Feb 282011
 

Mid 2010 draft catch-up post – What will it mean when we all use a handful or even just one device to consume ‘all’ our media? Will we also use it to share ‘all’ our content, pushing it to large, dumb screens around us? When we talk about transmedia we often mean, telling a complex story across many platforms used by many users, objects and screens, perhaps partly in a book, on a TV show, inside Facebook on the PC, in a console game or at the cinema  – but what will happen if all our personal media is consumed only on one screen? A world where TV is not about home screens, where Facebook is not about desk or laptop PCs and the most used games are not on chunky, dedicated consoles?

This is article is not a resurrection of the dreaded, old school (circa late 90s) convergence debate but something much more akin to the Trojan Horse saga. We are palpably moving into a space where a certain medium size screen, portable device, connected, personal & social is slowly permeating our world. As powerful and practical as all the other gadgets & screens we have gotten used to the 7-10″ tablet is has hit a sweet spot. Already the fastest selling device of all time, the iPad has caused a storm, the dam holding the waters back has leaks and other similar devices are starting to trickle out, but the dam is about to burst and we will be flooded in the next year as these tactile hybrids of smartphones and laptops seep into our daily lives – once again 🙂

Painting Original: The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael. Public Domain

But will we converge towards this swiss army media device? Does it fulfil all our video, game, communication, work & social needs?  More specifically, just as we are starting to master the ‘Art of transmedia Storytelling’ are we now looking at a mono device future? Will the art of transmedia storytelling turn into telling our stories across services and channels on a ‘single’ device rather than across multiple devices and platforms?

Context

Almost half a decade ago I did a post called Media Journeys Part 2 that explored a simple evolution of media technology from cinema at the start of the last century through to the portable revolution of the mid noughties. That post implied a device that would be a screen, with a quality good enough to view films on, portable, tactile, connected, communicative and powerful enough to play networked & graphically rich games on. This post completes that train of thought and asks a key question – are online tablets the end point of a 100 years of platform evolution and more significantly can we actually expect to see a decline in the number of ‘discrete’ platforms available to transmedia producers?

The Evolution Timeframe

Firstly the timeframe. As explained in my earlier post the most useful timeframe for this ‘postulation’ is the last 110 years – from the dawn of mass media communication and non text based story-telling (film). There has been a compression of the evolution in the last twenty years, so the curved template below reflects that year-wise. The reason the chart is curved is to allow my five key trends to converge visually.


Convergence Media Tablets

Evolution of the Human Interface

Convergence Media Tablets

One thing I didn’t cover in the post from five years ago was the evolution of interface which reflects how the technology has become sufficiently powerful enough for us to need to do less ‘unnatural fiddling’ at the ‘control’ end and use our bodies more naturally – less of a slave to qwerty or cross, square, circle, triangle (PS reference!)…a continuum (each number corresponds with the icon sequence, left to right, on the chart)

  1. The remote or keyboard – Alongside the TV in the 1950s the button based infrared remote control was born and a decade plus later early QWERTY keyboards were used (using strange alien languages) to communicate with computers. The remote is still with us today but as we know a revolution is about to take place there.
  2. The mouse – The PC’s popularity spread quickly when the Mac was born in the early 1980s and the computer mouse became the norm for how we interact with complex lean forward screens vs rather clunky text entry using QWERTY keyboards.
  3. The controller – When game consoles entered the living room in the mid 80s more complex controllers were required
  4. Voice – although still not universal, voice controlled PCs became usable for dictation and basic control in the late 90s
  5. Touch – Touchscreens were suddenly on every device from 2005 onwards and today any portable device that is not touch feels very antiquated
  6. Body – at the end of 2010 XBox Kinect led the way for popular use of the whole body to interact with games, of course Sony and others had launched similar interfaces many years earlier, but the 3D sensing of kinect raised the bar significantly
  7. Mind – (future only) having played with controllers such as Emotiv we can certainly look to a time where using parts of our body will seem so old fashioned, but that is another evolution diagram

Items 4 to 7 are of course sensory, based on natural human movement & communication.

So we need a device that responds to my touch, I can wave it around so it gets a good sense of the GPS environment it is in, as well as controlling games or measuring my physicality and without a mouse or remote in sight.

Evolution of Film and TV Viewing Screens

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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?

TRANSMEDIA

  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

NEWER MEDIA

  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

AUGMENTED REALITY

  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

INTERESTING, THOUGHT LEADER & MINDS

  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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Aug 262010
 

“We live in extraordinary times and the last five years particularly, a renaissance of storytelling. We are, as we were pre-printing press days when we equally shared, enhanced and distributed the fragments of our engaging stories. Today’s technology has delivered a new spirit of connectivity, a democratisation of story given back to the ‘many’. Storytelling not at walking speed but the speed of light. You equipped to deal with this?”

OK enough opening fluff and straight to the point. I was having a chat yesterday with a colleague at Screen Australia trying to answer a simple question. Cue music…

If you have a story project, that’s a little bit ‘strange’, who ya gonna call?

Magic Point Maroubra LX3 dBW 26

Not Fearing to Tread - Photo cc GHayes

(Strange = new format, transmedia, innovative, social, game-like, fragmented.) If you have a film and TV project and you need assistance to develop the script, help with the production, work through the characterisations, get advice on Red or 3D etc: there are a zillion consultants, vocational educational courses and many willing wannabe advisors to draw on. Film, Radio & TV particularly have 100+ years of maturity so it is also pretty easy to incrementally innovate, floating in watertight boats on tried and tested waters. Sadly the options for story rich projects that fall outside the straight and narrow linear path, have a more difficult time.

