Transmedia: Time To Think About The Past

“Future, it’s a time to think about the past” Cut Copy (2004).

I’m constantly reminded by people a lot smarter than I am (like my friend Craig Schuftan) that so many of our latest trends and our brave new ‘future’ world is actually just clever re-packaging of the past. Especially when it comes to media……which is really just “cultural practice

It only took a couple of years for the first wave of ‘social media experts’ to grow tired of the term. It wasn’t a case of vanity. It was the simple fact that someone piped-up and reminded us all that “all [good] media is social”.

I’ve extracted the essence of a 1000 word discussion of transmedia (one of the post-social media genres) below.

Transmedia properties exhibit the following four properties:

1.    all platforms are considered from the inception of the project as valid vehicles to support narrative;
2.    different platforms are used to tell different aspects of a story;
3.    participation and sharing is encouraged (but not necessary);
4.    while users are encouraged to draw connections between platforms, stories can exist separately from one another in the fictive universe.

At first I thought…why the fuck does someone need to coin yet another buzzword? Shortly after, it occurred to me: sometimes a buzzword is required to make an old concept seem exciting again. At least enough to get large groups of people involved and talking about it. In part, this process also relies on inventing a (elitist) structure of new ‘experts’ to tell you how this futuristic version of the past now works.

So really, the bottom line is this. Soon, most organisations will realise that talking like a human, operating transparently and mastering the art of storytelling is the smartest way to relate to their consumer friends.

And when this happens, transmedia will go back to being called storytelling again, and everyone will live happily ever after.

Best example of transmedia to-date: Jay-Z “Decode” memoir (campaign).

Update: Seems like Rob Campbell was thinking about the same thing over the weekend.

  • Rob Campbell

    Hi there –

    The other reason people want to coin a buzzword is to boost their own cred as they get seen [by people who know no better] as creators of thought rather than plagiarists of it.

    Sorry, this issue is driving me nuts.

  • Andy

    Agreed. That’s kind of what I was getting at by referring to the ‘elitest’ structure that is created.