A Literacy of the Imagination

a deeper look at innovation through the lenses of media, technology, venture investment and hyperculture

Filtering by Tag: transmedia

Some Truth About 'Big Data', Agnostic Storytelling & Journalism

A couple weeks back I gave a talk at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab on how to use data and the stories behind the data to build intelligence and sustain markets.

It's an hour-long, so I thought I'd summarize some key points for you:

 - Immediacy and importance with information leave us, as readers and media participants, grappling over the choice of information we want to consume or with which we want to interact;

- Data isn't 'big' so much as it is curatorial and relevant given a particular context or set of contexts;

storytelling in 21c.png

- Normative methods for measurement (clicks, views, page rank etc.) don't represent true or scalable value, and actually commodify the media market, to include 'content' and the creators of it; 

- Discovery and serendipity (not filtering) are vital for critical thought processes;

- Stories are in actuality the predicates for markets and their growth; the question becomes how we look beyond the need to push content out into media environments and instead look at how storytelling is used to leverage cultural and business behaviors;

- We need to relearn how to think, and ask better questions, knowing that the 'answers' may not come to us right away or ever;

- Central or 'meta' narratives have been constructed over time to influence our perspectives of the world that often run in conflict with what we know to be true in our hearts; the choices we make (our freewill) can shift these perspectives and create new realities through personal and collective stories;

Whole Self & Narrative.png

- Cognitive bias can be reframed to look at 'truth' and 'circumstance' as inferential; the idea is that information streams have phases or stages that provide pivots through which we can understand operating context -- the thing that enables us to understand information and make better decisions;

- The future of the media business as a whole hinges on three things: 1. emergence (allowing stories and ideas to flourish without media or advertising bias), 2. socialization (syndicating information streams as part of the storytelling process), 3. learning (adapting to what we discover, when we discover it). 

Be vigilant in your pursuit of context. Think and act critically. Always consider your fellow (wo)man. Be kind, be generous, be unreasonable in protecting your civil rights, and those of others. Make great, inspiring media. Most of all, always be informed, and if you’re not afforded the opportunity, then trust your intuition... All fundamental truth resides in your heart. And with that, the stories you tell, the information you share, can only be, and will only be, magnificent.

 

Participatory Publishing

As some of you already know, yesterday Alvin Djunaedi and I launched a new BETA version of Paperlet, the “world’s first participatory publishing platform” that allows you to develop a story with your audience -- the audience being your friends, family and other people in your social network.

What is participatory publishing?

Well, we hope that the concept was explained to some extent above (and in the video). How this functions as a market behavior, now and in the very near future, is something we find most intriguing.

The ecosystem of online or digital publishing looks something like this, and has what I call a “double diamond” effect:

Double Diamond.png

Basically, this construct puts users (people) in the middle of a wonderful web of service interrelationships. As market disciplines like advertising and publishing become more and more disintermediated by a host of utilities and exchanges (real-time curation, programmatic buying, mobile-enabled and geo-targeted content creation, etc.), creative, strategic and distribution services become more dependent on each other, and their networks, to provide value.

In that sense, the “diamond” is the nexus of providing behavior that allows the creator or storyteller to leverage the best of the ecosystem to serve their needs and that of the market itself. As this hybrid service becomes an actual product, the diamond doubles down on the direct and indirect relationships that the ecosystem provides. There’s a reciprocal and sustainable effect, if you will.

For example, imagine that you are a storyteller -- specifically, a journalist -- and you develop a piece on urban farming. You have a means to write the story, a way of editorializing it, even a way of turning it into a product of sorts. Why and how? The story has potential value in its uses across social or digital networks, as well as your value in the fact that you wrote it, you have experience in the field and you've provided unique insight. Inversely, the marketplace is empowered because that insight can be used to tell more stories like it, and place you in a position to make connections with more publishers who are looking to place or curate good stories. So, whether the story originates from you, a publisher or an agency is almost irrelevant... what matters is that present or realized value can be tracked and measured within the ecosystem.

It's interesting to note the effect on publishing itself; I have referred to 'publishers' here as anyone or anything that publishes content, online or off (newspapers, magazines, portals, etc.). Self-publishing has emerged as a means to democratize distribution, but I would assert that without network services, this is just another tool or channel to create more content without the right readership. Further, the bar on storytelling quality is challenged as more content is created and 'pimped out' across media channels. Therein lies the core logic behind Paperlet's business model.

Where platforms have historically acted as destinations (“Over here! Come check out our great content!”), the ubiquity of creation and distribution has enabled a shift in how platforms come to be. This essentially means that the macro services of purchasing, storytelling and utilities (applications) reconfigure themselves as people customize and partner with each other -- as they become participants in the development of new markets.

This is why companies like Amazon are so formidable, because they are figuring out that their real power lies in how quickly they adapt their service products to the needs of the marketplace, and that of course hinges on who is operating within it.

Valuable.png

It’s a brave new world for storytellers and publishers alike… that is, if they can look at their networks and actually see the possibilities.

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On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media

5 Really Important Shifts in Media & Technology

An update on the #Algren Project and a few things #Transmedia. #storytelling #business #innovation

Things don't always go according to plan... And that's a good thing.

A while back, my sister roped me into an independent project with Michael Caplan on the life and times of Nelson Algren. The project essentially started as a feature documentary, and of course I had to go make things difficult by suggesting that we turn it into a multi-platform narrative.

Several plans and a botched Kickstarter campaign later, we're finally tracking to do something pretty cool. The documentary itself is actually quite good, and now we've decided to create a program that leverages Gail and Michael's students at Columbia College to build out some of the storyworld assets (I've borrowed from Lance Weiler's course at Columbia to do this... Thanks, Lance).

An update on the #Algren Project and a few things #Transmedia. #storytelling #business #innovation
John Sayles discusses his relationship with Nelson Algren, and how his narrative approaches have inspired his film and theater work...

I had initially hoped to make this a "pure transmedia storytelling" effort in which participants like John Sayles, Salman Rushdie, Michael Mann, Russell Banks, Art Shay and Billy Corgan contribute their own versions of the story through their own select media in chapters and verse -- writing passages, songs, web shorts, participatory art pieces, pervasive games, etc. 

We'll still do this on some level, but my real aim in this - as I've been very clear about with Gail and Michael - is to create a model for an independent documentary project that actually demonstrates extensibility and scale. We'll see if it helps in our submissions to festivals like Tribeca, and if it's enough to provide a business plan for investors and brand sponsors. Fingers crossed -- this is all about experimentation! 

A cutting-edge, annotative storytelling platform: CODOC.

Speaking of documentary storytelling, I was approached several months ago by a couple of young, switched on filmmakers, Guy Gunaratne and Heidi Lindvall, to help them build out a really exciting platform called CODOC.

CODOC was initially incubated by Virgin Media Innovation Lab as an NGO-based storytelling effort with a simple video technology to help spread and distribute those stories. Without giving away our secret sauce, we've blown out the model to include something called the "Story Graph" that matches up online storytelling communities all over the world to the themes and topics addressed in the NGO stories.

An update on the #Algren Project and a few things #Transmedia. #storytelling #business #innovation
I'm really jazzed to see where we can take this in terms of supplying brands and organizations valuable metadata, and how they can create better stories and market more altruistically through those stories and communities. Stay tuned.

Forget Thanksgiving -- we're Sydney bound.

The omniscient Gary Hayes was kind enough to invite me down to Sydney, Australia from November 22 - December 4 to join a diverse group of mentors for StoryLabs. As an industry thought leader and director of the ABC network's multi-platform efforts down under, Gary has written extensively about his storytelling and community-building experiences for a while now, and I'm beyond excited about this event.

Us mentors will be speaking on topics ranging from online community development to storyworld creation, and we will be working on eight new, highly visible film projects. There will also be a host of leading studio executives and brand folks in attendance.

And of course, I'll be tweeting and blogging a fair amount on what comes out of these sessions... So yeah, stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 2 #transmedia #crossmedia #media

Part 1 covered off on a somewhat crude but personalized timeline of events surrounding the evolution of multi-platform storytelling. There are many examples I didn't include, but I wanted to give folks a reference set for understanding the "macro challenges" of what it means to be a storyteller in a wildly unpredictable and fairly hegemonic Internet economy.

Further to that, my intention is not to scare anyone, or deter them from taking on or developing new projects, but to help people see:

- The importance of building storytelling vehicles as real products that can be modularized, monetized and scaled;

- The importance of socializing the associative models within communities and peer groups;

- The importance of taking those learnings and packaging them up as potential use cases for regulators and legislators who ultimately determine the fate of our media ecosystem(s) as a whole.

In short, storytelling these days requires us to connect dots and to "feed the dots", as it were. It's not always fun, it's never easy, but it's a creative responsibility we must take on, that is, if we want to keep building markets for our ideas, now and into the future.

 

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 2 #transmedia #crossmedia #media

We're all digital consumers, but are we really prepared to become multi-platform content creators?

 

It's All In a Conversation...