To be professionally guided or get the skills to create new storytelling formats you can

  1. Get in touch with professional agencies already doing this stuff. But they are often rather busy making ends meet and engrossed in ‘transmedia’ marketing big budget or existing story brands to really give you the time and advice you need.
  2. Find a traditional academic ‘digital story – type’ course (marketed as a world first) in your local area. Spend 6 months or longer working with ‘we need to do this stuff’ academics and theorists or at best, passionate aggregators of the best ‘new story’ project trailers masquerading as educational case studies. Also these course tend to be trials and under resourced – erm not the views of me with lecturer hat on, local employers 😉
  3. Find a local specialist individual who ‘seems’ to know about this new space – very few good experienced, passionate folk about and also a bit hit and miss.
  4. Seek out a handful of seminars, short workshops or networking events around the world. There are actually very few and they are often of the evangelising vs really getting down to nitty gritty ‘storytelling’ processes.

So here we are, a great dawning of transmedia storytelling, innovative new services and products yet still no true, deep development initiatives? Academia and industry either too money-busy, unable to take risk or focused on the past to really fill in this void?

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Aug 052010
 

…than Agencies and Filmmakers. Why do transmedia professionals have a difficult time achieving authentic and fluid transmedia stories and why do ‘existing’ branded entertainment & digital agencies tend towards lowest common denominator, tried and tested formulaic cross media, more about  PR, advertising and marketing than real ‘story’ focused engagement. Against this and rather paradoxically we have the ‘so-called’ audience/users actually telling their ‘life’ stories across platforms in a much more natural and engaging way.

Having produced and studied cross media since 1997 (“What do Audiences Want” BBC pres) one very large and persistent problem has always been creating authentic transmedia stories – natural story arcs and bridges that lead you onward through a long format, multi platform experience. So why is this? What techniques do makers of user created transmedia (you and I wearing our normal, connected people hats) employ that make it more interesting to their target audience and what can the ‘artificial storytellers’ learn?

Montecity July 4th Celebs

note: this is a personal/user POV condensed version of a  longer chapter intro section in my wip book Networked Media Storytelling: Transmedia Design and Production.

Networked Media StorytellingFirstly excuse the use of the term ‘audience’ in the title, it is still a convenient catch-all for the ‘great unwashed’, old BBC term 🙂 or rather, non-professional creators. Of course we are equals and participant users when using well designed professional transmedia services, but what do ‘users’ do when telling their own stories, that pro “experience creators” don’t do and may possibly never achieve?

Before we proceed this is not comparing apples and oranges as on one side we have ‘user created transmedia’ (UCT?) ‘life stories’ aimed at a specific ‘user group’ and on the other professionally created transmedia ‘fiction’ aimed at fans or niche ‘players’. Both have a target audience and both have stories to tell.

ORIENTATION EXAMPLE

To help frame this even more a ‘simple’ example. A typical well networked person wants to share an experience, tell a single (or part of a longer arc) story to ‘their’ audience, lets say (deliberately mundane!) a personally amazing chance encounter with a strange overseas friend who share stories during a mini afternoon catch-up adventure & challenges at various city locations. Challenges being obnoxious shop assistants or overcharging taxi driver etc: 🙂 Remember this is their, Hero’s Journey, we all have one every moment of our lives, some bigger than others. In this example the main user has a pre-existing networked media story environment (amongst other networked elements) consisting of:

  1. 500 facebook friends
  2. run a well read blog
  3. 1200 twitter followers
  4. regular FourSquare user
  5. a heavily subscribed YouTube channel
  6. a busy personal flickr account
  7. use sms and skype a lot
  8. meet up with their physical social circle regularly

User Created Transmedia

Full size link – As the image illustrates I hope, and this is probably old hat to many reading this post, we can see how the rippling of moments (Laurel Papworth covers the social aspects of this in great detail in her post Ripple: Social Network Influencers) across the users ‘story world’ is constantly punctuated as the story develops. Also notice how the story world is setup – the Foursquare updates for example ‘this is where I am – if something happens you will already know…” reinforcing environment and back story. It is important also to take on-board that the user in this case feels the ‘need’ to share, part of their being is now about being constantly active in ‘their story’ network, that need will be reflected by by the network (aka a captive audience) – often it will be quick bursts of activity in real time, pushing messages outwards and occasionally responding to ‘influential’ friends as they know those contacts will proliferate the story even more. Notice also in the diagram that auto updates (twitter pushing into Facebook or flickr) are an acceptable part of more social storytelling as the need to know means a level of ‘spam’ acceptance. I could go on but this is to partly demonstrate how

Today’s socially networked users are evolving into the most talented and natural transmedia storytellers, able to fluently manipulate, create and respond across multiple ‘personally nurtured’ channels transforming in the process something very complex into something beautifully simple

OK the best pro-transmedia relies on the social media connections above to disperse their narratives but as with any form of 3rd party story, we see it is a temporary viral layer (movies, TV shows, games etc) on top of their deeper, personal life story…

The most successful element in user created transmedia are the natural bridges between channels and platforms whereas professional transmedia storytellers often force feed its audience explicit or contrived ‘in your face’ links

As usual my preamble has turned into a tome so without further ado here are ten sections that came from lectures I did on transmedia design at various presentations and higher ed establishments in 2008/9 which I will put up on my slideshare account along with some transmedia bible templates – highlighting some of the fundamental and underlying principles of an authentic networked story environment. I have compared responses to each from an UCT and professional creators perspective, across the specific kinds of interactions within the transmedia, social environment. These are all appropriate to drama, documentary and brand/ad transmedia design, production and storytelling.

NURTURING NETWORKED MEDIA STORYTELLING – WHY AUDIENCES DO IT BETTER

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