In Transmedial Readership, (the first of a three-part series on Changing Landscapes in the world of publishing), I took a look at the evolutionary progress of the modern-day Ebook from its 1940’s humble (HES) electronic beginnings as a means to record the work of Catholic philosopher>theologian Thomas Aquinas to its use as a way of sharing large amounts of text within the educational community.
In wasn’t until the late 90′s, early 2000′s that we saw this PC monolith of data transfer evolving into an embryonic hand-held device which would eventually morph into a AI that responds to voice recognition and allows its user to down load @4GSpeeds books, magazines, games and movies, access the internet, read PDF files as well as import>export those last minute>out the door>I forgot to send the statistics the boss needed 30 seconds ago.
Then I took a look at the predictions of the early 2000′s in regards to the viability of these handheld book readers, and concluded that the greatest giants to be slain at this present time weren’t the consumers, but rather the twin peaks of Author and Publisher on the Mt. Olympus of Literature, where change for the sake of change doesn’t come easy. From there I concluded that with an ever-increasing readership demand for “newer>better>faster” ways in which to partner with the writer’s, producer’s and designer’s of today’s storytelling, there is now a natural impetus for author’s to relook at how they will develop story content, as well as explore what other forms of media are available in order to bring the purveyors of sensory interaction into the best experience possible.
So What is Transmedia?
In an interview with Neela Sakaria, SVP @Latitude magazine, transmedia creator Andrea Phillips said that a true transmedia project is one that involves audience participation, which in turn means they will have to seek out and find multiple layers or pieces of information in order to understand the entire story.
The Producer’s Guild list its Credit Guidelines for “transmedia” as a project which “…must consist of three or more narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any given platform: film, television, short film, broadband, publishing, comics, animation, mobile, special venue, DVD>Blu-ray>CD-ROM, narrative commercial, marketing rollouts and other technologies”.
In other words, there has to be a collaborative effort of three or more forms of media being used to tell the same story within the same platform. An early example of this would be L. Frank Baum‘s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic Frankenstein, both of which were presented to the public on multiple platforms or layers of media (book > play > movie).
So What is Storytelling?
Wikipedia tells us that storytelling is a means by which mankind has of conveying events through words, images and sounds, which in turn are a part of every cultures means of entertainment, education and cultural preservation, endued with the power to instill moral values. In his interview with fastcocreat.com, Gottschall said that he believed that fiction was more effective at changing the way a person believes about something than any writing that was specifically designed for that purpose.
WhenRobert Pratten of Transmedia Storytelling was asked why people tell stories he said, “We tell stories to entertain, to persuade and to explain. Our minds do not like random facts or objects….we naturally and often subconsciously connect the dots…in a… stimulating way we call stories. Great stories win hearts and minds.”
Jonathan Gottschall, author of “The Storytelling Animal” states, “….story is the most powerful means of communicating a message…..People are moved by emotion. And Peter Guber, Studio Chief at Columbia Pictures and author of Tell to Win, says, “The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”
So Why Use Transmedia in Storytelling?
In a gathering of creative individuals hosted by Electronic Arts in 2003, Henry Jenkins, a Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Art at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC School of Cinematic Arts noted in an article he wrote for Technology Review , that transmedia>multi- platform or enhanced storytelling as they knew it, was on the cusp of undergoing significant changes and that those changes would mean an entirely new way of ‘doin the tellin’.
Those present stated that they saw a future where the masses would no longer be satisfied being told stories on a one-dimensional plane such as watching a movie or reading a book, leaving the theater or turning the last page, and be satisfied that what they have just experienced was all there is and there is nothing more.
People today have evolved from hunter>gathers on open grass lands to hunter>gather’s on the internet, and they take “great pleasure…uncovering character backgrounds… plot points…and… making connections between different texts…” It’s no longer enough just to read or watch a story from a one-dimensional aspect. Audiences now want to have an opportunity to enter into the story and participate in both its development as well as being able to decide alternate endings. It becomes a case of where the whole is now greater than the parts.
By combing multiple layers of media in the development and publication of EBooks, authors can now take a story which began as an arrow through time and folded it back upon itself in complex layers impregnated with texture, depth, emotion and visualization. No longer do our characters move from point A to point B solely dependent upon their creator’s narrative abilities as the primary means by which the reader enters into and experiences the story. By apply multiple sensory applications the story now becomes a collaborative partnership between the author, the characters, the reader and everyone else who has contributed in creating an experience that moves everyone beyond the land of cardboard cutouts and into the realm of interactive>inter-dimensional> transmedial adventures.
In the third and final part of this three-part series I want to zoom in on what transmedia storytelling is doing for EBooks and how Amanda Havard, first time author of the Urban fiction “Survivors“ and entrepreneurial genius behind Chafie Creations and the development of Immersedition, is taking the world of literary experiencialism to a whole new level.
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer