Transmedia in our world today

Honestly, I am slightly embarrassed to say that as a media student, before this lecture, I had never heard of the term transmedia. I have now come to learn that this is actually not a new concept, however many people were unaware that it was called ‘transmedia’. According to Henry Jenkins, transmedia is defined as ‘a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience’. In other words, telling a story across multiple platforms, where consumers have to view and engage in a story through these different platforms for the whole story to be revealed and make sense.

There has been an increasing number of transmedia projects created, due to the way people engage with online media in our technological world. Our way of creating, consuming and sharing stories today has become so available to all users, through smart phones, tablets and the never-ending access to majority of online content (MSLGROUP, 2013).

An example that I find relevant to transmedia storytelling is Harry Potter. J.K Rowling, the author, wrote a series of children fantasy novels, which were then directed into blockbuster films. The extension to which ‘Harry Potter’ is available to the public is enormous, and probably a lot more than J.K Rowling ever expected. An example is ‘Pottermore’, a unique online experience built around the books, where users can freely explore the world of Harry Potter and discover new content revealed by the author. Pottermore has over 4.4 million registered users who have earned around 60 million points for ‘exploring the storyworld and performing virtual actions’. Another example is ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ in Universal Orlando Resort, where visitors can explore the grounds, access passageways and classrooms, visit Hogsmeade and go on rides where characters come to life. Harry Potter games are also available to purchase on Xbox, Nintendo and Playstation, for gamers to become active in the Harry Potter world and discover new and exciting places.

Transmedia storytelling has allowed us as users to interact and become involved in the online media world, which has enabled major growth and expansion within the industry. Transmedia is essential in our world today, and will ultimately be the future of storytelling.

MSLGROUP, 2013, ‘Transmedia Storytelling: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement’, accessed 19 April 2013,  http://peopleslab.mslgroup.com/peoplesinsights/7-transmedia-storytelling-ten-frontiers-for-the-future-of-engagement/

iReflect

Throughout the last six weeks of learning about media studies, I have become more aware and more knowledgeable about many aspects in our technological driven world. I had never blogged before, so this was a very new thing to me. Once I began, however, I really started to enjoy and appreciate the world of blogging, through my own creative writing and also being able to read many other blogs and see what others have to say.

In week 2, we studied David Gauntlett’s article, ‘Ten things wrong with effects model’, where he believes we are taking a backward approach towards the cause of media effects, but also that there may never be a clear and defined answer on media effects. I found this topic really interesting, as I too, do not believe there is any one reason for why people behave the way they do, with or without any relation to the media. The fact that this topic was called ‘Television is making you fat’ also made it even more clear to me, and that the amount of time that we spend being inactive in front of the television definitely needs to be considered before we believe such myths. We also need to consider society as a whole when looking at the reasons why people react the way they do to media, which inevitably adds to the media effects.

Another topic that has helped shaped my thinking about the role of media, was the week 4 topic on media ownership. With Australia’s media being one of the most concentrated in the world, the fact that our media is owned by a very small number of media companies makes information less diverse. I found a point that was made in the lecture really interesting, that the diversity of our media ownership is declining, however at same time, there is an increasing number of media users and producers. As our technological world expands and grows each day, more and more media platforms are being created and explored, which gives way to more media owners. I feel this is a good thing as the more variety of companies we have, the more diverse the information and bigger selection of sources of news.

I have really enjoyed being able to read other students blogs. I feel that even though we are all studying the same topics each week, everyone can input such a diverse range of information that I genuinely find interesting and enjoy reading. The role of the media in our society today plays a very important role, through providing masses of information, connecting people through online platforms, giving people the freedom to express their own opinions and allowing everyone to become prosumers of content. These are just some of the things I have learnt about the media, which has inevitably influenced my thinking about the role of the media since week one.

Excuse me, are you a journalist?

Traditionally, a journalist would be defined as a person who is employed to research, report, and present information as news to the audiences of mass media outlets within a short period of time. In today’s society, however, we have created a new term known as the ‘citizen journalist’. According to Axel Bruns, ‘Citizen journalism fundamentally disrupts the industrial journalism model by employing its users as journalists and commentators’ (Bruns, 2007, pg. 3).

Citizen journalism now plays a huge role in the way we document and report the news and events around the world. ‘Citizen journalism, which often builds on, debates, and critiques the published reports of mainstream journalistic organisations, can also be seen as a form of collaborative filtering … to discover the most relevant, important, or useful information for specific purposes or communities’ (Bruns, 2007, pg. 3).