Someone called me recently to ask if I would be interested in helping his company develop an "independent transmedia franchise platform" out of a series of book properties it had just purchased. The company had allegedly built a core technology to distribute the material, and intended to "strong-arm" the studios and networks into specific channel deals based on the distribution footprint.

I said sure, why not, but threw out the caveat that I needed to ask him a few questions first. He agreed. So, to my own detriment I suppose, I immediately "led the witness":

Me: "What's your definition of 'transmedia'?"

Him: "Excuse me?"

Me: "What's your definition of 'transmedia'?"

Him: (chuckles, then) "I'm not sure I understand the question."

Me: "Um, ok, what's your definition of a franchise?"

Him: (chuckles again) "Are you serious?"

Me: "Ok, lemme ask you this -- do you have a distribution and revenue model in mind?"

Him: (laughs, then) "That's why I'm calling you, dude!"

Me: "And I really appreciate that. Really, I do. But you haven't given me a definition of transmedia, or a definition for a franchise, and I need to set expectations here."

Him: "Is this a creative issue? Do you not have the right people?

Me: "No, that's not it..."

Him: "Well, I don't want to hire (so-and-so) or (so-and-so). I need someone who isn't gonna sell me a bunch of black magic or charge me a shit-ton of money to produce storyworld elements, or an automation system to distribute stories. I need scale."

Me: "Actually, it sounds like you need an audience..."

Him: "The books have an audience. A pretty big one."

Me: "No, the books have readers. We would need to build the audience and maintain it. One does not necessarily facilitate the other."

Him: (clears his throat) "Ok sure, fine, but I need scale. The investors were sold a transmedia platform, a franchise platform with multiple revenue streams."

Me: "I get it. Believe me, I get it loud and clear..."

Him: "So can you do the work?"

Me: "I'm not worried about getting the creative work done. I know lots of people who can do that -- people a lot better at it than me, quite frankly -- but I need to have some idea of what we're trying to build here, you know, as a business."

Him: "We have a business plan..."

Me: "Sounds to me like it's more of an idea than a business plan."

Him: (suspiciously) "Really..."

Me: "Yeah, we would need to create a framework. A real distribution model and a real revenue model, before we hire a single writer, designer, programmer or director. Have you considered how you're going to license these properties? Established terms for use? Creative commons considerations ala 'freemium to premium' or something like that?"

Him: "Sort of."

Me: "Then we'll have to look at various licensing models and strategic partnerships. We'll need to know what's in front of us, you know, obstacles and opportunities. We'll need to make deals with both publishers and distributors, as well as with open communities, even if we create our own content because we want people to distribute some of it themselves -- the question is what part of it. "

[pregnant pause; shuffling in the background]

Me: "Look, I don't sell transmedia. I can't. I shouldn't. I help build platforms that hopefully make money, and I can measure success with unique tools in my arsenal, and I can continue to do so over time. Isn't that what you want?"

[another pregnant pause]

Him: "I'll call you next week."

I never heard back from this gentleman again. By the way, I've had more than a few conversations in recent months that transpired just like this one, with a couple that have taken more positive turns.

Creating Accessible Standards For Growth

Here's the bigger rub.

We've had an opportunity -- a good number of us in the creative community -- to define what transmedia or crossmedia or multi-platform storytelling is and, for whatever reason, we haven't been able to do it very well.

Sure, people have overlapping definitions, and use cases, but there aren't many scalable revenue models from which to borrow or leverage. There is very little to be deemed as "industry standard". Just like, for the most part, they're aren't many in social media. Just like we didn't define what video or DVD distribution should have been when they came out.

Enter DRM, IP management, piracy, privacy, astroturfing, franchise licensing and the like, and we have an overwhelming smorgasbord of issues that just won't allow is to tell stories the way we think we might want to.

Maybe certain standards can't be put in place. But, if we look at a storytelling platform by the channels in which it is comprised, we probably can. And there are models that do exist for channel-specific distribution, mostly those which are "proprietary". I've developed some of my own through various engagements and won't be sharing them here as I'm not at liberty to do so, and because I share a lot already as it is (probably too much at times ;)

That said, I don't mean to come off as hypocritical; what I'm saying is that we don't necessarily have to dive into core methodologies -- that is something which makes us as individual entities competitive (in a good way), and something through which we can create value and markey viability -- but we do need to share as many use cases as we can so as to provide context. The context piece is what we can all collaborate on to empower the market as a whole.

More important, when we don't develop standards for growth, experiments or not, we lose out to the gatekeepers -- media brokers, lobbyists, legislators and other private and special interest groups, you know Old Media, that don't want us to break out of our little creator and consumption boxes.

But, again, there is hope in building a sustainable marketplace. I think.

The Go-Forward Considerations (And a Friendly Tip)...

Right here in Los Angeles, in my own backyard, Google and Facebook are moving into bigger, hipper, bolder offices.

Why? They're taking over where studios, TV networks and banks refuse to go, or anywhere they can't go. Internet companies, along with Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach (a funny new label for the west side of LA), are getting deeper and deeper into the distribution business.

Twitter, in my honest opinion, is probably threading this needle in the most innovative of ways. Its foray into the broadcast space has a lot of promise, and the platform is already attracting strategic partners from the highest ranks of media, as well as content creators who have made a name for themselves cutting through the clutter of crap on offer in most social media channels (like YouTube).

Whether these folks are proven multi-platform storytellers is not the point; they are looking to reinvent what does work out of the more established Old Media and branded content models, and hope to lay the groundwork for where New Media can play a more definitive role.

What's Twitter really doing? It's looking at audience development in an entirely new way. Google is approaching it from a different angle, which is the premium channel route, and, through its robust suite of utilities which are now integrated into G+. Facebook is betting on distribution ubiquity by empowering folks to use Timeline as a storytelling and curation tool, and by leveraging its new array of mobile platforms. Yahoo! is making a run as a premium publisher, and is looking to leverage its communities of users to do it. AOL is using the HuffPo relationship to feed its content syndication model that hopes to stretch across a variety of New Media. Bing is making a stronger play in location-based services, which includes the development Microsoft has undertaken to allow people to connect through stronger social media interactions and various forms of interactive storytelling, particularly through its gaming platforms.

Harking back to the early days of the 'net, these companies are coming around, full circle.

But Internet companies, as much as they like to portend that they are actually media companies of one sort or another, are not storytellers. Most of them (not all) don't really understand multi-screen audiences. They're just now learning how to build real fan bases, and not like studios or TV networks or brands do when they do things right (which is, of course, a tragic irony in all of this).

In short, Silicon Valley will not solve our storytelling problem. Not by itself, at least.

Don't get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for these companies. I really do.

But they're not looking out for the media ecosystem itself -- they're not really democratizing production along the web, and they're not doing it just for creators or consumers, as much as they like to say they are. The reasons for this are far more complicated than the viewpoint presented here, but let's just say that they can't -- some are public companies tied to inextensible ad models and quarterly earnings reports and investors who only care about the bottom line... And putting ideaology aside, I suppose we can't blame them.

And guess what else?

These same companies are becoming the banks of the future. They've got way more cash on the books than any of the retail institutions (probably combined), as well as alternative currency and transactional systems, and they have the distribution pipelines to boot -- you know, captive users.

In addition to taking on the disposition of banks, if they look like studios or networks, and they operate like studios or networks, then they probably are studios or networks.

If this is the case, can they also fight or continue to support our battles around an open Internet? Do they even want to? Studios want to do the oppposite, and to date, have poured millions into lobbying for paywalls and encryption technologies to charge consumers for content at every turn...

... And so a sobering reality remains...

...The media world is still based on scarcity. Investment is scarcity-led. The Internet doesn't really operate on scarcity, but unless you are an Apple, an Amazon or a Netflix, you're either in the content distribution business, the device manufacturing business, or the audience building business, and no one has figured out the latter. (Hint: It won't be done through a single algorithm either...)

Not yet at least.

A piece of advice to all you storytellers out there: Learn how to build, cultivate and maintain audiences. Develop a model for it. Or five of them. But do it, and do it fast. Knowing how to spread stories is one thing (and a very prized skill), but knowing how to keep audiences satiated and "engaged" is the holy grail of our media existence.

With all that said, I am still a firm believer in good storytelling (that can mean a lot of things, but still...).

So I'll remain a storyteller, and as a technologist, I'm placing my bets in other areas: Solving the legislative problems we have, the distribution challenges we face, the Big Data opportunities we have, and the economic barriers that keep us from being creatively free.

Think about how this relates to you, and the role in which you're comfortable playing. Think of this guy, if you need a dose of inspiration:

 

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 2 #transmedia #crossmedia #media

Hopefully, one day soon, transmedia or crossmedia or multi-platform storytelling will just be storytelling that can be enjoyed and shared by all.

And we will get there, sooner rather than later. Believe me, we will.

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 1 #transmedia #crossmedia #media

Introduction

As a companion piece to a recent post we wrote over on the WWTID blog regarding curation, and as a follow-up to my last piece on proving out models within the creative industry, I wanted to expand on the concept of storytelling in today's highly charged, highly fragmented and highly regulated Internet environment.

