December 21, 2009
The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling

If you have yet to check out the videos from the Futures of Entertainment 4 conference, we hope that you'll take at least an hour of the upcoming holiday to sit down and listen to Henry Jenkin's keynote on transmedia storytelling. Above, we've embedded the video of his talk, and after the jump you can find Henry's essay explaining the key concepts of his thinking (cross-posted from his blog). Enjoy!

Revenge of the Oragami Unicorn: Seven Core Concepts of Transmedia Storytelling

[Electronic Arts game designer] Neil Young talks about "additive comprehension." He cites the example of the director's cut of Blade Runner, where adding a small segment showing Deckard discovering an origami unicorn invited viewers to question whether Deckard might be a replicant: "That changes your whole perception of the film, your perception of the ending...The challenge for us, especially with the Lord of the Rings is how do we deliver that one piece of information that makes you look at the films differently?" -- Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collides (2006).

I first introduced my concept of transmedia storytelling in my Technology Review column in 2003 and elaborated upon it through the "Searching for the Oragami Unicorn: The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling" chapter in Convergence Culture. For me, the origami unicorn has remained emblematic of the core principles shaping my understanding of transmedia storytelling, a kind of patron saint for what has emerged as increasing passionate and motivated community of artists, storytellers, brands, game designers, and critics/scholars, for whom transmedia has emerged as a driving cause in their creative and intellectual lives. We all have somewhat different definitions of transmedia storytelling and indeed, we don't even agree on the same term - with Frank Rose talking about "Deep Media" and Christy Dena talking about "Cross-media."

As Frank has put it, same elephant, different blind men. We are all groping to grasp a significant shift in the underlying logic of commercial entertainment, one which has both commercial and aesthetic potentials we are still trying to understand, one which has to do with the interplay between different media systems and delivery platforms (and of course different media audiences and modes of engagement.)

Whatever we call it, transmedia entertainment is increasingly prominent in our conversations about how media operates in a digital era - from recent books (such as Jonathon Gray's Show Sold Seperately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts and Chuck Tryon's Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the Age of Media Convergence) to dedicated websites (such as the Narrative Design Exploratorium which has been running a great series of interviews with transmedia designers and storytellers) and websites created by transmedia producers, such as Jeff Gomez, to explain the concept to their clients. We are seeing senior statesmen across multiple disciplines - from David Bordwell in film studies to Don Norman in design research - weigh in on the aesthetics and design of transmedia experiences. All of this influx of new interest invites us to pull back and lay out some core principles that might shape our development or analysis of transmedia narrative and to revise some of our earlier formulations of this topic.

Six years ago, fans and critics were shocked at the idea of transmedia as they first encountered what the Wachowski Brothers were doing around The Matrix. Now, there is almost a transmedia expectation, as occurred when fans of Flash Forward complained recently because the series introduced a Url on the air and then only provided impoverished extensions to those fans who tracked down the link. Have we reached the point where media franchises are going to be judged harshly if they do not sustain our hunger for transmedia content?

Let me start with the following definition of transmedia storytelling as an operating principle: "Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story." Some of what I will say here will complicate this conception of a "unified and coordinated entertainment experience," as we factor in the unauthorized, grassroots expansion of the text by fans or consider the ways that franchises might value diversity over coherence in their exploration of fictional worlds.

We should be clear that narrative represents simply one kind of transmedia logic which is shaping the contemporary entertainment realm. We might identify a range of others - including branding, spectacle, performance, games, perhaps others - which can operate either independently or may be combined within any given entertainment experience. During the conference, Nancy Baym asked us to think about when and how music has gone transmedia. We struggled to come up with examples - everyone of course immediately latched onto the ARG created around the Nine Inch Nails; I proposed the Comic Book Tatoo where artists and writers used Tori Amos songs as their inspiration. The question looks different, though, if we ask about transmedia performance, because most contemporary musical artists perform across multiple media - minimally live and recorded performance, but also video and social network sites and twitter and...

We might also draw a distinction between transmedia storytelling and transmedia branding, though these can also be closely intertwined. So, we can see something like Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader as a extension of the transmedia narrative that has grown up around Star Wars because it provides back story and insights into a central character in that saga. (Thanks to Geoffrey Long for this example) By comparison, a Star Wars breakfast cereal may enhance the franchise's branding but it may have limited contribution to make to our understanding of the narrative or the world of the story. The idea that Storm Troopers might be made of sugar sweet marshmellow bits probably contradicts rather than enhances the continuity and coherence of the fictional world George Lucas was creating.

