Nuno Bernardo : Sofia's diary
Written in Fall 2013. Last revised 9/13/2014. Return to Major concepts.
1. Core issues, terminology, history
1.1. The tide under the wave
1.3. History and dynamics
2. The Media Mesh. Low level
2.1. Mankind around the media sphere
2.3. Media assets
2.4. Software: OS, programming languages
2.5. HCI Interfaces.
3. High level: the medias
3.1. Four media types
3.2. The Media making of
3.3. CMS, ranking...
4. The contents
4.1. The story as basic content
4.2. The character
4.3. The set (environment, context)
4.4. The event
4.6. Fragmentation/assembly, the database
5.1. Some spectactors are more equal than others
5.2. Everybody for the full life
5.3. The author. Cooperation on creation
5.4. Corporations and business
5.6. Research and education
5.7. Politician and Citizen
1. Core issues, terminology, history
- For a short introduction to the subject, nothing best than Wikipedia. For a deeper exploration, [Jenkins] maybe considered as the seminal work. A lively, autobiographical as well as hands-on view is offered by the (short but effective) [Bernardo 2011].
- A lot in Digital Storytelling [Miller, 2014].
Some typical, enthusiastic words by Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, 10/31/2010. Listen to him
on line :
- beautiful. create a symphonic narrative,
- creative property in the middle and expanding out,
- Starwars : in the whole, it is far more than its part,
- to extend the story line on and on,
- great narration,
- build yourself a tool set,
- if negative, not the scale...;
- planting specific seeds that hatch spectacular results.
Some French amateurs will regret that the topic be covered only by English writing authors. They will like to know that Bernardo is Portuguese, and that Jenkins makes frequent reference to the French Pierre Lévy (notably [LÚvy 1997], even if the latter author lives now in Canada and publishes mainly in English).
We try here a different kind of synthesis, less narrative and more structured. The French way, sort of.
1.1. The tide under the wave
J.K. Rowling announcing Pottermore, the transmedia version of Harry Potter
Fall 2012 : transmedia is on the buzz. J.K. Rowling has annoucend Pottermore as the biggest transmedia project.
- Cap Digital has launched a technology watch letter "Transmedia & Story Telling", expression of its transmedia think tank, oriented towards industry and production.
- Ina organizes information meetings and tutorials.
- A lawyer, Sébastien Lachaussée, targets the issue.
-Mediakwest gives a list of institutions engaged : SACD, Scam, Orange (Transmedia Lab), CSPLA, Adij.
- The Paris ACM Siggraph plans a commission.
- Scoop it is a dedicated blog. Oriented towards trade and commerce issues.
- The Transmedia lab, a department of Orange, has a website.
- A lot experiences are presented by Pearl Trees
- A site on transmedia resources
Some tend to think that transmedia brings nothing new. Even without diving back to the Greek Tragedy, the grand religious or social shows or Wagner, they remind us that transmedia under other names has been with us for long, as prove terms like audio-visual, multimedia, multimodal, multiplatform, multisupport and, more recently, cross-media and hybridation.
We shall say that transmedia is just the present wave of a deeper move. Its skimmy hype cannot hide a long rising tide that has no reason to stop before decades ahead.
The field is centered on TV and games, on a story told by the rather traditional way of filming, with talent playing in front of cameras, but relayed by Internet, "the second screen" (and up to five...) and finally any media.
It has impacts on all facets of todays and tomorrows life
To the general public, it opens new forms of entertainment, with possibly more engagement, if not addiction the screen(s), but also with new forms of social life : SMS and social networks pull the couch potatoes out of the passive attitudes and behaviors that cinema and still much more traditional TV had stuck them (See for instance [Putnam] and the literature about Japanese otakus, notably [Azuma].
-For the artists, becoming (more or less) transmedia present different facets :
. positive: expand their creativity into new spaces, get new audiences,
. negative : time and costs to acquire new tools and competencies and adapt to new rules.
. cooperative : the new tools make easier to create directly by oneself on a transmedia way, but call also for cooperation between different specialities (e.g. : graphic artists need musicians or voices, 3D needs stereographists..., advanced forms of art require programming).
- for the industry: new business models definition, evolution of the workplace for individuals, small companies and non profit institutions Vs. giant corporations. Connected TV.
- for the politics : liberty, equality, fraternity in the transmedia world. Then legislation and practical action. Security and control. Private/public balance. Market transparence and antitrust fight. For contestants : "tactical media", communautarism, criminal uses.
We will try here to present a global view, including all medias and (fine) arts, with a possible bias towards generative processes, which are core in our present reflections, as shown by our book [Berger-LIoret 2012].
Our orientation here is also
- more abstract and descriptive than, for instance,[Bernardo 2011] or [Phllips 2012].
- more machine-oriented, with a pinch of transhumanism, when most of literature sticks closely to the dogma: computer is no more than a tool.
Transmedia is cleanly defined by Wikipedia : "The term transmedia has been used (as far as we know) in 1991 by Marsha Kinder and then popularized by Henry Jenkins... It is the last in date word to tell the convergence of many if not all "media" into a unified conceptual and industrial frame for art and design, entertainment and even the whole of social life.
Phillips: "... originally coined by cultural theorist and University of Southern California professor Dr. Marsha Kinder. She first used it in 1991 as "transmedia intertextuality"... Dr Henry Jenkins... reframed Kinder's term to describe heavily integrated narratives... ".
Scheme of transmedia according to Seizethemedia
A disputable but suggestive definition (with a schema) is given by Seizethemedia: "Transmedia is a format of formats; an approach to story delivery that aggregates fragmented audiences by adapting productions to new modes of presentation and social integration. The execution of a transmedia production weaves together diverse storylines, across multiple outlets, as parts of an overarching narrative structure. These elements are distributed through both traditional and new media outlets. The online components exploit the social conventions, and social locations, of the internet. This schema, think we, puts forth excessively 3G phones and portables, when the home TV set and the public entertainment halls keep a major art. And it proposes an unclear mix of hardware (consoles) and high level constructs (social networks). But at least it shows the diversity of topics impacted by transmedia. "
Brook Thomson, in Giant Mice proposes a typology of transmedia : franchise, marketing, native :
-franchise : a story world is spread out into various media formats,
-marketing: builds a story around a brand or a specific property,
-native : transmedia projects that are created and built across platforms from the start.
Useful, but not sufficiently grounded, this classification seems us to mix different criteria, and the borders between them are not so clear, as note some comments on the site. Could we say it in other words :
- franchise: the present part of (trans) media that are owned by publishers, producers, etc. See below.- marketing: the commercials
- native: author projects; but the term "native" could be better used to name contents directly designed for transmedia see 5.3.2.
Here also, transmedia trends to blur the lines between commercials and editorial contents. In the traditional media (paper press, radio and TV), the linearity of the content allowed an efficient allocation of slots to commercials among the authors contents, since the readers or spectators were more or less oliged to follow the line. With transmedia, they can navigate to skip the commercials. Hence a tendency to integrate the advertisements in the contents themselves. It was an ethical issue in older times, but new usages will have to emerge... at least as long as medias are paid mainly by commercials. Another turnover source, with its own ethical issues, comes from the metadata selling by the medias to the marketing.
Hypermedia. Wikipedia. Just a logical extension of hypertext to audio and video through links.
Story telling clings frequently (if not always) to transmedia. Is this not too restrictive ? All forms of contents are now involved. But still images, pure music and most of verse are not properly "stories", and may take part in transmedia. But this concept implies, notably, a time dynamics for which a story is more congenial. Surprisingly, we can find such a vision in Richard Wagners essay The art of the future (1849) with his conception of the GesamtKunstWerk, the total work of art.
Beware, story telling has also its dark face. You tell story to forget, or to hide part of the reality.
Convergence has been a buzzword in digital technologies at least since the 1960's. We used that term to entitle a collection or our thoughts in the early 1970's. Thirty years later, convergence has actually taken place, blurring boundaries but not merging totally computers and communications. As for the future, the convergence will very probably continue to accept, if not to foster, the media diversity... at least as long as we humans live in bodies with different sensorial channels, different needs and wishes according to the moments, and within social and cultural spheres with different modes of living. Implosion would perhaps be more adequate to describe the move than convergence.
Convergence Culture is the title of a book by Henry Jenkins, considered the first to use the term "transmedia" in its present sense.
Enhanced TV. It is used in particular in reference to Two-Screen Solutions TV + PC services. Wikipedia.
Hybridation. This last concept was discussed at Annecy's 2012 festival. See a post by Fous d'Anim and the official archive on the festival's website. Fous d'Anim writes "Hybridation, a trendy and smoky concept, cooked in all sauces, assembly of genres, technical changes and platform changes" (Our translation for "Hybridation, concept tendance et fumeux s'il en est tellement il est mis à toutes les sauces : assemblage de genres, mutations techniques, variation des supports").
- Jenkins employs "hybridity" when "a cultural space absosrbs and transforms elements from another, most often a strategy by which indigenous cultures respond to the influx of Westernized media content by making it their own".
Intertextual commodity. Jenkins, referring to David Marshall, defines it as "a new approach to media production that integrates marketing and entertainment content as the story moves from the screen onto the Web".
Immersion also is associated to transmedia. It is the title of The art of immersion [Rose 2011 ] who writes for instance : "... immersiveness is what blurs the line, not just between story and game, but between story and marketing, story teller and audience, illusion and reality" (p. 15).
- deliberate transmedia: the producers collaborate with animators and game designers to extend the narrative told on film.
- organic transmedia: fans contribute to the overall lore by co-creating within a universe offered by other media - people who make Super Mario cakes would fall into this category.
- cross-media aims to distribute a same content through different medias or platforms ; transmedia proper goes farther: the story is declined along different threads on different channels, without losing its coherence and central plot; (Wikipedia) defines it "a media property, service, story or experience distributed across media platforms using a variety of media forms"; about the difference of cross- and transmedia,
- user generated contents (UGC) and (fan) communities are important for transmedia development, see below.