By now, you've probably heard the terms "crossmedia" "intermedia" and "transmedia" ad nauseum in conjunction with the notion of multi-platform storytelling and experience design. This will not be a post about term definition (I promise -- I've all but given up on that endeavor), but rather an exploration of business challenges revolving around any one of these terms.

In short, it seems we have two core challenges:

1. What it means to actually tell stories;

2. What it means to distribute and scale stories across platforms.

Telling stories -- at least those with which a number of people seem to gravitate toward, interact, participate and share -- is incredibly difficult in an increasingly intermediated landscape (yes, you heard that right). The cost of production has gone down, while the cost to distribute, even among a variety of channels and device options, has gone up. At the end of the day, it probably has less to do with creative abundance as it does with the struggle between Old and New Media.

Here's some personal backstory on this paradigm, and why, even as we improve storytelling disciplines, a real battle needs to be waged in the board rooms and legislative confines of corporations and institutions.

An Imperfect Evolution

[from Wikipedia]: The Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) was the first notable attempt by the United States Congress to regulate pornographic material on the Internet. In 1997, in the landmark cyberlaw case of Reno v. ACLU, the United States Supreme Court struck the anti-indecency provisions of the Act.

The Act was Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It was introduced to the Senate Committee of Commerce, Science, and Transportation by Senators James Exon (D-NE) and Slade Gorton (R-WA) in 1995. The amendment that became the CDA was added to the Telecommunications Act in the Senate by an 84–16 vote on June 14, 1995.

In Europe around the same time, EU policies would present a different side to the same coin: Self-regulation. This would eventually rear its own ugly head in terms of how people could access and share information on their own terms.

What this meant: A threat to the constitutional notions of free speech, and something that prompted a wave of issues tied to content creation, content sharing, technology adoption, and copyright law.

1997. I'm three years out of undergrad. Mobile and email are just starting to take off. Websites are being built for as much as $5M a pop (or more). Web companies are being funded for obscene amounts based on ideas, not revenue models or pro formas. Content creators, of all types, are starting to experiment again beyond the CD-ROM or interactive DVD fold.

I remember sitting in an office at NBC, literally a room in a trailer on the studio lot that I shared with some of my friends and co-workers, having these long, drawn-out chats, sometimes hours long, about convergence and the future of media. We were convinced that the world was changing and that "format" would no longer be an issue in the world of storytelling. We talked about how characters in a story could take on media lives of their own, how fictional and non-fictional elements might blend into stories or contribute to emergent narrative arcs, how formats would actually change because of it, and how new markets would form around it.

I'm pretty sure that it was the first time I ever heard the word "transmedia" or "crossmedia" used in a sentence.

A few of us had interesting professional lives: We were writer-producer-directors at the network (show segments, on-air promotions, broadcast design campaigns, early web and digital properties) who would come in early (usually 5 AM), produce our material, ship it for air, and then go to our "other" gigs in the afternoons.

Being ambitious to the point of sadism, I had three of them.

One was a startup called "Homemade Entertainment" that was backed by a co-founder of EDI (which later became AC Nielsen-EDI). We were basically an early version of YouTube. We had lots of great ideas, an interesting website, a little bit of cash on the books... And no distribution. At that time, all the telcos couldn't build Internet pipes fast enough. We didn't have broadband. There wasn't enough of an audience, not enough eyeballs, not enough justification for an ad or a subscription model. We lasted almost a year and then let our lease go to another company.

Around the same time, ventures like DEN (Digital Entertainment Network) and iFilm were flaring up, becoming the darlings of Wall Street, as well as Madison and Vine. Those of us who were content creators for these platforms were having somewhat of a field day -- we were not only experimenting with format, but we were creating material that could live on multiple screens. It was a lot of fun, and we made pretty good money, even if the companies themselves didn't.

Again, we didn't really have an audience. And without much revenue (if at all), we operated at a burn rate that would give investment bankers and venture capitalists ulcers.

Most of these companies would go under; a few (like iFilm) would survive through acquisition and by building up asset libraries, diversifying, and pivoting to different areas of growth as extension arms of other media companies.

I moved on and started creating feature film campaigns, as well as got involved in some independent film projects and some related software projects, wondering when something like "transmedia" or "crossmedia" and true convergence would take hold of the digital and analog worlds.

That same year, in 1997, Lance Weiler and Stefan Avalos would create "The Last Broadcast", described as "the first desktop based feature film".

Stories, Technology Acceleration & The Problem of Scale

Cut to 1999. "The Blair Witch Project" becomes a mega success. We all know about what it did, and probably what it meant, and all I could say was: "Yeah -- that!"

Lions Gate acquires the film and uses it as means to build its own asset library. With every intention to blow it out as a franchise, not much happens after that.

Cut to 2001. BMW Films releases its first web series "The Hire" and all I could say was: "Yeah -- that!"

The brand garners a lot of views and a lot of buzz, and even redefines how agencies can market, how stories can be told across platforms, and how brands can sell their products beyond advertising. Save for a few exceptions, this would remain an anomaly in the "branded content" space.

Cut to 2003. I get involved in a spin-off of a military simulation and gaming company. We architect a pre-visualization and real-time rendering software that allows media companies to integrate digital properties and distribute them with ease, as well as save tons on post-production costs. We were solving a pretty major business problem, and a big media problem.

All I could say was: "Yeah -- that!"

Unfortunately, we have issues selling it in as a product to different companies and different verticals. At one point, a big cable net wants to buy us for a nice chunk of money, but we don't have enough due diligence on the core model, and we run out of money after 18 months. We are absorbed by the parent company, us principles leave, and the assets are split up or sold off.

Cut to 2005. A friend of mine who works with a big music label recruits me to help him build a platform that allows new artists to be discovered. This is a storyworld with various characters (industry archetypes) and a narrative about building a creative business (a record company), utilizing early social media (MySpace), microsites, widgets and social games, each asset and character contributing uniquely to the overall narrative, and enlisting audiences as participants. We have phenomenal adoption -- over 200,000 fans on MySpace alone within the first two months, and we create a websidoc series, a documentary series (early reality TV) and a feature film around the property.

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 1 #transmedia #crossmedia #media

We were actually solving a significant business and cultural problem...

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media, Part 1 #transmedia #crossmedia #media
... But ran into issues of scale. Scale of all types and sizes.Including what regulators at the music labels were going to think.

And what happens?

No proven revenue model. The label pulls the plug after several months and the rest is history.

Same year: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issues a Broadband Policy Statement (also known as the Internet Policy Statement), which lists four principles of open Internet,[16] "To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to:"

Translation: "We're going to determine what is lawful in terms of content and how it is shared."

Cut to 2006. Henry Jenkins comes out with his critically acclaimed book, "Convergence Culture". All I can say is, "Yeah -- that!"

Same year: At a digital agency, we build one of the first broadband platforms for a major brand, which comprises a number of interactive storytelling elements, including audience participation across channels. It launches, takes on a few iterations, and eventually runs out of funding.

Cut to 2007. I work on an interactive narrative game that I later find out is called an "ARG" (alternate reality game). All I can say is, "Yeah -- that!"

The game does fairly well, but we run out of money. And as a platform, it is shut down.

Cut to 2008. I'm recruited to develop a gaming property in which we implement a similar construct -- we build an amazing story world -- and more or less the same thing happens.

Same year: At my own agency, we build two multimedia storytelling platforms, both for non-profits, and both launch but run out of funding within several months. They would later be revamped as different projects.

Same year: [from Wikipedia]: The FCC auctions off the 700 MHz block of wireless spectrum in anticipation of the DTV transition; Google promises to enter a bid of $4.6 billion if the FCC requires the winning licensee to adhere to four conditions:[17]

Translation: Licensors and licensees are at the beck-and-call of regulation, which can be bought and sold by the highest bidder(s).

Cut to 2009. Same scenario involving a military project I join, same outcome. The cause? Believe it or not, government regulations.

[from Wikipedia]: In September of that same year: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposes to add two additional rules on top of its 2005 policy statement, viz., the nondiscrimination principle that ISPs must not discriminate against any content or applications, and the transparency principle, which requires that ISPs disclose all their policies to customers. He also argues that wireless should be subject to the same network neutrality as wireline providers.[19]

Translation: Policies, not regulation, will dictate Internet distribution. Again, those can be bought and sold by the highest bidder(s).

2010 to present day. I get involved in several projects, some film-based, one TV-based, one game-based; they get some traction, but more or less experience the same scenarios as listed above.

[from Wikipedia]: In May 2010, after it was believed the FCC would drop their effort to enforce net neutrality, they announce that they will continue their fight. It was believed they would not be able to enforce net neutrality after a Federal court's overthrow of the agency's Order against Comcast. However, under commission chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC proposes reclassifying broadband Internet access providers under the provisions of Title 2 of the Communications act in an effort to force the providers to adhere to the same rules as telephone networks. This adjustment is meant to prevent, "unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities or services."[21]

Translation: Redefining classifications and regulations such that other bigger cable operators don't go bankrupt or telcos don't abuse their power while they surreptitiously monopolize.

