Transmedia as intertext and multiplicity: why some types of stories lend themselves to transmedia

With FOE this year being heavily transmedia-centric, I’ve been thinking (and reading) a lot lately about transmedia — about what there is to say now that we’re past the phase of describing what it is and moving into thinking more deeply about what it does and how.

A recent interview at Narrative Design Exploratorium with Starlight Runner CEO (and past FOE panelist) Jeff Gomez got me thinking about the relationship of transmedia to “genre fiction,” or stories written with distinct formal conventions such as mystery, horror, sci-fi/fantasty, and romance.

In the interview, Jeff maintains that

“You don’t need a science fiction or fantasy story to spark up a transmedia narrative. Our main criteria at Starlight Runner is that the story, brand or message lends itself to a rich world, real or imagined. The world needs to have a past and future, it must be populated with engaging characters, and there has to be something about it that makes us want to be a part of it . . . you can easily take a soap opera scenario, a high school scenario, the building of a new model of car or home and blast away”

While I wholeheartedly agree that no specific genre is required for that transmedia spark, it does seem that transmedia efforts tend to skew towards Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and other stories that follow certain genre conventions. Similarly, as evidenced by the way the “cult media” panel at FOE 2 veered quickly into a transmedia discussion, genre fiction seems to have an affinity for transmedia as well.

comics archetype times table by Jacob Borshard

comics archetype times table by Jacob Borshard

Transmedia and the Multiplicity Principle

Jeff’s comment about soap operas and high school scenarios being just as easy to extend into transmedia points to one possible explanation — what television scholar David Thorburn calls the multiplicity principle of tv melodrama, where the audience’s familiarity with the thematic or character conventions of a genre can help fill in and add nuance. Rather than flatten characters into stereotypes, however, the multiplicity principle in fact allow for deeper and more complex developments because they give these stories the freedom to render characters and themese more suggestively rather than spelling everything out.

As Thorburn explains:

“The familiar character-types and situations thus become more suggestive and less imprisoning. There is no pretense that a given character has been wholly ‘explained’ by the plot, and the formula has the liberating effect of creating a premise or base on which the actor is free to build”

Or, as in the case of transmedia narratives, it gives the audience a rich base to generates deeper curiousity and an exploratory instinct, which drives them to develop and expand the story further outside of the initial point of contact with the narrative.

Transmedia as Intertext

Through this multiplicity, genre fiction has the freedom to create rich, nuanced characters and themes that are still broadly rendered enough to leave room for the audience to speculate, contribute, and pursue the story further. This is one possible reason for the overlap between genre fiction lends and transmedia, since further pursuit of the story is precisely what leads people to engage with narrative expansions elsewhere. In other words, both genre fiction such as sci-fi or melodrama and transmedia narratives require the existence of multiple texts and stories, as well as  open invitations to curious, sophisticated audiences built into the narrative structure.

Perhaps then one of the deep affordances of transmedia stories is that they operate just not as a collection of texts, but as an intertext, a text that is produced within the interaction between multiple texts. This is part of what differentiates transmedia, media that moves across and between forms and platforms, from static multimedia nodes. Transmedia isn’t just about multiple stories or versions, but about creating a rich in-between space, an archive of shared meaning in-between different parts of the story. In short, a universe.

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  1. Jeff Gomez says:

    Could not have said it better myself, Xiaochang — you have lent academic credence to my off the cuff babble. Well done!


    Xiaochang Li Reply:

    Thanks Jeff — your support has been invaluable! You’re absolutely right that we’re at a really exciting moment in understanding the development of this form and what it can do.

    And now as I’m thinking, it’s becoming more convincing to me that it’s not something inherent about the “genres” that makes some easier for transmedia, but something about genre audiences being more primed for material that draws on the archive of shared knowledge and narrative across multiple texts.


  2. Scott Walker says:

    Playing off the topic of intertext, I also think that the world narrative in a transmedial offering emerges over time as individual works are introduced into the narrative.