In 2006, Transdisciplinary Digital Art was the title of a conference held in Zurich, Switzerland and Victoria, BC, Canada. Selected papers have been published by Randy Adams, Steve Gibson and Stefan Müller Arisona ( [Adams]). Introducing the volume, Steve Gibson distinguishes the term from Interdisciplinary art. The latter term "implies a certain level of detachment across the mediums... (but) they are separate entities", The former "implies a direct connection and cross-over between mediums, the artist also becomes the engineer, the engineer becomes the artist... Here science is no less important than art, art no less than science. The elitism of the isolated discipline is broken down to a degree". It is notable that this book, published in 2008, does not use the term "transmedia" and that, in spite of chapters like "Imaging Place : Globalization and Immersive Media" and "Collaborative Interaction in Virtual Puppetry", it ignores fully the user collective intelligence that is a main feature or transmedia, which Jenkins develops by the same period, and was actively practicized by American Producers, notably the Wachowsky brothers for Matrix. (1999 for the first episode of the trilogy).
Transliteracy is a variant of transmedia, proposed by Sue Thomas in [Adams], who defines it as : "the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, RV, radio and film, to digital social networks".
The term media itself may assume two different meanings:
- a sensorial channel : mainly eyesight, hearing, secondarily touch, taste and smelling, plus cenesthesia (feeling of the self) and why not some "sixth senses" ; this acception underlies audiovisual and multimedia (or multimodal, according to a French variant) ; on this line, progress takes to totally immersive environments, with roots as far as prehistory cave rituals and the Greek tragedy, with a notable step with Wagner's Gesamtkunswerk, then the virtual reality which took off in the 1990's ; present trends include stereoscopic 3D and 4D ;
- a communication channel (printing, radio, TV, Internet), defined at the same time by technological tools (e.g. the printing press) and a creation-production-distribution chain (e.g. writer, printer, publisher, physical transportation and delivery to the public through bookshops and libraries).
Transmedia refers mainly to the second sense. In order to propose a coherent view of the full range of expression, we distinguish four types of media : places, mobile records, channels, Internet (see below). That gives room to books, paintings and theaters as well as to TV, game boxes and smartphones.
Transmedia can be seen as the communication component of the big data world. See Wikipedia.
By the way, how far is all that digital? The word is nearly absent of the related literature. Actually, sophisticated transmedia would be unthinkable without the digital systems ability to store, transmit, copy and transform contents without loss of quality. But the progress of technology in terms of definition and intelligent sensing lets us forget the discontinuities inherent to digitization and (for a part) the formalisms of primitive controls (push buttons and keyboards). See development below. About fragmentation/assembly, see 4.6.
[Rose] quotes Encom's Alan Bradley about Kevin Flynn : "He always knew the secret before any of us. That it wasn't about circuit boards and microchips. It was about people. People whose hopes and dreams he translated into zeros and ones an then right back into pure joy".
Will this versatility and endless transformability of digital lead us to a unique media ? Will all the arts merge into one and only transmedia ar ? That for instance the position of Janet Murray [Murray, 2012], who thinks "confusing to think about media convergence or transmedia properties" and argues "for the advantage of thinking of digital artifacts as parts of a single new medium".
In this context, a platform is nearly synonym of media, but with insistence on hardware characteristics: a social network is a media which can be accessed to through different platforms (PC, cell phone).
1.3. History and dynamics
See digital art history.
The origins of transmedia art are as old as mankind (rituals with paintings in the caves) and the Greek Tragedy. More generally, important celebrations (religion, triumphal parades) have always made use of any mode of expression available at the time. In Middle-Ages Europe, the Cathedral is its most complete realization. Its architecture, sculpture and paintings, stained glass windows hosting the annual cycle of liturgy text with its characters, dress, music, and even (for some times), theatre (the Mysteries).
Massive material communication
Though some roots in Antiquity (Tanagra figurines, see wikipedia) the Middle-Ages (woodcuts), massive communication is associated with the Gutenberg typography. Since then, costs and quality offerted by the "Gutenberg Galaxy" [McLuhan] have regularly progressed : better presses, automated and rotary presses , cheaper paper, mail distribution services. Better mechanics, electricity, followed by electronics, afforded the creation of new "media". Music records are typical here, with the succession of rolls, gramophone discs, vinyls, videodisks, CD-Roms, DVDs, Blue Ray and USB keys.
The pre-industrial technologies applied to art culminated in the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) of Richard Wagner, in his essay The Art-Work of the future (1849) has been translated in English and maide available on line. Though calling for the cooperation of all artists, Wagner gives the central part to the poet (German "dicther"), who is basically a writer (from "dichten", to write literature), then a story teller. Less directly evoked in the prologue of Goethe's Faust (read the English text).
The rise of non material communication
But, at this very end of the 19th century, the non-material communication was emerging, forming the Marconi galaxy" [McLuhan]. Clearly foreseen by Albert Robida and Jules Verne, It will be celebrated in the 1930's, by authors like Paul Valéry (see his presentation at Conferencia, 1937) or (forgotten today), Maurice Simart (see a chapter of his book Interprétation du monde moderne, 1930). Hence, to the "off line medias" (books, painting and sculpture) were added the broadcast channels (radio and later TV).
The difference between the two acceptions of media (see above) is related to this progressive, but fundamental change in communication, artistic or not. Wagner shows the final achievement of art in a world where communication is strictly local. To listen music, to attend a theatre play, you had to go physically in presence of the interpreters (Text only had gained mobility through the book). Then the Gesamtkunstwerk requires dedicates spaces, of which the Bayreuth Festspielhaus is the most advanced implementation at that time. It opened in 1876.
In the 21th century, the dematerialization of media is still progressing. Even recent forms of material media, CD-Roms for instance, are in regression, due to the competition of the net. Very probably, a large part of the works talked about by [Murray, 2008] are now impossible to use or to find.
Digitization : the bit, atom of the "trans"
Digitization plays also a vital role in this mutation :
- It provides comparatively cheap and small devices, this getting better along the years, following the Moore's law. Then it is the fundamental basis for dematerialization.
- It brings easy and reliable recording tools with nearly errorless transmission, copy, format transfer and compression (this last one may be "with loss" if necessary to reduce strongly the file volumes and bandpass). The errorless copying is central also for
- Computers, with their environment of sensors and effectors can deal with all media items as "assets", materialized as files differing only by their format (extenion : .txt , .jpg...). Hence their central role in "trans" activities.
- Computers are also universal automata, able not only to record, store and broadcast assets by themselves, but also to control the processes (CMS, Content Management Systems, Wikipedia)
- Sensors and behavior programming allow interaction.
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) software and generative art let the computers take part in the creation itself (Among recent references, see [Berger-Lioret, 2012] and [McCormack-d'Inverno, 2012].
Digitization is a final term of the a process of fragmentation/assembly, which has taken progressively a great importance in arts (and every technology), with several marked surges
- the Gutenberg cuttingof characters
- at the end of the 19h Century (see [Thibault] for architecture), and the seminal work of Saussure [Saussure], explaining language as a system of oppositions.
- in the 1940-50's with the universal computing model of Von Neumann (and the Princeton scientists).
Today, "digital" is strongly associated to the computer. But, and that matters for transmedia, you cannot part the objects into two classes, digital or not. In fact, everything is more or less binary (and life itself, based on DNA). Nothing is totally digital, even when totally reduced to bits. There remains always some "analog" aspects. For example, a sampled texture or timbre is digital (it is a digital file) but less so than procedural ones.
The transhumanist standpoint
Another major aspect of digitization is its ability to build more and more autonomous systems and devices. That affords interesting interaction. But prevents to consider the computer as a mere tool. but becomes more and more a cooperator as well as a competitor to all the human beings engaged in the transmedia world. We shall elaborate on that below.
Dream or nightmare... in a post-singularity world (see Wikipedia or read Kurzweil), robot-artists will provide stories to robot-medias (CMS). These contents will be analyzed, commented and ranked by robots (annotation tools, Google ranking) and finally consumed by robot-spectators (Aibo dogs and other emotional robota). Let's quote the final sentence of the book Automate this [Steiner, 2012] : "There is going to be a lot of work in the future for those who can write code. If you can also conceive and compose intricate algorithms, all the better - you may just be able to take over the world. That is, if a bot doesn't do it first".
We can see today the trend towards this world in all the aspects and phases of transmedia.
What matters is the derivative
Let's look for the derivative more than for set values. A keyword is "evolution". Transmedia has
- no definite origin, since prehistorical human beings, and before them several animal species combine sounds, gestures, individually or socially (courtship display of grouses for instance).
- no definite term, since technologies keep rapidly evolving, in some cases rather predicaible (Moore's law) in other hot (direct brain-computer communication).
Then what is important is the derivative of these moves, and the strategies we can design to make the best out of the trend.
We can distinguish three structural levels in transmedia. Then the architecture of a project, a frachise, could be studied (and built) according to an architecture in three tiers, each one with its specific terminology, technology, tools and finalities.
-The "structure" level, are the media in their current acception (we shall elaborate below on this term). The product, or the work of arts, is here globally called a franchise. It has to be designed, produced and distributed. And, in the transmedia case, they include metadata and community loops. Then a franchise may be defined as a coordinated set of medias.
- The infrastructure level: hardware and software, including buildings, faciltiies, computer equipment and networks.
- The superstructure level: the stories. They include the traditional linear structures of books, films and broadcasting channels. But they immerge them in the more complex transmedia meshe : fragmentation, branching, loops.
Let us take tow examples: formats and automata.
- on structural level, it is the graphic chart and periodicity of a magazine, the time chart of a broadcast, the standard timings of a commercial, feature film or flow programming,
- on infrastructure level, the paper format and pagination of the magazine, the level of definition of the broadcast video, the physical format of cassettes and disk storage,
- on the superstructure level, a format is the global structure of a franchise, including the broad lines of the narrative content and the way it has to be presented through the different media.
2. The Media Mesh. Low level
2.1. Mankind around the media sphere
(Skip this section if you are resolutely "no nonsense".)
We can describe the present transmedia trend as a global merging of all the media. It is the media side of the general trend towards the computers "cloud". This cloud may be seen as central, with human beings "around". For a technical reason at least: digital devices communicate at light speed, while life neural systems communicate at sound speed. It takes 10 milliseconds for information starting in your foot to reach your brain. During this time, your laptop may have received data coming from 3 000 kilometers.
There is another reason: different machines can always, at least in principle, be combined into one machine. That is partly mythical (See for example the classical The Myth of the Machine., by Lewis Mumford (Harcourt Brace, New York 1970). And much earlier, Sismondi : "In truth then, there is nothing more to wish for than that the king, remaining alone on the island, by constantly turning a crank, might produce, through automata, all the output of England." (Jean-Charles-Léonard Simonde Sismondi New Principles of Political Economy, 1819).
