial flavour of transmedia “some of it is not well done yet”.
  5. It is still a teenager. It has grown up before it’s time and become a troublesome big headed teenager without any true home and turned into a dysfunctional orphan at once protectively nurtured by over possessive academics, hijacked by experimental ad agencies and hardly understood by flailing stuck-in-time broadcasters. Originally cross-media was an intellectually stimulating concept – memories of mid 90s, pioneering BBC days also my old friend Brian Seth-Hurst who is “Referred to as “the father of cross platform” Hurst coined the term in 1998 as MD of Convergent Media at Pittard Sullivan”. Earlier definitions just talked about story based ‘crossing platforms’ element but since the exponential increase in social media as a place for millions to dwell it has suddenly had the participatory/social part added and also a suggestion that it is now a more integrated form of storytelling, I suppose I should have added a level 5 to my 5 year old (but about to be removed!) wikipedia cross media definition!
  6. Danger of being hijacked – Alongside all of this we have a ‘clique’ of so-called experts who try to describe something which is so simple on one hand (stuff on multiple platforms) yet so ambiguous on the other (fragmented narrative effervescence)  – time will expose the Transmedia echo chamber I suppose.

Of course I have nothing against the term per-say in the absence of alternatives having created transmedia entities/sites like Transmediadesign.org or lamp.edu.au or muvedesign.com – all transmedia in focus – but lets start thinking about the emperors clothes. Indeed the Producers Guild definition of the TP, however bold in its intention, is still a little ambiguous about the precise elements of the role to say the least

A Transmedia Narrative project or franchise must consist of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms:  Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts, and other technologies that may or may not currently exist. These narrative extensions are NOT the same as repurposing material from one platform to be cut or repurposed to different platforms.

A Transmedia Producer credit is given to the person(s) responsible for a significant portion of a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and creation of original storylines for new platforms. Transmedia producers also create and implement interactive endeavors to unite the audience of the property with the canonical narrative and this element should be considered as valid qualification for credit as long as they are related directly to the narrative presentation of a project.

Transmedia Producers may originate with a project or be brought in at any time during the long-term rollout of a project in order to analyze, create or facilitate the life of that project and may be responsible for all or only part of the content of the project. Transmedia Producers may also be hired by or partner with companies or entities, which develop software and other technologies and who wish to showcase these inventions with compelling, immersive, multi-platform content.


But this post is not just about the word – there are hundreds of blog posts even now still trying to really get under the surface of what transmedia means and it is too easy to fall down the semantic rabbit hole of terminology and the endless subjective splits between academics, industry and wannabes. Perhaps something more concrete can be found in the ‘transmedia stuff’ itself. What is this stuff and who is making it?

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