The idea behind my Concept in 60 has always been what happens when a book becomes more than a book. I was inspired by Robert Coover’ s article, “The End of Books,” to address how the way we define literature is changing. In his article, written in 1992, Coover states that “with hypertext we focus, both as writers and as readers, on structure as much as on prose, for we are made aware suddenly of the shapes of narratives that are often hidden in print stories. The most radical new element that comes to the fore in hypertext is the system of multidirectional and often labyrinthine linkages we are invited or obliged to create.”
Coover talks about how the original text is being pushed aside to make way for literature to take new forms – hypertext. The hypertext allows authors new possibilities, but they have to put aside their old, conventional way of writing and reading because a hypertext turns it on its head. My project, however, addressed literature that uses transmedia to tell a story.
Transmedia, like new media, does not really have a certain “correct” definition; it has a wide variety of forms and is itself a form of new media. Jim Stewartson says that we should define transmedia first and foremost as storytelling. He also says that transmedia is not marketing and merchandising; while marketing can use transmedia to help get the product sold, transmedia is primarily a tool to help authors tell their story. He also says that transmedia should be mobile; people should be able to access it on any device anywhere.
For my project, I initially did not start out with using the idea of transmedia. I wanted to talk about the evolution of a book from just a text, and fan-generated content as well as author-generated content through the use of new media. I started out using J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, as it is very easily identified and well-known. The series has a website called Pottermore that was created by Rowling. I had hoped to show the progression from physical book to e-book to Pottermore to fan content, but I did not like how the video turned out after I got about halfway through it. I had the idea of talking about young adult literature (like Harry Potter) that uses websites and mobile devices to help tell the story or give the audience more information. This is where transmedia came in.
While I was in Dr. Prickett’s ENGE 519 class, we talked about this sort of young adult literature. When I was searching for information, though, I found that other literature also used transmedia to help tell the story. Alice in Wonderland and many other books, including Shakespeare’s plays and Poe’s poetry and short stories, are available as apps in the iTunes store and they include more information as well as original music and a new level of interactivity that is not available in the book alone.
So, I changed my topic. I included the literature like Cathy’s Book, Harry Potter, Survivors, Alice in Wonderland and Skeleton Creek. All of these stories incorporate transmedia, whether it’s to give the reader more information (such as in Pottermore) or the new media is required to have the complete story. Skeleton Creek, for example, requires the reader to watch videos from one of the characters to understand the entirety of the story.
I began the process of making the video by starting with what I already had from my original presentation. I cut out all of the video except the content that I recorded of me using Pottermore and began searching for other content to include. I already knew about Skeleton Creek from Dr. Prickett’s class, as I had to read it myself, and so that was a book that I was definitely going to include. I wanted to also include app books to show my audience that transmedia encompasses both websites and apps. I found a page on the ALA.org website that talked about transmedia and included a few examples. I visited the websites and played around with some of the content (I want to purchase Cathy’s Book eventually because it’s really enticing).
I also wanted to include the book Thirteen Reasons Why, but I could not find a way to incorporate it into the video. The book makes use of YouTube so that the reader can hear the tapes that this girl, who killed herself, sends to the thirteen people who drove her to suicide. I also was afraid that if I included it as my audio, someone who viewed it could be triggered because they either suffered from depression themselves or knew someone who committed suicide.
For the audio, I had found a website that had royalty-free music and I used it for my audio to avoid copyright infringement.
The biggest problems that I had while working on this project were figuring out what to define what I was trying to convey. I wasn’t even aware of what transmedia was before I did this project and so finding the books that I was looking for was extremely difficult for me because I wasn’t sure what to search. My roommate suggested that I try searching transmedia (she’s a fan of things like “The Lizzy Bennett Diaries,” a web series that uses transmedia to retell Pride and Prejudice). I found an article on the YALSA (yalsa.ala.org) that talked about different young adult literature that incorporated transmedia and included links to the websites or to where readers could purchase the apps. The article also talked about how classic novels are beginning to incorporate transmedia (why I included Alice in Wonderland) in the video, even if it was just a short clip of the page where you can purchase the app.
I also had complications with getting YouTube to not add a second on or to not cut a second off. My video displays as exactly one minute on my blog (which is what it is in Windows Movie Maker) but on YouTube itself, it says it’s only 59 seconds. I’m not entirely sure what the issue is, but I’ve redone it and changed it so many times that I just think YouTube is just difficult and not very user-friendly. Another big problem that I had was that the chunk of time that I was going to use to work on the project was limited by my parents not having internet at their home so I could do very little work over break. When I came back, the internet on campus was also acting up. My complications were less content-driven but related to the technology I tried to use to create it.
Braun, Linda. “A Getting Started Transmedia List.” Young Adult Library Services. American Library Association. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.
Coover, Robert. “The End of Books.” The New York Times on the Web. The New York Times. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.
Stewartson, Jim. “Yes, Transmedia is an Empty Buzzword…Until it Isn’t.” Transmedia Coalition. Transmedia Coalition. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.