Transmedia Transmafia? hype & hyperbole or buzz and b******t

There seems so be some confusion on Twitter lately about transmedia, what it actually IS and WHY it’s so important and the RT’s are coming thick and fast…

andresfox said, “@storycentral who cares about #transmedia an convergence culture, it is just a trend subject?

helionetto asked “Transmedia Storytelling? WTF?”

and fakebaldur stated, “I hate the word ‘transmedia‘. It’s an overblown, pretentious and self-indulgent buzzword. It’s hypertext, damn it. Just like everything else” and followed up with the only difference between ‘transmedia‘ and ‘hypertext’ is in the amount of hyperbole, gas and hot air being emitted”.

And they all have a valid point.

Transmedia is in danger of becoming a buzz word (if it isn’t already).   And never mind about the PGA accrediting the term ‘transmedia‘ – I’ve checked 3 online dictionaries to find that the word isn’t even acknowledged by the English language yet!

So, going back to our Twitterers, they have a point.  What IS transmedia?

A noun? A name of something?

transmedia /tra:ns, -nz  mi:dia (noun) (commonly used as a mass noun with a singular verb)

or is it more of a verb? An experience, something you ‘do’?

transmedia /tra:ns, -nz  mi:dia (verb)

Either way, it’s in danger of becoming a victim of its own success because of the buzz.  In the same way that anything that is overly hyped without amy commercial evidence of success, transmedia is being talked about a lot, but showcased very little in the public/commercial domain.

The amount of ‘transmedia producers’ that are popping up all over web 2.0 on a daily basis astound me!  I’ve been researching Transmedia Storytelling for nearly 2 years now for my PhD and still wouldn’t really consider myself a fully fledged ‘producer’ – doesn’t that come with experience over time?   I was recently invited to be a guest at Seize The Media’s Transmedia NEXT 3-day workshop there were delegates already working on transmedia projects and yet, it seems the hype, the analysis and the buzz are still bigger than the sum of it’s parts.

I feel the confusion is possibly because of the lack of commercial transmedia experiences.  Go to your local pub, wine bar, coffee shop or school gates and ask who knows about The Art of the Heist, The Truth About Marika or Head Trauma.  Check out who’s aware of Cathy’s Book or Level 26.

I can see the blank expresssions already.

That’s my point.

The fabulous transmedia projects are still relatively ‘niche’ – still firmly rooted in ARGs and are so subtley rolled out, so fabulously supported by a strong architecture of strategy and knowledge of audience behaviours, that they aren’t trumpeted about as ‘The Next Transmedia Project’.

They are discrete.

Subtle.

Organic.

I am pointed toward ‘new’ transmedia experiences on a weekly basis, often accompanied with a PDF or some kind of instructions offering ‘how to enjoy this transmedia experience. Click here to find out HOW’.  Isn’t that like taking years to build a maze, only to supply a map?

One of the huge challenges of scripting and storybibling great transmedia lies in the triggers that move audience from platform to platform seamlessly.  There’s heaps of analysis out there looking at audience behaviors, UX, UI, platforms, primary platforms and narratives and how they all mix into the pot of creating great transmedia.  The fact is that a transmedia experience will naturally move audience, progressing them across platforms – with relevance and almost subconsciously.

The viewers/participants who entered The Art of the Heist by seeing the CCTV ‘footage’ of the Audi being stolen naturally weren’t surprised to see it reported in newspapers, featuring in car magazines.  ‘Players’ who first came across the blog site of characters in The Art of the Heist were drawn to engage with the experience through blog links and might have came across the CCTV footage later.  The point is, at no stage was a ‘map’ supplied.  At no time was the magic blitzed by heralding this as a transmedia experience.

The difficulty, the challenge, the toughest part of scripting great, successful transmedia IS the moving of audience from platform to platform without them knowing and BECAUSE THEY WANT TO. If you’re going to cut into manhours, resources and budget to create a great transmedia experience it should stand on it’s own BECAUSE IT CAN and needs no maps or promotion as a ‘transmedia’ experience.

That just throws cold water all over it.

So, in an attempt to reply to

andresfox who said, “@storycentral who cares about #transmedia an convergence culture, it is just a trend subject? I replied, “nobody necessarily. Depends on franchise, but can expand audience reach, spreadibility & engagement. Tell me more!…”

fakebaldur who stated, “I hate the word ‘transmedia‘. It’s an overblown, pretentious and self-indulgent buzzword. It’s hypertext, damn it. Just like everything else” and followed up with the only difference between ‘transmedia‘ and ‘hypertext’ is in the amount of hyperbole, gas and hot air being emitted”, I suggested, “re #transmedia – lots of hot air, but you gotta scratch the surface to see the value. Not just buzz – ace when done right!”

and I think for helionetto who asked “Transmedia Storytelling? WTF?”  I’ll point in the direction of the fab transmedia examples I’ve just mentioned.