Transmedia Triumph

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We wake up and read a story on our phone. On the bus to University a new character will be added to the story and we will learn about him on an eReader or tablet. During the lecture, when we should be focusing, we’ll catch up with the characters newest adventure on our laptop through Twitter. After the lecture the story has a twist and we’ll learn about this on a digital billboard. When we get home, we’ll finish the story on our television. This is transmedia storytelling.

“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.” Henry Jenkins, 2007.

In order to understand transmedia, we need to be able to differentiate between transmedia and multimedia. Multimedia is the process of telling a single story in multiple mediums. Transmedia is telling multiple stories over multiple mediums that fit together to tell one extensive, pervasive story. (One 3 Productions). The aim of transmedia storytelling is to create more entry points of the story, therefore increasing the points of engagement with the audience.


I recently watched a film called Trainspotting, oblivious to the fact that it was in fact an example of how local content can mutate into another local context. Written by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting follows the lives of a handful of Scottish misfits as they delve into the darkest recesses of heroin addiction in order to escape their monotonous lives. Sparrow Hall describes his experience with Trainspotting, how it is an example of transmedia storytelling, how its success as a transmedia experience was most likely a mistake and also how within the story laid the groundwork for his first novel, Two Blue Wolves. Through the book, film, soundtrack and posters, a story was being told across several channels, each contributing equally to the plot and providing opportunities for audience engagement.

Trainspotting shows that transmedia is not just about blockbusters, but also the sharing of local and global content across several channels. Transmedia storytelling allows the complex web of a narrative to be delivered to the audience in a beautifully tangible way, rewarding the audience with each interaction.

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Pills, thrills & lots of snogging

The concept of the public sphere, as developed by Jürgen Habermas, is the space in which citizen’s discuss public concerns separate from the state. Alan McKee expands on this idea, stating that the public sphere is a metaphor for the virtual space where people can interact, and that it is a concept that has been hugely theorised in relation to the media. He addresses five common criticisms against the mediated public sphere; that the media is too trivialised, too commercialised, too fragmented, that it relies too much on spectacle and that it caused citizens to become too apathetic about important public issues.


These criticisms are highlighted in popular British reality TV show, The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE). It shows real people in modified situations, saying unscripted lines but in a structured way.” Having recently returned from England, I experienced the full effect of this. Every Thursday night there was a new ‘star’ from TOWIE gracing the streets of Windsor. Girls smashed on the fake tan, slipped on their best pair of Nike’s and layered on the make-up, in the hope of stealing a kiss from Joey Essex or Mario Falcone.

Although the show may seem controversial in some aspects, it brings to light some serious societal issues that need to be addressed in the public sphere. Issues of gender, sexual identity, sexual behaviour and equality are all prevalent.

Phil Redmond, creator of Brookside and Grange Hill disagrees, stating that, “There’s no counter-balance of the actual problems facing actual people, there’s nothing. It’s like they simply don’t exist.” Drinking over-priced champagne in lavish clubs, they seem to ignore the issues the country currently face. There is no mention of the ‘broken society’ riddled with unemployment, welfare dependency and educational failure.

This raises the question, do reality TV shows such as TOWIE, Made in Chelsea and Geordie Shore contribute to the ‘mediated public sphere’, or do they simply brush societal issues under the rug?

Here a journo, there a journo, everywhere a journo!

A journalist is just a heightened case of an informed citizen, not a special classJay Rosen.

It seems that anyone can be a journalist nowadays, which is not good for my career prospects in sports journalism. Gone are the days of passive consumption of traditional media, as consumers take on the new role of the produser, with society seeing ‘a shift from dedicated individuals and teams of producers to a broader-based, distributed generation of content by a wide community of participants’ (Alex Bruns, 2007). With the notions of collective intelligence and participatory culture emerging, the role of the consumer is changing, leading to the rise of the citizen journalist.

