Dec 292011

Originally published Oct 2011 in Wired Magazine ‘Change Accelerators‘ by Gary Hayes 1 of 5

Image by: Gary Hayes

We all do it.  We sit in our local multiplex waiting for the latest blockbuster film to start. The room darkens and minutes later your world has disappeared. The seats and people around you evaporate and for the next hour or so, you are living vicariously “through” the heroes in front of you. You have an out-of-body experience of sorts.

And so it has been for the last century, cinema and other large group events have fulfilled a need to be somewhere or someone else. But pervasive “surround us” technology has been quietly maturing in the background and our entertainment needs and desires are shifting. Audiences have turned into users. They want, to be part of the show, have the game surround them, influence their media, have their voices heard, and share the experience with friends—they want to not just see, but be those heroes. Because now they can.

We are living in experiential times and mass entertainment is in rapid transition. We, as producers of this content, are clearly marching down a road toward a personal entertainment Holodeck. Once the sole domain of theme parks every part of the media landscape is becoming experiential and there is a good deal evidence over the past few years of this behavioral and content media shift.

  • Cinema and home entertainment is evolving, becoming hyper-sensory, extending our sense of disbelief. There is also mass audience 3D, now with added scratch-and-sniff, smell-o-vision 4D.
  • 3D virtual game worlds are being mapped over real space. Examples such as Parallel Kingdom on smartphones or Flying Fairy and others on Sony Vita are moving outdoors.
  • Transmedia, sophisticated multiplatform storytelling embeds us into imaginary fictional story worlds. By surrounding us with a sea of content it reaches out to us across (the trans bit) our plethora of personal digital devices and channels.
  • Personalized life-games where your world and everything we do in it becomes gamified. From loyalty points to leader boards we are drawn in to a parallel, participatory social game world.
  • Augmented reality storytelling—early stages of immersive digitally layered worlds. Layers of Augmented Reality viewable on our smart-connected-camera devices surround us in media, information and story—bringing contextual entertainment to anywhere and everywhere we go.
  • Social and Live events encourage us to share our views, to extend the experience outwards into our personal networks. From Social TV through to the “look where I am” check-in apps to sticky social games and even theatrical experiences such as LARPS (live action role playing), we become part of the participatory, viral web.

Advertising is known to bring experiential marketing to new levels—surrounding us in the real world with 3D projection mapping, locative advergames, and branded flash-mobs. This shift is being driven by business too. The experiential economy has taught us that people view digital media as free, but they are willing to pay top dollar for an exclusive, all-consuming experience at a live event.

These emergent forms of media are starting to touch on virtuality, singularity, and even transhumanism as we choose entertainment that fools our minds into out-of-body, matrix-like experiences.

All of this will raise other questions such as:

  • Will heritage mono media such as print media be around in five years time?
  • Why go to the cinema when you can be in the film at home or out and about living the story?
  • Will broadcast TV become just a window on live events or will social elements evolve it?
  • Will our real world be submerged beyond recognition in layers of digital overlays?
  • Who is going to make all this stuff?

In the following four articles this week, I will try to answer some of these questions and drill down deeper into how our media world is forever being altered. From social transmedia storytelling through to pervasive all-around us locative experiences to augmented reality entertainment, I look briefly at the paradigm shifts ahead and how we as experiencers will evolve as well.

Are you experiential, yet?

Mar 092009

Over the years I have been creating lots of confusing, busy yet at the same time, meaningful and insightful emergent media diagrams. These attempt to help the uninitiated heritage media folk, get to grips with a multiplatform, shifting-social-media-sands, transmogodified entertainment landscape…breathe.

So I have been uploading a bunch of these diagrams onto my flickr account over the past weeks, partly to make them more accessible to me too (oh the joys of the cloud) but with the creative commons tag, for all and sundry to use (attributed of course – the only way to power & fame nowadays – cackles!). Here is a short selection of the 25 or so already up, with brief descriptions – the main bunch is in a set called ‘Emergent Media’ here.

Distributed Story Online

The above diagram is intended to help storytellers simply understand a range of key places to distribute their story fragments or triggers online. I always aim to have x and y axes and here I decided to differentiate these ‘social media services’ by time vs richness. So x axis is ad hoc dip-in-out through to realtime/live and y axis is basic text through to video/games etc: It would be possible to do a quick ‘sketch’ user journey here too by adding sequential numbers to the ‘notes’ one puts in the boxes.

The Ecology of Form

The above is one of my favourite diagrams from way back in early 2006. I normally present this by saying in looking at ‘form’  lets not follow red-herrings by only looking at the content type, or distribution channel, or display – but mostly at the audience and the cross-media form. The arrows there indicate the participatory audience pushing content up to the top and it filtering down onto the three screens – mobile, informational and home (phone, pc, tv ish)

The Myth of Web 2.0 Non-Participation

This was a diagram I threw together at Bangkok airport believe it or not early in 2007  – simply looking at the influence that people have in the sharing web. It is intended to show a whole bunch of ‘indicative’ ideas about the proportional numbers who contribute to web 2.0 through to the influence each category of users have on it – I also invented in my jet-lagged haze five categories, The Creators, The Editors, The Critics, The Sharers and The Consumers. This was discussed here on this blog and heavily dugg too last year.

Media & Platform Convergence

A convergence viewpoint (and yes I know the C word is bad!) But I re-discovered this diagram and the thing that stood out for me was OMG everything seems to be pointing towards the iPhone! Yes games, information, video and telephony all combined into one device…I wonder if Apple nicked this 🙂 But thing that stood out for me was the developments in 100 years from only cinema through to a device you hold in your hand that now combines potentially everthing (to a lesser or greater degree). My original post this is on here Media Journey’s Pt 2

Shared Social Worlds Universe

A relatively recent diagram when I was trying to get my head across ‘shared worlds’. I often get asked about shared worlds being just game worlds (WoW or Second Life) but of course it extends across a whole genre of services online. I didn’t include the shared worlds of email/forums/twitter etc etc but concentrate on worlds specifically aimed at stories or games for this particular chart. The ubiquitous x and y axes here are about x – physical to digital 3D and y – Functional to Game. It is therefore easy to map ‘real life’ at bottom left as physical/functional while top right digital and game as being the traditional MMORPG.


Finally couldn’t post diagrams without a very recent one I did with the wondrous and exquisite Laurel Papworth which merges the above thinking with how to promote and reach out across the vast landscape of social media. Here is a description from the flickr photo that has already had 1600 views or so.

By Gary Hayes and Laurel Papworth – From a presentation I gave at SPAA Fringe on Saturday 25 Oct 2008 in Sydney. Concepts behind this covered in the slides embedded on…

* INVOLVE – live the social web, understand it, this cannot be faked
* CREATE – make relevant content for communities of interest
* DISCUSS – no conversation around it, then the content may as well not exist
* PROMOTE – actively, respectfully, promote the content with the networks
* MEASURE – monitor, iteratively develop and respond or be damned!

As I said there are many more on my flickr account and will be adding another 30 or so old archive ones in the next months.