Then, in the information space with a time metrics (like on isochronous maps), the media mesh looks like a dense sphere, and the world of life, humans included, are more sparsely dispersed around.
This central sphere is progressively connecting itself to every people everywhere, and more and more to the physical world itself, with billions and someday trillions of sensors and actuators. Everything is being to enter in the "Internet of things" (see Wikipedia).
As for the time structures, not only are the machines speedier, but they ensure also a new kind of perennity. Not with the solid durability of marble or even properly stored paper, but with a capacity to migrate from a supporting device to another one without practically any loss.
Add to that the memory capacity of the mesh: according to Computerworld: "During the next eight years, the amount of digital data produced will exceed 40 zettabytes, which is the equivalent of 5,200 GB of data for every man, woman and child on Earth, according to an updated Digital Universe study released today."
Hardware issues may seem ancillary and of little interest for the evolution of transmedia. In fact, some features of hardware evolution are critical to the opening of new channels to transmedia.
Though anything in the cloud tends to be dematerialised, hardware supporting devices remain necessary. Any media has at least three material interfaces with the external world: emitter, receiver, supporting platform for the media itself, its memory, communication and processes.
The present trends are:
- a reduction of matter for any digital structure, according to the Moore's law, of which the limits may be reached, but that's not sure;
- a diversification of digital devices, and notably portable computers, game consoles, tablets and smartphones, but also of public display (flat screens and large LED screens on open air) on the user side, servers in larger and larger farms and... robots;
- a densification of the net and a band pass widening of communication lines;
- a continuing expansion of memory capacities, with a progressive replacement of separate supports (cassettes, CD's, and of course paper) by integrated hard disk device; hence a dematerialization of the media workflow;
- an anastomosis of channels : VOIP (voice in Internet, e.g. Skype if used with image), IPTV (connected TV), this last one at the heart of the transmedia hype;
- a growing quantity of information directly fed into the mesh through sensors of every kind (cams, GPS), partly as a consequence of users interactions (use of cell phones), partly as independent devices (surveillance cam, road radars...);
- (alas) a growing energy dissipation (see ecology ).
Let's not forget that hardware is an important means of protecting the property, be it by mere possession (by a user), patenting and ability to produce it (by a manufacturer).
2.3. Media assets
In practice, all the assets become digital files. The hardware formats tend to disappear, due to dematerialization, but they are prone to survive in the digital formats. Anyway, formats are always constrained at the input and output levels, due to the specific features of the devices used (cameras, screens in particular).
The definition of these formats, by public instances (normalization properly speaking) or by dominant actors (de facto standards) become of primary importance. See for instance:
- PAD (see Wikipedia),
- IMF Interoperable Master Format, elaborated by SMPTE ( Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers),
- DCI Digital Cinema Initiatives.
2.4. Software. OS, programming languages
Beyond the basic operations of software platforms (OS, operational system), multimedia. The basic software has to assume:
- transformation of formats,
- storage management (SAN Storage Area Network Wikipedia, DBMS),
- communication management (network),
- continuity of service and security.
As for hardware, OS are an important means of protecting property, as we can see for computers (Mac OS, Windows, Unix), and portables (Android e.g.).
2.5. HCI Interfaces.
At the low level, human-computer interaction (HCI) devices, hardware and software, have just to transform
- into digital assets the signals received from humans as well as the rest of the world; that may include rather sophisticated hardware and software, in order to detect weak signals, to filter the signal out of noise, and perhaps to make a first selection on the inputs in order to stay within acceptable limits of binary volumes; this a form of fragmentation, which according to the different media, will be called sampling, coding, analysis...
- into presentations adapted to human senses the results of the processes active in the mesh; this is a form of assembly, which is called synthesis in general, notably in music, or rendering in graphics, printing or "machining" for 3D material structures ; see [Bernardo], would it be only for his notes about lean back/lean forward, this distinction being more important than between small screen/large screen.
On the input side, a major trend at present is the rapid progress of data capture, be it
- in resolution and frequency (in FPS (frames per second) for instance) ; that in general is of little importance for media... but for the fact that very high resolution image can be deeply zoomed into, for instance to identify any person in a large stadium or street demonstration ;
- in the kind of radiations sensed (infrared, ultraviolet) but also radio and radar frequencies
- in a multiple capture from one single point, for example with the Lytro camera.
Another trend brings regularly new input peripherals (WII, Kinect). New musical instruments (French note) tend also to augment their input affordances, but also their outputs, opening possibly on multimedia performances.
The keyboard has always been criticized as not natural. But other input means, voice specially, have not the same versatility of use, and capacity of getting neatly digital input, possibly in parallel (pianists).The mouse has up to now be the main challenger, but did not chase out the keyboard. New interfacing means devices emerge, with the tablets and smartphones. They will probably make the mouse obsolete, but will (for long if not forever) integrate the keyboard on a "soft" form.
On the output side, any device can, in theory at least, be used from appropriate control files and channels. This diversity is both an affordance and a necessity to go transmedia.
Transmedia would like to make use of the human sensorial synaesthesia. Unfortunately, synaesthesia differs strongly from one person to another one. Frank Popper ([Popper, 2007]) has several pages on this topic.
On the long term, brain-to-computer (and the reverse) communication opens fascinating perspectives. At present, the non-intrusive devices have low bandpass then limited applications. On the long term, critical needs (medicine, defense) will justify more intrusive and effective ways. The results are at present unpredictable, be it for the best or the worst.
At low level, the structures of the media mesh are rapidly changing, due to technical, economic and political reasons.
There is a constant double movement of centralization and decentralization, with a sort of pulsation. For instance, the lowering costs and widening bandpass offer of communications pushes as well:
- to centralization, to avoid costly redundancy and to ensure a global coherence
- to decentralization, to minimize risks and serve the local instance as rapidly as possible.
Security issues play a role in this dialectics, since some redundancy is necessary in case of local breakdown, and (that refers to higher levels), central control is prone to biases and unequitable effects, if there are no opposition forces. Even "immune systems" could become dangerous it they reached a point of non-control by external authorities... i.e. humans.
This dialectics brings more complex systems, combining central an distributed structures. Internet is here typical, with a highly decentralized operation, but some global institutions to manage standards in protocols, addresses and languages.
At this level, limits are mainly quantitative : speed, energy, matter... How far down can we go to store or send a bit, to operate a logical gate ? How many atoms ? Subatomic particles... quanta.
Another limit is related to meaning : any fragmentation, and digitization specially, goes with some loss on "meaning". How far is it sound and safe to push the game ? That relates more to the next chapter.
3. High level: the medias
3.1. Four types of media
Nota: some of the definitions we adopt here are "non standard" and more an attempt to progress than a mature theory.
At a high level, the transmedia stage is constituted by media (containers) which offer contents. To make our model as inclusive as possible, we distinguish four types of media : places, mobile records, channels, Internet.
It may be adventurous to consider a place as a media, but, as it will become clear, that makes a global approach of transmedia more complete and coherent.
We consider games not medias, but contents. They can be played in or through any media : places (stadiums, club), records (you buy the box and components), channels (TV games), and of course Internet combining the whole.
Historically, the places come first. It becomes, even with animals, with meeting locations where messaging and socializing are practiced. These places are progressively more structured, built, decorated. The village place, the temple, the Greek Agora, the Roman forum, circus, theater and amphitheater, the middle-ages cathedral, the palace and court, the more and more sophisticated theatre (let's say from Shakespeare to Wagner) up to our large convention center and sport stadium. Here, until the age of records, the contents are brought by human actors, musicians, aedes...
In the "natural" system of physics and sensoriality, places have to be structured adequately and specialized according to the type of communication they are built to : theatre, circus, games stadiums... or as well libraries and bookshops.
Of course, in the sensorial acception , combination of media is frequent. Music is added to the visual and corporal presentations in most places. Texts are written and books present in temples. But the constraints remain strong to differentiate the places.
With the advent of electronics, more so with digital and even more with "ubiquitous" computing, any place tends to become transmedia, from the street with persons walking wihile using their smartphone up to the large public halls fitted with:
- projectors and LED screens (which can be used in open air) for transmedia local presentation,
- sophisticated recording and transmission systems to feed the other types of media.
Just an example : Air companies spend around $ 7,5 billions annually for passenger entertainment, and mainly by films. (Le Monde, 11/3/2012). The automated cars of the future will let the ex-driver as well as the passengers consume media.
Finally, we can see these places as locations in the world where we have a particular access (a "window") on the media mesh behind the apparent world.
See a (rather old) communication on towns and museums as digital places, published in 2010.
The places can be virtual. In this case, they may be:
- attached to a physical place (e.g. caves),
- accessible from any connected place ("second worlds")
- combine location and virtualiy (augmented reality, alternate reality, located works).
(Reference site about alternate reality games: Michael Andersen's argn.com. He says to Phillips (p. 35) : "My first exposure to transmedia was a Japanese film called All About Lily Chouchou".
3.1.2. Records (off-line medias)
Later in history emerge the mobile records, sometimes qualified today as "offline medias". At start probably more or less decorated or marked stones, then the papyrus, parchment and paper (first in rolls, then in books, or codex). The book becomes central, and in Occidental religions, takes a fundamental place. Later will appear sound records, photographs, films and video cassettes, CD-Roms and DVDs. Let us place in this category the musical scores, engravings, paintings ("easel" paintings), small sculpture, and more recently analog then digital memories (tapes, disks and cards).
Today, all objects become transmedia both as they are photographed, scanned, filmed, etc. and as they bear more and more digital information if not processors (barcodes, RFID, embedded chips, sensors...). So they are more and more sucked into the "Internet of the things".
These new media bring important novelties :
- they can be transported (by definition);
- they are possibly perennial, more reliably than the memory of actors, and even more reliably with the printing press then the digital files; but in practice this perenniality is broken by accidents (floods and fires) and, for digital medias, obsolescence;
- they can be copied, possibly in large quantities (Tanagra statuettes for instance, in the beginning of our era, then the print press and modern industry);
- they combine easily with the places: actors may bring texts and scores; some places specialize in record presentation (local cinemas), conservation (libraries, then most recently, media libraries, museums) or commerce (bookshops, record dealers);
- they can be sold, and create markets; being physical objects, their possession by itself a legal property proof ;
- they may require specific devices on the user side (radio and TV sets, game boxes);
- they are rather separate media, though talking movies, then CD-Roms and DVD's combine different types of contents (and these records may be integrated into books.