The evolution of the media has played a major role in the empowerment of citizen journalists. Originating with Gutenburg’s press, traditional media has been pushed aside with the emergence of new platforms and technologies. Through these technologies such as the eReader, citizen journalism is able to have an effect over a range of different platforms and technologies. The fast and easy access to news through citizen journalism is now trumping the slow and difficult access that traditional media offers.

London Riots

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/london-riots-david-cameron-considers-184899

The London Riots were a perfect example of citizen journalism at its best and worst. As it was such a widespread issue across several boroughs of London, traditional media was unable to cover each isolated issue, and, as a result, suffered. This paved the way for citizen journalism to thrive. Through the use of collective intelligence, Blackberry Messenger helped rioters organise the violence that swept the country. They used the service to arrange times and locations of lootings. Twitter also played a major role, not so much in organising, but in reporting. The hash tag ‘#londonriots’ highlighted the force of citizen journalism through collective intelligence. There were a total of more than 2.6 million riot-related tweets during the disturbances. Politicians and commentators claimed that Twitter caused the London riots and there were calls for sites such as Twitter to be shut down should events of this nature re-occur. (The Guardian)

The main problem that citizen journalism holds is that it is not necessarily a credible source. It only takes one person, one fabrication of the truth, to ruin the reputation of citizen journalism as a whole. The co-existence of both citizen journalism and traditional journalism is a vital cog in the dissemination of issues and information. Citizen journalism is essential in today’s society in order to break down barriers between producers and consumers and to eliminate the bias of media ownership, but there must be controls and regulations in place to ensure that the rise of citizen journalism does not become an uprising.

UNFAIRFAX & NEWSWARP

 

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“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one” A.J.Liebling.

The concentration of media ownership in Australia is increasing, resulting in a lack of diversity in the information that is reaching the public.  The main problem with this is that each media corporation has an agenda, and they are able to filter this into the news, therefore distorting the information that influences the audience.

Why then, does it matter who controls the media? As Elizabeth Hart states in her article Media Ownership, it is because “whoever owns the media owns the message”. As much as we tell ourselves that the news is a source of objective fact and that we are being provided with an unbiased view of current affairs, this is not the case. There is always going to be an element of subjective opinion in the news.

The two major players in the media today are Fairfax and NewsCorp. Together, they own more than 50% of Australia’s newspapers, making the Australian media the most concentrated in the world.

John Fairfax Holdings owns the majority of the countries major newspapers, such as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, as well as leading Internet sites.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation owns a number of Australia’s leading cable TV programs such as Fox Sports, as well as several capital city newspapers (The Courier Mail and The Daily Telegraph).

Even as I gather this information, I am questioning its quality. Today’s society is so concerned about the credibility of sources as a result of the emergence of the Internet and the absence of gatekeepers, that they forget that the so called ‘credible’ sources we are provided with are no better. The publisher is the supposed ‘guarantor of quality’; meaning that they control what is being put in the papers. Therefore, a very biased and subjective viewpoint is being portrayed through our media, with a great majority of the population remaining blissfully unaware.

Media ownership matters because of control. Diversity of opinion is useful because it represents everyone’s situation. It allows you to form your own opinions on major issues as opposed to being spoon fed the opinion of the egomaniacal bigots that control our media.

You shall not p… Actually, go ahead!

With the arrival of the Internet, everyone wanted to voice his or her opinion, everyone wanted to be heard. This was a huge problem for the gatekeepers of the ‘old broadcast media’, as their whole business model and the logic of their existence surrounds filtering information. As a result of the introduction of the Internet, convergent media platforms, emerging technologies and the digitalisation of content, the ‘people formally known as the audience’ (Jay Rosen, 2006) realised that their voices could be heard. Gatekeepers became very weak, and in some cases, non-existent (hence the title). The absence of gatekeeper’s leads to no content filter or quality control, therefore boding the question, how do we establish source credibility in a world where anyone can create content?