Where does this leave the Star Wars action figures? Well, they represent resources where players can expand their understanding of the fictional world through their play. Minimally, they enhance transmedia play, but in so far as coherent stories emerge through this play, they may also contribute to the expansion of the transmedia story. And indeed, writers like Will Brooker and Jonathon Gray have made compelling arguments for the specific ways these toys expanded or reshaped the transmedia narrative, adding, for example, to the mystique around Boba Fett.

While we are making distinctions, we need to distinguish between adaptation, which reproduces the original narrative with minimum changes into a new medium and is essentially redundant to the original work, and extension, which expands our understanding of the original by introducing new elements into the fiction. Of course, this is a matter of degree - since any good adaptation contributes new insights into our understanding of the work and makes additions or omissions which reshape the story in significant ways. But, I think we can agree that Lawrence Olivier's Hamlet is an adaptation, while Tom Stoppard's Rosencranz & Guildenstern Are Dead expands Shakespeare's original narrative through its refocalization around secondary characters from the play.

My own early writing about transmedia may have over-emphasized the "newness" of these developments, excited as I was to see how digital media was extending the potential for entertainment companies to deliver content around their franchises. Yet, Derrick Johnson has made strong arguments that the current transmedia moment needs to be understood in relation to a much longer history of different strategies for structuring and deploying media franchises. Indeed, when I head to University of Southern California each morning to teach, I am given a forceful reminder of these earlier stages in the evolution of transmedia entertainment in the form of a giant statue of Felix the Cat which has sat atop a local car dealership since the 1920s and has become a beloved Los Angeles landmark. Felix, as Donald Crafton, has shown us was a transmedia personality, whose exploits moved across the animated screen and comics to become the focus of popular music and merchandising, and he was one of the first personalities to get broadcast on network American television. We might well distinguish Felix as a character who is extracted from any specific narrative context (given each of his cartoons is self-contained and episodic) as opposed to a modern transmedia figure who carries with him or her the timeline and the world depicted on the "mother ship," the primary work which anchors the franchise. As I move through this argument, I will connect transmedia to earlier historical practices, trying to identify similarities and differences along the way.

1. Spreadability vs. Drillability
At last year's Futures of Entertainment conference, we unrolled the concept of "spreadability" which is the central focus of my next book, which is now being written with Sam Ford and Joshua Green. Spreadability refered to the capacity of the public to engage actively in the circulation of media content through social networks and in the process expand its economic value and cultural worth. Writing in response to that argument, Jason Mittell has proposed a counterveiling principle, what he calls "drillability" which has some close connection to Neil Young's concept of "additive comprehension" cited above. Mitell's discussion of drillability is worth quoting at length here:

"Perhaps we need a different metaphor to describe viewer engagement with narrative complexity. We might think of such programs as drillable rather than spreadable. They encourage a mode of forensic fandom that encourages viewers to dig deeper, probing beneath the surface to understand the compleity of a sotry and its telling. Such programs create magnets for engagement, drawing viewers into the storyworlds and urging them to drill down to discover more...The opposition between spreadable and drillable shouldn't be thought of as a hierarchy, but rather as opposing vectors of cultural engagement. Spreadable media encourages horizontal ripples, accumulating eyeballs without necessarily encouraging more long-term engagement. Drillable media typically engage far fewer people, but occupy more of their time and energies in a vertical descent into a text's complexities."

A key phrase here may be "necessarily" since we've seen that helping to spread the message may well be central to enhancing viewer engagement and may encourage further participation - as we've seen in the past few weeks where the release of Susan Boyle's album, more than six months after the participatory circulation of her original video, has broken sales records this year, swamping by something like seven to one the release of an album by American Idol winner Adam Lambert.

Yet, Mittell invites us to think of a world where many of us are constantly scanning for media franchises that interest us and they drilling down deeper once we find a fiction that captures our imagination. Both potentials may be built into the same transmedia franchise, yet they represent, as he suggests, different dimensions of the experience, and there may well be cases where a franchise sustains spreadability without offering any real depth to drill into or offers depth and complexity without offering strong incentives to pass it along through our social networks. More work needs to be done to fully understand the interplay between these two impulses which are shaping current entertainment experiences.

