Category Archives: Ch 1 Design in an Evolving Medium

Corresponds to Chapter 1 ITM

Disruptions of Transmission: Academic Publishing

Blog of Cambridge University mathematician Timothy Gowers who asks, "Why can't we just tell Elsevier that we no longer wish to publish with them?"

Academic life is characterized by the need to “publish or perish,” but some academics are calling for a boycott of a very prestigious publisher — another example of the disruptions caused by the switch from legacy to digital forms of information transmission.

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Disruptions of Transmission: the Piracy Problem

In Chapter 1 of Inventing the Medium  I describe the 3 layers that make up any medium of communication: inscription, transmission, and representation
(see Glossary for definitions), and I noted that the new digital medium has introduced disruption at all three levels. Last week’s showdown over SOPA and PIPA, the proposed legislation that would have eliminated piracy by punishing any site that linked to illegal content, is a good example of problem in the transmission layer — and it offers us the opportunity to ask how a more mature medium would handle the situation. Continue reading

Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice

A popular and very useful textbook in Interaction Design defines the field with this diagram: 

As I explain in the Introduction and especially in Chapter 2, Inventing the Medium is not meant to substitute for the body of knowledge mapped above but to complement and recontextualize it, by drawing on disciplinary methods and craft practices that are absent  from the HCI/Interaction Design map of the design process.
Here is how I would express it, using the same diagram: Continue reading

Transcending Transmedia Part 2

In a  previous post I described “transmedia storytelling” as an interim term for an additive strategy  of  creating a consistent fictional world across multiple legacy media platforms, like TV and videogames.  I expressed an expectation that we will see a unified new genre of storytelling native to the new digital medium, as I described in a previous book.

The SyFy TV show Defiance will have an associated MMO set in a different city within the same storyworld.

What would this new participatory story genre look like? Some of its conventions are clear, based on the way people have wanted to connect with existing story worlds and multiplayer games: It will involve an internally consistent but puzzling fictional world, an authored but participatory plot, and an encyclopedically large cast built around a small number of iconic figures. Continue reading

Transcending Transmedia Part 1

Every week there is a new announcement of “How transmedia storytelling is changing TV” . This week it is parallel TV and web contests on Bravo’s Top Chef.

Entertainment is a risky business, so anything that makes money or attracts attention becomes the basis of the next pitch and the next big investment. After the success of Lost in spreading fan involvement from the TV screen to the web in the form of intense plot speculation, map-making, webisodes, and games, “transmedia storytelling” — whose properties have been brilliantly observed by my old friend and colleague Henry Jenkins of USC — became the goal of many producers. I agree with Henry that the creation of a consistent story world with participatory elements that takes viewers deeper into the fictional universe is a phenomenon that is very much worth taking note of.  But I am also impatient with the concept, because I don’t expect “transmedia” anything to be around very long.

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The Future of TV

Earlier this year a research group at Cisco interviewed people in TV and academia (including me) and came up with 10 useful predictions about the future of tv. One of the authors of the report, Bill Gerhardt, will be on a panel I am moderating at FutureMediaFest this Wednesday November 16 at 2:45.

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Who is “YOU”? Person – Player – Character


Who is the "You" being addressed in this game?

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Mapping the Beat

This semester I am teaching interactive narrative again and we spend a great deal of time thinking about dramatic beats.  

Our friends at the Stupid Fun Club have helped out by letting my students use StoryMaker the authoring system they developed for the crowd-sourced Current TV show, Bar Karma.This  screen shot shows how StoryMaker lets one or more authors make up alternate versions of the same beat and link them along alternate paths. Unfortunately for us, the system is meant to produce unisequential TV shows rather than multisequential interactive narratives, so we can’t build our stories in it. But it is still very useful because it imposes an organization of multiple parallel dramatic beats (the columns) capable of being linked by  multiple intersecting paths.