Further translation: Practices will change where the money changes hands in Washington.

On December 21, 2010, the FCC approves new rules banning cable television and telephone service providers from preventing access to competitors or certain web sites such as Netflix. The rules also include a more limited set of obligations for wireless providers. The rules would not keep ISPs from charging more for faster access. Republicans in Congress have announced plans to reverse the rules through legislation.[22] Verizon has also indicated that it will challenge the FCC's decision in court,[23] and Colin Crowell, the former Senior Counselor to the FCC Chairman, has called such court challenges "inevitable."[24]

All the while: Piracy and privacy concerns mount as revamped fodder for special interest groups, especially those supported by Big Media companies and Hollywood studios. In 2012 alone, we see legislative bonfires sweep the Internet world over in the form of SOPA, PIPA and ACTA, with more on the way...

Translation: Policy formation and regulation are completely out of whack; for one, they become a party incentive, not a policy imperative. For another, no one seems to be reading between the lines; Old Media -- starting with the MPAA, primetime and cable nets -- are trying to destroy the openness of the Internet. And with that, we not only have a media problem and a distribution problem, but a democracy problem.

Patterns, Patterns, Patterns...

There's a central theme running here.

No, it's not the fact that you or I are gluttons for punishment (which we may be); in every case stated above, we had an opportunity to tell stories in very interesting ways, but would be stymied by distribution and scale. Sometimes this came in the form of cut-off in funding, in media dollars, in time, in interest, or all four.

Looming in the shadows have been regulators of all types, looking to "control" stories and their respective media for their own monetary gains, and not for the benefit of audiences.

To be perfectly clear, I absolutely love the idea of "transmedia" or "crossmedia" or "intermedia" storytelling. I love the idea of agnostic (or even channel specific) storytelling, but to be honest, I don't really know what it means anymore, at least not in terms of a business or even a value proposition. To be more clear, I don't position anything I do in this realm as a "storytelling project" anymore; it's either a platform, an audience-building mechanism or both.

More on that in a bit.

I remember when social media first exploded onto the scene. Everyone got so excited (as they should have) about all these new networks, and conversations, and sharing, and whatever else, and soon enough people started to realize, "Oh yeah -- we need good content! (And maybe we need to learn how to tell better stories!)" And so began the notion of earned, paid and owned media, throwing traditional models out of whack and putting media companies on their heels.

Lost in this mix, of course, was an emphasis on telling stories themselves -- this became another play on media. And we all have some idea where media has landed in the mix of distribution.

A good buddy of mine, an exec at a media holding company, said to me recently that multi-platform storytelling should be what good integrated communications planning is, just that folks in the agency business tend to think that stories and messages are the same thing, and they probably aren't. Sort of like, by default, how social media and content development have been thought of in the same way.

I tend to agree, but for different reasons; among them, advertising art and copy, or social network interactions, or commercials, or webisodics typically don't employ narrative structures that can be scaled through clear archetypes, identifiable conflicts (like real social issues) and extended narratives (sub-plots, what have you). Why? Because media buying and placement get in the way.

Also because, ironically, creative ideaology gets in the way.

There's another argument to consider here, which is that marketing and storytelling might not be the same thing. Yet, I would assert that they've been put into that position via, among other things, rigid media buying practices (in part, controlled by lobbying and legislation). More important, they should be the same thing if they want to be, shouldn't they?

So back to the theme of being "cut off".

Multi-platform storytelling, crossmedia storytelling, transmedia storytelling, whatever you can or want to call it, is really, really hard to do.

I'm not talking about franchise properties like Star Wars or Lost or The Simpsons that have been blown out over the years into myriad other narrative or franchise properties. I'm not talking about game companies who can do all sorts of interesting things beyond the console, or creative shops who can tell such good stories that you don't think you're actually being marketed to, you're just taking part in an incredible experience, with a fan base that participates in truly unique ways.

I'm talking about the notion of "pure transmedia" or "pure storytelling adoption" or "pure multimedia creation", you know, building a brand and a property and a storyworld from the ground up -- creating a platform that can sustain itself and its fans -- free of media and distribution and legislative biases.

I'm talking about how folks are using this construct to create or tap into social movements. I'm talking about telling story in a way that actually transcends the media and channels through which it runs. I'm talking about how to sustain a relationship, a dialogue, with an audience even when it's not watching or buying or interacting directly with your material or your product.

Does a pure transmedia or crossmedia or multi-platform play like this actually exist? Maybe. Are any of these platforms sustainable beyond the life of a project or a campaign? Not usually.

To do that, it takes money, time, commitment, and most of all, belief from the "power structure" that is already in place. If you think that's a load of crap, or defeatist in some way, then think of it from this angle:

If you create an independent project, you don't have to go through a studio or a network or a big production company or big design shop or a big brand. But you still have to fund the project somehow. Everyone from private capital investors to private equity to venture capital to banks and even microlenders (yes, them) are going to look at examples. Where do examples come from? Most commonly from commercial successes. And even most commercial successes fall short, in some ways, because they have challenges of scale.

In other words, they're not true platforms. And that's a whole 'nother issue at hand.

We'll explore what this means in Part 2.

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

I'm not one for lists, nor do I pay too much attention to trends (trends are fleeting), but I do see a whole lot of shifts in the work I do. You know, seismic ones. So I thought I'd share a few that I think are critical to business, and those shaping the way we leverage media and technology for the better.

(1) Brands as major studios & publishing conglomerates

We've seen the transition of brands into publishing and content distribution with their own paid, earned and owned media properties -- as evidenced by the likes of Coke, Pepsi, Levis, Ford, Whole Foods, P&G, Intel, Red Bull and a host of others.

The new shift is even more impressive now: They're replacing studios and traditional publishers outright. Some might scoff at the idea, but it's been discussed at length; the studios are out of time and money, and publishers can't figure out how to monetize through flatter distribution schemes. And then there are the reams of proprietary IP of which they refuse to give away pieces (ala "freemium"); this stasis is literally killing off their businesses systematically. TV networks have fared far better in this game, but the verdict is still out on whether or not they can keep pace with a ratings horizon that isn't dependent on where people watch, but how they watch and why.

THE DISINTEGRATING LANDSCAPE...

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

THE EMERGING LANDSCAPE...

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

To boot, companies that have robust distribution platforms, like Walmart (Walmart Labs, Vudu), are realizing that if they can't license content outright, they can create it and distribute it themselves, and they're looking for smaller, agile partners with which to do this. Coincident TV (a company I advise and work closely with) is just one of a select group leading this charge in the social TV and multi-screen space. Add companies like Netflix into the mix, and you've got a brigade of disintermediaries that are literally replacing the role of media companies. This is the more obvious play in terms of media planning, buying and placement (which by the way, are commodity services that are still important, and likely to remain with media agencies). The less obvious play is in how they're doing it: they're creating new markets -- something that media companies, for the most part, aren't set up to do.

Is it the death of the big media buy? Depends on how you look at it -- "Big Media" is becoming the playground for owned and earned media properties that can scale... And brands are wising up to the fact that they don't need brokers for it. Media companies are getting scared, and rightfully so.

In terms of production, brands can either go to smaller 3rd party vendors, or, they can simply produce the content themselves. Companies like Best Buy have built an entire internal infrastructure to do this and many other companies have followed suit.

Whether brands get into the movie or the TV business isn't so much the question or the issue (they already have on multiple levels); the bottom line is that they have the screens, the means and the access to consumer audiences, and that, in and of itself, poses both a major threat and an amazing opportunity... Mostly for the people that matter most: the end "consumers".

(2) Dynamic publishers comprise the primary market, while agencies comprise the secondary market

Upon first glance, an agency exec might say, "Bullshit! Our margins are fatter than ever and the market is solid!"

To the ad exec: Maybe so, but the big journalism and the big data markets are much bigger and that's where your big clients are playing, kimosabe. The numbers don't lie -- in aggregate, more than 40% of measured media budgets are shifting towards content-generation just in 2012. Also: you're not building markets, you're just squeezing blood from those that are dying or in stasis. A few holding companies get it and are building new divisions to take advantage of this shift, but they're still challenged by their size and hamstrung by their less agile portfolio companies.

No, Sir: ads and billboards and bright, shiny digital objects aren't going away, they're just being put into their proper place, which is second fiddle to rich, original content and stories driven by experiences that have real value (read: not curated stories, not headline stories... But actual, real stories). In some ways, they're also being reinvented (in a good way).

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

Leading-edge creative and social media agencies as well as true content companies (dare I say, transmedia storytellers) will continue to play a vital role in this, especially as they staff up with real journalists, writers, creative artists, film & TV directors, experience designers, culturalists, environmentalists and political thinkers. However, the rubber will soon meet the road for them as they are challenged with turning these offerings into service products and scalable IP. One solution they've undertaken is the development of true content platforms (the amalgam of unique people, unique technology and exceptional storytelling), which can generate new stories, new products and new campaigns in perpetuity. These platforms are also co-developing the utilities of the future (like Nike+ Fuelband). Where the medium has become the message to a large extent, the content created becomes the context (or part of it) for the use and spread of that utility.

