On September 27th 2010, I had the honor of speaking on the Transmedia Panel at the RioMarket portion of the Festival do Rio, an international film festival in Rio de Janeiro. The event was quite spectacular, well organized and full of the kinds of creative folk that insure great discussion, a good time and challenging perspectives. Little did I realize that Brazil was such a hotbed for transmedia storytelling. The audience was lively and the panelists passionate. Overall it was a higly compelling experience full of adventure, though the panel itself did little more than wet the palate of audience and panelists alike.
Mediated by Tania Yuki, Senior Director of Product Management at comScore, panelists included: Mauricio Mota director of The Alchemists, Daniel Pierra, director of the Convergence Culture Consortium (C3), yours truly Stephen Dinehart, Director of NarrWare, and Leonardo Sá, head of multimedia for the Brazillian oil giant Petrobras. Last but not least was Rene Santos da Silva, a favela based teenage entrepreneur, whom has had much sucess with his local newspaper “A Voz da Comunidade” (The Voice of the Community). Rene was an interesting one, frankly I’m not sure why he was on the panel. Not to knock his talents, but it seems his newspaper, and its trials, is story so compelling it deserved its own space.
The panel was dominated by a MIT-centric perspective of the transmedia storytelling universe. It goes something like this: “In the beginning there was Henry Jenkins . . . he watched the Matrix . . .said let there be transmedia storytelling . . . and wrote a book.” Very similar to Transmedia Hollywood, put on by Henry Jenkins at USC last spring, the event felt like a packed waiting room sure a child would be born, but not one was quite sure who the parents were.
I was ready to die at this point having been saved by the prescribed salvation of the Jenkins consortium (C3) and his thought police. Mr. Pierra was kind enough to add a note on my mentor Marsha Kinder, but I realize now I should have fought the C3 propaganda machine with all my intellectual might, but I simply sat and smiled. Pacifism I suppose. Tania did her best at trying to create discussion, but I’m afraid the panelists went a little wild. When it was said and done I believe I had two chances to speak. My message was short and sweet:
“Don’t believe these guys, transmedia storytelling has yet to be defined by a truly seminal work; feel free to forge your own definition, adapt the core tenants to your own storytelling pursuits and use these new tools to enrich your viewer/user/players in a world of your design. These worlds can deliver hope like never before. Together we stand on a fleet of ships far flung into the depths of storytelling; seeking a new world, it’s been a long time coming, though the end of our voyage grows near. The look-out can see land in the distance, and I have long seen birds, but we need your help to settle this new world! Won’t you come join us?”
In the end I had to run out the door and make my way to the airport, as I had to get to Geneva for TEDxTransmedia rehearsal. The journey out of town was bittersweet. Rio is both beautiful and ugly, more so than most. I couldn’t help but imagine a better Rio, one where the social stratification wasn’t so strong. Many thanks to my gracious hosts including: Ilda Santiago, Walkiria Barbosa, Philipe Rocha, and Daniel van Hoogstraten, and many more. You made my journey fantastic. Be Blessed.
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