Theory & Audience Analysis

This category contains 20 posts

Transmedia and the Future of Fiction Storytelling–Interactive Version

My interactive version of my research can be found here.


Augmented Reality: Blending Worlds

Over the weekend, I thought a lot about the blending of worlds. My research paper is on transmedia fiction, and I decided the more worlds are blended for the reader, the more effective the storytelling experience is. Authors of transmedia have a lot of space to work with. They create a fictitious space with characters, but they can also distribute content throughout the real world. The goal of authors is for readers to connect with their content. When content becomes a part of the readers real world, they are likely connect more with the entire story.

I believe this same theory can be applied to augmented reality. As a child, I fell in love with Star Wars. I remember pretending, with my school friends, that we were Star Wars characters. We would “fly” around the playground, and make up of own adventures within the fictitious Star Wars framework. There is something that captivates the child imagination when children blend the real world with fictitious worlds.

This is what interests me about transmedia, but also why I’ve rejected video games. I’ve always held the opinion that video games are too removed from the real world. Being removed from the real world is okay when watching movies. To me, movies are means of escaping. However, when I interact with a game it to be a part of my world. I loved sports, board games, and imaginative playground games as a child.

I believe my negative opinions regarding video games has painting my perception of augmented reality games. Unaware of what they really are, I wrote them off as yet another waste of time. However, if Star Wars augmented reality games existed when I was a child, I would have been a devoted player.

How could you not be a fan of a franchise with characters this cute?

The Star Wars augmented reality game, Falcon Runner, is sold in the iTunes app store for $4.99. The screen of your iPhone shows the 3-D immersive Star Wars world, compatible with the real world around you. What I like about this experience, is the player is able to feel as if the world they are in actually becomes the fictitious world.

Similar to some transmedia experiences, augmented reality allows users to  blend their world with a fictitious world. Going back to the make believe Star Wars games I played as a child, I remember loving to pretend my real backyard in the suburbs of Ohio was a part of a planet world in Star Wars. Now, we can use our iPhones to see this imaginative world.

Human Motivation in Second Life

A Response to Ethical Issues Surrounding Second Life

It seems that this blog will be one full of questions rather than mere analysis or observation. We have talked in class briefly about ethics in second life, but it is still a hard issue to analyze. On one hand, it seems irrelevant. Why should there be a code of ethics or law in place in a world that isn’t “real” in the sense humans would normally define reality? Similar to playing Grand Theft Auto, a video game, why should it matter if there’s violence, or other ethically offensive acts, in a virtual world? On the other hand, second life involves identities we create for ourselves. If unethical or illegal acts occur against identities we create ourselves, not unlike personas we possess in the “real world”, why should legal responsibility not apply? If we are actively interacting with other human beings, should our legal system not apply in second life as well?

These are the questions I found myself asking when I read about Miss Avatar and Mr. Avatar. In the article, it describes a Japanese woman who faced real jail time after her “online husband dumbed her.” The woman was so outraged that she hacked into his account and killed his avatar. The woman faced $5,000 or up to 5 years in prison if she is convicted of committing an “online execution.” Police say there were no plans for a murder in the “real world”. Although it may seem silly to put someone behind bars for killing off an avatar in second life, this leads me to question human motivation behind behavior in second life.

Why do human beings engage in second life realities? Is McGonigal correct in her pessimistic view of reality, or is it merely a place to act out suppressed human urges. This article states that research from Dr. Alex Gordon has found 80% of female avatars to be men and 75% of male avatars to be women. Further, 43% of people claim to be in second life to learn more about themselves. What does this say about human motivation in second life? Is it a way to fulfill curiosity, or is it real human identities being acted out absent of the societal constructions of our “real world”?

This brings me back to the most pertinent question: should we be held accountable for unethical or unlawful acts we commit in second life? In class, someone paralleled human behavior in second life to fiction human beings produce. The idea was that fiction that contains horror or violence does not come from a person who should be trusted in the real world. While I do not agree with this thought, as I am a fan of many artists who create work I would not want to parallel to the real world, it’s hard not to ask this question in context of second life behavior. Do human beings need an outlet to act out that which is unacceptable in real society?

Virtual Worlds

A Response to Why Virtual Worlds Can Matter

  1. I found it interesting how the article addresses two parts of learning: “learning about” and “learning to be”. Virtual worlds in gaming skip the user right to learning to be. In conjunction with Jane McGonigal’s hope for gaming enhancing our world, will virtual worlds be more readily used for therapeutic purposes in the future?
  2. This article touches on how virtual worlds have parallels to “real” worlds. Have there been long-term studies on how children who frequently engages in virtual worlds are adjusted socially in comparison to those who don’t?
  3. This article emphasizes that virtual worlds, such as World of Warcraft, are changing the way we learn. Can this be applied to transmedia experiences in general, as many are becoming members of online communities in order to collaborate?

