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Category Archives: Convergence Culture

Transmedia: The Amazing Website

An entire quarters worth of work has been summed up on my new website, Transmedia Evolution  (http://transmediaevolution.wordpress.com/). You can find information on the past, present, and future of Transmedia. You can also download my presentation, paper, and annotated bibliography. If you have any questions let me know. Thanks for a good quarter everyone!

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Transmedia Presentation

The following slide deck is for my presentation on Transmedia in Evolutions and Trends in Digital Media at the University of Washington. It may not make too much sense on it’s own. If you have any questions post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Thanks!

 

Transmedia Theoretical framework for Com546

Which Course theories best explain what has happened / might happen to Transmedia?

One of the best examples of course theory that pertains to Transmedia can be seen through Seeing What’s Next. In the book the authors explain that Undershot Customers are “consumers who consume a product but are frustrated with its limitations; they display willingness to pay more for enhancements along dimensions most important to them” (Anthony, Christensen, & Roth, 2004). People who engage with Transmedia are frustrated that they can only get a small portion of a story through one medium. They want the world to be expanded upon, and are willing to pay for comic books, video games, and other media that do that for them.

I may be able to use the theories of network effects to explain if a media property would benefit financially from Transmedia. If a show does not have that large of an audience, it may not be economically viable to create a Transmedia campaign for it. Some properties have a cult following where people create comics, video games, and other media for it. I will argue that while it may not be economically viable to create a Transmedia community, it can create a dedicated and engaged community.

Another course theory that explains how Transmedia provides a more engaging user experience is Fidler’s idea of Mediamorphosis. Transmedia is taking advantage of both social and technological innovations that have come along with Mediamorphosis. Socially, people want to dive deeper into their media. Technologically, the Internet has made it easier for the distribution of Transmedia stories across multiple platforms. I will use both Fidler and Henry Jenkins to talk about convergence culture.

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Transmedia Annotated Bibliography for Com546

This anotated bibliography will help explain how the future of media will be much richer and engaging through Transmedia storytelling.

Annotated Bibliography

Brooker, W. (2009). All Our Variant Futures: The Many Narratives of Blade Runner: The Final Cut. Popular Communication, 7(2), 79-91. doi:10.1080/15405700802659056

The article focuses on Blade Runner, the cult science fiction movie. It goes into depth on how the franchise was able to reinvent itself multiple times through releasing alternate versions of the movie. It also compares Blade Runner to other Transmedia campaigns, including the Star Wars franchise.

The author, Will Booker, is a professor at Kingston University in Australia.

I will use this work to compare techniques in Transmedia storytelling. I will explore the way Blade Runner was able to change it’s narrative multiple times in comparison with Star Wars, where the story can never be changed.

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A Critical Review of Convergence Culture Through The Matrix, Survivor, and Harry Potter

It may not seem like it, but The Matrix, Survivor, Harry Potter, and American Idol all have something in common. The book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, illustrates how consumers are taking an active role with these various forms of media. Instead of being passive, consumers participate with multi-media, and by doing so have much more active and engaging experiences. The author, Henry Jenkins, argues the importance of focusing on how consumers “are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content”. This theory is key in understanding the future of media.

To analyze this argument, it is important to recognize the credentials of the author. Henry Jenkins directed MIT’s graduate program, Comparative Media Studies for 15 years. He is now a Provost Professor of Communication at the University of Southern California (University of Southern California). His previous work focused on pop culture, communities, democracy and other related topics (University of Southern California). This research led to the creation of the Convergence Culture book, and then to the formation of The Convergence Culture Consortium, a group of researchers at MIT who analyze the implications of media convergence (Convergence Culture Consortium).

In addition to his accomplishments, Henry Jenkins presents very strong evidence to show that culture is shifting towards a more participatory environment where consumers are able to expand their media experience through multiple platforms: convergence. Similarly, Transmedia is a narrative told across multiple platforms; it is one part of convergence culture. One of the strongest examples Jenkins gave to show the culture shift was through Transmedia and The Matrix. Instead of just producing movies, the creators of The Matrix crafted a media universe that consisted of an animated series, comic books, video games, and many other forms of media. Each one of these mediums provided a platform for the creators to expand the story of the series, and allowed people to take an active role in the overall story.

Jenkins also argues that the ease of online communication allows people to take an active role in the convergence of entertainment. By dong so, their media experience is expanded and a community of knowledge is created. Survivor is used as an example. Some of the fans worked together to predict which cast members would last the longest on the TV show. Others even analyzed how many pounds a cast member had lost to determine how long they were on the show. They pooled their resources and created an online community that expanded Survivor’s media scope and fan experiences.

Jenkins had a very sound research style. He presented evidence, and where applicable, discussed both sides of the argument. For example, he discussed how effective The Matrix was in using Transmedia, but admitted it “was a flawed experiment, an interesting failure”.  He explained that it was a failure because the story was not expanded upon fully in each medium. Movie critics thought The Matrix sequels were poorly written because there seemed to be gaps in the stories. Similarly, people that played the video games, read the comics, and watched the animated version thought that those stories needed more substance.

Because of Jenkins’ ability to present the research, the main argument was very convincing. Participation within the convergence culture is demonstrated very well through The Matrix and Survivor, but Jenkins’ example of convergence and fan participation within the Harry Potter franchise was excellent. A 13-year-old girl started The Daily Prophet, a “Web-based school newspaper for the fictional Hogwarts [school]”. Currently, over 100 children from around the world contribute to its publication. Kids were able to create a fictional characters based on Harry Potter characters and plotlines, while practicing their creative writing. The process helped kids learn, but also expanded upon the Harry Potter universe as well.

The author of Harry Potter encouraged the fan fiction, but when Warner Brothers bought the rights to the Harry Potter franchise, they reacted negatively. Warner Brothers sent cease and desist letters to many of the kids that had created the Harry Potter websites, but The Daily Prophet created a petition that had a “call to arms against studios that fail to appreciate their supporters”, with the intent to protect other fan-based work, even beyond Harry Potter. Currently, the studio allows fan-based work but retains the right to shut down their sites at any time. This example showed how fans have taken an active role in expanding upon, and interacting with media. It also shows the issues that will arise with both fans and copyright holders.

Henry Jenkins created the definitive work on convergence culture. His arguments were effective, and the information he presented in the book was highly relevant. It will become the basis for my term project in Evolutions and Trends on Digital Media. I will focus on how Transmedia has created a more compelling user experience. Anyone who wants understand the future of media should read this book. The contemporary examples Jenkins used can serve as good lessons for the future of media convergence.

Resources

University of Southern California. (n.d.). Faculty. Retrieved April 23, 2011, from University of Southern California: http://annenberg.usc.edu/Faculty/Communication%20and%20Journalism/JenkinsH.aspx

Convergence Culture Consortium. (n.d.). About C3. Retrieved April 23, 2011, from Convergence Culture Consortium: http://www.convergenceculture.org/aboutc3/

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where old and New Media Collide. New York, NY: New York University.