Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Michael Bissell's Blog


2010-03-09 17:11:13
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Sometimes you need a new word, but most of the time there is a perfectly good word that you don't know or maybe just don't like. Corporate America loves new words, and I'm not sure why, after all, they don't treat the words they have particularly well...

Take this word: Transmedia. While it sounds like the transexual porn section of the video store, it's actually a marketing term that refers to storytelling, where "content becomes invasive and permeates fully the audience's lifestyle." (wiki).

Which means omnipresent storytelling, or cross-media, or just plain pervasive media.

Creating a word to describe your idea isn't new, but we used to call it "branding." You would come up with an idea for a new soft drink, coin a term, trademark it, and create Coca Cola. Eventually the word Coke means any soft drink. The generic word "soft drink" is still there, but the mainstream use of "Coke" only happens after the brand, and therefore the word, is established in popular culture.

The prevailing thought now is to create a word, and use it enough that you force it into popular culture. It almost never works, as seen with the broken trail of words and jargon.

The problem I have with making up words is based in one of my basic maxims: This stuff is complicated enough, we don't have to make it more complicated. The process of explaining your concept of pervasive storytelling is slowed down by creating a word that could be gay porn or a Soviet telegraph.

I'm not saying that "pervasive storytelling" isn't a mouthful, but if I look up the words on or, lord help us, in a book, the words have meaning and I don't need a wiki or a jargon dictionary to figure out the concept on my own.

Now take your crazy talk and get off my lawn...

Who needs an URL anyhow?
That magical little tablet

Sam: Re: Transmedia
2010-03-09 17:21:25

"Transmedia" was first coined in 2003. It became a bit Hollywood during some of the Battlestar Gallactica "cross platform" story initiatives and press (one of the Showrunners was very "transmedia" driven and used the phrase frequently). "Cross Platform" preceded "transmedia" but meant the same thing, without the pretense.

Regrettably, it's deeply misused by those who think that having "content" placed on a bunch of different platforms constitutes "transmedia." And, equally regrettably, it's good to use for certain Search results.

Actual "transmedia storytelling" is rare, where Users/Audience acquire storied content from different sources a bit like a puzzle. There are also "converged media" story telling applications, which more seamlessly blend storytelling across different delivery mediums but usually within a single content consumption experience (not disconnected by time/space).

Worse yet is the quest for making "social media" part of transmedia storytelling. Having a bunch of people shouting at a TV (in a bar, during a Game) does not extend the story to the Bar. The experience extends, but, not the story. A Twitter stream is no different. Subtle point, but, worth making.

What I'm getting at is that it's an old concept at this point, it's generally misused; it's still as pretentious as when first used. But, there is some meat in there that's worth delving would just be nice if people said, "hey, like I'm telling my story in a bunch'a different places, cool, eh?"

Amanda Frech: Re: Transmedia
2010-03-15 15:12:36

I guess I'd also say that "This stuff is simple enough: we don't need to make it more complicated." Which new words inevitably do. I've done a good bit of work in university libraries, and you'd be amazed at the extent to which their propensity to give everything a digital new name *just because it's digital* confuses people who certainly do not need to be any more confused than they are already (cough: undergraduates).

For instance, when libraries started putting their card catalogs online, they started calling them OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogs). They did realize that their users couldn't be expected to parse that acronym, so what did they do? They gave their online catalogs cutesy names, names that were usually acronyms. Harvard has HOLLIS, the University of Virginia has VIRGO, and so on and so on. Every library used to just have "the catalog," so that if you learned what a "catalog" was at one library, you could apply that knowledge somewhere else.

tom: Re: Transmedia
2010-04-06 14:48:01

Today, the official "Transmedia Producer's Credit" was approved by Producer's Guild:

It's a word that's here to stay.

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