Facebook Elects Obama

A response to Interactivity and Branding, public political communication as a marketing tool

This article made me question how big of a role social media will have in the upcoming presidential election. In order to make a speculation, I looked back to the role the internet had on the election of Barack Obama in 2008. There was an article published by Fast Company on April 1, 2009 by Ellen McGirt. In the article, McGirt gives background on Chris Hughes and his role with the creation of Facebook and the reelection of Obama.

Hughes, a roommate of Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard, is one of the founders of Facebook. However, reading Fast Company’s magazine, I was able to see the distinction between the co-founders of Facebook. Hughes is a strategist, because he possesses insight into human behavior and how social media can affect it. McGirt wrote, “he has been plowing what he observes about human behavior into online systems that help real people do what they want to do in their real lives.” He was the man who emphasized the importance of keeping “private” social networks on Facebook to give people a sense of security. Also, Fast Company gave him the credit of electing Obama.

Hughes was asked to jump ship from his Facebook home to assist with the Obama campaign. McGirt describes:

                 His key tool was My.BarackObama.com, or MyBO for short, a surprisingly intuitive and fun-to-use networking Web site that allowed Obama supporters to create groups, plan events, raise funds,   download tools, and connect with one another — not unlike a more focused, activist Facebook.  MyBO also let the campaign reach its most passionate supporters cheaply and effectively. By the time the campaign was over, volunteers had created more than 2 million profiles on the site, planned 200,000 offline events, formed 35,000 groups, posted 400,000 blogs, and raised $30 million on 70,000 personal fund-raising pages.

As the first election in the real age of social media, the effects it had on the Obama campaign was unprecedented. Since that time, the amount of active users on Twitter has exploded. I follow a plethora of news commentators, politicians, journalists, etc., and Twitter has become my main source of reading headlines. My morning routine consists of reaching for my phone, and scrolling through my Twitter feed to see if anything grabs my attention. If so, I click on provided links to news articles or seek other news sources to research the headline.

Politicians now have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. I’m following those who have announced their presidential campaigns, and this is how I’ll stay informed in the presidential election of 2012. My question is how effective will the social media strategy in each campaign? Hughes was a trailblazer, implementing effective strategy, and he understand social media should not just be used but strategy should be its driving force.


Journalism: Past & Future

A response to Social News, Citizen Journalism, and Democracy

1. This article was written in 2009. What have been the shifts in citizen journalism in the past two years? Has the increase in people using social media increased citizen journalism participation?

2. When I think of citizen journalism, I think of YouTube and Twitter. Will communication shift in the future to develop new forms of citizen journalism? Will it be centralized, or how will it be manifested?

3. The article discusses how many citizen journalism efforts take place across various media outlets. What percent of citizens journalism can be described as transmedia?

Growing up with Facebook

In response to Facebook users brace for site’s redesign

It’s been a wild ride for Facebook during the past seven years. Facebook launched February of 2004, and by the Fall of 2005 I signed up for an account. I grew up going to public school until 8th grade, and then I went to a private girls school for high school with students from all over Cincinnati. Facebook, to me, was a place where I could keep track of all my friends from the Cincinnati area.

At this age I had no idea who Mark Zuckerberg was, but I was open and willing to share almost any personal information on my Facebook profile. Zuckerberg’s “About me” on Facebook states, “I’m trying to make the world a more open place.” When I first started on Facebook, I was excited to engage in the “open” world of the internet. I uploaded my pictures of my weekend activities with my friends and changed my profile picture as I saw fit. I also shared my religious affiliation, political views, interests, activities, AIM screen name, etc.

A fan of connecting virtually with old friends and finding interests of friends I would have never known about if they did not update their Facebook profiles, I realized how much I loved the concept of Facebook. Also, along with my fellow teens, I realized how much human beings hate change. I was quick to put up status updates sharing my frustrations every time the Facebook interface changed. But if I could view the original profile from 2004, I know I would appreciate all the updates.

Reading the articles for this week made me realize not only how pervasive the issue Facebook privacy has been on society as a whole, but it also made me think back on my relationship with Facebook in terms of privacy issues as well. This week I got a Facebook friend request in class. My iPhone buzzed, and I looked down to see “You have a friend request from Elizabeth Huston” on my phone’s screen. Initially, I was confused who Elizabeth Huston was. My confusion derived from the following reasons: 1. My mother goes by Libby. 2. My mother would never “give up privacy” enough to create a Facebook.