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

Internet publishers like AOL (HuffPo in particular) and Yahoo! (yes, YAHOO) are starting to resurge with this new movement, provided that they can continue to see past their ad models and realize that the real opportunities lie within their own networks of dedicated readers/users. Similar to some of the brands mentioned above, they have three distinct advantages: a) distribution; b) content; and c) utilities.

To boot, less commodified services like data journalism continue to strong-arm the marketplace and companies with independent strengths in publishing properties (and with dedicated divisions) like the New York Times will become the bedrocks in this equation (a bit ironic, eh?). Again, there's a dire need for good stories, and the context to back those stories (read: good data). By the way, the NYT data journalism unit is a thriving enterprise business forging significant paths into the at-present $100B big data space. Look out, world.

(3) User-generated data or "UGD"

Speaking of good data, you might ask: "What's the obsession over data all about?" 

Simple: We've been using outdated, ineffective models for measurement. In the Internet world, this has been going on for the better part of 17 years (which is a lifetime)! The fact that most companies still can't account for 50% of their media spend is, well, pathetic. And some are getting sick of it. And so are the people who consume, share and/or remix content -- they simply don't care about ads and don't want them flooding their social media feeds. They will, however, tolerate or even enjoy ads if they are used as containers of good content or shareable utilities of one sort or another.

For example, the value of a sponsored story on Facebook isn't the fact that it's more relevant (which it is), it's the fact that it's something that you might've discovered just by clicking around a page, and that's the difference -- you engage with something you discover rather than something you're just being served. Instead of a brand having to support a conversation that's already happening, a person can go to a storefront with all the goods and services they need. This means conversations remain as free, valuable bits of information and fCommerce remains relatively unfettered because the endorsement comes from a person, not a brand.

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

The big boon in this is privacy. On one side, privacy exists as a means to somehow protect individual data, and to avoid being fed ad-like objects that are intrusive. On the other, it exists as an opportunity for users to knowingly share data and potentially profit from it. Platforms like Glome, Mynd (a company I advise) and Kapture represent a new wave good data providers that are creating exchanges for companies to leverage individual and category data in more altruistic ways. This amounts to brokering information with audience consent. The VRM space is specifically focused on companies not actually owning user data, but managing how people and vendors share it. A New York Times article that ran just over the weekend provides details on some other start-ups that are tackling the challenge of pricing and managing personal data.

Here's the even bigger boon: UGD markets. These are new, emerging markets based on dynamic research, focus groups and myriad forms of panel data. Think of progressive companies like Lithium or Passenger with more open, flexible models whereby users can actually build market segments of their own. No more experiences in which you, as a survey participant, are forced to drink bad coffee behind mirrored glass -- you particpate on your own terms, and in environments in which you are comfortable (like your living room). Watch Google quietly get into this space with its new privacy regulations and a stronger effort to leverage its networks like G+ for this range of enterprise benefits.

(4) User-curated data, or "UCD"

Which brings us to another really interesting shift, UCD. Not to be confused with "OCD" (although the condition might fuel it), this is a means for company analysts to adapt to the rapid changes in the consumer and enterprise landscape and curate data in such a way that it reflects the more real-time nature of sharing and transactions (or in some cases, shareable transactions).

You've probably read or heard rumblings about the merger of structured (paid or owned media) and unstructured (earned, conversational) data. This actually isn't anything all that new. What is new is how data is managed, parallel processed, stored and correlated to the extent that companies can actually make sense of their analytics systems and make quicker decisions that impact their bottom lines. Believe it or not, BI (business intelligence) systems are just starting to be able to do this on a level that isn't confounding to the average user.

5 Really, Really Important Shifts (not trends) in #Media & #Technology

Additionally, talk about "influence" or "engagement" or "virality" is meaningless without context -- the metrics surrounding them are literally moving targets. So how do we achieve context? We constantly adapt how we measure, and curation is the key. This is something we've been working hard to refine at Heardable -- to allow users to curate in such a way that the data becomes easier and easier to understand, and business decisions become more noticeable, and actionable, within context. At the end of the day, this is all about understanding people.

(5) People are not only media, they are also technology

With "consumerism" losing its greasy heels on the wave of a newly charged, people-powered media environment, people really are becoming media, and they are also embodying the technologies they use.

This doesn't mean they've taken to writing code per se, although tech development has become a lot easier, especially through open source communities like Gnome. But overall, people are becoming more literate in a way that their dependency on devices, software and applications have changed their behavior, and more specifically, their daily rituals. Don't be fooled, digital literacy is still a huge problem for the general population, but the good news is that people are curious enough to interact with technology systems as an alternative to their socio-economic struggles.

We have already started to see this at the NGO level, but it seems that there is a permeating factor in terms of driving innovation across borders. Take China, for instance: labor costs have risen dramatically as a result of young people graduating from universities and seeking higher-paying jobs, many of which are technology-based. To add, the average age of the entrepreneur in China and other APAC countries is 30 -- this clearly points to a shift in how technology markets take shape, and how they develop via peoplesourced means.

The net-net...

If you are a company playing in any of these spaces, now is the time to act and make very uncomfortable decisions. If we don't reverse-engineer the staid methods that have hampered our growth up to this point, then our audiences and "consumer cohorts" will do it for us (they already have). To compete in the 21st century means we have to be extraordinary, at all times and at all costs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mysteeri Vaeltava Teletapit (The Mystery of the Wandering Teletubby) #transmedia #antitransmedia #Finland #teletubbies

I'm on vacation, I'm still jetlagged and there are two major hurricanes currently wreaking havoc in the world. Time for a fun, temporary fit of inanity, you know, to take the mind off of things.

My girlfriend (Mira, she's Finnish) and I arrived in Helsinki just in time for "The Night of the Arts", which is a pretty cool and slightly bizarre cultural event that happens right in the heart of the city. Basically, young people cruise around carrying twelve-packs of Koff (the Budweiser of Finland) and get into some interesting stuff: dancing, drawing, playing music, basket weaving, peoplewatching, what have you.

I came across this DJ, who had to have been the slowest spinmeister I have witnessed anywhere in the world... And then this mysterious Teletapit -- a lean, mean, green machine who enters the scene right at the last couple frames of the video.

Is there a story here? Who knows?!

After doing some local research, it appears that this dude is a real meme.

Mysteeri Vaeltava Teletapit (The Mystery of the Wandering Teletubby) #transmedia #antitransmedia #Finland #teletubbies
We know he lives right here in Helsinki, he appears to work at a logistics company and he really likes Patrick Roy. He also might be a government operative.

Mysteeri Vaeltava Teletapit (The Mystery of the Wandering Teletubby) #transmedia #antitransmedia #Finland #teletubbies

But is he a reincarnate who invented the opening theme for The Teletubbies? (

Kuka keksi alku musiikin teletappeihin?

)

Welcome to the mystery of the wandering Teletubby!

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

Our Media Holding Pattern(s)

It’s become no mystery to any of us that the media ecosystem (or echosystem as you might call it) is forcing the hand of developing new ways to tell and distribute stories. In fact, this isn’t really anything new, and it’s not endemic to one media type or discipline versus another. Just this week, AOL announced that it is hiring several hundred journalists to improve its content offerings, and presumably, explore new third-party relationships. Gawker has already committed to filling its distribution pipeline with stronger content offerings by hiring over 1000 journalists of its own.  And amidst these “content bunkers”, come the notions of how we can better filter, manage and curate content in meaningful and relevant ways.

If we hark back to the days of the first Internet gold rush, entities like ScriptShark, DEN (Digital Entertainment Network), StoryMaker, Homemade Entertainment (an entity I was a part of, backed by one of the founders of AC Nielsen | EDI), iFilm and a whole host of other players danced across the highwire of media distribution, hoping that innovation could somehow make up for the lack of bandwith (well, broadband...), and more importantly, audience participation.

In talking to my friends at movie studios and TV networks, we’re essentially in the same spot we were in 11 or 12 years ago... Perhaps even worse off on some levels. The independent film market is virtually non-existent. Studios on average make less than 20 movies a year, and while 2010 has enjoyed record box office numbers, the reality is that all of the moneymakers were a handful of tentpole films (Avatar being the biggest, of course). The biggest complaint amongst my friends on the studio and independent sides of the business is that very few of them, if any, are in production or going into production anytime soon.

Then of course, we have primetime and cable TV which are inundated with reality fare. Whether these shows are entertaining or not isn’t really the point; cheaper production costs mean it is harder and harder for producers to make money, higher-budget productions are much more difficult to justify and greenlight, and therefore, producers are far less incented to create more diverse slates of content, and arguably, content of greater quality. Despite this, upfront sales are quite strong – in fact, the numbers have spiked in the last 2 years – but what this leaves is a wake of uncertainty as to who the next generation of content creators and curators will be, and how soon the damn will break when it comes to qualifying these upfront buys. In other words, we can’t measure the same way we have in years past, and at some point soon, the numbers are going to expose some real holes to the very people who are subsidizing the market... Brands, and ultimately, consumers.

