Week 9: Transmedia Storytelling with a Cause

The second chapter of “Out of the Shadows” by Sasha Costanza-Chock introduces applications of transmedia in immigrants rights activism. Costanza-Chock discusses transmedia specifically in the context of transmedia organizing, a method of community engagement through participatory media-making. Transmedia organizing is a variety of transmedia storytelling that combines the flow of commodities across platforms with social movement studies.

Transmedia storytelling is the construction of a narrative across platforms and formats; this technique is employed to reach a wider audience but could also be considered to expand the narrative itself. Not to be confused with traditional multimedia franchises, transmedia storytelling encompasses multiple channels of synchronized content. Transmedia storytelling has achieved greater legitimacy as an entertainment medium in recent years; Costanza-Chock mentions that it is recognized by the Producers Guild of America, the Sundance Institute, and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Constanza-Chock focuses on transmedia activity as it occurs in real time. Her interpretation of transmedia organizing includes student-made flyers circulated online, the documentation of protests, and post-demonstration instant messaging. However, transmedia organizing is not the only form of transmedia production with the potential for social justice. Transmedia storytelling can do so through virtual technology or by combining together media tied to an activist movement after the fact.

Use of Force,” for example, is a project that recreates the death of thirty-five year old Anastasio Hernandez Rojas at the hands of border patrol in San Diego. This particular example of transmedia storytelling resembles a game, and does not have much in common with the discussion of transmedia contained in “Out of the Shadows” except for a similarity in priorities and its being an innovative application of technology. Despite that distinction, it shows that technology has permeated so many aspects of our lives that it is a really necessary tool for activists, whether they are trying to coordinate a movement or generate sympathy for their cause.

One thought on “Week 9: Transmedia Storytelling with a Cause

  1. abwrubel

    I have some questions concerning transmedia storytelling, or the construction of transmedia online narratives. Transmedia storytelling sounds a lot like marketing or brand narratives. But since transmedia stories take place on multiple platforms, could this possibly hurt the prospect of getting more attention or viewers, by diverting attention to different channels.

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