    Much like an ARG’s narrative is “discovered” by players reconstructing the carefully deconstructed, encoded, and distributed story crafted by the puppet masters, the world narrative of a transmedia offering also emerges as the individual works continually alter the chemistry of the narrative. Consumers discover the world narrative by evaluating, combining, and interpreting the particular set of works they happen to encounter in the transmedia world.


    Xiaochang Li Reply:

    Scott, absolutely. I think that because we think of “trans” as referring to different platforms, the expansion of transmedial narratives tends to be considered in spacial terms. But you’re right, the development of stories over time, and the re-development of new stories by revisiting and reconfiguring the pieces constantly refreshes the narrative possibilities.

    I like your phrasing of how the audiences “alters the chemistry” of the narrative a lot, because that’s exactly what it is. Products are what is produced, but texts are what happens when the audience encounters and engages in it. Transmedia narratives are a place where we are seeing that principle play out more explicitly than ever before, where audience engagement fundamentally changes the formula of the story. It’s really exciting because it provides the possibility of seeing how different audiences construct different narratives from the same material.


  3. Erek Tinker says:

    Interesting article.

    Though I am fascinated by it in an inverted sort of way. Having grown up on comic books, RPGs, Video Games and Sci Fi, Transmedia is the normal method that media is transmitted by.

    It’s baffling to me that there are classes for it at MIT or that people don’t understand that storytelling is storytelling regardless of the genre.

    Maybe for us Sci Fi geeks is so easy to understand because we’ve been inundated by Transmedia since childhood from Star Wars action figures and comics to Role Playing Games and their novelizations.

    It’s almost so post-modern radical deconstruction of language that you can’t even use the word, ‘medium’ and expect for people to understand what you mean. If you can write a story about it you can paint a picture or make a video of it, or write a song about it. The very idea that people don’t understand this is to me the most baffling part of all of it.


  4. Scott Walker says:

    Erek, anyone coming from the scifi or fantasy genre has a clear jump on this concept. That doesn’t equate to it being obvious to everyone else (or even members of the scifi/fantasy community). But I want to offer a few ideas about why it’s gained so much traction lately outside of scifi and fantasy.

    Here is how Jenkins defines transmedia storytelling:”Stories that unfold across multiple media platforms, with each medium making distinctive contributions to our understanding of the world, a more integrated approach to franchise development than models based on urtexts and ancillary products.” (from “Convergence Culture”).

    Why has everyone started talking about transmedia as the greatest/latest thing since sliced bread? Well, most of the people in academia and entertainment are quick to state that it’s not new.

    So, why all the recent fuss? I propose a couple of theories:

    1) Transmedia storytelling is becoming more commonplace both in terms of retro-fits (”hey, we got a hot movie here, let’s roll out a graphic novel that explores this secondary character”) and properties launched as transmedial from inception.

    2) Each work in a transmedia offering should make a meaningful contribution to the world. Just because a work takes place in a world doesn’t mean it expands the world in new ways or adds new dimensions to the world (rendering “Lord of the Rings” in a graphic novel without changing the plot doesn’t expand the world or add to the narrative – it’s simply an extension across another medium). “Heroes” explores secondary or minor characters in its online content that it doesn’t or can’t explore in the television show. This, too, is a fairly recent phenomenon.

    3) The entertainment and publishing industry’s obsession with sequels and franchises as a way to decrease the risk in new product offerings (i.e., they have a built-in customer base). While this has been going on for a a while, it laid the foundation for latching onto the concept of transmedia since they focused more on world building than had been done before (it makes more sense to pay attention to the world when you know you’re going to be telling multiple stories in it).

    For me, exploring the idea of transmedia offerings involves understanding the implications of elevating storytelling from the work level to the world level, where multiple stories are occurring simultaneously in a shared universe. I’m trying to do just that (plus a few other new things) with my company.

    I completely agree that story trumps all. I think that the change in narrative perspective from character to story to world is what has everyone talking about transmedia, especially as transmedia offerings begin to jump genres.


