Sunday, March 20, 2011

Transmedia – it’s kind of everything

This weekend has been about recouperating from SXSWi, physically as well as mentally. Time zones are still playing havoc with my sleeping patterns, but slowly but surely things are settling into place again. Which is good, as there is much to be done.

In hindsight, SXSWi took the field of transmedia at least a couple of steps forward. I read this well written article in The Guardian, by Oliver Burkeman, on takings from this year’s SXSW festival, and one thing in particular resonates strongly with transmedia today, as I see it. Burkeman writes:

” It was the end of day two of South by Southwest Interactive, the world's highest-profile gathering of geeks and the venture capitalists who love them, and I'd been pursuing a policy of asking those I met, perhaps a little too aggressively, what it was exactly that they did. What is "user experience", really? What the hell is "the gamification of healthcare"? Or "geofencing"? Or "design thinking"? Or "open source government"? What is "content strategy"? No, I mean, like, specifically?

The content strategist across the table took a sip of his orange-coloured cocktail. He looked slightly exasperated. "Well, from one perspective, I guess," he said, "it's kind of everything."
The many requirements

That’s what transmedia is evolving into as well, in my opinion. No longer is it good enough to know one field well, like television, or film, or online portals, or how to write a good story, although all these are still important. It’s just that it’s not enough anymore. When writing a story, you need to have a notion of the possibilities that story can give to an online entry into your world, or as an ARG, or as a graphic novel. It's like a CEO of a trucking company; today he needs to know the basics about SEO as well, to keep himself in business. Or the florist who needs to get savvy in the ways of Facebook, just to pick up on all weddings being planned.

When in pre-production for your tv series, you need to have an understanding for how the interaction with viewers can take place on Twitter, Facebook and so on. Most people – great people at what they do – really do not have that inkling yet. This again leads to examples of bulky, unwieldy transmedia that does not connect logically and seamlessly, as it has been assembled from the same set of pieces but with everyone involved looking at their own blueprint that they themselves have drawn up, without talking to each other overly much.

TAG

Here is where I think the Transmedia Artists Guild has made a timely entrance onto the transmedia arena. Because we have to learn, each and everyone of us. And the best way to learn is by doing, and talking to people who have been there, done that and got a number of t-shirts. Whether it’s about best practises or how to engage an audience, about how to connect an ARG in the best way or how to use characters Twitter accounts for best effect, I see the TAG forums as a great place to interact with other creators and developers and get their invaluable insights. If you haven’t yet, do sign up – it’s a place to talk and a place to find other people to discuss with that you do not first have to spend 30 minutes explaining the concept ”transmedia” to.

See you there!

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