April 27, 2006
Preparing for C3 Retreat: An Eye Toward Transmedia, Archive Distribution

Today begins our retreat for both faculty and corporate partners of the Convergence Culture Consortium (C3). We'll be discussing many of the issues that we look at in the consortium and discuss here on the weblog. A lot of the time will be spent as a private brainstorming session for partners at C3, but we hope to include some of the relevant insights available for public consumption here on the blog.

As a precursor to today's events, though, I've been traveling a lot in the past several weeks I've met with members of research and development at Turner Broadcasting and MTVN, two of our partners, along with World Wrestling Entertainment and some of the folks working with As the World Turns, at CBS and at Procter & Gamble Productions, in addition to members of the actual ATWT team.

What I've found is a growing industry awareness, at least in the areas I'm interested in, both in the importance to current story and product to promote past shows in the archives, and a related need to find more ways for fans to immerse themselves in the world of the entertainment. Herein lies the place for digital distribution of the archives in true Long Tail form, the place for transmedia storytelling, and the perfect platform to launch into new media. I've demonstrated recently here on the blog how this can work both in new media forms, such as the WWE's mobile service, and in a very old media form, such as Oakdale Confidential.

I hope what we're seeing right now is signalling a focus on these factors, that new technologies won't end up being used just to make new ancillary content that adds no real meaning to the main product or else just a dumping of old content without any thought given to how it relates to current products. If producers keep their eye on refining their goals and methods, they may serve to expand story worlds in ways that are both profitable for the company and meaningful for fans.

Do you all have any thoughts?



I think that the first uses of such technology have to be ancillary content. This is simply because each of these new technologies will have a risk value attached. I'd doubt that a corporate would be brave enough to attempt something that might not work or might work on a very small scale.

On a standard bell curve, these ancillary applications would lead to more. Hopefully.

On April 27, 2006 at 3:22 PM, Sam Ford said:

Good point, regarding ancillary content coming first. The worst thing that we can have happen, in this realm, is having a great idea be a miserable failure because it came too soon, and have that failure lead to other producers shying away from trying similar projects.

But, I think we have seen that ancillary content for a while. People enjoy experimenting with character blogs or online content...I was watching an old episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets from a decade ago, and they were hyping the interactive components of their website. Ancillary content draws people on its own.

And now we are seeing fans grow a little impatient...ancillary content has been done more and more, and it has less of an "oh, wow!" factor these days. That's why we are starting to see companies branch into transmedia storytelling in the ways I've described, and into mining the archives.

The fact that Oakdale Confidential did so well should lead cultural producers to try something even more integrated next time, to increase the involvement of the text of a book or blog with the show in more meaningful ways than the Carver on Nip/Tuck that we've blogged about before...to write these ancillary products into the show to the point that they actually add meaning to the show, even while allowing people to NOT participate in these transmedia elements and still enjoy the "show proper."


I'm from the print media and find ancillary media itself a difficult field to penetrate.

When you combine media or technology, the sum should ideally be greater than it's parts. I agree that it is infuriating to see such technology go ot waste. But ultimately, I still think that we are a tad bit too early on this. A good proof of concept (and something that really should be done with academics) would be to demonstrate or implement with the assistance of a corporate, a thorough statistical analysis and deployment of a system where different technoilogies work to provide more than just DVD extras

Heck, I'd try somehting out myself if there was the support. It's something that is not too difficult and could pave the way to greater networking.

On April 27, 2006 at 4:29 PM, Sam Ford said:

I am a working journalist and work for some small newspapers that are completely uncertain how to branch into the Web...trying to decide how to make the news a transmedia experience is something many people are trying to wrap their brain around.

Your point about the need for the sum to be greater than its parts, though, is a strong one. If a viewer feels they are wasting their time by looking at a character's blog, for instance, you may lose more respect than you gain, similar to a point Kathleen Lowney made in the post on WWE Mobile Media about people tiring of redundancy.

I don't think or even want to see something completely transmedia right now, though...where you have to see each part of it in a different media form. For instance, the Internet is not yet widely available enough for a situation to happen where someone can't understand a TV show without seeing the web regularly, or using mobile media...then, you have a technological snobbery in storytelling that doesn't seem fair for a mass media form. But I think we should move toward more meaning in these transmedia moments.

You have some good ideas, though. Glad to have you following the site and joining our dialogue.