Nov 152013
 
Gary scratches his head - photo by Rosemary Keevil

Gary scratches his head – photo by Rosemary Keevil

I was invited to keynote at the 2013 Merging Media conference in Vancouver last week and it was great to meet up with the wandering band of transmedia/multiplatform ‘global gliterati’ that frequent these events. All in all a top notch affair, well attended, mostly on the ball  in terms of topics and refreshing to take in the effervescent youthful passion that abounded from the attendees.

My next post will be detailed coverage some of the themes of my presentation but what follows below is something I sneaked into my talk last minute – partly as a response to some of the previous speakers on day 1 and the ‘challenges’ that still pervade this fledgling industry, still, after all these years.

The ‘digital’ brochure-ware website/mobile-app industry is doing fine and dandy – quaint silos inside traditional broadcasters, studios and ad agencies make ‘broadcast interactive’ stuff that is proven standard fare for large sections of the mostly passive audience –  but where are the truly original and/or mature multi platform transmedia services and how will we get there? I then thought of a series of scales on which to gauge and see if we can really get a sense of the State of Play in ‘whatever’ we will finally agree to call this thing.

I presented this section partly interactively (well the sort of magician like interactivity we all sometimes despise) – I asked the audience to shout out where we think we are on the scale and then I pressed the magic button and the needle floated across ala an interactive worm (in fact of course these were all my already set valuations – but anyway most of the time it was within 1 or 2 points!). I did tell the audience by the way, although they probably sussed it after the 2nd or 3rd one 🙂

So the State of Play of the Multiplatform / Transmedia Industry across 10 scales of measurement

 

001_Transmedia Multiplatform State of the Industry

 

Language and Grammar – Tower of Babel or Industry Shared – 3/10 – It is critical everyone is singing off the same song sheet for it to be a mature industry, how else can we create a business on something if it is not a shared terminology? Imagine if for example in film we called the editing stage either the compile, the chop, the edit, the merge, etc: depending on who was producing or which country we were in. Chaos.  But as we know in multi platform circles, we don’t have to look far to see the cracks – not only are the transmedia folk stretched from arty fluffiness at one of the spectrum to hard core marketing at the other but there is still across the industry (& academia) no real agreement on what the ‘T’ word actually means. Then on the ‘serious digital production’ side of the fence, whole swathes of the industry who  do bare bones digital ‘cloning’, nothing new, just pure turning the app/site production handle. Every sector from academia to agency to studio to broadcaster all use different terms. 3 out of 10 suggests we have at least another 10-15 years before we settle down into a shared taxonomy – lets hope it is sooner.

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Apr 112006
 

Some more words of wisdom from Gary Carter CCO of Freemantle that should have been in a previous post. These are from the final q and a and even though the questions are a little shallow the answers offer a simple ‘manifesto’ for traditional producers looking down into the black hole of digital cross-media entertainment.

How do you change the way you do things?

“That will happen by itself. Really what I am trying to say to you is that there is a distinction to be made between the entertainment that is going to be experienced on other media apart from television. Sooner rather than later I do believe that forms of entertainment will emerge that have little to do with television and a lot to do with the medium that carries them. That’s the particular area that I am interested in. I don’t have any answers though.”

The threshold for tolerance for someone watching a smallish screen form of entertainment vs sitting on your couch with a plasma. Will it be that a 30 minute show will translate to your iPod or do you think audiences not have that kind of patience that we see with a two hour feature film ?

“I have my suspicions that they will only want to consume the 2 hour feature film in certain circumstances on a very small screen or at least versions of it on a very small screen. But that is simply to use all these new devices as a distribution medium for existing content which is perfectly valid but it is not what I am about. I would prefer to think ‘what type of content would make an audience sit and want to watch a small screen for two hours’ if it were possible. But I don’t think it is going to be content that is going to come from a different form.”

What are you trying to develop (paraphrase)?