Convergence & Audience Delivery

Again, monetizing content is not a new problem, it’s just taken on a new face. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. There is great promise to all of this.

What the new convergence of technology and media affords us is one very powerful thing: audience delivery. Social technologies allow us to mine for topical and sentimental themes. We can identify commonalities and passions between groups of people. We have an acute understanding of what they want to talk about, what they’re willing to share and why. We have new methods for measuring online media, and can serve it under 1-1 data constructs. We can test in dynamic new environments and ask people what they want and how they want it, when they want it. And all of this gives us a purview into how stories can be developed with and alongside of audiences.

The wonderful part about transmedia vehicles – all theories and academic bickering aside – is that we know that audience (fan) participation works... Shows like 24, Lost, True Blood and others have proven this. Niche films like District 9, Paranormal Activity and Kick-Ass have enjoyed stronger openings due to audience buzz and narrative involvement. Other vehicles, like Valemont University, have attached themselves to social memes and cultural phenomena and have enjoyed their own successes, including interesting partnerships with brands like Verizon, who are now starting to invest in plays that allow them to develop relationships with new audience segments.

Coke, who has had its Open Happiness initiative for well over three years now, has taken its constituent properties to whole new level. In fact, Coke is betting the marketing farm on transmedia. Why? Because audience participation is the key to reducing media waste and creating amazing new opportunities to productize and license narrative franchises.

Dynamic Segmentation & Interdependence

And that’s just it: segmentation opportunities abound.

But in order to better understand the breadth of opportunities around audience building and segmentation, we must divorce ourselves, I believe, from a codependency on technology and media. Rather than considering frameworks that are agnostic, we can make story development, technology and media interdependent. What does this look like? A macro framework could look something like this:

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

You’ll notice that the labeled components of “media” and “technology” are entirely absent from this graphic (bear with me here, I will render an articulation of the publishing ecosystem in just a little bit). I have also intentionally left out any semblance of segmentation. Why? Because segments are adaptive outputs of audience participation and consumer attribution. In other words, we must allow the marketplace to vet out affinities, interests and sharing behaviors alongside of story development and respective media delivery systems. There is a framework, a system if you will, whereby we can simply use dynamic feedback loops to help guide and inform these stories, all of which carefully moderated and shaped through editorial curation.

Vet Alt! A Social Experiment in Dynamic Story Development

I recently had the privilege of conducting a unique workshop on transmedia story development at Gulltaggen in Oslo, Norway. There, I had about 40 people from all different professional levels – from C-Level execs, to students, to media planners, communications planners as well as copywriters and creative directors - who we broke up into 4 groups, and I tasked them in creating a narrative around a mutually agreed upon theme. The goal was to demonstrate that multi-platform narratives could be developed with just the core tenets of storytelling in mind, before any considerations around technology or media were made, and most important, that a sustainable experience (ala platform) could be cultivated. The results were impressive (at least in my opinion).

First, I gave them a storymaking framework.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

As you can see, there were four pillars, with a cause element in the middle (and by cause, not necessarily philanthropic, but causal, something that would incite and promote action). Experience would denote an event or situation had through a device, a place or simply a situation. Product would naturally culminate in anything you could sell, use or put on a shelf. Content would serve as the extension of the product and the experience, and would then tie into a service, meaning something that would provide value to people in their everyday lives. And around these components would be a story that could be collectively built, shared and distributed.

Then I gave them a short list of editorial guideposts to keep in mind as they developed the core story idea. They wouldn’t necessarily have to prioritize these things, just that they could use them as storytelling, and storymaking, drivers.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

Contextualization would involve putting all story elements and relative arcs into the context of now, or things that were relevant in profound ways to groups of people, and the people they were connected to. Narration would involve weaving those contextualizations together into a synchronous ecosystem, meaning that the story would require that different plot points be executed in specific situations within a holistic experience. Productization would involve turning those arcs into actual things that could be used or licensed as utilities. And delivery would entail that we could actually follow up on the promise of what the story asked people to do.

We then chose a theme. The news of the day – and a lot of fear propagated by the media – centered around the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull. We figured that this would be a perfect cornerstone for story development, especially since it represented so many social, political and economic ramifications (and still does).

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

We then took a recess, allowing the 4 groups to ideate around the theme, given the framework. The groups would then convene amongst themselves, and develop a foundational narrative that would include ways to create and incent participation amongst advocacy groups or anyone willing to get involved.

30 minutes later, this is what they came up with.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment
Vet Alt! in Norwegian means “all knowing” or “know everything”. The groups borrowed the idea from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The concept, at its core, was quite simple: there is a society of people that live inside of the volcano, people of the Earth, and the eruptions are a reaction to the social, political and environmental ills that we have perpetrated on each other; the only way to get the eruptions to stop, are to employ acts of focused (not random) kindness and goodwill. The more we do this, the closer we would come to forging new relationships with the people of Eyjafjallajokull, and as a mutual reward of paying things forward, these people would tell us secrets about Mother Nature and our human ecosystems that would empower us to do great things in helping to improve the world.

Pretty intriguing idea, and the really nice part about it (and in true transmedia style) was that this concept took a real situation and blended in fantasy elements so as to create a nice balance between entertaining and informing (predicated on the notion that the purpose of media is to entertain and to inform). Here’s what I mean and where things get really interesting.

First, through open telepresence networks (such as the one that Cisco supports), we could get people to tell their versions of the volcanic story in real-time. Real people would curate. They would become journalists. They would contribute to a larger narrative about what the volcano represented to them as people, the fears they were dealing with, and how other groups of people around the world could help them in various ways.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

Then we could create a currency system. Those willing to help in specific regions could administer and pass along things like energy credits for those in danger of losing power in their homes, or whole communities in danger of losing their power grids. Scientific and philosophical theories and solutions could be created as collective IP and shared as part of that currency system. Specifically, people would talk about their needs – consumer needs, if you will - in relation to their immediate environments. In exchange, major brands could offer up commodities such as food, water and clothing, in exchanges that were managed and monitored by the very communities in need... Something similar to what you would see on a mercantile exchange, or the NASDAQ, except these would be microsystems.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

Now we see the emergence of a true platform. Storytelling portals would form, places and pass-throughs for the more formal exchange of ideas, media and information. With a new currency system, would come the activation of barter through various social and digital channels. Causes could be aligned to specific groups and regions, and people could actually see the effects of their participation in real-time and mapped across the different regions of the world. People would also establish new connections with each other by virtue of the causes they aligned with and the activities they shared in.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

Now, new services would unfold, making infrastructure more valuable and enabling people to literally take action. New business opportunities could take shape. Educational systems could be revitalized. Moreover, studios and publishers would see an opportunity to support this larger narrative, invest in some of “side stories” as new branded entertainment vehicles, or simply support specific regions that they felt had relevance to their product, their message, or both. Studios could even resurrect related franchises that may not have done so well without this new storytelling context.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

As new affinities would develop around franchises old and new, we could also realize new learning opportunities. For example, kids at the middle or high school level who had never heard of Jules Verne could now learn about his writings in a wholly new context, and more importantly, they could contribute to the new storymaking paradigm in their own way, relating the story elements of his work to Vet Alt!, or related franchises via games, electronic books, music or any number of media types. More importantly, people, particularly our youth, would develop a greater sense of their place in the world.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

Even further, more brands would jump into the mix, seizing opportunities to make their products more relevant, and reward students for their active participation. And if new segmentation groups would result in this, then so be it. Now, we would not only see greater sales opportunities, but greater media opportunities, whereby consumer relationships could be cultivated and sustained in meaningful ways.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

The New Publishing (and Media) Ecosystem

The example provided above is hypothetical, although we have seen and executed initiatives that either contain or resemble many of the elements that are mentioned. In my belief, we are not far away from a complete media transformation, in which open networks will determine and co-create value and allow for the nurturing of things like sentient learning, metadata and analytics systems. We, as people, comprise these networks. We are the media that we make.

I’ve introduced this graphic in other posts, and perhaps now it might be a tad more relevant ;) Here’s a stab at what this ecosystem might look like, and the various dynamics at play.

Developing Open Narrative Frameworks #Transmedia #DynamicPublishing #ContentDevelopment

Not all media types or disciplines are accounted for, but hopefully you can see that everything is more or less inextricably linked. We cannot create messages without content behind it. We cannot build loyalty and manage relationships without meaningful experiences. We cannot predict audience engagement without being connected to the very people we want to sell to. We cannot sustain sales without allowing people to share experiences and respective products via communications they feel comfortable with and on their own terms. We cannot innovate and build products and services without each other. We cannot tell stories without each other. In sum, media silos and specialty camps do nothing for us unless they contribute to something bigger than themselves.

Above and beyond that, commerce has become a social practice. Currency systems, as we have discovered, don’t have to rely on hard capital inputs or outputs. And we don’t have to replace the systems we already have in place, we just have to improve them.