- if done in quantity, they require investments and cooperation, hence some kind of management and financing (private or public),
- they require and adequate logistics : volume storage after production, transport, and possibly places where the public can see, sometimes test, and buy (museums, libraries, bookshops)
- they require metadata.
- they call for specific places for their conservation (possibly in large numbers) and presentation to the specialists or the general public, or selling (libraries and bookshops).
Note : Cartoon Digital, 6/2012, is a festival dedicated to transmedia in animation. The : Program. Some contributions are on line on Dissemination. See also Cartoon, training for trainers, in Sept. 2011.
Such objects may become part of social and cooperative activities. For instance, with very modest resources, the "Invitation à choisir Oui ou Non", by Véronique Le Mouël Canivet and Oeuvre Ensemble.
A material base, portable or not, may also help artists to enhance their business mode, property rights, and fiscal status of the works. Let's quote for instance (among many) Marion Lachaise, Misha Margolis, Antoine Schmitt or Hugo Verlinde. That's not, for the moment, proper transmedia, but it stresses the fact that the "immaterial" world of the web has to profit in assimilating material objects as well as places.
CD-Roms and DVD's
CD-Roms then DVDs seemed highly promising in the 1980-1990's, being able to record pictures, sounds, videos and programs. A lot of "artistic CDs" were created, as shows the book Digital Baroque [Murray, 2010 ]. But their role is waning in the 21th century due to:
- the competition of networked, downloadable or streamed resources,
- the lack of space at home to store them, and their weight if transported in important numbers,
- their comparatively short life span (some 10 years)
- the obsolescence of the devices to read them if they are not of the most standard formats ; and much more so if they include programs requiring an obsolete software environment and operating system.
Even the stock of chemical transparencies the tourists made by millions in the 1960-1980's were disposed of later, sometimes by the children cleaning an defunct parent home.
As for their material implementation, records evolve along two ways:
- the quantity of matter per bit of information decreases rapidly (even more than Moore's law, it seems),
- individually materialized records tend to be replaced by assets storage in larger machines, be it at home (terabytes are more and more common on laptops and rather cheap hard disks) or on servers (the cloud, globally); off-line media merge into assets warehouses, or databases.
That is true for individuals (digitizing personal and family archives) as well as for media corporations. See for instance La dématérialisation gagne du terrain. by Bosquillon Sophie, Ollier Lionel and François Ploye. Sonovision-Broadcast, April 2012.
A history of pornographic media, rarely named but economically important, is a clear example of this evolution. Sculptures (Antiquity), books, then films show in specialized cinemas, then in sex-shop cabins, where CD-Roms replaced the VCR cassettes which has replaced the closed-loop film cassettes), then Internet (not forgetting that it saved the French Minitel from an early economical breakdown).
In the 19th century appeared the channels. Cable telegraph, then wireless radio, then TV. They operate on modes totally different from places and records :
- they multiply the audience by millions and later billions, everywhere on the Planet (or nearly so)
- they require substantial investments, but are difficult to sold to audience ; hence the role of public authorities then the role of commercials (upstream and downstream financing ; today the frequent distinction between native and marketing transmedia contents).
- on a comparatively small scale, they cooperate with other mobile records (literature, film and music critical emissions for instance), on a much larger scale with places (Olympic games...).
- they are rather separate media; surprisingly perhaps, TV has not killed radio ; but few contents combine them.
Channels tend to combine between themselves, but on a limited scale since
- they are public agencies or private corporations, looking for their profiatbility and more in competition than in cooperation;
- the spectator cannot get several channels at the same time ; he listens radio or looks at TV.
Some artists have made experiments, for instance Fred Forest, between some TV and radio, or with printed press.
Channels combine :
- with places, at least with the broadcasting facilities and progressively with any places, be they permanently fitted with emission means or temporalily visited by a mobile system ; beyond media properly, the multiplication of cameras on cellular phones gives a transmedia dimention to any place ;
- with records, on two ways:
. channels emit not only flow programs (sometimes called throwaway programs) and stock programs which use a stock of records,
. emissions are recorded ; for instance, in France, Ina (Institut national de l'audiovisuel) stores all the broadcasted contents.
3.1.4. The Internet
At the end of the 20th century explodes the Internet, with every year new types of environments (hardware and software), and a radical opening to the transmedia, by the way challenging considerably the three precedent types : e-books, VOIP, ITFV, MMPORG and social games.
"Around" this central electronic space, each media uses more or less specific material devices for inputs and outputs. The computer is the most versatile interface, with its basic general ones (keyboard, mouse, screen, speakers) and more specific ones (scanners, cams, printers...). The computer itself shows its size gradually shrinking : mainframes since the 1950's, micro-computers since the 1980's, laptops since the 1990's and mobile of various kinds since 2000's. They also can be on board of vehicles of any sort, including robots and drones.
These interfaces can be complemented by material devices, notably memories (external hard disks, CD-Roms, USB keys...), but also sensors and actuators. These latter devices may be of any size, and frequently of direct incidence on the life of humans, be they power plants, toll gates or ATMs.
A reference about Internet Art[Greene 2004].
3.2. The media making of
Within the concept of media, we can distinguish the media itself, a "container", which we will look at now, and its contents, which we will look in the nest part.
We take our schema of four phases from the cinema industry: pre-production, production and postproducion (including distribution) and use, the whole processed being topped by management. This can be extended to the four types of media we have listed, though generally other terms are used. The borders between the successive phases are not watertight. For a fiction book, for instance, we can consider that the limit between pre-production and production lies at the time when the manuscript is brought to the publisher. But one could as well take for limit the time when the publisher gives his copy to press.
The main trends are dematerialization, integration and automatization. Let's now see that in the different phases.
In this phase, contents are progressively emerging from inspiration, fuzzy concepts, first sketches of paintings, some notes for a theme on a piano, the main topics of fiction... At the end of this day, a project is packaged, a green light given by an investor, and production begins.
On places, it may include the design of the place itself, the state setting, the casting, up to the rehearsals.
For records, the limit may be taken differently for the different types of records.
- For a fiction book, for instance, we can consider that the limit between pre-production and production lies at the time when the manuscript is brought to the publisher. But one could as well take for limit the time when the publisher gives his copy to press.
- For a film or a music record (in studio), the production begins when the cameras and records begin to work and produce "final" parts of the work.
- For channels, it's like the places, the process starting in the recording studio.
- For Internet, the process includes more or less interaction all along, then the limits are difficult to draw, but for the cases when the net is just relaying the other types of media.
If the artist intends to control, to determine the whole operation of the work, up to its presentation to spectators, possibly across different media, it is at this pre-production stage that the design has to be done, the architecture defined.
A story, at the pre-production stage, has different names according to medias: script, scenario, sketch, canvas, film, cut... score
The pre-production includes, more and more, a selection of assets out of the existing libraries, in order to "remix" them. This material may be "cross-media" by itself. Even comparatively simple creation of assets will often assemble a lot of elementary captures : mike and cam for video, and multiple mikes for music recording.
This phase brings properly the new assets in the media. These assets will be considered as "roughs" or "raw" for the post-production phases.
In places, production is the show itself. There can be no post-production, but the actual production full scale may be prepared by rehearsals.
In records, it is the actual recording, for music or video.
In channels, it's what happens in the recording studio and the control room.
In Internet, it may vary. On a blog, for instance, on may consider that the production is the preparation of the post, directly on the blog site or on a separate site with a final uploading.
Production and post-production include some de-contextualization.
It the work is intended to be cross-media, the constraints have to be taken into account at that time. Including the fact that the author does not exactly know how will look the final result. In Internet, this result is a page setting done by the user's brower.
One can raise the issue of universal, "arch-asset", a type of component or asset which would be radically transmedia, in other words able to be used by any media?
The bit of course. But beyond ? See above, native transmedia.
There is no really distinct post-production, but for the difference between the stage/audience space and the control room, which tends to grow in importance with digital tools.
A DJ or VJ is at the same time on production and post-production
This phase is quite specific to records. Post-production will go up to the "final" product, to the negative film or the metal master to make CD's. Part of the cross-media amplification will be done at this stage.
In this phase is done the multiplication of copies from the original, negative of a film, mold of a sculpture...This is typical of records, and has no prorer meaning for places or channels.
We can also place here the logistics (storage and transportation) of media. Added to the multiplication costs, it represents an important of the costs, and is one of the reasons which economically favor the channel and IP solutions.
The present change, following the Internet wave, raises severe labor issues, with facilities closing, in music, cinema, press and book media. One of our ancestors (XVIII century) began his life as a book peddler...
At their time of use, records are subject to a kind of post-production by the user itself, which choses where and when it listens or looks. He may even do some assembly. A music fan, for instance, creates a playlist. And so more, of course, if the record allows interaction. (As was he case with CD's around the 1990's).
Production and even more post-production are controlled through workflow management tools.
- Books in some cases, press selling points in general, are more or less deeply rewritten by the edition team. Then comes the layout and page setting.
- On still photographs and movies, post production includes a lot of operation and technical tools : framing, filtering... On film, editing is specially deep and complex, with the cutting, selecting, ordering and linking of the "cuts". Part of this work is done by the CMS, part by the client computer.
Here, the distinction appears first in the programming, with throwaway programming and stock (records) programming. In the latter, the channel may be seen simply as a post-production phase of records.
The former, flow programming, is more properly a channel. As for places, the separation is rather sharp between the stage (studio, more or less complex, with generally an anchor, several main actors and a limited audience to give life) and the control room, which does the post-production, including the integration of several sub-channels (each camera, for instance, may considered as the origin of a sub-channel) and records.
Interaction with the net includes, nearly always, an assembly of assets.
The spectator also may be considered as having its part in the post-production. More generally, digital device users make minimum of customization, which is an assembly of presentation assets with their preferences, localization, rights and safety (ID, passwords, credit card numbers...). The actual presentation on any screen, even the minimal cell phone, is an automated assembly of text, images, widgets and interaction procedures.