  5. Erek Tinker says:

    Hey Scott.

    I am aware of the difference between transmedia storytelling and simply writing a graphic novel that apes the movie.

    I think that comic books and Role-Playing Games got the most jump on this. Comic books while not necessarily literally transmedia oftentimes work within the framework of a larger persistent world even if they use the same medium by and large for the telling of this story. Different comic books have a different story with different characters that then impacts the universal canon.

    With Role-Playing games, Dungeons and Dragons, or White Wolf built whole gaming worlds in which to play. As a result the sourcebooks that give you more information on the setting sold like hotcakes and are generally the bread and butter of the medium. So much so that now that D&D is Open-Source (sort of) they give the rulesets away for free online. You’ve gotta of course pay the $ 35 bucks if you want the handy dandy tables. But it’s the source books, the comic books and the novelizations that really expand the worlds in the ways you are describing. When Magic the Gathering came out and cemented Role-Playing games into the mainstream consciousness, it was considered natural that there would be novelizations and video games and such. No one questioned it one bit.

    When I first got into online message gaming, pushing the envelope of the medium was just something that came naturally, and I think came naturally to my peer group, it was unquestioned. It really wasn’t until I met Jeff that I realized how many people are truly baffled by this concept.

    Here’s a question. Can something be considered transmedia if all the media produced is of a certain type? Like say I started a comic book universe and published four titles, all comic books but about different characters in a way that impacted the canon. Could we legitimately consider that transmedia as the different publications of the media expand the narrative?

    If you don’t mind and our host doesn’t mind, may I ask what your company is?



    Xiaochang Li Reply:

    Hey guys, awesome discussion! Hope you don’t mind if I jump into the fray!

    On the first issue of “why doesn’t eveyone get transmedia” (I’m paraphrasing, of course), I think that we’re talking about two separate sets of “everyone.”

    I think people, storytellers and readers/audiences instinctively “get” transmedia as a general practice. It makes sense to expand stories over whatever narrative tools we have at our disposal. Fans, for instance, have a long history of taking existing stories and creating extensions in fiction, video, and graphic format. These I think can be considered transmedia behaviors despite the fact that fan work is not considered part of a “canon.” My colleague Ana Domb has a great example of a popular TV series through Central and South America that had all manner of official and unofficial transmedia extensions way back in the 70s (and it wasn’t even Sci-Fi ;D).

    I think what is happening now is that transmedia is emerging as a form, and what people don’t yet understand is not the transmedia storytelling instinct, but how transmedia works as an established formal construct and, by extension, as an industrial practice. It’s like, people understood the value of writing stories down to share before the rise of the novel, but once we came to understand the novel as a narrative form, there was a lot to make sense of in terms of what it could do. I think that’s the moment we’re in with transmedia — past what it is and if it’s valuable to testing what we can do with it and what kinds of value it can generate (and how to sustain these projects economically).

    I’m interested in Erek’s last question about transmedia that is all of a certain type. This is actually a question that’s been jostling around in my head for a while too, and I have a blog post called “Trans to what?” languishing in my notes because I’m not quite sure what to say about it or even how to frame the question yet. But yes, this is something I wonder about to, because when we say “trans” what are we crossing? Traditionally, it has been thought of as platforms, but is the platform really what makes a web video different from a TV show from a DVD? What about form? Is it transmedia if there’s a book and a short story collection and a comic book? These are all bound, printed matter. What about exploring a narrative world in the same form, but across different genres?


  6. Scott Walker says:

    Great points all, Erek and Xiaochang. I think Xiaochang articulated a very pertinent point about which “everyone” we’re referring to.

    If I’m correct, Jenkins’ definition of transmedia requires it to be across multiple platforms. A series of paper-based comics in a branded universe would appear not to qualify as transmedia under Jenkins’ definition; at face value, that’s just one medium, with no “trans” element. Integrated, related works that individually add meaningful contributions to the world they inhabit but technically not representing transmedia.