Are Brands the Future of This New Storymaking Paradigm?

Well, the short answer, the bottom-line driven answer, is that brands are the ones purchasing our media. But they're also helping to create it, and have realized that they can create and/or cultivate powerful ecosystems by virtue of the media platforms they own.

As someone who has led a fairly entrepreneurial career path and has (fortunately) had the opportunity to do a lot of different things in and around the media ecosystem, a lot of people thought I was crazy to end up back at an agency. But in truth, I dare to say, it is probably easier these days to tell stories in innovative ways inside the walls of an agency than it is to do it on the outside and try to get funding entirely from studios or independent production entities.  The reality is that brands have the money and the desire to experiment – after all, as we all know, the media models we’ve come to know and use are severely broken. This is not to say that “branded entertainment” properties will become the norm for all marcom outreach efforts tomorrow, but you can make a safe bet that content development is and will be. And the fact is that this is one discipline that provides some of the most promising (and profitable) white space opportunities in media, or what Henry Jenkins has well established as our convergence culture.

(In Conclusion) Becoming Storymakers

There is another aspect to this that begs introspection: the imminent reestablishment of our storymaking roles. One of the great failures of media over the last several decades is the notion that each one of us must fit inside of a box with respect to how we contribute to content, and type of content we create. But we must ask ourselves how it is that we have a limited number of filmmakers and films, a limited number of authors and books, a limited number of TV writers and shows, a limited number of playwrights and plays... The list goes on and on. To boot, we have endless reams of mid-tail content on sites like YouTube, yet a very small portion of that content (to no one’s surprise) has any real meaning or relevance to who we are as people and our desired roles in society.

Culturally, we are all storytellers, and as societies of people, we all have the potential to be storymakers. There is absolutely nothing that is stopping us from creating paradigm shifts other than ourselves. But we do have to break these old systems of thinking at the highest level. We must reengineer our story development methodologies. Perhaps we should remove methodologies altogether. And it is a fair assumption that this will happen sooner than later, simply because something has to give.

As for open narrative frameworks, all that is required to innovate is a pen and paper, and the abject desire to create something extraordinary.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Where the Semantic Web Has Taken us

Junto (and soon to be Ebiidii) has become a source of great pride and enlightenment.

In case you are unfamiliar or confounded as to what “it” actually is, Junto is the brainchild of @VenessaMiemis and brought about by @aquarious at the Parsons The New School For Design, as well as a collaborative evolution of thought, process and platform adopted by a good many folks from all over the globe, including @openworld @notthisbody @Cole_Tucker and @CoCreatr. It clearly demonstrates that none of us have to be confined by media and technology... We can simply act and ideate, whenever we want, however we want. Here are some screengrabs of version 2.0, beautifully designed by @GavinKeech in Australia.

We originally coined it as “radically open telepresence”, but soon realized it was simply an “emergent discussion platform”. Using backchannel chats and topical threads, we can create ideation rooms on the fly and in real-time.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Where the platform departs from being just a multimedia, video chat tool quite simply is the fact that it is reflexive. In reality, we are not confined by time or space (well, sort of), nor are we bound to protocols imposed by a closed network.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Where things get really fascinating is in the realm of how we evolve while we ideate. We can actually develop technology and ideas concurrently and synchronously. We don’t have to be mired in perfection or some desired result... We can just make “it” whatever it is supposed to be, when it’s supposed to be.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Collaborative frameworks are essential. We can extract great ideas from anywhere and shape them through consensus and context. What evolves are new frameworks that beg to be improved upon. Perhaps where competition can be revitalized: in the creation of new value systems.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

From there, we start to see narrative threads emerge. Narratives already exist out in the world, but in this way we can adopt them, shape them, remix them and make them things that contribute to our individual learning, yet formalize as new parts of the greater whole.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

As narrative threads build, the limitations of our individual intellect give way to new streams of consciousness and storymaking possibility. Story becomes a part of our genealogy, and we can start to recontextualize meaning, as well as our individual roles in the world. More importantly, we discover a renewed sense of self by mapping our emotive and sensoral cognition to those willing to share in these truths.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

The Creation of New Value Systems

So, you might ask, why is this at all important?

Well, for one thing, it is free.

For another, we are using the lens of experience and participatory narrative to generate new, or renewed, value systems.

Perhaps where we’ve been hindered or even stopped in our evolution, particularly as corporations operating in the post-industrial age, is the fact that we attempt to commercialize conversation and human interaction. The simple fact is that we really can’t, and it starts with our perception of what we want out of human discourse.

Do we want ownership, or do we want advocacy?
Do we want shared value, or owned value?
Can value really be owned in a corporate sense, or is it co-created?
If it is co-created, are there more opportunities to be profitable (because we can actually change behavior as opposed to manipulating it)?

Most important, given the obvious limitations we now suffer from in our transactional systems, is it possible to create transcendent value?

All of us have witnessed the limitations of what the semantic web can do. Search, for one, is a classic example of how expanded binaries can easily plateau and even cannibalize themselves — just look at how contextual advertising is faring under this scheme. The Google engine – and by no means is this a slight on the genius creation that it is – suffers from its own scale (or lack thereof). Semantics have also challenged our notions of artificial intelligence; perhaps the meteoric rise in intelligence sharing is really a manifestation of our desire as people to relate and to emote, with an interdependence on each other rather than a codependency on machines and inventory.

While this may seem obvious to some, it’s safe to say that all of us find ourselves at the whim of impulse sharing, and perhaps this is a direct result of our addiction to all things “network”. The notion of the open network has brought on a legacy of fears we associate with our past and present: from radio networks, to TV networks, to online networks and the new breed of social networks, all brought together by the need for control. And as much as we’ve complained about net neutrality and our rights to privacy, we’ve even developed our own conspiracy theories around what this all means. Hint: we’re questioning the very things we’ve fought to hard to attain – not necessarily a bad thing, but are we being too careful about what we’ve wished for?

Not to beat a limping horse, but all this fuss about Facebook and privacy, in my estimation, fails to look at the bigger picture, which is to understand our sharing behaviors in order to get us to state of true openness. Here’s what I mean.

The fact is that Twitter, Google and a number of other platforms have all gone through similar iterations when moving from privatized to more open network systems. You also have to remember that any system of measurement requires an element of control, and without it, we have no purview into things like direct or latent attribution. This is all part of the development process, of platform evolution. And by control, I don’t mean ownership, I mean careful moderation and assessment of things we don’t immediately understand. Big difference.

With that said, I like what my colleague @eswayne (Eric Swayne) said to me recently in a conversation on this topic:

"I'm totally fine with Facebook Credits and Likes when they're truly a part of the collective intelligence effort - make THAT a part of the public web. But my identity? Let me own the data, and set privacy as a default."

And this is exactly where I think Facebook is headed. In other words, I don't think it's banking on its own ubiquity so much as it is the ubiquity of people as entire ecosystems -- for one, it's the largest content repository in the world. The reason why it may be difficult for 3rd parties to jump in now is because it's too early... we don't even know what the new user dynamics look like yet (influence mapping, etc.). It's analogous to building a massive, protected freeway system and then asking commuters to reroute -- how do we tell them to break their driving patterns and why? Do we really want to spread misinformation?

Individual Sacrifice for The Greater Good

The perceived privacy issues are a relatively small sacrifice to make for a much more significant long-term gain. Truth is, the web has always asked us to skirt the line between individual privacy and collective intelligence — we must remember that it started out as a military intelligence intranet platform. And sure, many of these platforms will be battling for marketshare, but instead of competing over inventory, they'll be competing over value... which is a good thing. Umair Haque wrote a great piece recently on this notion of the "betterness" model, and how we can specifically redefine value.

So, the assertion we can make is that as users and consumers we will soon stake claim to our own data, and as open networks formalize themselves (in an adaptive sense), we will then have opportunities to monetize the insights. (A quick aside, one might argue that the new ad models put forth by Facebook and Twitter are the result of investor pressure to produce a near-term revenue model while the 3rd party models continue to evolve...) This is the very essence of the open web, at least from a consumer or even a marketing point-of-view. The glue seems to be in how we relate and how we emote. And this very clearly resides in narrative. Why? Because narrative takes us beyond semantics and into experience, into the realm of sentience. And I’m not talking about content, I’m talking about context and consensus as they apply to experience. (More on this in a moment...)

So where do we go from here? What does the Road to Openness look like?

Well, if that answer was clear, there would be no need for a discourse on the matter. However, we can establish adaptive frameworks as the new means for development; in other words, we don’t need to procure fixed models for growth. If you consider value to be the fulfillment of experience, interpretation and context, then we find ourselves in a promising position, which is that we can remove a lot of the guesswork that goes into what we think products or services are worth.

In a nutshell, it’s all about collective intelligence.

