Transmedia for Muggles

As has been widely established, traditional media producers are in trouble. We, as prosumers, are interacting with media in ways not seen before. And, we’re doing it for free. Which naturally means that traditional media owners are desperately trying to find a way to make money off this changing media landscape.

Transmedia storytelling may be the answer.

Henry Jenkins explains transmedia storytelling in “Transmedia Storytelling 101“. In a nutshell, transmedia narratives involve the same story being told over multiple media platforms. Important to a traditional media producer perspective, Jenkins states that transmedia storytelling can “expand the potential market” because there are now multiple points of entry into the story world. In his opinion, transmedia is a worthwhile business venture.

For example, Harry Potter was originally a series of 7 children’s books, written by J K Rowling. However, it has spawned 8 movies, video games across a variety of gaming platforms, including Lego Harry Potter, and then there’s mobile apps, further books, a theme park, and various other tie-in media. As a Harry Potter fan, I do have to admit to owning/using a large proportion of these.

Harry Potter
Harry Potter (Photo credit: Profound Whatever)

This Wall Street Journal blog explains the new addition to the Potter universe: Pottermore. Writer Nick Clayton quotes Jeff Gomez (Starlight Entertainment CEO) as defining Pottermore as a “communal storytelling engine“. He goes on to say that Pottermore will: “officialize and galvanize a massive fan base into a single location, and then service their wildest dreams”. This supports Henry Jenkins’ claim that more entrances into a story world will correlate with a larger potential market, and hence, a greater potential for profit.

In ‘Pop Cosmopolitanism: Mapping cultural flows in an age of media convergence,’ Jenkins (2004, pp. 114-140) talks about how the interaction between corporate convergence (a bottom down force where media ownership is becoming more concentrated) and grassroots convergence (where media users are becoming increasingly empowered in their ability to interact with media) to cause global convergence which propagates pop cosmopolitanism, or the acceptance of ideas from difference cultures.

So it seems we can assume that transmedia is not just about big blockbusting media successes, but also the sharing of local and international content between cultures. For example, the growing influence of manga, or Pokémon.

This interview with the aforementioned Jeff Gomez highlights this importance of youth in modern media culture, also mentioned by Jenkins (2004 pp. 114-140). He calls transmedia interaction a “lifestyle experience”, which supports the idea that transmedia narratives are the future of media experience.

Transmedia narratives, judging by multiple sources, are set to revolutionise the way we interact with media. Media will not remain purely consumable for much longer, instead mutating into an interactive experience within a complex story world. The Matrix has done it, Lost has done it, Harry Potter has done it...

It’s only a matter of time before content, local and international, becomes interactive and highly accessible to all.

References:

Jenkins, H 2004, ‘Pop Cosmopolitanism: Mapping cultural flows in an Age of Media Convergence’, in M. Suarez-Orozco & D. Qin-Hilliard (eds.) Globalization: Culture and Education in the New Millennium, University of California Press, Ewing, NJ, pp.114-140.

Confessions of a Blogging Newbie

blogging
blogging (Photo credit: hgjohn)

I do not deny it. Until almost two months ago, I was not a blogger. I did not read, interact with or even give much thought to blogs. I was not enthusiastic when I discovered I would be assessed on my blogging. It’s certainly been a technological leap for me.

However, I did like reading and writing in more general terms.

So, after a hesitant start, I began to adjust to an environment I found I quite enjoyed. Most things about blogging suited me. I like writing conversationally, I like finding material that links to the subject, I like coming up with titles that are hopefully unique and catchy.

What I liked most of all though, was that my blog posts did not simply have to be a regurgitation of learned material, but an exploration of concepts using MY IDEAS! Blogging allowed me to learn in my own way.

My moment of epiphany occurred when I was writing my first BCM110 blog: CAUS{E}ality AND the EFFECTs model. I was contemplating what to write when I remembered a particularly interesting segment on Supernanny where media was scapegoated for desensitising children. Sure enough, I googled and found the video. It suited perfectly. I continued blogging, really feeling like I’d learnt something because I’d applied what had been covered in class to my own experience.

Since then I’ve been able to explore many topics I’ve had an interest in, and also developed new interests along the way. My greatest challenge has been keeping to 300 words! I’ve loved seeing how other people interpret the same topic in different ways, expanding our knowledge collectively.