We could also place here the "meta communication" about media. Typically : Google services, with retrieval, ranking, but also analytics
On a blog or website, the post-production is done by automata: servers at low level, content management at high level. Main examples :
- CMS. Content management systems. Wordpress is a rather easy one, that even children (with some help) can use. Wikipedia
- HSM (Hierarchical Storage management) MAM (Media Asset Management). See Empressmam
To be written.
4. The contents
4.1. The story as basic content
Indeed, we can understand here why the story-telling is so congenial with transmedia. A story can be reduced to a short text. And possibly one word, if this work evokes a story that many if not all of the spectators know, called for instance by its eponym actor (Adam (and Eve, and God, and...), Noah (an his ark), Obama, ... Some histories have their name (Renaissance, Shoah...), and abstract words also may evoke stories, like the word "word" ("In the begnnng was the Word", Gospel according to St John, 1-1).
Aristotle's Poetics is even today interesting to look at about story structures. Full text on line.
That means, technically, a short string of bits, easily communicated on any channel, then along the channel up to the final presentation, an appropriate enrichment with any kind of appropriate assets. Let's say, the "telling" of the story.
By the way, we can comment here the relation of stories with other media. A painting, for instance, may explicitly tell a story, being design as such, and easily evoking the moves in spite of it still material nature. For instance Rembrandt's Pilgrims at Emmaus. Even a still-life or a landscape can evoke a story: fruits are here to be eaten, roads to travel, houses to live in..
The question gets more difficult for abstract painting. Does a Mondrian, a Kandinsky tell a story ? It is certainly more difficult for the spectator, and most of people will more easily find a story in a soap opera than in a Black square by Malevich. The story will then be generated along two ways :
- the spectators build their own history ; for instance, they give different looks, first from a distance then as close as possible ; they have heard of the work and to to see it in a museum ; they chat about it with friends; they may also read about it;
- there is a transfer, from the story told (or supposed to be told) by the canvas to the story of the canvas ; which is a very frequent trend of critics, would it be only because it is more easy to tell the "bio" of an artist than to comment explicitly on a work.
Such a reversal from the work to the work creation history is frequent in contemporary art. And the ready-made of Duchamp, and specially the Fountain, is the perfect example.
And for music ? No problem for songs and lyrics, where the story is really told. It is less evident with purely instrumental music. Some works intend explicitly to tell a story (For instance the Pastoral of Beethoven), and generally of the "programmatic" music. For the others, the problem is the same as with painting, but the fact that music has a built-in time dimension which can (or has to) come in resonance with the internal rhythms (heart specially) and dynamics of the human conscience.
Each kind of media (defined either by human senses and technical characteristics such as dimensions or by the communication channels) uses more or less specific contents, programs, but also creation and distribution channels. Arts and artists are transmedia as far as they use several media, and at the limit, all of them.
"Inside" the network, the way contents are seen and used may be hierarchically classified :
- low level process on files : storing, transmitting, and executing if they are basic programs
- higher level process on/by agents: action and cooperation of objects, agents, characters,
- top level process by operating and management systems.
There are different terms around "story" : tale, narration. And their elements : hero, antagonist, plot. Differences between French and Anglo-saxon cultures.
A story is a set of episodes (with variants such as webisode, mobisode..., comic book pages, movements in a piece of music (the term "piece" by itself implies a fragmentation of music heard as a continuous flow).
Perhaps can we here again look for solutions in the texts and works of Wagner, putting the story teller (dichter) at the core, with his basic expression means : text. He was not so far from thinking in programmer terms. He has said, in a time of difficulties, something like "Anybody could have finished this score, given the level where I had pushed it". But the most important lesson is that he thinks the transmedia from a high level, and specially around the characters of his operas. This is particularly clear in the Ring tetralogy, of which an analysis can be found for instance in the book of Albert Lavignac Le voyage artistique à Bayreuth. (Paris. around 1895. Has recently been republished in paperback form). Let's note also that one of the best French fans and commentators of Wagner was Bruno Lussato, which, long before his Voyage au cœur du Ring (with Marina Niggli, Fayard 2005) had published Introduction critique aux théories d'organisation (Bordas, 1977) and made his career on information systems teaching and consulting.
Hypertext broke the linearity of traditional story telling and listening. The term "hypertext" evokes only a network of texts. But it reaches farther, linking any type of documents... and media.
[Phillips] has chapters on "Learn the Basics of Traditional Storytelling", "How Story and Branding Affect Marketing", "Writing for Transmedia is Different"/
4.2. The character
There are two main categories of characters in transmedia : real and fictional... and their combinations.
We could trace the history of the relationship between human beings and characters of any type. That also begins before man, many animals use camouflage to avoid predators, or are able to modify temporarily their aspect to become more threatening (fight) or attractive (mating).
In transmedia characters play the central part.
For [Phillips] (p.48) : "... the second (after worldbuiling) compelling artistic purpose for using transmedia tools in your story is to shed light on a character personality and motivations". Then there is a chapter "Online, Everything is Characterization".
They can be completely real (reality shows) or completely fictional (animation films). In many cases, there will be a combination. [Bernardo] tells much about his Sofia central character. Fictional, but at times represented by real actors.
Human controlled or automated
Characters can be the human themselves and their more or less realist representations.
Characters can be totally automated, even procedural. Typical terms: agent, AI, NPC, being, robot..., automata generally speaking.
They can also be "controlled", for instance in games, wih the two modes: FPS (First person shoots) or TPS (Third person shoots).
More complex cases: avatars, motion capture.
4.3. The set (environment, context)
Worldbuilding is dealt with by [Phillips] (pp. 43-48). "Worldbuilding is all about efficiently conveying information about the time, place and mood of your story".
To be developed :
Materialized (stage, cinema and theater set). Or virtual (world, levels in games)
Time (historical, present, future).
Place. Near here or in Mars.
Olympic games, Political Elections, Telethon...
Phillips has a chapter on Action, with a lot of advices for the story teller.
4.5. Fragmentation/assembly, the database
See fragmentation in general
A central issue, for technical (dematerialization, workflow, CMS) as well as philosophical reasons. The term has different meanings (see diccan). In transmedia, it may be seen as a case of fragmentation/assembly.
[Phillips] dedicates two pages to fragmentation, starting so : "Telling a story transmedia-style involves one of two processes, actually. Either you take a single story and your splinter it across multiple media, or you start with one story and you keep adding pieces on to it ad infinitum".
Fragmentation/assembly is a general characteristics of digital processes. It is specially important in transmedia. On every dimension (duration, number of pixels), the assets must be sliced in parts small enough to fit into the smallest transmission and presentation devices. Each output works as a standalone story" [Bernardo] p. 58. Fortunately, part of this fragmentation is done automatically, at least from accepted standards. And everybody, from the artist to the spectator, will accept that a cell phone cannot offer HD video nor Hifi music. Where up to (or down to) can be pushed the fragmentation ? The bit is an absolute limit, but is not of practical use by human beings. Then we use intermediary levels, such as words and phrases. But it is a rather complex issue, on which we will come back.
Phillips, pp. 106-107 offers rules to deal with "the cost of fragmentation".
This fragmentation process may be hard to swallow by artists and transmedia writers "... after they had written the storyline they were a little shocked when we took their scripts and literally tore them apart, divvying up the different story elements between the different media available" - [Bernardo], p. 54 ... "
Besides, the assets created may have to conform to established standards, worldwide accepted and available on a maximum if not all of the devices (hardware and software) taking part in the process, from the original acquisition to the multiple (immensely multiple in space and time) presentations to spectators.
Some artists play deliberately this kind of development. Even to the point of renouncing to their own creation in order to offer, open or proprietary, coherent sets of components or library of programs.
- The database for a feature film hosts millions of assets.
- See a presentation Wordpress database.
- The whole Internet may be seen as a database, with Google as its main query tool.
- Great and small narrations, and relations with the database. See the database model of Azuma. And note the philosophical backgrounds of storytelling.
"Be creative", a commercial by Samsung in 2013.
5.1. Audience, authors... and between ?
"As we don't where all that goes, we can follow any track", said a participant in an Ina Expert seminar. Anyone of us, at any moment in our life, is afforded a virtually infinite choice of paths to follow or to create. There are limits and constraints (with possible critical situations with virtually no choice at all but survive as long as possible) :
- age, health, culture, location, wealth and social status,
- the basic necessities of life : eat, drink and sleep with a minimum security,
- competition with other humans and, more and more, with machines (robots, if you prefer).
The world of media is traditionally polarized by the couple author/spectator, a linear, dissymmetrical process, more or less controlled by authorities (owner, political instances). All these functions and structures are both sharpened and blurred in the transmedia world. But this schema remains the best starting base and we shall describe the different strategies from these three standpoints.
The difference between author and consumer is frequently questioned (in digital art and specially in transmedia): the consumer can take a more or less active part, then everybody becomes a "spectactor"; transmedia blurs the line between professionals and amateurs. Family events, for instance, when the main actors have sufficient time and competences, can become transmedia works of art.
There remain also a difference of status: professional authors (journalists, artists) and amateurs will not do the same things. But, at some times, amateurs can engage in a rather heavy transmedia project. For instance for a wedding, with website, blog, social networks preparing the ceremony itself, where photo and video cameras will take records, followed by the reception, with music, projections, and finally the followup with a lot of multimedia elements on the blog and website.
5.2. Audience: everybody for the whole life
Transmedia is here to stay, even if the next wave brings new words. We must all adapt and make do. And, if we are parents, we have to consider that in their bringing up.
Some choose to resist. Passive resistance won't lead anywhere. Active resistance has its part to play, would it be only to maintain a "culturo-diversity". For instance the Parisian bookseller Emmanuel Delhomme tells his rage Un libraire en colère (L'éditeur, 2011) and fights to keep active his shop near Champs-Elysées. Or Harold Bernat, who shouts Vieux Réac. Faut-il s'adapter à tout ? (Flammarion 2012). Seea book.
Adaptation to such deep upheavals forces us to a strong re-orientation of or neuronal resources. The GPS is by itself a powerful example. For people borne before the 1970's, to say it short (and more so for males), sense of direction, maps reading and terrain knowledge were both useful and entertaining. Today, the complexity and variability of transportation means make intuition and compass more misleading than useful. Then we have to accept that this vast set of knowledge has to be taken from the outside, through some GPS device. Do we lose something here? Of course. But that lets us a lot of neurons available for new functions, more important for survival and enjoyment than topography. For instance to learn new languages. English (let's say Globish) for all, Chinese for the braver ones.
