We have always liked to engage with several indy media initiatives to study the network-effect of blurring boundaries; for example between the media themselves, between professionals and amateurs, between on- and off air and off- and online. Today the project Pandemic 1.0 is being launched, a Lance Weiler production where we experimented with our story-morphology theories. Since recent findings show us that the future of media is not necessarily about a clash between the traditional mass media and the extremely popular social media mass. It’s much more about the emergence of a third way: transmedia.
Story morphology; do, think, feel, reflect
These first waves of transmedia experiments have already shown us that creating deep-characters, back-stories, meta-narratives or even creating entire storyworlds are a way to introduce a kind of network thinking into traditional media formats. These more complex story structures demand more involvement from the audience. An audience by the way that is no longer captivated in a dark room called ‘the cinema’ nor is the audience glued anymore to the couches in front of their TV’s. They are now all members of a fluid society where new smart personal devices help them to easily access a storyworld. True engagement with such a way of life means that for that person the story needs to be compelling. For them to allocate their resources towards the story and its interfaces the story needs to have meaning and relevance, that's where our ideas for Story-Morpholohy come in.
Informed design: from star-power to story-power?
A good transmedia story that is well 'told' therefore often means that it has to be interwoven with society, reality or even folk culture. It is only that kind of interdependency between the Real and the Story that creates an immersive environment for the savvy media consumer. These trends towards deeper characters and overarching storyworlds and themes demand more involvement from research and science to inform the creative team and to work with that team towards a stage of deliberate creativity. If a story is embedded that way into reality they can proof to be important sources for research and business in and of themselves.
Wicked storytelling: Interest, Information, Interaction
For us, Pandemic 1.0 is an extremely good example of such an experience that sits at the cutting edge of transmedia thinking. Not only because of the use of new technologies, ranging from RFID and geo-tagging to the latest insocial media. But also because this was a project where at times the process itself felt like living in a complex story structure, which was too complex for anyone to completely oversee. But that was precisely the point: we engaged with each other to loose control. THAT allowed us to find a sweet spot between research (information) and creativity (interest), which has resulted in the creation of a meaningful and memorable experience (interaction) for users and creators alike. We see this as a new kind of storytelling that embraces uncertainty and is characterized by a chaordicdesign that can inform our own research in other domains as well. It is what we call Wicked Storytelling; an approach that could serve as inspiration far beyond the media industry.