In chapter three of Convergence Culture, author Henry Jenkins begins to unfold one of my favorite converged communications topics: transmedia spread. Because I have grown up listening to America’s top 40 countdown and watching the Disney classic films and doing allllll of the other pop-culture things, I am very aware of transmedia spread and I find it fascinating. Jenkins refers to the Matrix as “entertainment for the age of media convergence, integrating multiple texts to create a narrative so large that it cannot be contained within a single medium.”
The Matrix is a great example to use here because the Matrix is really a great parallel for what is happening in society…I mean what could be happening in society today…::cough::….We are all a part of the “machine” and we are all given a choice as to whether or not we want to be sheep who are asleep or awakened to the medias control over our lives. It’s a blue pill or red pill kind of society-you need to go with the flow do what everybody else is doing or you begin to think for yourself and you open up a huge can of worms that has been known to drive some crazy and get others in a lot of trouble. The reason the matrix a great place to start is because people want to pretend and play out (almost in a hypothetical way) what would happen or what they would have to do… If they gave in to counter culture ideas!
</end rant> Ha. 🙂
The aspects of transmedia spread that Jinkins elaborates on are synergistic storytelling (storylines developed over various platforms that link together) and collaborative authorship (creative fans are able to build upon their favorite stories and create new content in the same context). Also discussed is the art of world making which expands on the idea that “art direction takes on a more central role in the conception of franchises,” (this is because when a story is expanded there must be more of a story to tell). The last component that Jenkins addresses is additive comprehension which refers to the fact that the more elements a story has-the easier it is for the audience to be involved, understand, and play along. From a marketing standpoint, transmedia spread is a brilliant game-changer that’s capability has heightened and will continue to increase with the progression of technology.
Chapter five of convergence culture brings up today’s media literacy and the “war on Harry Potter.” Jenkins begins with the truth that “storytellers now think about story telling in terms of creating openings for consumer participation.” In my opinion, this is so smart because the more involved consumers are in their story the more they will invest in the story which is what marketers want. Participatory culture is a hot word for Jenkins and other new media authors, but an important aspect that is brought up in chapter five is “What happens as the concept of participatory culture runs up against two of the most powerful forces shaping children’s lives: education and religion?” Jenkins describes the Harry Potter fan culture and how it is helping children to engage with one another on a level that may provide more social and educational benefits than in-person encounters. We learn by doing and online in Harry Potter themed communities “role-playing is a means of exploring a fictional realm and a means of developing a richer understanding of yourself and the culture around you.” One thing that Jenkins points out is this: “Much as an actor builds up a character by combining things discovered through research with things learned through personal intersection, these kids are drawing on their own experiences to flush out various aspects of Rowling’s fiction. This is the kind of intellectual mastery that comes only through active participation.” The second concept that Jenkins refers to in this section is “affinity spaces” which is a term for a learning environment that provides a way for people to learn more, participate more actively, and engage more deeply with popular culture and they do with the context of textbooks. This in turn improves reading and story writing skills much like what has been seen from the HP generation. These spaces are referred to by Jenkins as “appropriations of a kind of apprenticeship,” because online discussions also help teen readers to develop vocabulary for talking about writing. One more thing that is brought up is that “the kids are [becoming] passionate about writing because they are passionate about what they are writing about.”
This great phenomena is not without criticism. Conservatives are sometimes against HP and other transmedia storytelling trends because they seem to believe that “mastering the details of the fictional environment will hinder their confrontations in the real world.” The argument Jenkins makes is logical: “Rather than banning content that does not fully fit within the [conservative] worldview, these things need to be required teaching: discernment, how to read books critically, how to ascribe new meanings to writing, and how to use storytelling as a point of entry into alternative or spiritual perspectives. After all, the point of an affinity space is for those that share the space to teach each other, outsiders are invited to either join or leave. 😉