But that should not prevent us to find pleasure and enhance our fitness in the amateur practice of activities and crafts which related yesterday to the real world : jogging, horse riding, mental arithmetic, war games... The present (2012) success of fablabs may be seen this way. Perhaps also amateur programming with tools like Processing. And I know some computer professionals who start again to practice argentic photography, with its specific qualities and the magic of the low red light near the enlarger.
5.2.3. Otaku hedonism (and data base model) or ideological commitment
We find here, notable, the modern-postmodern debates.
Issues not to be forgotten:
- identify preservation and development. See our communication in Laval VRIC 2010: DAI : the Digitally Augmented Identity
- Privacy and security.
Children, according to Jenkins (p. 276) : "are active participants in these new media landscapes, finding their own voice through their participation in fan communities... mapping out new strategies for negotiating around and through globalization..".
Tweets, social networks, mails with photographs joined, blogging.
5.3. The author
Some authors and artists on the transmedia scene
Balpe Jean-Pierre. On the fringe of transmedia. The Capture project is more multimedia than transmedia.
Benayoun Maurice. "BIO: Maurice Benayoun is a transmedia artist whose artwork explores the potentiality of various media from video, to virtual reality, Web and wireless art, public space and large-scale art installations and interactive exhibitions."
Bushman Jay. Cthalloween. Quoted by Phillips as a good example of user-generated content. Its creator, Jay Bushman, makes the participation easy, with Twitter.
Chatonsky Gregory. Explores the net art and narration. Not a transmedia artist on the current sense, based on TV and social networks, but certainly transmedia by the coordinate use of several medias.
Lee Elan. See Sean Stewart below.
Cross Nick. Interview in Who ate my brain" : "Transmedia is one of the hottest concepts in the entertainment world, allowing stories to break away from books or films and be told across many types of media simultaneously."
- Phillips : "Sean Stewart and Elan Lee are two of the most innovative and widely known creators in transmedia. They were behind the alternative reality game for A.I. and helped to found 42 Entertainment, creating such hits as ilovebees for Halo 2 and Year Zero for Nine Inch Nails. They have since moved on to found Fourth Wall Studios".
> AI, Artificial Intelligence. and The Beast. See Spielberg.
Wachowsky Andy and Larry.
> Matrix. One of the first large scale transmedia work of art. See Wachowsky.
5.3.1. Multiple moves
"Digital media have created an authorship crisis" writes [Rose] (p. 83). And this from several standpoints:
- The specialty; in traditional media, each media has its specific kind of authors, with their specific abilities, connection to this media world, and public fame, if not "brand"; multimedia added a widening of authors abilities, or a cooperation of several authors, but most of the time with a principal author, helped by other specialists (typically, composers for film music; transmedia calls for potentially any kind of creative and technical competence.
Then we can observe multiple moves :
- towards nearly autonomous authors, with sufficient abilities to control several media, build and distribute their stories directly to consumers,
- towards highly specialized authors, mastering at a high level a definite and narrow competence, creative or technical ; they will be considered as properly "authors" if they are at the origin of a story (limit case: the conceptual artist), and - unfairly- not as authors even if they are creative (e.g. the stereo specialist in 3D stereo films).
- towards "meta artists", aiming mainly to create component catalogs, databases and program libraries to be used by other artists (including, in some cases, the amateurs); Meccano and Lego, and today Processing and Arduino control boards are typical examples of such bases ; but the curator of a museum, the manager of a circus join the artist along this way;
- towards cooperative teams; which will require more or less a structuration; for instance, "... because of all the collaborative elements of creating a show, you need ultimately one person to unify all the elements and push forward your plan." [Bernardo].
- towards mainly leadership and management, with artists operating more as team leaders and brands than directly creating works of art.
We can add to that the fact that entertainment is only a part, and perhaps a declining part, of the media production and distribution (see below). For the industrial and business activities, a lot of data are collected by automated media and processed in information systems. There is no proper "author" here, beyond the engineers who built the system.
The characteristic of an author is that it emits something new and aims to be received by spectators. The scale is wide, from the baby smiling to his mother to the star aiming to worldwide fame. The paths a multiple. We will limit ourselves to some issues raised by the present moves.
Basically, the author is an emitter, the creator of new assets. He can also become something as a meta-author, creating tools that he or others will use to create.
Of course, authors are also spectators :
- to look at the world and get new ideas, new inspirations
- to see what they are doing, the consequences of their inputs ; it can be rather material (in the 1980's, GUI (graphical user interfaces) where important to give an instant feedback to the actor, according to the motto "wysiwyg" (What you see is what you get)..
- to see what the tool affords them to do at a given instance (menus, etc.),
- ta have feedback on the actual attitude of consumers. Hence the importance of a specific marketing (distinct from commercials selling) about the audience and the way it behaves.
Phillips gives a lot of tips to forge an author's career
5.3.2. The "native transmedia"
Is it possible to create directly for transmedia, for any media? If so, by which means? In most cases, it will start with a text, a "one page story" ([Bernardo] p. 21). He adds later (p.54) : "When you are writing a story for Transmedia, the first thing you do is write the entire story with all the elements, twist, character reactions, etc. ".
For Phillips (p. 52) : "... if one is searching for an artistic and narrative function for using transmedia storytelling, there is the ultimate purpose : creating a work that is meant to be entirely and natively transmedia from start fo finish... this is master-class, advanced level transmedia storytelling...".
Some sketchy storyboard could play the same role. Or directly a "format", in the most global sense. Bernardo is much for something progressive, in the design as well as in the development, but with very soon transmedia ideas in the project (p. 5 "Original transmedia or the Original Transmedia Franchise").
In practice, the author uses a definite media, or a set of different input devices, more or less specialized. More definitively, an author is never competent in every media. He also is more or less specialized, even if some artists have a broad range of expression abilities in different domains. After that, producer and their teams can generalize.
But technologies are now able to make automatically media transposition. We have said it about format compression, for instance. One can go farther. It is rather easy now to make transpositions between image and music, or between written text and speech. Dimensional enrichments also are possible: from 2D to 3D and from still images to film (the reverse is easy, of course). But up to now, the results are rather disappointing, the best results being reached in games. Why?
For the artists, even young amateurs, "anymedia" would be the term to describe their approach, as writes us a mother of two teens : "They constantly discover new creation tools. They do video, create virtual worlds. For them, learn a new tool is not an issue. Digital art is nothing but an new creation channel a new way to transmit a message or an emotion. For this generation, they make no difference between Sketchpad, iPad or a pencil. According to whatever the wish to show, they choose a tool, computer or traditional. Accoding also to what is available on the spot. If the Ipad is there, they will take it, but if somebody yet uses it, they will take a sheet of paper. Since they understand the tool, they are also able to appreciate the technical prowess of artists (for instant x. who makes superb things on Mindcraft). "
5.3.3. Where up to "control"
These ways of thinking, or practicing transmedia can be viewed as orthogonal one to the other in respect to the meaning they give to "trans":
- trans as "through" the net ; the controlled approach aims to convey the work complete and intact from the author to the spectator independently of the network constraints or any other actor actions ; the author asserts its independence and personality, as a sort of freedom claim against the dominance of commercial channels and the "mainstream" ; it is of course the case in performance arts, if the author (even if he mixes) operates in direct presence of the audience ; all the "medias" are here combined in a space and time definite location, the only "external" inputs coming from the audience in front of the stage. Here, the transmedia work is not substantially different from the Gesamtkunstwerke, even if the power of electronics and digital processes let even a singer with a weak voice sing for an immense stadium with ten thousands of spectators;
- trans as "any" media ; the author looks for universality and puts forth the independence of the spectator ; he conceives his creating activity as offering assets to the community, with a probable loss of identity and intellectual property ; this approach evokes as much fragmentation as possible, aiming to allow an adaptation of the presentation to a maximum, if not all, of the "medias", from the stage to the cell phone, and possibly with interactions through any device ; here the transmedia work has to follow two tracks : standardization and fragmentation which goes along with postmodernist views and the "database model" of Hiroki Azuma; it can go also with the open sourcing of software and assets in general.
These two extreme approaches are limit cases and somehow illusions. Part of the game has to be let to the final user and its environment. "Two-way communication but not too much control" [Bernardo] p.53, who distinguish a core ( A ) part of the plot, with which "... the audience could not touch, interact or in any way interfere with.
In media as well as in arts, cooperation has always been the rule, with some exceptions. The canvas painter, at least since the 19th century with colors ready to use in lead tubes, is the major example. Writers have more or less always used copyists then printers and publishers. Musicians play in more or less large groups, etc.
The digital age changes the distribution on two ways:
- it makes easier to work alone, with several software tools and communications facilities as well as printing devices;
- it calls for larger teams, notably to make a professional use of computers, programming and the various media requirements.
5.3.5. Automatic authoring
Can the computer be creative? Purely automatic media and works of art have existed for long. For instance the "astronomical" clocks in public places (mostly in cathedrals). Or, today, some websites transmitting webcam images of a mountain or seaside resort, along with data. Any CMS (Content management system, Wordpress, for instance), operates automatically, once fed with documents, sharing the creation of the final screens with the browser page setting abilities.
Drilling deep on this topic, and showing the limits (at least present) of this trend : Expressive processing [Wardrip-Fruin 2010].
A recent (Dec. 2012) news in the News Scientist : some software would be learning how to tell good tales.
These issues are not specifically transmedia. Fort art, we have dealt with at length about generative art [Berger-Lioret]. We can distinguish two aspects:
- basic original creation: invention of new graphic forms, of new story plots, new melodies and harmonies...; here mainly the computer is more than a tool
- application of criteria and selection to produce interesting things for an audience, or a set of audiences: interpretation, filtering and composition of these creations as well as the natural world to build works of different kinds, and specially transmedia.
5.4. Corporations and business
5.4.1. Corporations in general
Any corporations has to be in the news, and to send (and receive) messages through several, if not may, media.
"Corporate heavy hitters like HBO, Disney, Sony Pictures, BBC, Warne Brothers, Ford, Scholastic, Penguin and others have taken notice, and are spending more and more time and money on creating transmedia experiences" ( [Phillips] p. 8)
"Transmedia tools have also been used to market the films The Dark Knight, District 9, 2012, Tron Legacy, Cloverfield, Salt, The International, Eagle Eye" ( [Phillips] p. 29).