2. Continuity vs. Multiplicity

I mentioned earlier that some of my recent thinking about transmedia starts to challenge the idea of a "unified experience" which is "systematically" developed across multiple texts. It is certainly the case that many transmedia franchises do indeed seek to construct a very strong sense of "continuity" which contributes to our appreciation of the "coherence" and "plausibility" of their fictional worlds and that many hardcore fans see this kind of "continuity" as the real payoff for their investment of time and energy in collecting the scattered bits and assembling them into a meaningful whole. We can see the elaborate continuities developed around the DC and Marvel superheroes as a particular rich example of the kind of "continuity" structures long preferred by the most dedicated fans of transmedia entertainment.

Yet, if we use these comic book publishers as a starting point, we can see them pushing beyond continuity in more recent publishing ventures which rely on what I described in my contributions to Third Person as a logic of "multiplicity." So, for example, we can see Spider-Man as part of the mainstream continuity of the Marvel universe, but he also exists in the parallel continuity offered by the Ultimate Spider-Man franchise, and we can see a range of distinctly separate mini-franchises, such as Spider-Man India (which sets the story in Mumbai) or Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (which stands alone as a romance comic series for young female readers). And indeed, some of these experiments - Spider-Man India, the DC Elseworlds series - use multiplicity - the possibility of alternative versions of the characters or parallel universe versions of the stories - as an alternative set of rewards for our mastery over the source material.

Multiplicity allows fans to take pleasure in alternative retellings, seeing the characters and events from fresh perspectives, and comics publishers trust their fans to sort out not only how the pieces fit together but also which version of the story any given work fits within. We can compare this with the laborious process the producers had to go through to launch the recent Star Trek film, showing us that it does indeed take place in the same universe as the original and is part of the original continuity, but the continuity has to be altered to make way for the new performers and their versions of the characters.

This pleasure in multiplicity is not restricted to comics, as is suggested by the recent trend to take works in public domain, especially literary classics, and mash them up with more contemporary genres - such as Pride and Predjudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, or Little Women and Werewolves.

The concept of multiplicity paves the way for us to think about fan fiction and other forms of grassroots expression as part of the same transmedia logic - unauthorized extensions of the "mother ship" which may nevertheless enhance fan engagement and expand our understanding of the original. For those franchises where there is a strong desire to police and preserve continuity, fan fiction can be experienced by producers as a threat, something which may disrupt the coherence of their unfolding story, but where we embrace a logic of multiplicity, they simply become one version among many which may offer us interesting insights into who these characters are and what motivates their behavior.

In my class and at the conference, this concept of multiplicity has been experienced as liberating, allowing us to conceive of alternative configurations of transmedia, and lowering some of the anxiety about making sure every detail is "right" when collaborating across media platforms. My key point, though, would be that there needs to be clear signaling of whether you are introducing multiplicity within the franchise, as well as consistency within any given "alternative" version of the central storyline.

(Part 2)

3. Immersion vs. Extractability

These two concepts refer to the perceived relationship between the transmedia fiction and our everyday experiences. At the Studio Ghibli Museum outside of Tokyo, there's a fascinating exhibition on the history of motion pictures. Much of what is there could have been in a western museum on the same topic - various motion toys designed to capture and exploit the persistence of vision. Yet, there are also panorama boxes - little minature worlds which you have to kneel down to look inside, worlds constructed of plastic figurines in front of cellophane backdrops. On the wall, there's a quote from animator Hayao Miyazki, who explains,

"just as people wished to make pictures move, they wished to look inside a different world. They yearned to enter a story or travel to a faraway land. They longed to see the future of the landscapes of the past. The panorama box with no moving parts was made much earlier than the Zoetrope."

Miyazki is making the case, then, that immersion - the ability of consumers to enter into fictional worlds - was the driving force behind the creation of cinema and has fueled the development of many subsequent media. It is certainly not hard to move from the microworlds constructed in the panorama boxes to the microworlds created for contemporary video games. But if we step outside the museum proper and into the gift shop, we see another principle at play. Here, one can buy tiny figures and massive models of key characters, props, and settings from Miyazki's films, or we can buy props and costumes which can become resoures for Cosplay. Ian Condry has made the case that the toy industry in Japan and its need for extractable elements has dramatically shaped the development of anime and manga.