What Mapping Emotional Communities Can Mean

Here’s a final piece of narrative to chew on which speaks directly to the power of collective intelligence, specifically through the Mapping of Emotional Communities. Special thanks to the brilliant work of Marc Mazurovsky (USHMM Curator) and Erik Steiner (Spatial History Lab, Stanford University), this is something that I had the pleasure and honor of discussing in my recent keynote speech on transmedia at Gulltaggen. (video to come soon...)

Imagine that we took the narrative threading you see in the comps above, but this time we could actually reconstruct historical accounts so as to account for gaps in time and space. Here we can look at the evacuations from Auschwitz in January 1945 as an overall context for this exercise.

We can start by mapping out the core geospatial components.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Then we can take key testimonies and place them against timelines of events that we know took place.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Once we have aggregated these testimonies, we can then identify the gaps between interpretation, meaning, time and place. We can even see things like word density (a form of intelligence mining) and draw correlations by way of pattern recognition.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Now we can reference those patterns against spatial parameters, and begin to see a shift in the formalization of time, place and event.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Once the new parameters reveal themselves, gradations of experience are created based on the scale of experience placing various perspectives inside of the same matrix... And we start to see how sentience restructures what we interpret versus what these accounts really mean.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

Here’s where things get really interesting: we can create hotspots and map together different accounts according these new narrative threads...

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

... And where one account may “trail off”, we can at least see where these gaps still occur in the greater context of the community.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

And guess what? The non-linear threads actually fill in the gaps that time, space, interpretation and event have left off.

From Semantics To Sentience: The Road To Openness #Junto #NarrativeDesign #EmoMapping #Facebook #transmedia #GreaterGood

The final result is a new map comprised of the newly formed threads spanning all of the parameters set forth. Imagine that the entire world was remapped in this new context, or a series of evolving contexts.

This is only the beginning. From here, we can use platform, technology and media to recontextualize our pasts in order to literally build our future. Just imagine how we can use these contructs to avoid war, to cure social ills, to improve the environment, to become better people.

It’s all happening right now. You’re an active part of it. You always were.

We are on The Road to Openness. Embrace it and let’s enjoy the possibilities, together.

 

Notes From Norway: Developing Our Social Capital(ism) #microfinance #Eco #PeopleCurrency #memes #Junto

Notes From Norway: Developing Our Social Capital(ism) #microfinance #Eco #PeopleCurrency #memes #Junto

If you haven’t been to Norway, you should definitely visit. This is coming from a guy who has been here less than 48 hours of course, but I have to say that there are a lot of things to love.

Norway, I’ve learned, is actually one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The country came into billions when a new oil surplus was discovered not too long ago, and the government here has done a great job of redistributing its wealth to its people. The average Norwegian - when you consider an individual’s asset base - is a millionaire, and the quality of life is amazing. There are no homeless people; there are “gypsies” who choose to live nomadically, and they are very few and far between.

Notes From Norway: Developing Our Social Capital(ism) #microfinance #Eco #PeopleCurrency #memes #Junto

In Norway, like Sweden, people are incented to have children in order to increase the tax base. Medical benefits are essentially free. Foreigners who come here can enjoy these benefits within 6 months of their arrival, and education is available to anyone who wants it (for free). If you want to start a business, the government will give you the money, and you can even enjoy a variety of tax benefits. You even get a vacation stipend every year that is the equivalent of 12% of your annual income.

The irony of the country’s oil wealth is represented in its Eco-driven culture. Here, everything is essentially renewable, from lighting to recyclables. When you use the toilet, that energy is used to power the city grid. And like Finland, much of its infrastructure is set up to sustain scalable initiatives, such as wind power and solar arrays.

Someone we met (“we” meaning my fiancee, Emily, and I) who has been a gracious host is an American named Jim-Anthony. “Anthony”, as he likes to be called, is a former banker who was embroiled in the CDO (collateralized debt obligations – a form of mortgage-backed securities) mess on Wall Street, and after experiencing the excess of life with the power elite in New York City, he changed careers and decided to come to Norway to live a more “pure” life. Now he manages a hotel here (the Grims Grenke) and has a number of entrepreneurial endeavors. He’s a happy man, fulfilled by the promise of being enriched by people and an environment not absorbed in the surface of things.

Anthony and I had a long talk about the definition of social capital.

He believes, as I do, that American life is evolving past the promise of its own doing, which is to say that the American people are a good lot, and our country continues to be anomalous in many respects, including its fight for sovereignty, its persistence on innovation and the quest to help developing nations. Perhaps it’s not our systems of government or business that pose the greatest challenges to us, but a lack of cultural perspective that has left us socially corrupt. We are, after all, the products of a democratic evolution that has used capitalism as a crutch for survival, one in which hard currency has been depleted and given way to a credit system that has left us bound to our own vaporous trail of confusion, deceit and a significant loss of hope.

As a colleague, Gerald Posner, has astutely pointed out, what if we could create currency that didn’t rely on capital inputs?

Bernard A. Lietaer’s “complementary currency” comes to mind when we speak of social capital – the notion that credit systems can build resource pools and use barter – one of the great forms of participatory reward – to incite economic and social growth. For example, imagine if all the people who played in Farmville (60M+ users) on Facebook actually traded their goofy animals and farm resources in energy credits, so that they were reselling things of social value (and economic value), things that they could see were having an immediate impact on their physical world.

Before I flew over here, I had an incredible (and lengthy) conversation with one of the founding partners of the oldest and most reputable VC firms in the world, Trafalgar. This gentleman regaled me with stories linked to the global financial crisis (he knows all the heads of the banks – or what used to be the ‘banks’ – Goldman Sachs, for example, as you probably know is about to bite the dust…), and he’s very embittered by what’s happened, both economically and culturally.

Well, sure enough, his firm is now dedicated to ventures that are not only sustainable (mostly in the sense of corporate transparency), but those that do good in the world.

Here’s the best part. They are specifically looking for platforms that merge communities and microfinance. The quick and simple backstory on this is that the venture capitalist’s daughter is doing some incredible work using microfinance communities in Africa to adopt and/or support children there. His work in China has also influenced the thought that meme development must be implemented in order to create mindshifts that can break destructive socio-economic patterns, while embracing traditional value systems. A couple of lateral examples of this would be the recent (or fairly recent) Avatar demonstrations that took place in Palestine (a form of ‘transmedia activism’), and the recent (albeit incremental) advancements of the democratic voting platform in Iraq that has been largely shaped by scholars of Hammurabi.

[A quick aside, I am here in Oslo to speak about transmedia storytelling; you can check out the live stream on Wednesday, April 28th, at http://www.gulltaggen.com or http://www.gulltaggen.no]

Naturally, I told him about Junto and our microfinance platform effort, UBIQUID.US, and his eyes lit up. (BTW,  by “our” I mean a core group of instigators and disruptors, but really all of us…)

What I told him next, and his response, gave me great solace – I emphasized that the conversation pieces (Junto et al) could NOT be commercialized, and that the entire paradox of the social web has revolved around the fact that open networks (or what could have been open networks) – and their respective participatory dynamics – have largely been cattle-prodded and herded into distending “pockets” of idea and information-sharing. A good example of an open network model is what Cisco is now doing with its telepresence.

Needless to say, he got it right away.

His response jumped ahead to the notion that capital markets could be socialized (as in a social capitalistic kind of way, not a socialist kind of way…) and that it was now the duty of entities like his to show regulatory concerns and other government and lobbyist groups the co-created value of networks. In other words, to show the gatekeepers that open networks are evolving and cannot be denied the right to life and practice, and in a larger sense, that these dynamics can actually improve what they themselves do.

We agreed that corporations of all types and sizes could actually profit handsomely from this, while of course improving and supporting local communities (the argument here is who cares if they’re not totally “invested” in affecting change, so long as the urgency to do so – by whatever economic conditions that predominate – forces that hand in getting them there). We also talked about how transmedia storytelling and participatory narratives could be used to productize, remove copyright boundaries, co-create value, and allow individuals (via social graph) to flourish alongside of companies.

We also both agreed that value could now be created without the need for capital input, or even capital output. The implications for this are astounding in two ways:

1. This suggests an entire re-engineering and re-instutionalization of our failed credit system, one that is community moderated and curated.  

2. It also suggests that participatory reward can now live within the context of true cause & effect – meaning that people who have been previously “uninspired” will now see the impetus in defining their own roles as active contributors to society.

So, take for example, the notion of smart grid credits — use these to watch energy efficiency spike, map it out spatially (geomapping and data volumization) and link it to other early stage efforts (there are bunch of disparate groups already doing this) so that people can see and be the change. (On a more crude level – this type of currency aside – hark back to the Obama election and remember how roughly 30% of the voting populace were those who had never registered or voted before.)

If we can put shared currency – what amounts to collective infrastructure – behind these types of efforts, and be fully transparent… particularly with government concerns (this is VERY important), then we are looking at incredibly efficient, and relatively swift, ways to improve the world.

So coming back full circle (sorry), effectively, we’re already doing it. Junto, for example, is a social experiment using an open telepresence to prove that innovation is not the sum of processes, rather the reflexivity of intellectual expression and the spontaneous development of co-created value systems.

What do you think? What types of social capital can we create?