Some important or interesting corporate actors in transmedia (in 2013)
ABC: Enhanced TV. See Lostpedia.
> Lost (2004-2010). Rose has a chapter on it ("The Hive Mind and the Mystery Box"), and writes, p. 3 : "told a story so convoluted that the audience had little choice but to work together to decipher it communally on line".
- AFP. Transmedia observatory
> Doctor Who (2010) . Rose p. 3. 13 television episodes + downloadable video games.
> Survivor. One chapter in Jenkins.
- Coca-Cola. An important support of media. See [Martel], [Rose]. [Jenkins] quotes Steven J. Heyer, president, in a keynote address at Advertising Age (Madison + Vine conference, 2003) : "Heyer outlined what he saw as his "convergence" strategy - the greater collaboration between content providers and sponsors to tap the total entertainment package".
> Happiness Factory (2006) . See Laughing squid. Quoted by Rose, pp. 242 sq. : "an animated fantasy so fully imagined and entertainingly produced it could almost become an immersive world all its own. It spawned not just a series or TV ads but an expanded universe, from online contests to a pop song that hit the top 40".
- Tron, The legacy : Comments [Phillips] : "Tens of millions of people participated in the transmedia markegting campaign, helping the film to rake in nearly $400 million worldwide".
- One chapter in [Rose] : "How to build an universe that doesn't fall apart".
- Amusement parks may be considered media, and part of transmedia as places.
- Encom. "The intersection of technology and dream"
- Ford. Quoted by Phillips as a "corporate heavy hitter".
- FOX Broadcasting Company.
> American Idol (2002). "One of the first killer applications of media convergence" (Jenkins).
Fourth Wall Studios. Quoted by Phillips. "Today, our focus is on developing a wide range of interactive entertainment properties designed for RIDES.tv℠, our multi-screen entertainment platform."
From the home page of HBO (1/3/2013)
- HBO. "Stream over 1400 of your favorite HBO programs on your computer and select mobile devices, tablets, streaming players, game consoles and connected TVs".
> Game of Thrones. "The Masters' Path marketing campaign for the HBO series Game of Thrones was all worldbuiding, in a more literal sense than usual" (Phillips, p. 44, who gives a picture)
- INA : INA Expert education
- Lucasfilm. One chapter of Jenkins about Star Wars. Philips "The business case for going transmedia grows even stronger when you look at long-running entertainment empires like Star Wars". The history of the Star Wars universes now plays out through hundreds of films, books and comics ; animated TV series ; and video games.
> Fable III (2010) , by Peter Molyneux, emotion engine with Kinect.
> Perplex City (2005 c. ) "A city obsessed with puzzles and ciphers. A game that blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality. ". Comments from the transmedia standpoint in [Phillips], with a picture p. 78.
< Heroes. "For the NBC show Heroes, for example, the online Heroes 360 Experience provided a wealth of complementary content, including a web comic...". ( [Phillips] p. 30)
Scholastic. Primarily a book publisher.
- An interview of David Levithan by Jeremy Greenfield (8/24/2012). "The real groundbreaking work we’ve done has been in multiplatform [transmedia] publishing. We were the first in that space. It was four years ago that we launched 39 Clues but we were working on it for four years before that. We have an editorial group and another called The Lab for Informal Learning. For 39 Clues, the two groups merged, one with the story expertise and the other with the digital expertise. We worked together for many years to create the space of multiplatform publishing for children."
Siggraph. Annual conference, show and film festival.
Sony Pictures. Perhaps more cross-media than transmedia.
SXSW. South by South West. Festival.
- TF1 : See Transmedia lab.
> Harry Potter. See J.K. Rowling. Transmedia "wars" about this franchise.
5.4.2. Publishers, producers ...
Authors and consumers tend to underestimate the role of publishers in general. This role is multiple, and partly invisible : investment, marketing, evaluation and selection, production, logistics (storage, transportation, stock management), legal liabilities (dépôt légal in France, infringement of other property rights, moral and security issues).
The main power is held by the large production corporations, who control colossal franchises (Star Wars, Harry Potter, perhaps tomorrow the 50 shades if they find the way to market that without going to jail).
As for authors, transmedia has widened the variety of people and groups that can own and operate a media. It may be just one person, using a basic CMS. Or the largest corporations or our times, Google, Apple, Facebook...
A major issue is the property itself. Some are deliberately oriented "open", and give all their spare time to put content into free media like diccan.com or, to an immesel larger scale, Wikipedia. Others are oriented towards business, profit and employment. In any case, how to protect the property. The traditional medias had their practices and laws. Objects were protected by mere possession. Books and texts were protected by copyright (which translates in "droit d'auteur" in France, but not without important differences). Transmedia crosses and combines the lines. And it is not easy to create the proper ways. New terms like franchise and brands grow in importance, associated with commercial and judicial practice proven in other domains.
Property is the necessary complement of investment. This is frequently overlooked by authors and spectators as well, who find hard to admit that a gallery takes half the price paid by the buyer. Or (in traditional book printing), that the selling price is five times the printing cost. See Martel for the mainstream "green light" processes. A lot of details in [Bernardo}.
- places, Un libraire en colère. Galleries. Cost of the place (owned, rented), the staff to keep it open
- a record, you do what you want, as far as it at home, private ; the reproduction and logistics process ; the stock management ;
- of a channel. Investment in offices and equipment, HR. Emission. Possibly acquisition of the rights to emit on a definite frequency.
On Internet. There is no mass reproduction nor stocks management. But you must have the storage capacities for contents, and the band pass to download on demand to multiple customers. Proxy systems.
5.4.3. Which business models and strategies?
So much for the business models. The linearity of broadcasted channels and of printed press had open slots to commercials. Their definite orientation from emitters to receivers let distinguish an "upstream" source of revenues (the commercials) and a "downstream" source (the subscriptions and sales by issues). Internet brings another source of revenues, oriented to the upstream: metadata about consumers, which may be very complete, and real-time back fed to the upstream.
The multidirectional branching of hypertext and the multiplicity of accesses on any devices has changed that. As says Bernardo, commercials have now to be integrated in the content itself (which was not considered deontological in traditional medias). Jenkins explains (pp. 69-72 how Product Placement works in The Apprentice).
Transmedia adds strength to other turnover sources, like licensing as a another kind of transmedia. Any objects become a record, a media, possibly "active" in the "Internet of things".
And so much for strategies. A major group in Hollywood won't follow the same path as an ambitious individual. You can for instance choose organic transmedia : "The approach that we will flesh out here involves a single narrative originally launched on a limited number of platforms, but which gradually expands across on line and offline media to reach the maximum available audience". [Bernardo] p.4.
You can choose narrow niches (your family, and even just yourself), or the mainstream. See Martel : Hollywood, Bollywood.
You can also choose to stick to mono-media activities. That can work if for instance you own a well situated place in a main street, and sell traditional products. But the prospects are limited.
Let's not forget the legal aspects. Media have always been suspect of uncanny or illegal activities. See below, citizen/politician. But the managers have to think of it permanently. So much with games and transmedia which "suck in" the players !
5.4.4. Organization, management and HR issues
There are extreme cases ;
- The author does everything. including payment, investment. The publisher is only , possibly, a provider of services
- The publisher does everything. Marketing, defining a collection, with formats, style etc. (for the dummies) and "hires" writers to do the job; this model is the most frequent in press.
Automated tools (transmedia tools... to manage people). For instance immediate feedback on effects. See examples of organization in Co. And the Nick Rose scheme.
The four-part talent map by Nick Law, in [Rose].
Among the things which changed, compared to more traditional media :
- Technical teams take more importance. With the special case of the computer specialists and more generally of the Information systems department.
- Simple and material tasks tend to disappear, replaced by higher level tasks and competences. (See dematerialization, for instance).
- Marketing functions become omni-present and taking their part even in real time. (See Bernardo for instance).
- Legal and property issues call for increased abilities in the team (for example, documentation, image management) and call to external services.
- All these functions are more and more automated. Buying and selling can be automated, as shows but too well the financial markets, and of course all the websites selling facilities (books, films... with a growing varieties of payment formulas : pay for a product, subscribe for a definite time, payment based on time (stream viewing of films). Workflow and assets management also.
Let's note than in robot-to-robot communications, the formats and languages uses between humans or between humans and robots will probably not be the most performants. [Kaplan] has even shown that a pair or robots can be able to build its own language.
5.4.5. Robot entrepreneurs
The time is not come for robots to become entrepreneurs by themselves. But I remember a discussion, in the 1970's, about robot salesmen. My interlocutor argued "Never will a robot sell things by itself, you need a person to do that". I would answer that automatic sweets dispensers were a sort of selling robots. To day, among a myriad, Amazon shows the power of a system which only shows you what it has to sell, but takes your cash through your credit card, and makes push to sell you more than you were willing to.
We consider that the spectator, in general, remains different of the author (see above). They remain consumers more than producers. Transmedia brings or reinforces several audience features.
The engagement pyramid, according to Andrea Phillips, Transmedia Storytelling, McGraw Hill 2011.
5.5.1. Deeper immersion
This concept was created for virtual reality, with its goggles, gloves, suits and caves, haptic interfaces, stereoscopy, Cinema 4D. These devices are no so necessary. If the story is "compelling", the spectator may immerse himself in it. A book may be enough. Transmedia goes further, "engaging" the spectator, who is "sucked in" ( [Bernardo], p. 16) a permanent world by a variety of channels and doing the push (SMS for instance) as well as the pull (on demand).
5.5.2. Fragmentation and communities
- "The old monolithic media are fragmenting, audiences are becoming more specialized and the ways in which you can access content are becoming more diverse" [Bernardo] p.49. The audience may be both more fragmented and more aggregated. Some works, or games, are so complex that they cannot be played without cooperation between many players.
5.5.3 Metadata about the users
- The inputs from the audience are more intense than with traditional media. The feedback may be immediate (twitter). It gives substance to user profiling, statistics. In a lot of cases, the user is not aware of these feedbacks (with Google analytics for instance). , Audiomat polls or direct capture from the action. That has several consequences:
. the media as well as the user himself customize the product. See an article by News Scientist,
. it calls the user to be creative (as sets out for instance a campaign of commercials by Samsung in 11/2012.
. it takes to an extension of marketing, nearly real time.