    But that’s semantics. Christy Dena and Frank Rose also have their own (slightly different) versions: cross media and deep media, if I’m not mistaken. I agree with Xiaochang that we’re past the point of deciding if transmedia is a viable form of storytelling, but from where I’m sitting, I still see a lot of disagreement about exactly what “it” is.

    I would pose another question that touches on Xiaochang’s ending questions about medium v. platform. Would an online site of multimedia content (comics, art, audiocasts, fiction, RPG modules, etc.) all under a branded universe constitute a transmedia offering? The distinction between platform and medium is blurring.

    A novel distributed in a paperback is essentially the same as a novel distributed in an electronic file across the Internet. Or is it?

    The reader can do different things with each. She can write notes in the paperback, read it where ever there’s light (no electricity needed). She can scan, index, reorder, and remix the electronic version, email it as many times as she wants (or post it on her website). The tactile experiences are utterly different.

    Here’s one more example: a TV show experienced at home is very different from watching it on the bus on your iPod. Does the size of the screen, the portability of the experience, the sense of control and ownership over the viewing experience alter the nature of the content itself?

    Last example: a novel is published in its entirety via twitter 140 characters at a time. Is the combined tweet-stream of that user considered a novel?

    Does the distribution channel/platform add a layer of experience to the content that sufficiently alters the act of consumption such that it justifies a new vocabulary for the ported content?

    Do we need new platform-specific terms to give us additional granularity when discussing how content slips from one platform to another so we can better analyze and converse about how that platform porting alters the experience?

    I’m beginning to think we do (or maybe a much smarter individual already defined them, and I’m still stumbling around in the dark!).

    But to go back to the base question of what constitutes transmedia, the hardest part of answering it is you have to back up and define a wider set of terms before you can arrive at a conclusive decision (what is “medium?” what constitutes a story? is the platform the medium?).

    At this stage in my exploration of transmedia, I’m leaning towards the view that a transmedial offering is composed of works across more than one medium where each work makes a significant, meaningful contribution to the world.

    Finally, I’m happy to discuss my company, Erek, but I won’t inflict that on Xiaochang’s blog space. : ) Feel free to email me at , I’m happy to share my crazy ideas with you.


  7. Erek Tinker says:

    Thanks Xiaochang and Scott.

    It seems we are caught between two semantic distinctions. One is Transmedia as it is used from a narrative standpoint and one is Transmedia as used from a medium standpoint.

    Personally, I think for Transmedia to survive in any meaningful form it needs to cleave to the narrative standpoint.

    An electronic version of the a novel along with the print version wouldn’t be Transmedia because they do not uniquely add to the canon, it is the same information. So I guess what I am doing is drawing a strict delineation based on data not medium.

    Basically what I am talking about is putting a stake through Marshall McCluhan. The medium is RESOUNDINGLY NOT the message. The medium here is quite fungible. In fact I will state that in about ten years it will be near irrelevant.

    Transmedia as we are talking about it is a narrow phenomenon. If you want to use it to your personal benefit then it’s good that you are positioned now, because eventually it’s going to fade into the background as being the standard mode of storytelling. It won’t really need a name because it will be ubiquitous. At some point we won’t be discussing how to bring stories together across media, we’ll be talking about the creation of cognitive separation from the dialogue created by the medium as sometimes necessary information will be missing. Just think of it today. Even among Star Wars geeks, how many have you met that know the WHOLE canon? I don’t think I know anyone who does. This will become common. So I think discussions of Transmedia eventually will become more conservative, or the opposite polarity of how we are discussing it today. It will discuss what was lost by atomizing our storytelling in such a way that the data is decoupled from other pertinent data by the separation of medium.

    I think today that this is already a concern. If I am not mistaken some TV executives are resistant to the idea of transmedia specifically because they don’t want to create a show that will be inaccessible to the lay person who is channel flipping on their push medium. On the other hand it’s a great advertising tool used to create interest for the primary medium using free secondary mediums. For me, I always thought if I made a movie I’d want to use footage that is not in the film for the trailers. Like teasers of what happened just before.

