Transmedia Digital Storytelling Course: Final Thoughts

Transmedia Storytelling Narrative Universe

I recently finished a free online course through FutureLearn entitled “Transmedia Storytelling.” I wasn’t all that impressed, but perhaps that is due more to covering ground I’ve already covered on my own in the past than the course itself, which is a mix of videos, articles and a comment strand. (Look: the course was free. I’m not really complaining. But FutureLearn ain’t no NetNarr!)

What I really wanted to see was some transmedia digital story projects showcased as exemplars for how digital stories can jump from platform to platform, creating an overarching arc of story while still maintaining independence on the platforms. Unless I missed them, I didn’t see nearly enough of those kinds of projects.

Transmedia Storytelling Branches

There was quite a bit of information about what transmedia is, and why it is an interesting new twist on the age-old elements of storytelling (which began with oral tradition, moved into print tradition, and now seems to be coming back to oral tradition with digital media, according to the course instructor.)

Transmedia Storytelling Media Works Together

I had the vague sense that the course was aimed more at business folks, who are learning how best to market in the digital age through digital immersion of content. That was never said outright, but that was my inferential take on some of the material presented.

Transmedia Storytelling No Barriers

Perhaps as Networked Narratives explores digital stories more deeply, I will try my hand at another transmedia composition. I’ve done a few before, and always felt like they pushed me to think differently as a writer. Writing across platforms and spaces, with threads to tie all the pieces together as a whole, requires deep thinking and extensive planning.

Transmedia Storytelling Platforms

When transmedia works, it’s magic.

Peace (in stories),
Kevin

Graphic Novel Review: The Time Museum

Time travel is surely a familiar and sometimes overused plot device with science fiction writers and many graphic novelists. I don’t mind the use of time this way, as long as the story doesn’t get so folded in on itself that you lose your balance. In The Time Museum, writer/illustrator Matthew Loux utilizes the time travel concept, too, but he does so with humor, focus, and a keen eye for character development.

The story revolves around protagonist Delia Bean, an outcast of sorts in her school. She finds adventure and self-confidence when she stumbles into her uncle’s Time Museum, a sort of bastion of science and discovery of artifacts from the past and the future that is built on the concepts of time travel itself.

Delia emerges as a leader of a small band of other youthful time travelers (in training), and along with some fantastic adventures (set as ‘trials’), Delia and her companions meet and then must confront a mysterious traveler in time who seems bent on some nefarious project, and the kids must work together to save a future London from disaster.

There’s a manga-look to the artwork here by Loux — with big emotional eyes to characters to express emotions — and the pace of story is swift, and fun. There’s a lot of light-hearted humor in this graphic novel, and I suspect it would appeal nicely to middle school readers.

Peace (in time),
Kevin

Why I Follow Those Whom I Follow (and Why I Unfollow Those Whom I Once Followed)


Twitter flickr photo by clasesdeperiodismo shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

The other day, I wrote about my week of semi-digital hibernation, as part of a Digital Audit activity with CLMOOC. I mentioned that I weeded out a lot of folks from my Twitter stream. That got me thinking a bit more deeply: why do I follow those I follow? And what makes me unfollow them?

I follow:

  • Anyone who seems to have an affiliation with the National Writing Project. I am a sucker for friends and colleagues in the NWP network spaces, and have a NWP Twitter list going with nearly 800 people. Even though I clearly don’t “know” them all, I feel affinity for their work and ideas. A follow makes me feel connected to the larger network.
  • If you write that you are a sixth grade teacher, I’m going to likely follow you. I may want to steal some of your ideas, or celebrate you and your students, or just glance over your shoulder. I am always looking to learn about teaching.
  • If you are someone who dabbles in digital media, through the lens of learning and experimentation, I am likely to follow you, particularly if you are sharing out your creative process and interesting art. I like artists and teachers who push the boundaries, and are not afraid to write about success and failure, and the next project on the horizon.
  • If I am in an open course, like NetNarr, I will likely follow other folks in that network. But I might unfollow you later. It depends on how strong the connection is that we make.

Why might I unfollow someone?