- Among the "media" appear possibly material outputs, byproducts or physical engagement of spectators (fablabs, somehow).
The result will depend on the user profile. The geeks will do their own transmedia contraptions. One of them writes us : "I spent my late evening interconnecting some devices, which is the 0,01 grade in transmedia. That works not too bad. I can, for intance, launch New York Times videos on my cell phone and send then on my TV. But those from You Tube remain desperately black... In short, it not yet plug and play".
As seen above about native transmedia, there is a competition in the control of the story and the engagement of the spectator.
The spectactor, indeed, has to protect himself from an excessive "engagement", which could resemble an hypnosis, or an addiction.
5.5.4. User-generated contents and communities
- These inputs can also go beyond simple reactions and go to "user generated content". See [Bernardo] p.5. , a lot in [Jenkins], but also Wikipedia. Phillips gives a chapter to this issue : "Uses and Misuses for User-Generated Content", with guidelines for the creators.
User generate contents as well as individuals (generally for family use) as in communities, which producers try to control as well to develop, hence the new profession of "community manager".
"Appropriation" is both a bonanza and a threat for franchise owners, as explains Jenkins, notably in his comments about Star Wars. He quotes Jim Ward, vice-president marketing of Lucasfilm: "We love or fans. We want them to have fun. But if in fact somebody is using our characters to create a story unto itself, that's not in the spirit of what we think fandom is about. Fandom is about celebrating the story, the way it is". Jenkins concludes : "Lucas wants to be "celebrated" but not appropriate".
Brands fear diverse outcomes of appropriation :
- a form of piracy
- an alteration of the narration blurring its original meaning
- possibly a risk of being accuses of plagiarism if they (more or less inadvertently) develop new stories similar to user created contents.
The concept, and practice, has origins in the game domain. There are for instance two chapters in [Alexander 2005] :
- Power by the People : User-Creation in Online Games, by Cory Ondrejka (Linden Lab), who gives a lof of references.
- Community Management : Do's and Don'ts from Those Who've Done Them, by Graham Williams (Ubisoft) and Katie Postma (Ubisoft).
Users can also evaluate contents. Jenkins notes (p. 251): "The idea of reader-moderated news content is not new".
5.5.5. Tomorrow, a robot spectator?
The idea may seem absurd, then it corresponds to a growing role of medias. Entertainment is only a part, probably declining, of the media role. A large quantity of information is collected for industry and business people... and more and more to industry and business automata. Financial markets are the most spectacular aspect, but a lot of other customers can listed :
- order and security, with automated interpretation of suveillance videos
- toll gates, who operates as well as order enforcement devices, service selling and information providers to the road services and management, and on longer term to the marketing and possibl investment on roads enhancement and development
- military, with automated drones using their sensors plus general data, GPS
- a lot of more or less automated agencies, including cars, for weather and traffic information.
- corporations IS, their declarations to legal authorities. payroll. indexes.
That takes us to the more paradoxical issue : why should robot ask for art, become a spectator ?
There is the case where it plays the role of a spectator to give the author the recognition, emotional empathy : pet robots, tamagushi. any interaction. Or recognition: "You win", and even you can be listed in the best players.
What do we expect from a spectator : money, recognition. Google analytics to get commercials.
The intermediate stage to understand that are the games. Why do we play games ? Partly to entertain us, rest and relax. But also to learn and train. And, in complex systems, that could be also an important way of learing for robots, when they reach sufficient levels of complexity, for instant the Watson machine level.
And we can also use the Schmidhuber definition of beauty (we say it in short) as the aptitude of a work to enhance our ability to cope with ulterior complex inputs. This criterium and reason to consume art could be applied by robots as well as by humans.
Why would the planet exhaust itself just to entertain ten billions of couch potatoes.
5.6. Research and education
- Annenberg Lab . Focus since 2012: retro branding and transmedia branding in a business-to-business environment.
- Brock University. TRN group explores "the capacity of emerging media to generate new interactive relationships, create innovative forms of popular expression and offer expanded opportunities for public engagement and education".
5.7. Citizen and politician
5.7.1. The multiple roles in politics
Media, and transmedia even more, are important factors of political life. They bear values as well as information. They are a "power", which must remain independent, as well as the three main political ones: executive, legislative, judicial.
In the conflict of powers between authors, spectators, but also commercials and the media themselves, the political instances have to maintain a proper balance... including their own power! Political authorities, political stakes, political events belong to transmedia arts... for the best and the worst
Jenkins dedicates explicitly 80 pages to political issues of transmedia, in three chapters:
- Photoshop for democracy,
- Democratizing television ? The politics of participation,
- Reflections on politics in the age of Youtube.
5.7.2. Governments and their regalian duties
Politicians have to care, to protect and to promote.
They must protect the consumer against malevolent or perverse content providers, and against himself... And protect privacy (hmm... more and more difficult!)
They must promote appropriate education and information systems. Here, the postures are very different in US, where private corporations are strongly dominant (up to finance the presidential campaigns), in Europe where States support public media (even the very liberal Britain has its BBC), in China and more generally totalitarian countries where political leaders control everything.
They must not let the regalian duties and powers fall into private hands (or with appropriate regulation). That applies at any level, from the individual person to the World globally, with major instances in Nation-States. It applies in particular to medias. One may question, for example, the posted aims of Google, to organize the circulation of information in the World. Is not that a regalian duty ?
Antistrust laws have to be specially enforced in this domain. "Media concentration is a very real problem", notes Jenkins (p. 259).
5.7.3. Democracy and division of powers
How can that be translated in transmedia terms?
Some public/political actors on the transmedia stage :
- America's Army.
< Modeling and Simulation : Linking Entertainment and Defense (1997).
- Romney Mit, Obama Barack. Transmedia politics. [Jenkins] comments the campaigns.
5.7.4. Non governmental powers
Political parties, clubs, churches will more and more play transmedia. Possibly with conflicting strategies.
5.7.5. Religious communities and authorities
Among the non-governmental organizations, religious have played a major part in society since the origins of humanity. And they have been, par excellence, the greatest users of transmedia immersion, from the palaeolotihic caves to the cathedrals and pilgrimage sites, including all possible medias : texts, of course, but also music, theatrical presentations of the liturgy, and mass media as soon as they existed.
Religious authorities are not indifferent to transmedia. Churches tend to fight more or less violently to augment their audience and have their values legally recognized if not imposed to all. Examples
- Pope Benedictus XVI opened a twitter service in 2012.
- "What Would Jesus Do with Harry Potter ?" asks Jenkins (pp. 209 sq.) commenting on the Christian counterculture and the concept of "discernment" as an alternative to culture war discourse.
- Islamism, specially in its radical forms, makes an extensive use Internet.
Actually, religions (as well as States, and much more than corporations) have from their origins something like transmedia franchises. They have their "grand narrations", and have always distributed them using all the available channels, beginning with dedicated places and oral story telling, then using the books (and giving them a holy status). By the way, transmedia literature has borrowed some terms from this culture : bible (see for example Bernardo), canon (see for example Jenkins).
A more important feature that the grand transmedia franchises have gained, is the perennity of their core stories. They protect them by legal mean (brands and extended copyrights), and so ensure that their market is permanently opened to new developments. Anyway, Starwars and Lord of the Rings have replaced the Bible or Islamic stories in the minds of a majority in the young generaions, at least in Occident.
Some level of conflict is basic for opposition parties.
Which modes of action? Open/covert, peaceful/violent... Example: tactical media.
That is both admirable and dangerous. From immersion to addiction and fundamentalist engagement, the borders are not well marked! And power as well as money hang over the most purely mystical intentions.
Hence, here also, the importance of States and humanist NGO's to protect the individuals and mankind in general against
5.8.6. The individual citizen
Learn, deconstruct and protect yourself
"Big brother is watching you", said Orwell in 1984. Today, in Hollywood and everywhere, a lot of big brothers are watching you. And more than that : they tell you stories. Learn to understand their motives and dont become a "compelled" spectator.
Some "big brothers" are even mischievous. At least download an antivirus!
Citizens should "deconstruct" the transmedia operations, without prejudices pro and con. Just to understand the world where we are immersed.
Tell your story and build your own franchise.
You have to do that to market yourself. And perhaps even to feel master of yourself.
" When Internet took off, we decided to build our own "Personet". Then we expanded the idea of building personal and family archives in what we called "hypermonde". And so to manage "my relationship with myself" (sorry, it is in French).
You have also to build your identity. We talke of "Digitally augmented identity" in our communication at Laval Virtual 2010
A problem: who can give (sell) you metadata about your status in the Big Data word ?
There is at least one free source: Google. Type your own name in the search engine and see if you are present. More: if you have a website or a blog, get data from Google analytics. But that raises an issue : Google is not a non profit NGO. The more you use it, the more you give them metadata to sell. And you don't know who pays for them.
Socialize and commit yourself
That the really good news with transmedia. The contrast is dramatic between transmedia and the separated channels of yesterday. Putnam (Putnam Robert D. : Bowling alone. Simon &Schuster 2000 ) studies at lenght the socialization issues of the US, and concludes (with precaution) that the generalization of long TV consumption is correlated with a strong reduction of social engagment.
Some hopes had been awaken by the independent radio stations (1960's-1990's). Eventually, the results did not meet the expectations. The same can be said of cheaper video cameras [Willener, 1972].
Transmedia bring new hopes, as the "Arab spring" has shown, and, in this 2013 winter, China is coming again on the democracy launching pad.
Transmedia is re ally changing the landscape. How far will it go ? We cannot know. But we can go along with. And the journey, demanding and challenging indeed, may be also exhilarating. Enjoy ! (Hmm... perhaps are we yet "sucked in").
6. Varia to be edited
The second screen as a sort of backup for the future. Google. The cloud in general.
The world of art has not entered the "digital magma"
quote the 3 jenkins and Leloup
a closed world
Music has done it.
Even in fine arts shows, now, they take picture.
Remix of the expos
< L'image recyclée. Figures de l'art 23. by Roque Georges and Luciano Cheles (eds.). Presses de l'Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour 2013
< Social Media Processing, by Heyan Huang , Ting Liu , Hua-Ping Zhang and Jie Tang. Communications in Computer and Information Science . Volume 489 Springer 2014. .
Paris ACM Siggraph, the French chapter of ACM Siggraph, worldwide non-profit organization of computer graphics.