In immersion, then, the consumer enters into the world of the story, while in extractability, the fan takes aspects of the story away with them as resources they deploy in the spaces of their everyday life.

Again, neither principle is new: just as we had panorama boxes in Japan, the movie palaces which sprung up in the United States in the 1920s were instruments of immersion, offering fantastical environments within which to watch movies which were themselves often exploring exotic or faraway worlds, and we might extend immersion to include more contemporary amusement parks, such as the soon to open theme park that seeks to reconstruct the world of Harry Potter or the Dubai based theme park focused around Marvel superheroes to open in 2012 (assuming either Dubai or the world doesn't end before then). On the other end of the spectrum, we can see early examples of extractable content growing up around Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, Buster Brown, or Charlie Chaplin, to cite a few examples, even around Nanook of the North (which helped to introduce the Eskimo Pie to the American buying public).

4. Worldbuilding.

In Convergence Culture, I quoted an unnamed screenwriter who discussed how Hollywood's priorities had shifted in the course of his career: "When I first started you would pitch a story because without a good story, you didn't really have a film. Later, once sequels started to take off, you pitched a character because a good character could support multiple stories. and now, you pitch a world because a world can support multiple characters and multiple stories across multiple media." This focus on world building has a long history in science fiction, where writers such as Cordwainer Smith constructed interconnecting worlds which link together stories scattered across publications.

We can point towards someone like L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz books, as someone who had a deep investment in this concept of the author as world builder. For most of us today, The Wizard of Oz is a story - really reduced to a single book from the twenty or so Baum wrote and from there, to only those characters and plot elements that appeared in the MGM musical. Baum would have understood Oz as a world and indeed, he presented himself as the "geographer" of Oz, giving a series of mock travelogue lectures, where he showed slides and short films, which illustrated different places within Oz and hinted at the events which had occurred there. Oz as a place got elaborated not simply through the books but also through comic strip series (recently reprinted), stage musicals, and films, each of which added new places and characters to the overall mix. Some of the Oz books were novelizations and elaborations of stories introduced through these other media. And consistently, the logic of these stories were focused on journeys and travel, so that the Oz franchise was constantly uncovering more parts of the fictional world.

This concept of world building is closely linked to what Janet Murray has called the "encyclopedic" impulse behind contemporary interactive fictions - the desire of audiences to map and master as much as they can know about such universes, often through the production of charts, maps, and concordances. Consider, for example, this map of the character relations which have unfolded in the X-Men universe over the past 40 plus years and compare it to the complex social dynamics ascribed to the great Russian novels, such as Tolstoi's War and Peace or Anna Karenina. Pushing back even earlier, we can see this world building impulse at work in something like the Sistine Chapel Ceiling Murals, which seek to stitch together characters and stories from across many different parts of the Bible into a single coherent representation.

The concept of world building seems closely linked to the earlier principles of immersion and extractability since they both represent ways for consumers to engage more directly with the worlds represented in the narratives, treating them as real spaces which intersect in some way with our own lived realities. Witness the production of travel posters for fictional locations, for example. Many transmedia extensions can be understood as doing something similar to Baum's travel lectures as offering us a guided tour of the fictional setting, literally in the case of a real estate site created around Melrose Place, or simply flesh out our understanding of the institutions and practices.

Increasingly, transmedia producers are creating the media which exists in the fictional world as a way of understanding its own logic, practices, and institutions - so we see, for example, the production of fictional pirate comics within Alan Moore's original Watchmen graphic novels to show us the fantasies of a world where superheroes are a reality, or the newscasts created around the film version of Watchmen, which help us to understand the altered history created by the superhero's intervention into 20th century events.

These extensions may take physical forms, as in the park benches for District 9, which helped us to experience the segregation between humans and aliens. They might include mock advertising campaigns, such as those for Tru-Blood, or political posters, such as those created in support of alien rights in District 9 or vampire rights in True Blood. And they might extend to the production of fictional media franchises and fandoms, such as Jesse Alexander has created for Sargasso Planet in his upcoming Day One miniseries.