I want my career to involve writing. It’s something I’m good at (in my opinion) and something I enjoy. I’ve written in a variety of forms, but never in a blog. In this way I’ve appreciated and been challenged by this new addition to my writing repertoire.

So, is this the end?

 

What happens when citizens become journalists…

As most of us are aware, passive consumption is no longer the only option when it comes to the media.

There is now this outlandish, crazy alternative where we, ignorant amateurish consumers, can become what is termed: citizen journalists.

Ridiculous, right?

Journalism is going to survive. I just don’t s...
Journalism is going to survive. I just don’t see how the businesses that have provided it will survive. @ Clay Shirky @cshirky #openjournalism (Photo credit: planeta)

Well actually, the idea that amateurs can get in on the professional business is not a new one. Amateurs can be artists, or authors or entrepreneurs. So what makes journalism any different?

What decides how easily individuals can access the professional business is cost of entry. For example, you cannot simply decide you want to be a neurosurgeon and walk into a hospital. You need many, many years of study and some complicated qualifications. It is expensive and requires a set level of skill. By contrast, just about anyone can walk into McDonalds and be employed, because there is a comparatively lower level of skill (no offense intended, I respect employees of McDonalds).

Journalism used to have a relatively high cost of entry. You had to do a journalism degree and then be employed by a major company if you wanted to broadcast news.

However, the issue is, that since the birth of the internet, the cost of entry involved in being able to comment on current affairs has dropped impressively. To zero, in fact.

This has raised some questions: who should decide what the news is? Should it be giant media organisations, many of which are owned by the same people (i.e. Rupert Murdoch), or should it be the general population? If you read “Citizen journalism: Inside information vs. outside perspective” by Tom Merritt, it would seem that the idea of ‘non-professionals’ reporting on current affairs is not so unusual. As Tom Merritt points out, the printing press was originally a technology possessed by individuals who then formed major companies. In his opinion, citizen journalism does not have to ‘take over’ regular journalism, rather it’s a fairer system that allows each side to balance each other.

Hurricane Sandy 2012
Hurricane Sandy 2012 (Photo credit: charliekwalker)

As this video shows, citizen journalism should not be about killing journalism, but improving it. Citizens may be in the right place at the right time, able to collect information where regular journalists cannot. They may provide a voice when official avenues are silenced. Examples include citizen journalism during the Egyptian Uprising of 2011 and during Hurricane Sandy. This Observer Blog shows a collaboration of live tweets, images and reports designed to be more accessible in the moment than traditional media.

By contrast, citizen journalism can be less informed or truthful, because there are no ethics standards and few controls on what can be reported.

So it seems that journalism is not dying, but mutating into new and unseen forms. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is yet to be seen.

Axel Bruns talks about the “growing ability of produsage to hold its own against its more traditional rivals” in Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation. ‘Produsers’ are a hybrid species, that growing group of people that both produce and use online content. Citizen journalists are produsers. The text talks about the ways in which produsers are set to change the way we think of media.

So, according to Bruns, it’s not just journalism that’s being affected.

 

The Reality of Reality TV: A Survivor Story

A recreation of the logo for the first America...
A recreation of the logo for the first American Survivor season, Survivor: Borneo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reality shows. Pointless, meaningless, useless rubbish. Full of drama and wannabe movie stars. That’s what I thought.

But, if you look closely, perhaps there is some sort of usefulness….?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the U.S version of Survivor, it is essentially Big Brother, but instead of a house there’s a deserted beach with no shelter, no food and usually an insect infested jungle.

It makes for great entertainment,  even having been run for successful 26 seasons. But why is it still so popular? Obviously some element of its formula is resonating in the public sphere (where people debate common concerns). The game is, as its motto states, about outwitting, outplaying and outlasting. The way this should be done though, is a matter of great contestation.

CASE IN STUDY: Russell Hantz

In a Heroes vs. Villains season, Russell, as a villain, played like a tactical genius. He manipulated, lied, and even managed to persuade one of the ‘heroes’ to give him an immunity idol (if you’re curious watch this YouTube excerpt). However, he trod on a great many toes, as is shown when the jury condemns his actions.