There has been a major expansion in the online world through different networks and platforms that are now available for everyone to participate in. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter and WordPress, allow users to create their own content and freely express their own ideas through their websites and profiles. Examples of this form of journalism include tweeting about a traffic jam, sending an iPhone video to a news station or even just through creating your own personal blog.

Citizen journalism is often mocked for being subjective, unreliable and of bias opinion. Nevertheless, I feel that the uncensored information that comes from citizen journalism represents a more valid and legitimate truth, which in today’s society, no traditional media can effectively offer. Inevitably, this means we are no longer subject to media gatekeepers providing us with the news that they believe is appropriate and necessary, where we as the audience can now become authorised to choose the information that we believe is newsworthy.

Bruns, A, 2007, Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation. In Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington, DC

A Modern Family in a modern world

According to German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, the public sphere is ‘a domain of our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed. Access to the public sphere is open in principle to all citizens’ (Habermas, 1989, pg. 1). He imagined the public sphere to be much like a 17th century coffee house, a place for affluent white men to share news and debate about ideas. The ‘new mediated public sphere’, however, is an updated version and extension to Habermas’ idea, which has transformed to fit in with the today’s society. With more and more media technologies and platforms evolving everyday, people from all around the world can discuss and debate current issues that revolve around everyday life. This new mediated public sphere is a virtual online space, which allows for freedom of expression and everyone’s voice to be heard.

An example of a popular media text that contributes to a big debate in the mediated public sphere I think is Modern Family. Modern Family is a hilarious television show about a large, blended family living in the modern world. It involves three different families that are all related in some way, and raises issues around the themes of same sex partners, parenting teenagers, race, generational gaps, adoption and of course the central idea of blended family.

 

Despite the show being extremely funny and popular, it brings about many relevant and current debates that fit into this idea of a mediated public sphere. For Phil and Claire, the struggle of raising three teenage children becomes apparent as they try to stay as ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ as they can. This ordinary, average family would be extremely relevant to a lot of other families around the world, and therefore can introduce many interesting topics for discussion. Mitchell and Cameron are a gay couple who have adopted a little Vietnamese girl to become a part of their family. The idea of same sex partners is apparent, which raises many issues around homosexuality, providing a balanced upbringing, normality and acceptance.  Jay and Gloria, both in their second marriages, are dealing with the issues of cultural difference and a large generational gap. They are both trying to raise Gloria’s son Manny, and more recently, their own newborn child together.

From a popular television show like modern Family, we can see how they have tried to incorporate a number of important issues in our society today. The director makes it apparent that they carefully, and successfully attempt to treat each character with equality, which in my opinion is what makes the show so popular. There have been, however, many major criticisms of the mediated public sphere, including that it’s become too trivialised, commercialised and apathetic. I feel that because this new public sphere allows for everyone’s own ideas and debates to take place, it will consequently be changing and molding over time, due to our technological and growing society.

Here is another clip from the show, I hope you find it as hilarious as I do! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diU5bm9wvjI

Habermas, J & Seidman, S, 1989, Jurgen Habermas on Society and Ethics: A Reader, Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts

Internet gives everyone a voice

Accessing media from around the globe on a regular basis can be a fairly easy task for most people. However, how do we know if the information is correct? How do we know that someone hasn’t just made up an idea and blurted it out on the Internet for all to see? We are all prosumers in the world today where we all have increased access to creating our own content. It can be through personal blogs, videos, music, or online social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter, where we can easily upload it and share it with whoever we want. We live in a participatory culture, where sharing things globally online is the best new thing. We are, however, struggling to keep a hold on the regulation of this content, and are possibly starting to lose control.

According to Janey Gordon, we have embraced the ways that mobile phones are offering an alternative to conventional and authorised sources of information. Gordon looks at three critical situations, one of those being the London Bombings in 2005, where many were injured and some even killed. She says, ‘The media and press asked for eyewitnesses to come forward and used images taken on mobile phones to supplement – and in their terms ‘enhance’ – their coverage of the event’ (p. 314).This form of media technology, as well as citizen journalism, is becoming increasingly important, where the exchange of information relies heavily on mobile phones in the public domain. The only downside of this new media technology is that the content that is being uploaded onto the internet passes through a weak or non-existent gatekeeper (Gordon, 2007, p. 314-315).

So this poses the question again, how can we establish that sources on the internet are being credible in this new media world? As prosumers, we are given freedom to actively participate in the online world, and therefore need to understand that everything we see should not always be taken at face value. Consequently, we need to look for other sources for clarification.

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