Trans-Media Storytelling

This story starts back in the long ago days of 2006, in an ancient land.  A land filled with wild dreamers, and even wilder dreams, a place conected perhaps to Jungian dream space or the collective unconscious.  This was a very special land, for it was virtual it existed outside of real world time and space.  It was ripe with, and ready for the thing we as humans love most.  It was a place for stories, and they called it Second Life

Confession: I am an unabashed new media junkie, the more interactive, the more immersive the better. I’m also a huge fan of and believer in the power of social media to build community, and foster dialog.  I am also by nature a storyteller, I love to spin a good yarn and digest stories (movies, books, podcasts, TV etc) with a voracious applicate. and my initial foray into Second Life consisted of visiting an amazing duo of Multi-Sim builds known as Neverland and OZ that allowed you, in what was cutting edge tech of the time, to become part of the story, to live the story so to speak.  To say I was blown away by the immersive potential of the medium would be an understatement.

I was thunderstruck by the possibilities, so much so that it sparked the beginnings of a four year adventure that began as a 6 month walk about in SL, in which I closed my high end web shop and devoted all of my time to exploring and learning about this new medium. I met many interesting talented people , recruited the best ad brightest of them, and together started a little development firm called Involve 3D through which we did some of the best corporate builds in Second Life for great clients like Dell, and NBC/Universal, The Weather Channel, and the 7 Days Magic Village.  We learned from each build and with each build we got closer to fully immersive storytelling. Sadly, the market dropped out of enterprise level builds, and Involve is no more, but Digital Revolution, and my own quest for fully immersive multi-media multi-modality lives on.

Along the way, I had the pleasure to meet and spend an hour or so on the phone with Geoff Gomez the Dean of Trans-media storytelling.  That conversation crystallized in my head my own ideas of what trans-media story telling should be and perhaps what was missing from the equation in order to make the experience fully immersive.

As luck would, and often does, have it, a project, or at least an invitation to propose one fell into being just in time to help codify my thoughts on this.

Enter Amanda Palmer - singer, songwriter, avant guard performer and force of nature and her new project a coffee table book and CD titled who killer Amanda Palmer.  

If ever there was a project ripe for trans-media story telling this was it.  Not only did Amanda want the promotion to weave its way in and out of the story lines of the book and CD, she also wanted it to employ modalities both interactive and non interactive so that anyone could play along, and no one would be forced to only play on computer.

The project also presented some interesting avenues of expression; videos, live stage show, Amanda’s troupe of avant guard performers, our ability to craft immersive second life experiences, just to name a few.

And so it was decided to propose an ARG, that focused on the mystery of who killed Amanda Palmer if in fact she  was even dead at all. Second Life was to be used as the setting to create a traveling troupe of virtual gypsy performers which featured an avatar that might or might not be Amanda, making us wonder if Amanda some how had been transformed into another demention. This troupe would also be leaving valuable clues along the way.  Videos would also contain visual clues, as would the illustrations and photos in the book. Her performance troupe would provide live theater interaction with her audience, a call center was to be employed to provide concert audiences with performances tasks they were to do in order to interact with Amanda’s troupe and get more clues.  A overarching web site, Amanda’s blog and face book were also selected to give clues and commetary on the game 

Sadly, the record label which was footing the bill for all this decided it was more then they were allotting the project and it never came to be.  However it does illustrate exactly what and how Trans-media story telling can/should be done when you take the time to really think out all of the modalities available to us as social media story tellers.

It is my hope to start a dialog here, and get enough questions and comments on this thread to really discuss the concepts involved, so fire up those brain cells and ask away 


A quick remembrance of my first brush with Interactive

I was spending some good quality time with a new friend in Second Life, one of my favorite places to just unwind and be socially active, after all the whole point of virtual worlds like SL is to be an experiment in social media, when I was struck by an old memory.

The year was 1966, and I was five years old.  One of the most fun & my favorite TV shows of the time was a program called Winky Dink and you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winky_Dink_and_You which is credited by many including Bill Gates as the first Interactive TV show.  The premise of the show was that Winky Dink would come to a point in the show where he needed the help of the children at home doing something like drawing a bridge that Winky Dink would then walk over and finish his story. This was accomplished via the use of a sheet of acetate and special crayons, and like many kids of that time I didn’t have one but wanted to play anyway.  Like many children I drew directly on the television, only in my case with indelible magic marker. 

I remember 3 things about that night.  One my father bought our first color TV on the way home from work. Two I got a Winky Dink Set.  And 3 I drew a different kind of bridge than Winky wanted and he walked right through mine, leaving me both angry, frustrated and fascinated by the power of interactive.

Just think, from that day forward, even though the experience was an epic fail, I was fascinated by the power of interactive.  All that I have done, my entire career in one way or another, springs forward from that experience.

Do you have a similar story about the magic of interactive, the day you discovered the potential of interactive media and interactive story telling?  Please feel free to dialog with me share your story by leaving a comment below, I am looking forward to reading your stories !


The Digital Manifesto - thoughts for a new beginning

Warning:  The revolution will not be televised.

But it will manifest itself on the web, in the form of highly creative, dynamic, experiential, immersive and involved two-way conversations featuring user-generated content across a wide spectrum of interactive disciplines, from websites and user experience design, to desktop widgets, social media and virtual worlds.

 The revolution will not be televised, but it will change the way we work, play, educate, entertain and interact with each other and the world.

These are the words that have been playing in my head of late as I contemplate and make a decision on where my career goes next.  What will be my next challenge

Before we explore that question let’s take a step back and look at the view from  thirty thousand feet, I have always been involved and in fact thrived at the cross roads of marketing and media From the heady days of print to the first steps of modern day virtual reality I have always been there, always thrived and always road the bleeding edge.  Its time for me to take all that knowledge and experience and put it to work not only for large corporations and brands, but for those causes that seek to do right by the world.  Its time  for me to step up to  the plate and make a difference

So please come back often, I hope to make this blog a venue for the free flow of ideas and I will always have something new to share with you dear readers, some insight, or opinion, and in keeping with the idea of 2 way conversation I encourage you to comment.   if you agree let me know, if you disagree, challenge my assumptions ( politely please no trolls or flamers) I enjoy a good dialog/debate and hopefully you will too.

Up coming items will include the creation of The Digerati, an invitation only forum of the best and brightest minds in interactive and social media from all walks of life from politics and and not for profit to consumer branding and entertainment.  Like the Technorati and Illuminati before them this group will be be free to discuss the issues of the day and how they relate to social media and the world at large.

Well thats it for now, stay tuned for more news and opinions from the front lines of The Digital Revolution