    Also, here is another problem with Transmedia storytelling and I think this is the biggest issue. Is your vignette or storyline self-contained? Can a person read it without feeling like they are missing something? This is the most interesting aspects of it to me. Think of the art of the short story. A short story implies a whole wealth of information that will never pay off for you. This is intrinsic in the nature of a short story. You know going in that it’s of limited focus and that the extra questions are merely color. Now, take a film. It’s kind of similar though might have more characters and a longer time frame than a story. However it will leave questions asked.

    Enter Transmedia. Transmedia begins to answer your unresolved questions. Now, here is where it becomes a problem. If you take a movie that is a full cohesive story like say, ‘Traffic’, that has no Transmedia addendums to it, people will see the movie without questioning it. Now take a TV series like ‘Heroes’ or ‘Lost’. The lack of self-containment is something that a new viewer coming late to the party will be aware of. This will give them a sense of commitment to the property that they will weigh as a cost-benefit analysis. Is this show worth my tme? For Traffic they have only have to invest 147 minutes. They know exactly what it will mean. For Heroes or Lost, they have to invest in a number of episodes multiplied by a number of seasons AND deal with the web content. With Battlestar Galactica, if you didn’t watch the Felix Gaeta webisodes then the last season of that show is pretty much incomprehensible. Or you can look at District 9 which most people found to be rather incomprehensible until they read the Director’s explanation on the web.

    So Transmedia disrupts the homeostasis of the narrative. The awareness that the open-ended questions are answered will leave a hole in a person’s movie-going experience. Two narratives can have the same amount of open-ended questions left by the film, but if the viewer is aware of that these are answered somewhere in some other medium then they might be reticent due to the intimidation of having to deal with a canon rather than a film. In otherwords it creates another order of complexity that becomes another marker that impacts the decision of whether or not to view that property. To bring it back around, that means that in the future when Transmedia is the rule rather than the exception people will not be using the word Transmedia, and scholars like Xiaochang will be discussing what has been lost by not having to keep a story self-contained.

    I think about this problem when writing my novel. I have in mind a trilogy, but I thought long and hard about how to make the first novel a single self-contained story arc so I can shop both a single novel AND a trilogy, and also so if I get one book published and don’t get the sales then at least I have told a complete story and don’t leave readers hanging in the lurch.

    Soap Operas and Comic books both handle this problem well. Soap Operas drag out story arcs so long that you can miss a whole week and be brought up to speed with one episode. It’s brilliant in its simplicity actually. Comic books handle this by basically resetting the canon every 7 years or so. I realized this when I started reading the Chris Claremont X-Men at about 11 or 12 and then stopped reading when Claremont killed Magneto and retired at about 17 or 18. I left it for a while then started working in comics at about 19 and revisited it and the canon was completely foreign to me by that point, the story arcs that I invested myself in were basically irrelevant to the new canon.

    Sorry to be long-winded. ;)


  8. Scott Walker says:


    Thanks for the long-winded post, it actually helped me understand where you’re coming from! Here’s one back at you, and with the disclaimer that I’m still trying to get my head around all of this.

    If I understand you correctly, you are stating and/or implying that:

    1) Transmedia will become the standard/norm of storytelling

    2) Transmedia translates to a loss of something in the narrative

    3) Transmedia’s problem is that it doesn’t provide self-contained works

    Here are my thoughts:

    I don’t believe that transmedia – as Jenkins defines it – will become ubiquitous across every type of storytelling. I could easily be wrong, but I don’t think transmedia is suited for every single story out there (movie, TV show, novel, comic, etc.). Some portion of storytelling will never cross that line [and I'm talking strictly about producer-generated content, not the consumer-generated content that springs up around producer-generated content like fan fic, forum posts, etc.]. Some producers simply won’t go for it.

