Lost in Transmedia

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Transmedia is essentially MULTIPLE stories told over MULTILPE platforms. These different plots come together and form a SINGLE pervasive storyline, allowing the audience to have greater depth into the narrative. Henry Jenkins explains the purpose as creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.”  The ability to spread a story across as many mediums as possible expands an audience market thus promoting and economically aiding the development of a story.

MTV has recently expanded its popular television series ‘Teen Wolf’ , into a transmedia narrative. Launching ‘Teen Wolf: The Hunt’, this social TV experience offers fans the opportunity to interact and ‘friend’ the characters via Facebook and mobile to solve and online, interactive mystery.

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 Tina Exarhos, EVP of Marketing and Multiplatform Creation at MTV, MTV2, mtvU, and MTV.com explains the motive behind the development was to allow viewers to feel as though they are “part of the show”  in a natural way. It also rewards the dedicated fans that want more from the show. The fans are sent emails, audio and video messages from the characters asking them to help find a missing character that disappeared in the season two finale. Players then can share, discuss and analyse clues through social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Although The Hunt follows the series, it is not limited to regular viewers. The plot diverges, still tying into the show but allowing players to experience the characters in a different way with the mystery unfolding, depending on the choices you make. This encourages non-viewers to perhaps become viewers to expand the experience of The Hunt even more.

Including social media into its strategies, MTV’s online fan base has dramatically increased with 100 million Facebook likes for its network and show pages earlier this year. With a year long break between season one and two of Teen Wolf, the use of transmedia has allowed the series to retain its fans and add more in the social sphere. In ensuring the show remained active whilst not on air, resulted in the number of supporters growing by 50% noted by the increase of Teen Wolf Facebook fans to 1.5 million at the end of season two.                

By removing the traditional confines of a story, transmedia narratives allow audiences to engage across all platforms during, between and after a show. This ability to create these interactive storytelling vehicles and spreading them across different channels inspires the prosperity of media.

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Behind the Lens

Nothing is missed today with the majority of people owning a smartphone. We permanently carry a device that can instantly capture any single moment. Photos and videos taken by regular people are now used through social media platforms to establish ‘news’. This participatory culture has led to user-led content creation, allowing for consumers to transform into prosumers. The public are considered ‘citizen journalists’ by sharing their footage, opinion or recounts of events through social media allowing for collective intelligence.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy tore through America destroying everything in its path. Hundreds and thousands of people were capturing images of Sandy and her effects and posting them on Instagram. ‘This was undoubtedly one of the largest single events in Instagram’s history. Co-founder Kevin Systrom told the New York Times that users were sharing 10 photos with the #Sandy hashtag every second.

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Following this, a third-party website, Instacane was established documenting Hurricane Sandy through Instagram pictures tagged under #sandy and #hurricane. While the website is based around the specific event it displays any photo on Instagram with these tags, therefore photos such as the following were also included on the site.

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There are clearly faults in this new form of journalism, being the reason many believe ‘citizen journalists’ will not take over the professional ones. Blogger Phil Gonzalez, told the Daily Dot.

“I think we have to be conscious that Instagram will be a very important feed of news as all users are potentially journalists or photographers of things happening around them. But Instagram won’t be the news magazine of the future. News magazines will have to integrate Instagram as they did with Twitter.”

The fact that citizen journalism is free, there is no filter and no risk, allows for these new journalists to take ANY angle on a story. However, this can pose as an issue with determining fact from fiction. The idea of ‘one too many’ considers the consequences of the freedom citizen journalists have and therefore the impact on the reliability of todays news sources. Nevertheless, the audience’s role has clearly become dialogic allowing news to become instantly reported and known as it happens. With the growth of social media and technology, citizen journalism has revolutionised today’s news reporting and will continue to shape how we see the world.

Reflection

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As a child I always attempted to keep a diary, however it never lasted longer than a week, so when we were told we were to run a blog, I panicked. I was not so much worried about using WordPress but rather writing and posting something EVERY week. It’s the worst nightmare for procrastinators like myself who think “oh, I’ll do it later!” which was definitely something that wouldn’t work for this assignment.

