Designing experiences | conclusion of primary research

I’m back from the Storyworld 2011 conference in San Francisco.  11 days out from getting married and 38 days from research presentation. Not that I’m counting.

So in the last 4 months, I have mapped the transmedia space, breaking it down by types (franchising, marketing, native storytelling), listing projects, practitioners, methods, and goals.

I need to go back and add revenue models for each, because from what I learned at the conference, there really is no viable business model for native transmedia storytelling.  Another interesting takeaway from the conference was the need for interaction designers to design the interfaces of the future related to transmedia experiences.

My thesis is titled “Designing Transmedia Experiences | the future of storytelling.”  I am focusing less on the story, and more on the designed experiences between the tellers and the audiences.

I’m wrapping up my research, prepping for the poster session in December, and getting ready to sketch a story world and design a series of interactions between teller and audience to explore how participants will move from platform to platform using affordances and beats embedded within the story.  And I’ll be doing it until 2 am or so for the next month, in case anybody feels like calling late night.

the intersection of design and narrative

So why the silence for 22 days?  Well, because I’ve been reading and synthesizing 8 years worth of material.  Books, articles, Facebook emails, Tweets, memes, and everything in between. It’s starting to feel like transmedia storytelling is all about the in between, the cracks and the factions.

So in my research work with Haakon, it’s become clear that I’ve been talking about this and talking around it since May.  The intersection of narrative/story and design.  What that means is that there are two very different, and yet totally related avenues to explore here–narrative driven design, and design driven narrative.

In short, narrative driven design identifies with the work of Tony Dunne and Fiona Raby with their value fictions, or the work of Julian Bleecker in his epic(ly awesome) essay “Design Fiction.”  What do we do in design?  We research something, then we build prototypes and put them in front of people and ask, “here, can you do X?  Can you do Y?  If I asked you to download a photo, what would you do?”  And then if they can do the tasks, we consider it a success! Launch parties are organized and companies make bread. But there’s another side to “prototyping,” and that is to prototype through a narrative experience. I may not ask you how the interface works for you, or if you could use an artifact in your car, but if I respect the lines between science fiction, science fact, and immersive narrative, how might design prototype and build artifacts that live in future worlds that are soon to be the real world?

And then on the other hand, we have the design driven narrative, which is the full out transmedia, multi-platform storytelling imaginarium that, in my humble mind, represents the future for storytelling and world building at all levels of human engagement.

So it also just dawned on my that the amount of time I’ve spent on this in the last 24 hours outweighs the number of hours that I’ve slept in the previous 72 hours.  This means it’s time to go to sleep. I’m preparing for the Storyworld Conference in San Francisco in a week and a half.  Looking forward to meeting some of the brilliant storytellers, producers, and artists that have given shape and fanfare to this beautiful form of media co-creation.

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