    Your statement about transmedia offerings “losing” something over monomedia (what’s the opposite of transmedia?) is somewhat confusing for me. You cite Star Wars, for example. I’m a huge fan, saw the original release of Ep. IV ten times in the theater, and it completely ate my head. Can’t wait to share the movies (well, IV-VI, anyway) with my kids. But I stopped buying the comics around issue #9 (and boy do I wish I still had those!). I haven’t watched the Clone Wars animated series. I haven’t read any of the novels.

    Do I feel cheated? Do I think my experience is any less? Does my lack of exploration of these other world works lessen the narrative Lucas constructed solely through his films? My answers are all “no.”

    Transmedia offerings – as Jenkins defines them – *do* offer self-contained works that allow, but do not require, consumers to explore the rest of the world. By contrast, Christy Dena’s “transfiction” model doesn’t include self-contained works (instead, they are interdependent, requiring a comprehensive consumption of works for a full understanding). This definition seems to better describe what you’re talking about.

    Given the premise that transmedia offerings are composed of self-contained works that provide both a complete narrative experience *and* the voluntary opportunity to explore additional levels of meaning, I’m not sure what’s being lost in the process.

    Jenkins clearly faults “The Matrix” franchise for forcing consumers to consume all works in order to enjoy the movies. I agree with you that this approach is fundamentally flawed.

    The better approach, much like ARG’s have done, is to give the hard-core fans the opportunity to explore the world in new, deeper, and different ways than the casual consumer does without sacrificing narrative cohesion and coherence within any individual work.

    It’s not easy to balance this, and I’m not sure anyone has actually done it or developed the perfect model for doing so. But I believe it’s the best model for now.

    About McLuhan, I’m no expert, but wasn’t he trying to say that neither the content nor the medium were important? Rather, it’s how we interact with it, how we change in response to the medium, how our consumption behavior change that’s important? I wholeheartedly agree that medium, in a digital age, is an elusive creature, and content, in a digital age, is mercurial in its propagation. But it seems to me that you’re focusing strictly on the literal use of medium in refuting his position. Did I misunderstand you? Or do have a different interpretation of McLuhan?

    Thanks for making me think, even if it’s early in the morning! :)


  9. Erek Tinker says:

    Ok let’s start with your list and see if I can answer those points and hopefully touch on the detail in your post. If I leave anything out let me know.

    Let me preface this by saying that I am clearly distinguishing between medium and message. You are probably right about McCluhan but I was really just stealing his statement to make a cheap analogy, I didn’t think about it as deeply as you did. ;)

    So for our purposes we have medium and message.

    1) Transmedia will become the standard/norm of storytelling

    It will be the standard MEDIUM of storytelling in that media will become monomedia again as the very notion of medium all become some variation on the theme: computer. No matter what medium you are going to be dealing with it will most likely be digital. Print media will basically follow the life cycle of Generation X. In about ten years it’s descent into the niche collectors market will be clear and obvious to everyone. But the primary delivery formats for things will be digital. For the most part this means that it will be entirely online at least in terms of the user experience. The exception to this will be public media venues. But privately we will stop distinguishing between the computer and the television. Before long every monitor in your home will be pulling data from a central house server and you will just leave keyboards around the house like you leave phones today. If I’d said ten years ago that Voice Over IP would be nearly ubuiquitous in ten years, which I did, I would be told that it was immature and had a long way to go, which I was, and lo and behold, I was right. Today Voice Over IP is becoming SOIP across the globe. Meaning? Your phone and your computer are the same, they are internet connections. Obviously medium can also mean graphic, symbolic, textual, aural, olfactory or kinesthetic in which case there will still be some meaning to the word medium outside of its transmission vector. In otherwords: the book and the TV are dying.

    2) Transmedia translates to a loss of something in the narrative

    Yes. But that is true of choice in general. If you make a choice and act on it you obliterate the alternative possibility. By putting all of your eggs in one basket you are able to devote the full and personal care and attention to that particular self-contained story. There is something different about the experience of reading Brave New World, and reading dystopian comic books.