“I am trying to develop entertainment properties which are in part application and in part content – to the extent I want them more content than application. I am not primarily going into the software business but I do understand that the development of any kind of entertainment, or entertainment form will have to include some kind of software development itself. I am very interested in exploring ways in which audiences can generate their own content and invent their own rules for what they do with material in a given set of circumstances.If you look at Flickr for example, a photographic database on the web, but in my opinion it represents a paradigm for new entertainment. That you may say is surprising. Flickr is a place where amateurs and professionals can store their digital photographs online. It is a huge database but it has two interesting features. First is you can tag your photographs with your memories…and other users can tag with their memories. People started to use it for different things. Firstly it became a community which requires a certain degree of participation in the content. Secondly they started to use it in ways that people hadn’t quite imagined it would be when they first put it up…something else has started to happen. The users themselves are starting to generate their own games out of the rules of flickr. They are starting competitions to tell the best story from photos in flickr. They are starting to elaborate competitions and content of their own by playing with the rules of flickr itself. That for me is the definition of modern entertainment in this environment. The makers of flickr have made a gesture towards the audience, the audience has picked that gesture up and they have started to explore the possibilities. So the people who run flickr rather than being producers of entertainment are more like curators in this kind of environment – and I think that’s very, very significant…

I am not trying to challenge television at its heartland. In fact I am really trying to specifically get away from the conversation about television and what kind of content will be distributed on other technological devices. I think we as people who work in the media industry have to rethink the nature of our engagement with the audience.”

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006

Sep 162005
 

Honolulu Lamp Lighter © Gary Hayes 2005This is a follow-up to the previous post written live from the event. I attended the Rewind Fast Forward conference today in downtown Sydney as invited speaker but very interested participant. The subtitle for the event was “a Business forum on the internet of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” organised superbly by Rachel and the team of SlatteryIt and others. I didn’t know quite what to expect (suppose the ‘business’ bit should have given me a clue) – as events that are not on the annual calendar are always complete unknowns. I was surprised the day was top and tailed with a cute 10 year birthday celebration of the commercial internet – complete with 6ft long heart clogging chocolate slab cake. This oddity aside here are some late night thoughts.

Still in assimilation mode about the Australian media industry (will I ever be totally assimilated, indoctrinated?) I am always eager to understand the sensibilities, passions and business drivers of the key players on this island. This event was an all embracing collection of the key media archetypes – but due to self-censorship and good judgement I shall leave the listing till later 😉 Some folk though that impressed me today were Tony Surtees, Jason Ashton, Stephanie D’Souza (one of those young people ;-), Philip Alexander and Domenic Carosa (more on him later).

What was relevant to this blog? What was presented and talked about in the user-generated, personalize media arena? Program link. A thread that seemed to run throughout all of the panels was an acknowledgement that outside the b2b and b2c business models (services, pushed-paid content and hardware) there was a lot of user media activity but – many saw this as irrelevant, poor quality (rambling, useless blogs – ed: bit like this site then!) or a fad that will be pushed to the periphery. I asked floor questions about peer-to-peer, blogging and bit torrent (to emphasise percentage of volume of internet traffic) and replys leaned towards “interesting but as we cannot make money from it we have to ignore it”.

This is no bad thing but it did bring home again the growing divide between business: those capitalizing on ring tones, dating sites, internet games consoles etc: and creative commons: the tidal wave of user generated, personal content. If users want to create and share mountains of digital content then so be it – what can we do about it? On my panel David and Michael (Microsoft and Sony respectively) are helping people share it, display it and store it – but not tag it, manage it or archive, which they did acknowledge are critical areas.

In the final panel on future trends and business opportunities I didn’t hear any suggestions about operating portals for UGC (user generated content) – they talked about givens such as firewalls, batteries?, DRM, more Voice of IP services and so on. Domenic Carosa did get close to the mark when he brought up a point I made in my panel (@entertainment) about the real need for personal filter/firewalls that screen out content from the constant waves we will be bombarded with in the near futures – especially in the mobile domain. I was impressed with his locking into this so obvious requirement. VC’s tip – interoperable profile/agent algorithms…no shall keep that one to myself.

In the four panels I listened to, personalization was rarely mentioned – if it was it was in the context of re-skinning (one of my fellow panellists point) or tailored web pages. I was hoping to hear more about agents-futures. I talked briefly about the opportunities we have to provide effective content recommendation to viewers existing Personal Entertainment Networks in the context of home systems. There just seemed to be far too much convergent-gadget envy going on though and the wider goals of understanding user experience and creating media relevance were lost on many panels.

To sum up. The commercial internet is 10 years old, but it is now in puberty, a troublesome teenager and will soon be unrecognisable as the internet – a ubiquitous, mature broadband pre-empting doc com boom v.2 (as one speaker suggested). Would have liked to have seen more discussion about content rather than endless re-versioned business models or gadgets, about user centric service design, new form interactive, cross-media narrative and user generative enablers. Perhaps Rewind Fast Forward 2015?

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005

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