Russell played the game outstandingly, but didn’t win because his fellow castaways, who he helped vote off, didn’t like his lack of loyalty or sportsmanship. The controversy over what makes a good person, a bad person, and what especially makes a good player, was showcased  in this Heroes vs. Villains season. The concept of a deciding jury invites us to make a judgement upon these people and debate how certain qualities should be rewarded or punished

So, it seems Survivor is not a load of rubbish, but has actually become an instigator for debate in the public sphere on morals, ethics, loyalty, sportsmanship…the list goes on.

Believe it or not, reality TV has social value!

DIY Media

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ll know that the way we relate to media has changed. Dramatically.

We are no longer the audience, we are prosumers.

This means we don’t just passively accept and digest the media when it is spoon-fed to us at regular intervals. We decide when, where and what we want to view, and then make our own decisions about how or if we want to interact with it. We make Facebook statuses, tweet news, leave comments, and hit the ‘like’ button. We can also share what we find interesting with those we know. Or don’t know, as is often the case.

In effect, we have become part of the media, integrated into the whole. This has a whole range of potential that we’re only just finding out about. “The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere”, you can begin to understand the effects an active audience is having upon the way information is gathered. For example, if you look at the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, you can see that social media became integral to the organisation of protests, as well as reporting what was going on within Egypt to the outside world. “Twitter is Blocked in Egypt Amidst Rising Protests” outlines how the Egyptian government attempted to block Twitter, but how news leaked through anyway.

In this way, rather than getting what would be an official, censored version of the truth, the outside world and people within Egypt were allowed a more accurate insight.

This is not the first time convergent media has altered the outcome of an event, the Boxing day tsunami in 2004, the London Bombings….

In these times, anyone can be a journalist.

I took it upon myself to look at what was happening, media wise, with the emerging story of North Korea’s declaration of war. Hackers accessed North Korea’s social media pages, (watch “Hackers target N Korea as tensions mount“) but the difference here is that North Korea’s media is so closed. It will be interesting to see what kinds of impacts convergent media will have upon these events.

However, it’s not just news that’s changing, it’s our entertainment. YouTube ‘vloggers’ are amassing thousands if not millions of followers (charlieissocoollike being my sister’s favourite). The phenomenal power is that these are everyday people, who have now been given the creative and expressive freedom to make their own media.

YouTube Trends Dashboard

YouTube Trends Dashboard (Photo credit: DavidErickson)

There are home-made videos that receive millions of views. What does this mean for traditional broadcasters? Well, in a nutshell, everyday people can upload content at zero cost to themselves which is viewed by more people than when millions of dollars’ worth of investment is put towards producing traditional content.

The content industry is in trouble: the audience has discovered DIY

References:

Gordon, Janey (2007), The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Convergence 13/3 Pages: 37-319.

The quest for Global Domination

Until very recently, I took it for granted that I had access to uncensored, factual media.

Of course, compared to some nations in the world, I do.

However,  a large portion of Australia’s media is owned by a select group of people:

The important thing here to ponder is:

Does this matter?

An increasing number of people are starting to think it does.

This Simpson’s parody pokes fun at the level of censorship within Fox (owned by Rupert Murdoch)

It does raise the question though of who exactly should decide what is ‘newsworthy’, what is unbiased, and exactly what media sources are ‘trustworthy’. In a BBC broadcast, Hugh Grant accuses News of the World of extensive phone hacking to attain ‘inside information’. He also wrote exclusively for the “New Statesman” in: “The bugger, bugged“. This quote comes from the ex-News of the World journalist that spilled the beans:

“…all hail the master. We’re just pawns in his game.”

This being in reference to owner, Rupert Murdoch.

This statement seriously undermines the credibility of traditional media. Can Murdoch, and by extension, other dominant media owners, influence which sides of a story are told, or if these stories are told at all? As Elizabeth Hart says in “Media Ownership“, concentrated media ownership has the “potential to limit freedom of expression”.

Obviously, this should be an issue of great importance.

However, it seems all is not lost. A reading of “The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere”* by Janey Gordon indicates the growing importance of the so called ‘prosumer’ as part of the modern news collection. For example, how civilian mobile phone images were used to document the 2005 London Bombings. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all allow active participation with the media.

This is still in its early stages, but perhaps these platforms will allow the public to regulate the standards of the media…?

At any rate, the media hasn’t taken over the world. Yet…

 References:

Gordon, Janey (2007), The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Convergence 13/3 Pages: 307-319