    3) Transmedia’s problem is that it doesn’t provide self-contained works

    Well I wouldn’t say problem, I’d use the word challenge. Transmedia’s challenge is deciding whether or not to provide self-contained works. Or even further, deciding which stories are self-contained and which are not.

    Here’s an article Neal Stephenson wrote for the New York Times, that a friend of mine turned me onto when I told him about this discussion.

    Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out

    Basically he contends that the original trilogy gave you the information in a self-contained manner where you know which ship belonged to who in every movie, but in Revenge of the Sith it is not clear who the droid ship at the beginning belongs to. He specifically references how that information is contained within The Clone Wars which bridges the gap between the second and third movies. Basically he is pointing out that he missed something, and that a lot of people missed the same thing and that there was an awareness that the completeness of the whole was disturbed. This is dealt with in two ways. Traditionally the answer is: It doesn’t matter, it’s not integral to the story, it’s a tangent that was put in for color. Today the answer is: Buy the Clone Wars DVD!

    So really it comes down to choices. How you utilize Transmedia is an affectation of the story you are trying to tell. The medium is the subject of the message and not the other way around as has been the traditional model for commercial media. We have yet to see a property that cannot be said to have a primary canon, IE Pirates of the Caribbean has the movies and Halo has the video games. At least I can’t think of one. But the day is coming when the primary vehicle for media consumption is online content. Everything is delivered via the web you get the audio and video from the site as you read the text that guides you to your content while manipulating visual symbols to cause the event that will spawn the media you desire to peruse right then and there.

    I guess what I am saying is that the loss of linearity in the story-telling modality is alienating to some people. Obviously it’s not to you, or I, for that matter.

    So when you work you are riding a line between monomedia and transfiction, and that’s what transmedia will do. Likely creative houses will begin to have a transmedia department which handles technical issues. I’ve always been curious to see how the canon is organized at Marvel Comics for instance. What I am saying is that you’ve got about ten years of fad before the sheen of Transmedia wears off and the word gets put in the cubicle next to Multimedia where they make the power point presentations in the marketing department. ;) But until then we’ll get companies managing their brands through transmedia roll outs, and I am not talking about brands where the narrative is the product, but where the narrative is a vehicle to sell the product, whether it be cars or soda.

    The way I see it Transmedia is a process by which we are uniting all multi-media into cohesion. What seperates Transmedia is the message. Right now Transmedia is the the message, so it’s a good time to be staking a claim to that field.

    You’ve made me realize that I am light on primary sources here. I think I need to read some of these books. Do you recommend reading Christy Dena?


  10. Scott Walker says:


    I leave you in possession of the field, sir. It would appear we are in violent agreement. :)

    Regarding readings, I confess I am consuming as much as I can, but that’s not much so far. Xiaochang may be more helpful with pointing us both to writers I’m not aware of yet.

    I’m using the reading assignments from Jenkins’ class at USC as a primer (disclaimer: I’m auditing the class). He posted the syllabus on his blog, and much of the reading is available online:

    So far, I would definitely head over to Dena’s site (, and I would peruse Frank Rose’s blog ( as he’s focusing on how narrative is changing in light of the Internet. They both refine Jenkins’ definition of transmedia, and you might find the differences informative in your own thought formation.

    I would definitely track down Geoffrey Long’s “Transmedia Storytelling” thesis, and you might want to start investigating the following on wikipedia as a primer to their thoughts (their names come up multiple times in the current academic writings):

    Julia Kristeva (intertextuality)
    Gerard Genette (para/hypo/hypertext)
    Roland Barthes (hermeneutic codes and readerly/writerly text)

    Finally, Jane McGonigal’s work on I Love Bees and her subsequent papers on ARG are also interesting, as they bring in Levy’s theory of Collective Intelligence into the mix.

    This is just a start, I’m sure I’m leaving other important voices out due to my own ignorance.

    Thanks for a really thought-provoking exchange!


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