June 27, 2007
Interview with C3 Alum Geoffrey Long, Part IV of IV

This is the final entry in a four-part interview with C3 alumnus and recent graduate of MIT's Program in Comparative Media Studies Geoffrey Long.

Sam: Since you have recently completed your Master's thesis research, do you mind sharing some general information about the project and some of the observations or arguments you make in your writing?

Geoff: The primary takeaway from my Master's thesis on transmedia storytelling is for would-be transmedia storytellers: it's not what you say that's critical in transmedia narratives, it's what you don't say.

Negative capability is the art of making references to external events, characters or locations as a story unfolds, which can then be returned to later for future transmedia expansion. Until then, these empty spaces provide fans with areas to fill in themselves.

Perhaps the greatest examples of this are found in the original Star Wars trilogy - who is Boba Fett? What were the Clone Wars? What was Anakin Skywalker like before he became Darth Vader? What was the Old Republic like? The key, of course, is for a storyteller to answer these questions with new and better questions, continually enriching the experience and leading fans through an ever-unfolding narrative universe.

This is where Lucas tanked with the prequels - he didn't introduce enough new mysteries to keep fans engaged, and the answers he provided often weren't as good as the ones the fans had provided for themselves. Creatives should keep an eye on fan-produced media to serve as a gauge for what they want from the story - they shouldn't feel bound by fanfic, but they should at least be aware of it. And then they need to surpass it.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to Rule One: Don't Suck.

Sam: What do you feel have been your most significant accomplishments while working as a media analyst with C3?

Geoff: Personally speaking, expanding my own understanding of how storytelling works in both new media and old media has been a major plus. I have some ideas for stories now that I'm just starting to tinker with, and I'm really excited to see where those take me.

If my research into storytelling in these new forms helps other storytellers create better characters, worlds and tales, that's a truly major win. And, of course, getting to meet, talk to and exchange brainstorms with so many amazing people has been out of this world.

Sam: What will you miss most about your work with C3?

Geoff: Hopefully I won't have to miss anything - most of the conversations I started while working with C3 are still ongoing.

That said, the camaraderie is probably the one thing I'll miss more than anything. Working with C3 and being at MIT is like attending one long, amazing conference with a new, fascinating speaker almost every day. Someday I want to go back to Ohio and teach at a small liberal arts college like Kenyon or the College of Wooster, and if I can bring my students one tenth of the excitement that I've had here, I'll be a happy man.

Sam: What's next for Geoffrey Long?

Geoff: Well, like I said, I'm currently doing some research with the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, but I'm also going to be the Communications Director for both GAMBIT and CMS next year.

I'm going to be conducting some experiments in narratives, online video, games and other design-related fields, so keep an eye open for that. I'll be posting new work, thoughts and other nonsense over at my site, www.geoffreylong.com, if anyone wants to follow along.

Sam: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Geoff: I hope to see many of my C3 friends around campus this year, but if not... So long, and thanks for all the fish!