“Nobody knows everything, everyone knows something”, Pierre Levy, 1999

This statement, along with Levy’s theory of ‘Collective Intelligence’ has a direct correlation to the elusive notion of participatory culture and how this combines with the process of convergence to both empower audiences and allow new types of access and participation in mass media. The theory of collective intelligence is seen in today’s society, specifically social media platforms such as Twitter, where you are able to voice your opinion. While everyone knows ‘something’, they are able to express this through the social media and form something substantial. That is the problem with traditional media; they cannot achieve this aggregation of ideas. As the media converges and the Internet emerges, the passive role of the audience is changing rapidly. Passive consumers are now becoming active prosumers. Monologic media is evolving to dialogic media.

Take Wikipedia for example. This shows the new participatory culture in full affect. People are given the option to be what they want to be. Passive or active. They can passively read the information that is posted on the website, or they can opt to edit or annotate. This shows how something can go from being flat to becoming hybrid.

Another major development that has resulted in user empowerment is YouTube. This revolutionary video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, has seen the emergence of countless Internet identities. One that comes to mind is the golden child himself, Justin Bieber. The Canadian singing sensation started his career through uploading videos on YouTube, which led to him being signed by Raymond Braun Media Group. He went on to become one of the biggest pop stars of all time. Bieber is a key example of how digital media has lead to the rise of participatory culture and empowered users, therefore enabling them to become prosumers.

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It can be seen that there are many benefits to the way that convergence has altered the role of audiences in their interaction with digital media platforms and content, however, this leads to the question of whether or not there should be some sort of regulation in order to control what we see and how we see it.

How do you like your garden?

Android-Apple-Pac-Man

Apple vs. Android, Closed device vs. Open platform, Walled garden of apps vs. Open garden of apps. The battle of the ages.  As media platforms grow and new technologies emerge, we become inundated with ubiquitous connectivity

The phone has become an interface to the Internet, resulting in it being almost a part of our bodies. Today’s society is always on, always connected. What we have also witnessed is the rise of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ media platforms, affecting users and industries in a variety of different ways.

On one hand, we have ‘closed appliances’, such as Apple, where the content is controlled and forms part of the closed ecosystem of that platform.
‘Apple re-invents the phone’: this was the initial slogan for the iPhone, and boy did they stick to it. As the first closed appliance to hit the phone market, it was an instant success. It has now become somewhat popular culture to own an iPhone. I witnessed the full effect of this when I attended Big Day Out, 2013, where my viewing experience was not impaired by the 46-degree heat, but the masses of iPhones up in the air, filming the acts.


On the other hand, we have ‘generative platforms’, such as Android, where anyone can access and modify the code, therefore extending no control over the platform, content or user.  As stated by Jonathan Zittrain, ‘As long as people control the code that runs on their machines, they can make mistakes and be tricked into running dangerous code’ – which Android allows the user to do. Whilst it may sound appealing to have complete control over your device, the freedom that you are given is often problematic. One obvious benefit to the Android is that it allows you to choose which device suits you best, from the appearance of the device, through to the operating system.


The Kindle Fire is an example of how an open, generative system mutates into a closed device. In order to see how Amazon did this, we need to take a look at the difference between an open source and an open device. Ryan Paul states that “developers can take the underlying source code that is used to power the product and they can build their own open source alternatives to the proprietary parts.” This is what Amazon have done, therefore “preventing users from swapping out the software that comes with a device.” Despite Amazon making the source code available since the release of Kindle in 2007, it is still essentially a closed device in an open source software, with the intended result being pure consumption.
This comparative study leads to the inevitable question of – which philosophy is better at empowering users? While the Android gives the user more control over their device, this leaves them open to problems that Apple protects their users from. The iPhone empowers their users by providing them with everything they need with no risk.

“Convergence is both a top-down corporate-driven process and a bottom up consumer-driven process” Jenkins (2004). “Media companies are learning how to accelerate the flow of media content across delivery channels” and “Consumers are learning how to use these different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users.”

The battle between generative platforms and closed appliances is prevalent in today’s society, but in the end, it is the user who controls which philosophy comes out on top.

