Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!
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

Continue reading »

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

NEWER MEDIA

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

AUGMENTED REALITY

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

INTERESTING, THOUGHT LEADER & MINDS

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

Continue reading »

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!

TRANSMEDIA – AMBIGUOUS CONCEPT?

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.

TRANSMEDIA – CONTENT (THE TRUTH ABOUT ARGs?)

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?

Continue reading »