After watching Kevin Spacey’s lecture at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television festival I was left with a stunningly obvious yet compelling insight: transmedia allows us to see beyond platforms. By definition, transmedia is all about platforms. Indeed, there is an entire body of literature dedicated to debating the terminology for media: platforms, channels, story modes, etc. However, creatively, transmedia is about transcendence. It liberates content from platform and in so doing advances a paradigmatic (as well as economic) shift in the creative industries; an emphasis on story disguised in the telling. Yet audiences are used to platform-specific production. As a result, in order to shift audience conceptions of story it is necessary to couch new concepts in platform-specific discourse. Transmedia provides this discourse. It is the Trojan Horse which mollifies unease around new distribution methods.
Many people have asked me what transmedia is. I usually respond with an indulgent description of multi-platform storytelling with reference to well-known texts and projects. This description allows people to take the first step towards conceiving of story as inherently multi-faceted; however, it belies the true nature of transmedia as a harbinger of the next phase of our cultural story-telling evolution. Let me give you an example. I was recently asked by a professional from another industry to explain the concept of transmedia. We work together on the same project but fulfil different roles, thus whilst my involvement concerns transmedia she had never heard the phrase before meeting me. I found myself repeating the same dull line about multi-platform storytelling. I find it necessary to provide people with the foundational units for understanding transmedia, but that doesn’t suffice to explain the complexity (nor the numbing simplicity) of what transmedia means for storytelling, nor does it inspire excitement, wonder or curiosity.
Now, after having watched Spacey’s compelling warning to the television industry, I want to find a better way to introduce the world to transmedia. Audiences are ready for it. We owe it to them and we owe it to storytelling. From now on, I’m abandoning the Trojan Horse method. It might be hard; I might get knocked down, but at the end of the day, transmedia will only ever fulfil its storytelling potential once people embrace it in true form.
Trust me; transmedia looks so much better naked.