Kookaburra Sues In The Old Gum Tree

I scroll through my itunes library and think to myself, ‘am i a criminal?’
9223 songs and I probably paid for about 5% of them. I am not afraid to admit that, yes; those select few were mainly So Fresh Hits of the early 2000’s.

All jokes aside, copyright is a very serious issue. Before the Statute of Queen Anne in 1710, anyone could freely copy, modify or sell content created by others. I find this fascinating. Not just because ideas were considered public commons, but also because so many genius’s emerged during this time. Shakespeare, Caucher, Bach, Newton and Galileo, all of whom are regarded as the best in their respective areas of work.

A famous case that comes to mind is that of EMI Songs Australia v Larrikin Music Publishing (2011). Justice Peter Jacobson found Men at Work’s hit song Down Under reproduced a substantial part of the children’s folk tune Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, therefore infringing their intellectual property rights.


Every songwriter is influenced by pieces of music, riffs etc. that they have heard before, and they are bound to come through in the songs. Even today, we hear of songs that sound very similar. Beyonce ‘Halo’ vs. Christina Perri ‘Jar of Hearts’, Coldplay ‘Clocks’ vs. David Guetta ‘When Love Takes Over’, Lady Gaga ‘So Happy I Could Die’ vs. Natasha Bedingfield ‘Pocket Full of Sunshine’. The list goes on.

As the media converges and more platforms emerge, the problem of copyright becomes much more difficult to control.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) extends control over all primary and derivative content. This enables copyright owners to restrict and control their intellectual property through several means. These include; licensing, encryption, spyware, authentication, take down notices and litigation.

Many people believe that these strict copyright controls are damaging the rights of the Internet consumer and making creativity a crime.

For a statute with the initial objective of encouraging learning and creativity, I believe this law has been taken too far. In order for the film, music and art industries to survive, this needs to be resolved.
If copyright laws continue to develop and change in this manner, will we need a license to be creative in the future?

‘Just Do It’


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A picture is worth a thousand words. This phrase, as cliché as it is, refers to the notion that an image can convey a complex idea. A picture has the ability to do many things, including; evoke emotion, change a person’s perspective on an issue, and, in the world of advertising, sell something.

Gaining a deeper understanding of an image involves the use of semiotics, the science of signs, which allows the audience to decipher an image in order to understand its meaning. This image denotes a man, painted in white, with a red cross splashed down and across his head and naked torso. Seems quite simple doesn’t it?

The connotations in the image, however, are not as straightforward. People interpret images differently, based on their knowledge of the subject and ideological position. This image could be interpreted in two different ways, depending on the audience and their viewpoint. The first, more innocent interpretation would see English footballer, Wayne Rooney, with the Cross of St. George painted on his chest, suggesting he is passionate and patriotic towards his country.

What you don’t know when looking at the ad, is that in late April, Rooney was carried off the field with a fractured metatarsal bone in his right foot. The initial prognosis was that he would definitely miss the group stages, if not the whole tournament – but Rooney ‘miraculously’ recovered to feature in all but one of England’s matches in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. This piece of information is vital in how you interpret the image, highlighting the importance of knowledge about a subject when finding the meaning behind a text.

On the other hand, this image could have a very negative connotation. The blood stained chest, highlighted by the aggressive nature of the pose suggests a war like meaning. There is an echo too, of Christ’s crucifixion. Rooney’s arms are outstretched, as those of Christ on the cross. Through these two points, Nike was seen to have portrayed Rooney as part Woden, the Norse god of war, part the suffering but triumphant Christ. The ad was labeled as blasphemous and offensive by Christians because it ‘trivialized’ Christ’s sufferings.

This is a good example of, as the infamous Chip Shop Awards describe it, ‘creativity with no limits’. This provoked fierce condemnation from British journalists, religious groups and MP’s, but in the world of marketing and advertising, controversy creates cash, and this was definitely controversial!