Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Star Wars: The Transmedia That Will Never Die

I'm obsessed. There, I said it.

I, like a billions of others who reside on Planet Earth, am completely and manically addicted to anything Star Wars.

Forget the movies. Of course, we love them, too. But it's the swag, the memes, the computer themes, the game apps, the plush toys, hell, even chocolate.

We love Star Wars as much today as we did the first time we laid eyes on IV -- A New Hope (1977).

There is even a Star Wars: Obsession comic book series, as you can see here on Wookieepedia.

When all of us lost our minds for the anticipated Disney release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Business Insider dissected this thing where the entire world can stop on a dime to laugh at a Stormtrooper meme. Writer Drake Baer (now isn't that a great name for a future character?) concludes in his article that since 1977, generations of people have this shared experience that bonds them together as a community.

Damon Linker from The Week posts a bit more of a cynical view. That said, the key takeaway from his piece is that regardless of what is going on in the world, sometimes we all just need an escape and Star Wars is an easy distraction.

Yea, there are some people who haven't seen Star Wars. I haven't been to the Grand Canyon either, but I still don't discount its glory. Anyone who dares to try and squash our passionate enthusiasm for all things George Lucas should try and read our thoughts as we fantasize sending them the imaginary Darth Vader choke hold against their neck.

The sheer numbers of parodies, fan films, merchandising, the fact that scientists are even naming organisms after Star Wars characters -- all of this means that decades from now, the transmedia for these films will only grow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Asia Slated to Become a Transmedia Hub

Our Chinese counterparts estimate that 70% of new TV and film productions are coming from properties developed first in online literature or printed books.

Asia to be a major player in transmedia content | Digital News Asia

Zhang Yimou’s blockbuster movie The Great Wall starring Hollywood A-listers Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe may be just the injection China needed to bridge the creative hemisphere and bring two worlds together. If the epic trailer is any indication, mission accomplished.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ricky Gervais' Character David Brent Is Transmedia In Action

It all started back at The Office. David Brent was always that character who is accidentally offensive, even though he's trying so hard to be politically correct.

Brent is no longer the manager, but now a sales representative who has cashed in all of his life savings to finally live his dream of becoming a rock star.

David Brent not only stars in a new movie that documents this journey, but he also has created a music album and a songbook. In essence, he has become a transmedia project.

Of course, the character is the brainchild of the comedic genius Ricky Gervais. He is touring the talk show circuit to promote these projects on behalf of David Brent. There has been other swag to complement this venture, such as branded guitar picks, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and staplers. All we need now are McFarlane figures and bobbleheads.

This is one cool example of transmedia in action.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Education Fails When It Comes To Digital Media Training

Some universities are beginning to introduce digital media courses to their curricula, but for the most part, there is a huge knowledge gap. Most students graduate without knowing how to use a webcam to create a YouTube video or how to use social managing platforms, such as Buffer and Hootsuite.

I'm beginning to see a few call out the establishment for their lack of attention, or caring, about this education hole. But until the corporate world sees this as a crisis, private trainers will have to find a way to keep filling the training gap.

Digital media can be learned and taught, but neither are necessarily done well. See most advertising agencies that use social media as a one size fits all, or who think spamming direct messages in Facebook and LinkedIn are going to get you more "likes" or conference signups.

In fact, getting more "likes" is the problem right there. That is NOT what digital media is about. They are really networking platforms, where real live people are members.

Every platform has its own unique audience, which means it needs it's own unique editorial plan in order to maximize its effectiveness. The only way to learn this is to actually use it. No degree will teach you this, unless the actual teachers are using the platforms effectively. It's easy to vet them, too. If their engagement is good, you will be able to see it in their numerous posts and engaged followers. If they have just a name and one post, they are not the people to teach or tell others how to use it.

Where the education deficit is most noticeable is when you talk to students fresh out of Communications, Marketing, or Journalism studies. When those of us who are immersed in this technology look at these graduates as potential candidates, the chasm is so wide, and if there is no will to learn, then there is no way we can hire them. They may get hired by the corporations who don't know any better. HR departments might think that the degree makes a person worthy and knowledgeable over their experience and ability to actually make effective use of each platform. Then later they fire that hire and either give up on digital media "because it doesn't work" or they keep hiring the same type of recruits, thinking that sooner or later, the right one will show up.

It's the equivalent of a marketing hamster wheel. Companies just go around and around, as do the candidates, until they learn otherwise, if they ever do.

Other sources:

Washington Post on the digital divide in education

MeriTalk on K-12 Education Challenges

Saratogian News: A new digital divide

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Transmedia journalism: content when, where, and how you want it

In my Canadian city, there are still daily newspapers trying to sell subscriptions door to door and in supermarkets. It's a brave thing to do in a world that grows more digital by the day. That said, pulp and paper mills will continue to operate because there will always be people who enjoy picking up a printed magazine, book, comic, and yes, even a newspaper. 