Upon accepting the friend request, however, I realized the profile does indeed belong to my mother. To me, this truly marked the significant infiltration Zuckerman’s “open” culture has moved into our society. My mother has been skeptical about my sibling’s and my Facebook use throughout the past couple years. From questioning how much personal information I share on my profile, to calling me now about content my younger brother’s friends put on his wall that she deems as inappropriate.

I definitely have altered my Facebook use since my initial excitement back in 2005. Now that I’m searching for jobs, I’ve taken down my religious views, political views, pictures, etc. Examining this shift in behavior, I wonder if this will be necessary in the future. As our society continues to become more open, how much should we censor ourselves if we’re reasonably responsible individuals? Also with the older generation joining Facebook including my mother, Facebook’s biggest skeptic, how much has our culture already shifted?

Social Networks: Questions for the Future


Reading this weeks articles made me contemplate issues with social media that are relevant today/ in the future.

1. We are still in the early stages of a world connected by social media. One issue I’ve discussed with others is what happens to social media pages after individuals pass away. I’ve seen pages of loved ones turn into memorial pages, but what are the privacy rules involved?

2. What are the specific rules on pseudonyms with Facebook? I remember when my friend named Famatta couldn’t submit her name as real on Facebook in 2005 because Facebook didn’t recognize it as a real name. However, fictional characters from transmedia stories have their own Facebook pages. How does Facebook draw the line?

3. Have there been case studies on how social media openness has altered society openness in general?My parents often comment how my generation is much more open about personal information than their generation. How will social media continue to foster this openness in the future?


The Internet and the Transformation of our Economic Market.

In Response to Chris Anderson, of Wired Magazine’s, The Long Tail.

Anderson’s The Long Tail, written in 2006, made me think of the significant shift successful companies have undergone in the past couple of years to compete in the economic market the internet has transformed. The “long tail” Anderson refers to includes all significant sales outside of the popular favorites. He gives the example of Barnes and Nobles. He says, “The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon’s book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles.” This occurs across industry lines, amplified by the internet.

Positive sales effects of company features, such as Amazon book suggestions, have evolved and more interactivity and information is offered now than ever to compete in the economic market. Anderson speaks to this in his article by saying Amazon book suggestions led to one thing, ” …rising demand for an obscure book.” As online store interfaces, such as Amazon.com, interact with their customers, customers become aware of more products. Popular culture fixtures, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, may lend popularity to obscure books suggested to consumers based on related topics.

User expectations, popular culture, and diversity of company services all have emerged to enhance this “long tail” phenomenon. An example of this is the success of Pandora during the past ten years.

Pandora is an internet radio that bases it’s entire popularity on this premise. Pandora allows individuals to create stations based on favorite artists or songs. From this, Pandora creates stations based on these preferences featuring similar songs or artists. This increases the popularity of bands which may be obscure in comparison to the artists individuals entered into their preferences. This promotes artists outside of the popular culture norm, and continual artist exposure.

Interactivity mentioned in Anderson’s article, such as book suggestions, is only amplified with Pandora. Individuals are able to engage with Pandora by choosing stations based on artists or songs, “like” specific songs to store preferences, shuffle stations together, create a profile to interact with other Pandora users, etc.

The wide variety of features offered through Pandora also makes me think of Anderson’s Netflix example. The emergence of the internet altered the services provided by companies required to compete in the economic market. For example, Pandora has a subscription service, iPhone application, etc. It offers lyrics of songs playing, band information, etc. This wide range of services provides users with enough usability to keep them coming back.

As for Anderson’s “long tail” concept, the internet will only continue to expose content which is not a part of popular culture. Individuals have been given an outlet to produce their own material, and the internet has transformed our economic market.

Cyberspace: A Second Life

A Response to Lawrence Lessig’s Code

1. I find it fascinating that Lessig compares his constitutionalist beliefs with his beliefs in regards to the internet. In talking about the necessity of internet code, what is the different between this and law? Does code not lend itself to be reliant on law?

2. In chapter 2 Lessig talks about the idea of cyberspace. It seems that his view of the internet as a second life for some, in the world of cyberspace, is fundamentally what supports his view of internet regulation. Why is this so significant? If he already is a constitutionalists, why can’t our current legal system merely be applied to cyberspace? By emphasizing cyberspace as a new world, he seems to imply new legislation, or code, should be written for this world. How far does her intent to take this idea?

3. In the first chapter, Lessig seems critical of students he taught at Yale for their libertarian attitude towards the internet. Why does he see his constitutionalists ideas are in conflict with this? Can these attitudes not coexist?