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A brief history of transmedia world-buildingJeff Watson // remotedevice.net // USC iMAP
Transmedia: a graphical definition
The Traditional Model(approximation; not to scale)The Story World
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Design fiction is a way to provoke and shape possible futures through the creation of artifacts and scenarios that make technological ideas feel realistic and concrete. By materializing speculative concepts through prototypes and stories, design fiction can influence popular imagination and help bring imagined futures into reality. It moves beyond just discussing or envisioning the future to actively designing possible worlds through a combination of design, technology, art, and storytelling. Design fiction aims to expand what people see as plausible and desirable technological outcomes rather than just predict or extrapolate from the present.

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A brief history of transmedia world-buildingDescribing a story-world transmedially is at least as old as individual narrative forms such as theatre or epic poetry. In ancient Greece, for example, statuary, frescoes, plays, and songs combined to describe, extend, and color the core stories of Greek mythology.
A brief history of transmedia world- buildingBy speaking to audiences across a variety of mediums, religions are able to calibrate their messages and develop “brand loyalty” in a multitude of contexts. Catholicism continued the world-building practices of the Classical era by allowing for a multiplicity of characters and tales, replacing the polytheistic diversity of gods with an equally diverse range of saints and apostles. The exploits of these characters were narrated through song, paintings, and the rather frequent discovery of real-life “relics.”
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A brief history of transmedia world-buildingOrganized religions use ceremonial protocols, sacred places, symbols and icons, devotional practices, and holy artifacts to layer their story worlds across the broadest possible range of spatial and temporal contexts.
Religious artifacts like this one extend and amplify the core stories of a particular faith.
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Left: Reverend Jim Jones. Right: Jones with followers.
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A brief history of transmedia world building

  • 1. A brief history of transmedia world-buildingJeff Watson // remotedevice.net // USC iMAP
  • 3. The Traditional Model(approximation; not to scale)The Story World
  • 4. The Traditional Model(approximation; not to scale)The Story WorldMediaArtifact
  • 5. The Traditional Model(approximation; not to scale)The Story WorldMediaArtifactstory
  • 6. The Traditional Model(approximation; not to scale)MediaArtifactstoryThe singular media artifact bears full responsibility for revealing the story world.
  • 7. The Transmedia Model(approximation; definitely not to scale)The Story World
  • 8. The Transmedia Model(approximation; definitely not to scale)The Story World
  • 9. The Transmedia Model(approximation; definitely not to scale)The Story World
  • 10. The Transmedia Model(approximation; definitely not to scale)The Story WorldUser-generated content
  • 11. The Transmedia Model(approximation; definitely not to scale)There is no “ur-text” that tells the whole story; rather, the story world is revealed as the aggregate effect of multiple texts/media artifacts.User-generated content
  • 12. A brief history of transmediaworld-building
  • 14. A brief history of transmedia world-buildingDescribing a story-world transmedially is at least as old as individual narrative forms such as theatre or epic poetry. In ancient Greece, for example, statuary, frescoes, plays, and songs combined to describe, extend, and color the core stories of Greek mythology.
  • 15. A brief history of transmedia world- buildingBy speaking to audiences across a variety of mediums, religions are able to calibrate their messages and develop “brand loyalty” in a multitude of contexts. Catholicism continued the world-building practices of the Classical era by allowing for a multiplicity of characters and tales, replacing the polytheistic diversity of gods with an equally diverse range of saints and apostles. The exploits of these characters were narrated through song, paintings, and the rather frequent discovery of real-life “relics.”
  • 16. Footprint of the prophet Muhammad, preserved in the türbe (funerary mausoleum) in Eyüp, Istanbul.
  • 17. A brief history of transmedia world-buildingOrganized religions use ceremonial protocols, sacred places, symbols and icons, devotional practices, and holy artifacts to layer their story worlds across the broadest possible range of spatial and temporal contexts.
  • 18. Religious artifacts like this one extend and amplify the core stories of a particular faith.
  • 20. A brief history of transmedia world-buildingGovernments, corporations, and sundry other hustlers invoke imaginary worlds in order to provoke desired changes in this one. In the ideal propaganda situation, there is an identity between the real world and the imagined one. In a tightly-controlled system such as North Korea, behavioral changes in the citizenry become a part of the propaganda story, amplifying its claim to the truth.
  • 21. Left: Reverend Jim Jones. Right: Jones with followers.
  • 22. A brief history of transmedia world-buildingThe vestments, artifacts, and rites of religious practice have many analogs in secular transmedia world-building. Their purpose remains the same: to bring about the reinscription of the story they are a part of.
  • 23. A brief history of transmedia world-building For media producers, transmedia world-building is an powerful pathway to audience engagement. An engaged audience is a prerequisite for any strategy that hopes to reinscribe, spread, and expand a media property’s story world.Marketing departments – and, more recently, core creative teams – seek to create opportunities for audience engagement across as many media forms and contexts as possible.
  • 24. Halo/ilovebees (2004) – engagement at the top of the pyramid.
  • 25. More on ARGs*:Go to http://remotedevice.net
  • 27. Type in, “ARG” or “alternate reality”
  • 28. OR go to Navigate -> Resources and click on one of the ARG resources* Which we will also come back to later…
  • 29. Don Draper Twitter feed (2008). Low-grade, ambient engagement opportunity to engage with Mad Men’s story world.
  • 31. A brief history of transmedia world-buildingCuriously, much of what corporate media is doing now is attempting to actively create practices that audiences have been doing on their own for a long time.Fan fiction, role-playing games, LARPing and other productive transmedia world-building activities have been a significant part of popular culture for decades.
  • 32. Socks, Inc (2010): Transmedia collaborative production game (independent).
  • 33. Runes of Gallidon (2010): Transmedia collaborative production game (independent).
  • 35. A brief history of transmedia world-buildingSaschaPohlflepp’sThe Golden Institute is a great example of how artists can build elaborate and penetrating critiques through the creation of a system of interrelated media artifacts. It also flies in the face of Jeff Gomez’s definition of transmedia storytelling as being inherently geared toward mass audiences; if The Golden Institute isn’t transmedia storytelling, what is it?
  • 36. Fluxus manifesto: art beyond the boundaries of the studio, the gallery, the institution, etc.
  • 37. ultra-détournementSituationists and others propose art that is inseparable from everyday life, that exists as a layer atop practices and platforms.
  • 38. A brief history of transmedia world-building“When describing solids, one may ignore time altogether; in describing fluids, to leave time out of account would be a grievous mistake. Descriptions of fluids are all snapshots, and they need a date at the bottom of the picture. Fluids travel easily. They ‘flow’, ‘spill’, ‘run out’, ‘splash’, ‘pour over’, ‘leak’, ‘flood’, ‘spray’, ‘drip’, ‘seep’, ‘ooze’; unlike solids, they are not easily stopped – they pass around some obstacles, dissolve some others and bore or soak their way through others still. From the meeting with solids they emerge unscathed, while the solids they have met, if they stay solid, are changed – get moist or drenched.These are reasons to consider ‘fluidity’ or ‘liquidity’ as fitting metaphors when we wish to grasp the nature of the present, in many ways novel, phase in the history of modernity.”-Zygmunt Bauman
  • 39. The Museum of Jurassic Technology.
  • 40. The games of nonchalance.
  • 41. A brief history of transmedia world-buildingJeff Watson // remotedevice.net // USC iMAP