5. Seriality
The idea of seriality has an equally long history, which we can trace back to 19th century literary figures, such as Charles Dickens or the Dumas factory, and which took on new significance with the rise of movie serials in the early 20th century. Indeed, Kim Deitch's Alias the Cat graphic novel uses this earlier historical moment to comment on our current push towards transmedia entertainment, with his protagonist gradually drawing connections between events depicted in movie serials, comic strips, live theatrical events, and news stories, suggesting ways that an earlier media system might tell a story across multiple platforms.

We might understand how serials work by falling back on a classic film studies distinction between story and plot. The story refers to our mental construction of what happened which can be formed only after we have absorbed all of the available chunks of information. The plot refers to the sequence through which those bits of information have been made available to us. A serial, then, creates meaningful and compelling story chunks and then disperses the full story across multiple installments. The cliff-hanger represents an archtypical moment of rupture where one text ends and closure where one text bleeds into the next, creating a strong enigma which drives the reader to continue to consume the story even though our satisfaction has been deferred while we await the next installment.

We can think of transmedia storytelling then as a hyperbolic version of the serial, where the chunks of meaningful and engaging story information have been dispersed not simply across multiple segments within the same medium, but rather across multiple media systems. There still is a lot we don't know about what will motivate consumers to seek out those other bits of information about the unfolding story - ie. What would constitute the cliffhanger in a transmedia narrative - and we still know little about how much explicit instruction they need to know these other elements exist or where to look for them. As we work on these problems, there is a great deal we can learn by studying classic serial forms of fiction, such as the serial publication of novels or the unfolding of chapters in movie serials or even in comic book series.

Early writing on transmedia (mine included) may have made too much of the nonlinear nature of the transmedia entertainment experience, suggesting that the parts could be consumed within any order. Increasingly, we are seeing companies deploy very different content and strategies in the build up to the launch of the "mother ship" of the franchise than while the series is on the air or after the main text has completed its cycle. So there's work to be done to understand the sequencing of transmedia components and whether, in fact, it really does work to consume them in any order. We are, however, seeing some very elaborate plays with time lines and seriality occurring as the stories of television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, or Supernatural extend into comics, or consider the ways that each of the Battlestar Galactica films has added some new chunk to the timeline of that particular universe.

6. Subjectivity

Transmedia extensions, then, may focus on unexplored dimensions of the fictional world, as happens when Star Wars games pick up on particular groups - such as the bounty hunters or podracers - and expands upon what was depicted in the films. Transmedia extensions may broaden the timeline of the aired material, as happens when we rely on comics to fill in back story or play out the long term ramifications of the depicted events (see for example the use of animation in the build up to The Dark Knight or The Matrix Reloaded). A third function of transmedia extensions may be to show us the experiences and perspectives of secondary characters. These functions may be combined as they were with the Heroes webcomics, which provided backstories and insights into the large cast of characters as the series was being launched. These kinds of extensions tap into longstanding readers interest in comparing and contrasting multiple subjective experiences of the same fictional events.

We may learn a good deal about this aspect of transmedia by looking at the tradition of epistolary novels. Works like Robinson Crusoe, Pamela, or Dracula, constructed fictional diaries, letters, even transcripts. While they are contained within a single binder, they can be described as transmedia works insofar as they imitate multiple genres, including both manuscript and print forms of prose, and thus invite us to construct the fictional reality from these fragments. Typically, the author constructed himself or herself as having found these documents rather than constructed them, much as ARGs often refuse to acknowledge that they are games or works like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity pretend to be constructed from found footage.

As we read such works, we are encouraged to be aware of who is writing and who they are writing for, thus using the letters or diaries to help further construct the relationships between characters. Something similar occurs when we look at the mock websites constructed around transmedia fictions - for example, District 9 was accompanied by a website for an alien rights organization which directly challenges some of the claims made by the government characters in the film and in some cases, we are seeing mock government propaganda footage as it is being "read against the grain" by these resistant organizations, thus creating a layered subjectivity. If Ghost Whispererr, the television series, is about a human woman who speaks with ghost, the webisode series, "The Other Side," shares the perspective of ghost who speak to human women. The promoters of 2012 recently sparked controversy when they created a mock educational website that while clearly marked as tied to a fictional film represented "scientific" perspectives on why the world was ending, a site which provoked responses from NASA who were concerned that it might be misleading the public about actual scientific thoughts and theories about the state of the universe.