I have in fact surprised myself. With the guidance of our lectures and tutorials I have kept up this blog and truly enjoyed it. When I find something interesting my motivation instantly sky rockets and that was the case with BCM110. As this is my first year of uni, I had no idea what to expect of my subjects, hoping I’d made the right choices. It’s safe to say I have.

This subject has offered me an understanding of the media from a whole other perspective. I have learnt over the past 6 weeks, that the media is interpreted in multiple ways. My understanding of its effects and the idea of ‘ownership’ have allowed me to critically analyse and question how the media works in society and the role we play as an audience. With the idea of ‘being independent’ at university I have found WordPress extremely beneficial. The ability to read other student’s blogs has helped me understand particular topics, allowing me to create my own interpretations. The comments received were not only encouraging but also gave me confidence as an amateur writer.

Although sometimes stressful, I think my blog has contributed greatly to my understanding of media and communications. Don’t think this is the end of ‘Procrastination Place’; my online contributions to the World Wide Web are only just beginning.

Here Comes Public Boo Hoo

Alan McKee describes the public sphere as a place where “information is made generally available to the public”. Compared to a coffee house, it is a place where citizens debate common concerns. The growth of technology has encouraged a dialogic audience; allowing viewers to interact with the media. The modern mediated public sphere therefore is established from fragmented media sources, not only from the producer but also the viewer.

Popular media today, is concerned with issues that matter to in the public sphere, no-matter how controversial they may be. In 2009, TLC debuted their new reality series, ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ following the families of contestants in child beauty pageants. The extremely competitive parents transform their children into beauty queens, with fake tans, wigs and a LOT of glitter, going to extreme measures to win a grand prize.

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A lot of controversy has followed the series, particularly circulating what the pageant elite call ‘pageant crack’. The sticks of sugar are given to the children to keep up their stamina at a long day of pageants. The public responded through Facebook groups and petitions by demanding TLC remove the show from the air as it encourages ‘bad’ parenting.

The show then aired a particular episode where 6 year old Alana Thompson, (better know as ‘Honey Boo Boo’) is given her mother’s ‘homemade’ concoction called ‘go-go juice’, insisting the sugar sticks had no affect on Alana. This lethal combination of red bull and mountain dew had Alana quite literally bouncing off the walls, claiming, “My go-go juice makes me want to pull my Mummy’s hair!”

The media frenzy once again circulated with articles and public discussions revolving around the debate on whether this lifestyle is healthy for children. Thus leading to issues of child obesity, pedophilia and parenting due to the supposed sexual exploitation of these children.

Both Alana and her mother featured on a number of talk shows, defending themselves, but everyone certainly had their own opinion on the matter. This debate is continuously growing and with the public sphere expanding more voices are being heard.

#WeveGotThePower

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In this weeks lecture, the question was asked “If not us, who?” discussing the role of the audience, particularly ‘who’ has user empowerment, access and participation in the media today. It was established that over time, the position of audiences has evolved, to now having the ability to ‘physically’ influence what we consume. This consequently explores the ever-changing relationship between media technologies and audiences.

My grandmother is constantly calling me, asking for ‘tech savvy’ advice. Growing up with the development of the radio and television, she comes from a monologic audience. That is, an audience that merely receives information and cannot engage with it on their own terms. Just last week she asked me what a “tweet” was and why they’re always coming up on the news. The concept that people could immediately and physically give their opinion on a topic being discussed is completely foreign to her, and many others accustomed to a monologic role.

On the other hand, my younger sister is the perfect example of the other side of the spectrum. She has been brought up in a dialogic world, whereby media flows between the audience and the producer. Compared to a conversation or dialogue, it relies on input from all parties involved. She is only in primary school and her class already has a shared blog where they post their homework and discuss relevant topics. Not only does this demonstrate the way in which society encourages interaction with media platforms but the way in which the dialogic seems to be overtaking the monologic audience.

Although monologic roles still exists, they have transformed to include dialogic aspects to keep up with their developing audiences. Media platforms such as Twitter offer people a way to not only be the consumers but the producers of what we receive, clearly offering the audience more power than ever before. Take the iPhone for example. The ‘Siri’ feature allows a user to literally talk to a phone that talks back! Who knows what will be next?