The one thing newspapers can (or should) offer, is varying viewpoints and investigative reporting. Regardless of how it is delivered, we still need that source

But when it comes to media, one size doesn't fit all; and all people don't gravitate to just one form of delivery. What we do demand is here and now. We have become used to getting "breaking news" at ever second of the day.

Transmedia "allows us to unfold a story across multiple media formats." It also gives news reporters the opportunity to tell part of the story now and then fill in more details as they learn more of the facts. Journalists are actually pretty good at it. They just don't necessarily equate it with the name transmedia. They have become astute at telling a story that stands alone on each platform, which also collectively paints a broader picture. They are also able to pull in their audience for engaging their content, and in many cases, help them expand the story even further.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Transmedia Health Intervention

It's been my experience living in Canada, that the health industry still has an old school mentality about communications. Doctors don't email. They won't even give you results of tests over the phone. They still fax or call prescription emergency refills to the pharmacy. Otherwise, you make an appointment, pick up a physical prescription (and hope the waiting room isn't full so it doesn't cost you over an hour), then take the piece of paper to the pharmacy and wait for it to be filled. It may vary doctor to doctor, but this is my Alberta, Canada doctor experience from living in two major cities and with several different physicians.

When I was in Arizona and sought to get a prescription I didn't have time to get in Canada, I was beside myself with glee when the 60+-year-old doctor had emailed the prescription to the pharmacy before I even walked out the door. Doctors with email? Who knew? By the time I walked into the pharmacy, it had already been filled. Bam! Now that's service!

This week, I came across two stories where digital communications can be used as an effective tool for patients. Ya think?

The first one talks about using an app to help patients with low or no literacy skills. Illiteracy is a problem. Imagine if you can't read and won't be able to know what the critical labeling says on your prescription? It's not something an adult likes to admit, so more than likely, when they speak with their doctor or pharmacist, they wing it when he or she points out to the label as to how much and the precautions.

Biology professor John Pollock and his team of Pittsburgh (yes, that is Pennsylvania, America, not Canada) has been on a mission since 2001 to increase the health literacy of patients. He's working on "Bibliotech" e-books to engage children to learn more about science and health.

The other story is about using transmedia storytelling to teach teenagers about sexual health. "East Los High" is a portal for information about health and social services. Oh yea, that one is in the U.S., too.

Getting back to Canada, even MacLean's magazine called out doctors for being digitally absent.

There is so much opportunity left on the floor by the healthcare industry. Doctors may chastise us for checking out WebMD for common symptoms and what they mean, but in today's digital world, do they leave us any choice?

Here is a telling interview with a doctor who sheds light on why so many doctors are still operating in the Dark Ages.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Open-Source Technology versus Private Servers

There are two ways of conducting Internet business: with open-source technology or with the use of private servers.

The protectionists and security-conscious may believe that private servers are the only way to go, but not always. No doubt, there are pros and cons to each. If money is no object and you think you can keep up with the need for continuous upgrades, then maybe a private server is right for your project or business. There are indeed some secure features that make it somewhat fail-safe. But let's face it. Nothing is a sure thing in the digital age. A black hacker's determination and kick-ass computing skills will always run circles over yours.

Open-source technology gives you the world at your fingertips. You have an instant network of resources to collaborate and partner with, and the cost is minimal for unlimited storage. That said, the biggest risk is choosing the wrong network, which could go out of business at any given moment and all your stored information can be lost.

Here is a breakdown of what each computing method brings to the table:

Private Servers
  • It's expensive to set up.
  • It must be maintained and upgraded.
  • If the network goes down (for example Go Daddy), then all of your customers and employees will be frustrated and turned off if you don't have an on-call tech to fix the problem as soon as possible. It can turn into a terrible public relations moment. (See Canadian government payroll system and Obamacare launch.)
  • The system can become obsolete very quickly. (Technology based on specific operating systems, such as Windows Vista)
  • The door is locked and thus gives you a limited view of the world. (You live in your own technological bubble.)
  • You are isolated from other technological advances and the global community.
  • There are administration hoops that make the user/friendliness of the system in question.
Open-Source Technology
  • You are using other people's money by tapping into their system.
  • Upgrades are included, and usually often.
  • The opportunities are endless because you have unlimited and unfettered access to the global community, which means you can just as easily do business with someone in Kazakhstan as you can with someone down the street.
  • Everything is within your personal control. Once you learn a platform and how to access it, there are no administration hoops to jump through. You control what you do, say, see, and hear.
  • You have endless storage for everything that is digital for free or a nominal fee, once you fill a certain space requirement.
  • There is a bevy of technicians and security staff on hand 24/7 so if something does happen, your technology is only down for a small window of time.
  • Security is continually updated and enhanced to stay ahead of the hackers.
Yes, the above is a simplified look at the difference between the two, but perhaps it's too simplified? This following video is a great simplified look at how cloud systems work and the difference between private, public, and hybrid.