This focus on multiple subjectivities is giving rise to the use of Twitter as a platform through which fans (Mad Men) or authors (Valmont) can elaborate on the secondary characters and their responses to events represented in the primary text. We even saw this focus on multiple subjectivities extend into reality television this season when Project Runway, which focuses on the designers, added a second series, which focused on the same events as experienced by "The Models of the Runway."

Transmedia texts often rely on secondary characters because it is too costly to bring the primary actors over to work in lower yield media like mobisodes and webisodes. Yet, we have a lot to learn about how to turn this into a strength by exploiting the audience's desire to see through more than one set of eyes. Battlestar Galactica's webisode series, "The Face of the Enemy," showed some of this potential in focusing around Felix Gaeta, a previously marginalized figure on the series, and creating interest as they lead into a season where he was going to play a much more central role; the episodes fleshed out his backstory, explored his motivations, and hinted at some of the future developments, all within a short and largely self-contained storyline.

7. Performance

In Convergence Culture, I introduced two related concepts - cultural attractors (a phrase borrowed from Pierre Levy) and cultural activators. Cultural attractors draw together a community of people who share common interests - even if it is simply the common interest in figuring out who is going to get booted from the island next. Cultural activators give that community something to do. My classic example would be the map flashed in short bursts in the second season of Lost. Hardcore fans were motivated to create their own screengrabs, share them online, construct their own maps, and try to decipher the cryptic text and figure out how it related to the depicted events. Increasingly, producers are being asked to think about what fans are going to do with their series and to design in spaces for their active participation. Sharon Marie Ross discusses these as invitational strategies, suggesting that these can be explicit (as in the appeals to vote on So You Think You Can Dance) or implicit (as in the depiction inside the series of fans in The O.C. or mobile social networks in Gossip Girl.)

But even without those invitations, fans are going to be actively identifying sites of potential performance in and around the transmedia narrative where they can make their own contributions. Indeed, much of the discussion at Futures of Entertainment this year centered around various ways that producers were engaging with these fans, supporting, "harvesting," or shutting down their own creative contributions. In my original talk, I refer to "fan performance" but it was pointed out through these discussions that producers are also "performing" their relationship to both the text and the audience through their presence online or through director's commentary. We typically think of these director commentaries as "nonfiction" or "documentary" breaking down the fiction to show us the behind the scenes production process, yet some authors - Ron Moore in the case of Battlestar Galactica or JMS in the case of Babylon 5 - deploy these platforms to expand our understanding of the fictional worlds, the characters, and depicted events, suggesting that they may also be understood as an expansion of the narrative and not simply an exposition on its conditions of production.

As Louisa Stein noted at the conference, there's still much to be explored as we expand the discourse of transmedia entertainment to engage more fully with issues being raised by those working in the fan studies tradition. I can't fully elaborate on these issues now, but in the talk, I simply pointed to some examples of these fan-made extensions, such as the performance videos on YouTube where fans re-enact or lip sinc musical numbers from Glee which Alex Leavitt discussed on the Convergence Culture Consortium blog recently, or The Hunt for Gollum, a fan constructed extension of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies, or Star Wars Uncut, where each fan is allowed to reconstruct a single shot from the George Lucas film, which no unfolds through a giddy array of representational strategies (claymation, lego, drag queens, manipulated or re-enacted footage).

I also suggested that we can understand transmedia activism, such as that illustrated by the HP Alliance, which deploys themes, characters, and situations from the J.K. Rowling narratives to motivate real world social change, as a logical extension both of performance and of the tension between extractability and immersion. All of these represent unauthorized forms of extension which are not directly acknowledged in the primary text. Yet, a central theme running through the conference centered on how these fan productions and performances might feed back into the creation of the commercial transmedia franchise itself, with Purefold being held up as an emerging model which deploys crowdsourcing and Creative Commons liscensing to encourage viewer contributions to thinking through future directions in the series.

So there you have them - seven core principles of transmedia storytelling. Is this an exhaustive list? Probably not. Some of them weren't even fully on my radar at the start of the semester. These represent insights into the various transmedia experiments we've seen so far. Some of these have drawn a good deal of critical attention, while others represent new and unexplored spaces. Most point to ways that transmedia connects to historic cultural practices and thus can draw insights from historical and critical writing on those practices. Most point to ways that the study of transmedia narrative needs to reconnect with the study of commercial industries and fan communities if we are to really understand the dynamic being created by these interventions. And most of them point to new spaces for creative experimentation.