Involved and Controlled

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Everyday, without fail, I check Facebook and Instagram. I repeat this process any spare moment I have, purely out of habit. I’m never really interested in what I’m looking at but it has become such a part of my daily routine, I’d be lost without it.

Whenever any of these platforms ask me to agree to their ‘terms and conditions’ I do so without a second thought. My initial reaction to the fine print is, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” I click the accept button and off I go, completely unaware of who is in control.

Recent attention has been brought to Instagram, who is currently involved in a lawsuit about who owns what you post. Co-founder Kevin Systrom reassured users by stating; “We don’t own your photos — you do”. However, just because you own something doesn’t necessarily mean you control it. Instagram’s latest intellectual property policy allows Facebook the right to license all Instagram photos. In other words, Facebook can sell the photos you posted on Instagram from a recent holiday, to ANY company who can then use the images as they please. So yes, we may own our photos originally, but we cannot control where they go once they are posted into cyberspace, a consequence many are willing to sacrifice to ‘stay connected’.

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Essentially, people are handing over their rights of control to others the moment they sign up to Facebook andInstagram. Most of us
presume that Mark Zuckerberg has our best interest at heart but does he? Of course we would be naive to think the success of his company is not his foremost concern. It is reasonable that we may disagree with the control such companies have over our personal content, but do we act on this? We have the ability to opt out and delete our accounts. However, our reliability on social media and its dramatic influence in our lives, results in most of us not choosing this option.

May the Control be With You?

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I have always been a bigger fan of Apple than android. Their silver, slick designs have always caught my eye and the fact that they ‘look pretty’ was the extent of my reasoning for using an iPod, Mac and iPhone. No matter what smart phone you use, you’re ALWAYS connected to the internet, and it is practically an extension of your arm. Nevertheless, the ultimate theme of both is CONTROL. But who has the control of your device?

I like many others, may have not realised the true difference between these two competitors, one has locked appliances and the other generative platforms. The locked appliance ‘remains tethered to its maker’s desires. While the user cannot be flexible and innovative, this system offers a more consistent and focused experience. Generative platforms on the other hand run codes from anywhere, written by anyone.

In 2007, Apple introduced the first smart phone to the world. Apple reinvented the mobile phone to allow users to access more than ever before. In the market, Apple had already put itself ahead, setting the standard for smart phones with no competitors. The iPhone is a closed device. Think about it…can you buy apps from anywhere other than the Apple store? The answer is no. Apple users are locked into Apple; this is known as a ‘walled garden of apps’. Apple has complete control over all apps available and has the ability to remove any apps at any time. Therefore, Apple has control over the platform, content and user. You may be wondering why Apple has taken this approach. Steve Jobs believed the locked appliances system allows Apple to remain in complete control of the direction of the company also ensuring fewer failures. Jobs stated, “We define everything that is on the phone…you don’t want your phone to be like a PC…[that] doesn’t work [after] you have loaded three apps.”

Google released the Android smart phone in 2008, one year after the iPhone. Having to distinguish itself from Apple, android is a generative platform. The open and free platform is based on the Linux kernel operating system allowing anyone to access and modify the codes of androids. The ‘open garden’ of apps allows users to download apps from ANY market, uploaded by ANYONE. The difference therefore from Apple is that Android has NO control over the platform, content or user. But how does Android profit from this? Android as a generative platform facilitates the flow of content. It allows users to be in control of what is on their device and where it comes from. They can modify it to personally suit themselves and what they need. Google therefore encourages users to access as many channels as possible, as they receive funds each time they are used.

Tumblr for example is an open platform, in the sense that it allows users to view and upload content from anyone and anywhere. However, elements remain closed due to copyright limitations that have the ability to remove content that breaches its original copyright. Tumblr supports Android and Apple, with apps for both. However the Android app was created first and is more developed than Apple’s, due to the greater number of android Tumblr users.

Had I had an understanding of the ‘locked appliances vs. generative platforms’ concept, prior to purchasing a smart phone, I wonder if I still would have gone with Apple. Nevertheless, I am confident in Apple’s reliability to consistently work, which is more important to me, than my freedom to adapt and use different codes. I can definitely see the advantages of both systems and think I’ll be more considerate of the android users next time I argue my phone is better than theirs.