On Sharing: Wikileaks Documentary

In my previous blog I stressed the notion of sharing, in relation to Julian Assange and his Wikileaks. This documentary summaries the complete Wikileaks-project and process of the past few years. And, in relation to my blog earlier, something interesting is being said in this revealing video:

“The people who are in power, will not give that power away freely. That is just, unfortunately, a fact of nature.” [1]

Made by Jul (Tess).

The Contemporary Possibilities of Transmedia Storytelling

About the Harry Potter saga and the ability of telling a story through different mediums

Introduction

Technology has been changing over the past few years. All sorts of innovations have given people the possibility of ‘consuming’ all sorts of media, whenever they want to and where they want to. [1] Also people’s ‘new’ ability of participating and anticipating on new developments (such as Fanfiction) has helped a range of mediums to evolve outside their usual lines (filmic, textual, digital, game-related etc.). [2] This ‘participatory engagement’ has made it likely for people to explore new forms of media, which means that people are becoming accustomed to forms of media that were previously considered as low culture (such as television, games and internet). [3]

This all combined has created a shifting in the industry (which is also due to technological developments). [4] In this blog I’d like to pose the notion of ‘transmedia storytelling’ (a process that has been made possible because of the abovementioned). I’ll pose Henry Jenkins’ definition of ‘transmedia storytelling’ and, in relation to this, I’ll come up with an example of this ‘new media possibility’: the Harry Potter saga.

Jenkins’ Transmedia Storytelling 101

In his 2007 blogpost Transmedia Storytelling 101 Henry Jenkins discusses the notion of transmedia storytelling in a ten-step hand-out. [5] Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as “a process that represents where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it [sic] own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.”

He here implies that different mediums make the story complete – and more detailed. In relation to this statement I’d like to pose an example, which I think can be seen as a form of transmedia storytelling: the Harry Potter saga.

Harry Potter saga: transmedia storytelling to the fullest

The Harry Potter book-series were published between 1997 and 2007. From 2001 on films were released almost every one or two years. Games for different consoles (such as Playstation and Nintendo DS) were brought out at the same time. Later on a huge merchandise-market arose (ranging from ‘wizardrobes’ and ‘wands’ to ‘bookmarks’ and ‘action-figures’). [6] Lego came up with a ‘Harry Potter series’. [7] The Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios in London became a museum, complete with studio-tour. And, at last, an enormous themepark ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ was opened in Orlando, Florida. [8]

These publications, merchandise-materials, visiting-places et cetera, all add something to the original story about a young orphan boy that turns out to be a wizard with a mortal enemy. Whether it’s about places, information (such as ‘spells’, or ‘ books’ that are read in the world of Harry Potter) or objects; all the mediums add something to the original storyline, so that fans can create their own story within the world of Harry Potter. [9]

There is one medium in particular that struck me whilst looking for transmedia storytelling examples: Pottermore. Pottermore is a website where Potter (or even non-Potter) fans can “explore the Harry Potter stories in a whole new way and discover exclusive new writing from J.K. Rowling”. [10] The Pottermore website tells the Harry Potter story in an interactive way so that the user really becomes a part of the wizarding world. By sorting its users into a Hogwarts-house (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw) they become part of the world they’re desperately longing to be part of. This site also provides information to that users that really want to get to the bottom of it, or even want to create their own story in the wizarding world.

Conclusion

To conclude this mini-essay I think the Harry Potter saga is an interesting example of transmedia storytelling. Not only are there countless mediums involved in the recreation of a new – more complete and detailed – wizarding world, there are also mediums that really play with the diversity of mediums. Such as Pottermore – a website that tells the textual story of Harry Potter, whilst showing drawings, playing music, and giving information through little videos. By intertwining all these different mediums the user actually becomes a part of the wizarding world – and by experiencing this product the user himself can fill in the gaps, that J.K. Rowling has left open to discover. [11]

Made by Jul (Tess).

PS. Your Hogwarts acceptance letter is late.

Sources

Lecture ‘Digital Art and Culture: New Media, New Stories?’, Martijn Stevens and Lianne Toussaint. (April 18th, 2013) Nijmegen: Algemene Cultuurwetenschappen (Cultural Studies).

Jenkins, Henry. (2007) ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101’. http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html  (May 25th, 2013).

http://search2.lego.com/?q=harry+potter&lang=2057&cc=NL (May 25th, 2013).

http://www.noblecollection.com/index.cfm?fa=products.catagory&catid=21 (May 25th, 2013).

http://www.pottermore.com/ (May 25th, 2013).

https://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/ (May 25th, 2013).


[1] Lecture ‘Digital Art and Culture: New Media, New Stories?’, Martijn Stevens and Lianne Toussaint. (April 18th, 2013) Nijmegen: Algemene Cultuurwetenschappen (Cultural Studies).

[2] Ibidem.

[3] Ibidem.

[4] Ibidem.

[5] Jenkins, Henry. (2007) ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101’. http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html  (May 25th, 2013).

[9] Jenkins, Henry. (2007) ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101’. http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html  (May 25th, 2013): “A transmedia text does not simply disperse information: it provides a set of roles and goals which readers can assume as they enact aspects of the story through their everyday life. We might see this performative dimension at play with the release of action figures which encourage children to construct their own stories about the fictional characters or costumes and role playing games which invite us to immerse ourselves in the world of the fiction.”

[10] http://www.pottermore.com/ (May 25th, 2013).

[11]  Jenkins, Henry. (2007) ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101’. http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html  (May 25th, 2013): “The encyclopedic ambitions of transmedia texts often results in what might bes een as gaps or excesses in the unfolding of the story: that is, they introduce potential plots which can not be fully told or extra details which hint at more than can be revealed. Readers, thus have strond incentive to continue to elaborate on these story elements, working them over through their speculations, until they take on a life of their own.”