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Category Archives: Masters of Communication in Digital Media

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!

 

How Government Broadcasting Stations can Provide a Benefit to Society

This week’s post will focus on The Media Monopoly, by Ben H. Bagdikian. Bagdikian’s thesis is that mass media will choose what is better for businesses over what is better for society. I agree with his thesis, and would like to expand on some of his ideas further.

My work experience has put me in an interesting position. I have worked in a government broadcasting station for about two years and have seen the direct benefit a taxpayer-funded station can have on the public. With unbelievably limited staff resources, we can produce programs that educate and inform the public. Bagdikian states that government funded stations

“live on the knife-edge of unstable political appropriations and conservative attacks. Most stay alive by endless efforts to raise their own money from subscribers, and are forced to run commercials that duplicate those on the commercial stations. As a result, a real spectrum of non-commercial radio and television in the United States has remained skeletal” (Bagdikian, 1997).

He couldn’t be more right.

Even though these public stations have remained “skeletal”, I believe they still have a chance to thrive. Because of the evolution of technology it has become much easier to produce content. What used to take weeks can now be done in hours with tools like Final Cut Pro. High Definition video can be recorded with a cell phone. We don’t even need to capture content from tapes because of SD cards with well over 100 gigabytes of storage. A relatively small staff can create content that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars ten years ago. Because of these changes, government funded stations can produce higher quality content for a fraction of the price.
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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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Reading Reflection: A Dark Future for the Internet

Even though the term “Tipping Point” might be overrated, it is a perfect phrase to explain the current state of the Internet.  We are moving away from an era where independent websites could compete against larger ones, to a time when the largest websites on the Internet take up the majority of users time online. In addition to taking up users time, the websites will also be owned by a minority of companies. The article I choose to focus on for this weeks post in Evolutions and Trends in Digital Media was: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, by Yochai Benkler. Benkler raised some interesting points, but one area stood out that needs further exploration. On the topic of the Internet, the author stated that “The Internet as a technology, and the networked information economy as an organizational and social model for information and cultural production, promise the emergence of a substantial alternative platform for the public sphere”, I believe he is right, but this idea needs much more examination.

The overarching theme from Evolutions and Trends in Digital Media (and the TV show Battlestar Galactica) is: This has happened before and it will happen again. It seems as if new technologies are likely to follow the pattern of those that came before it. In this case, I think that the Internet will provide an “alternative platform for the public sphere”, but it will follow the same pattern of media concentration that television, radio, and print did.

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A Discussion on Digital Media Broadcasting in Korea

In the United States, streaming live video to a mobile device is a fairly new and cumbersome process. Verizon’s V-Cast has allowed users to stream live TV over 3G onto mobile devices. In 2005, Korea launched a service called Digital Media Broadcasting (DMB). DMB allows for the transmission of live TV and data to mobile devices, such as cell phones, car navigation systems, and laptops. It comes in two forms, terrestrial (free), and satellite ($14 a month). The Satellite-DMB provides more channels and has better reception compared to Terrestrial-DMB. In 2009, a study called “Motivators for the intention to use mobile TV: A comparison of South Korean males and females” was conducted to examine how different genders view DMB in Korea, and the possible implications for marketing the service.

The responses from the 256 undergraduate students surveyed in Korea came in the form of both quantitative and qualitative data. The authors of the study hypothesized that uses and gratification motivators for DMB users would include entertainment, social interaction, permanent access, pass time, and fashion and status. The survey results indicated that there were a few differences based on gender.

Men viewed a DMB device “like a toy, and perceive[d] the ownership of a mobile phone as a status symbol, [while] females were more concerned about the generic calling function of the device” (Choi, Kim, & McMillan, 2009). Women also gave much more weight to the social benefits that came with owning a DMB device. It was very important that DMB helped them stay in contact with friends and family. The authors recommended that the gender results should be used in DMB marketing.

Analysis

While understanding the motivation for consumers to use DMB devices is important, there is a much larger question at stake: what is the future of streaming video content – live through DMB or through video on demand (VOD)? The study pointed out that DMB was an effective service because people would not have to return home at a specific time to watch TV; instead they could watch it anywhere. However, a major flaw with this is that TV consumption trends are changing. People will want to watch video on demand instead of being restricted to watch programming only when it is broadcast live.

Similar, yet significantly different than DMB, VOD provides an alternative to live television through mobile devices. Since 2009, VOD has become much more popular in the United States. Instead of watching TV when it is live, consumers in the United States are downloading and streaming shows through iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, and other services. Since people can start and stop a program at their convenience, VOD is a much more convenient way to consume content compared to DMB. If rights issues are resolved, this could become the case in Korea, and in many other places around the world. In order to stay viable long term, DMB must allow for video on demand services.

Questions for Discussion

Have you tried to live stream a video to your mobile device? If so, what was your experience?

Do you think streaming live TV has a future, or will everyone want his or her video on demand?

Do you use your mobile device as a fashion or status symbol?

Do you use your mobile device for the calling features or social functions?

Resources

Choi, Y. K., Kim, J., & McMillan, S. (2009). otivators for the intention to use mobile TV: A comparison of South Korean males and females. International Journal of Advertising (28), 147.

 

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.