  • If it is clear you are merely using me to buff up your Twitter list, most likely for marketing of some service, I will unfollow you. I don’t want to be part of anyone’s marketing campaign or part of someone’s Legitimacy Reputation. (ie, Look who follows me? I must be legit.)
  • If you have nothing written in your bio on Twitter, I am probably going to stop following you (if I followed you in the first place). Using a few words to stake your claim to a space is important. Link me to a webpage or blog. That said, if the words don’t resonate with me? Probably unfollow.
  • If you only retweet, and barely ever share your own writing or learning, or never engage in conversations or discussions, then I am unlikely to follow you. Life’s too short for too many silent interactions. But, I usually give some time for you to get acclimated to Twitter before making that decision. I know new folks have be immersed first.
  • Most companies and organizations, even educational ones, don’t stand a chance with my follow button. But if they do, they best be clear about the work they are doing to advance student learning or digital writing, without a public on eye on “selling” their services. I know that goes against the grain of why companies are on Twitter. Too bad. Find another way.
  • I’ll follow some bots, if they are interesting and creative. What I hate is when I follow a bot for a time, and then suddenly, that bot starts pushing inappropriate content out through “retweeting.” Unfollow. Block.

There are probably more reasons why I stop following people. These are the ones that stood out as I continue my work on scaling down my Twitter followers and following streams.

How about you? Why do you follow or unfollow? Have you even ever thought about it? (I hadn’t really, until recently. I found myself just clicking follow all the time, it seems, without any thoughts about why I was following someone.)

I am reminded of my CLMOOC friend, Algot, who has mostly shifted to writing in the Mastodon social networking space. There, just about every time someone follows Algot, he writes a personal and individualized note of thanks and welcome to that person, explaining his hope that he will be up to the task of engaging them in interesting thinking and conversations. How cool is that?

Peace (following it),
Kevin

Comic: Every Day is a Storm

Comic: So Long 2017

I used a rage comic maker to create this comic on New Year’s Eve, and then I sort of forgot about it until now. It’s not too late to hope for a quieter and calmer year, is it? It may be a fantasy, given the political tides, but still …

Peace (to ya),
Kevin

Clicking the ReStart Button on Networked Narratives

Another iteration of Networked Narratives is coming around the bend and I’m back on board to fall into adventure. You can read more about what Networked Narratives is here with the post by Alan Levine, and also follow the link to get yourself started, if you want. Alan and Mia Zamora are the main guides.

Here is a video intro from Mia and Alan.

Alan recently shared this interesting thinking document about the course’s intentions and direction (albeit with his warning that all is still in development).

Via Alan Levine

 

Essentially, Networked Narratives is an exploration of digital writing and composition and connections, with elements of an open learning community (me and others) and a college class course offering(s). What I like is the expansive invitation to explore what digital writing is and what digital spaces can be, and more.

At the end of the last iteration, last May, I created this small digital piece, which Mark Corbett Wilson kindly re-shared out on Twitter the other day (I’m glad he did, since I forgot all about it):

Peace (and invitations),
Kevin

 

Remember the Struggle: Read March

Last night, my wife and I watched the new David Letterman show on Netflix, as he talked to Barack Obama. It was a relief of sorts to know we did once, not that long ago, have a president who could articulate a thought and an idea or two. It was a love fest between Letterman and Obama, which was fine for us but would have been annoying to anyone who thought Obama didn’t do nearly enough.

There is a segment in which Letterman meets up with Congressman John Lewis, the legendary civil rights leader who became an influential politician, on the Selma Bridge, as the two men talk about race and America and politics. The walks and protests — now known as Bloody Sunday — across the bridge is a pivotal moment in US history.

It reminded me that re-reading the March graphic novel trilogy, which is co-authored by Lewis, might be in order, particularly as we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. today.

If you have not read March, you need to. It’s a powerful use of graphic storytelling, bringing to the surface the tension and the energy and the madness of the Civil Rights movement through the eyes of Lewis, who protested and ended up in jail dozens of times (included a few times as congressman) and whom Trump ridiculed at one point in a tweet for being all talk, no action. What an idiot.

Read March, and remember.

Peace (every day),
Kevin

 

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude8

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

DocDigitalDetox9

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Detritus and Debris: Weeding My Social Networks

Visual Restfulness

Last week, I took advantage of the CLMOOC theme of Digital Audit to dive critically into my Twitter account as much as I could. First of all, I didn’t tweet (much) during the entire week. I did check in every now and then. Maybe I shouldn’t have but I did (apparently, I still have work to do on my attention and my social media habits, but in my defense, the few tweets I did produce were related to creating art for the DS106 Daily Create). The chart above shows interactions with my Twitter feed before and during my hibernation.

I casually disappeared.

Then, I spent about three hours over two days going through my Followers and those I am Following. It’s all so bloated now. I can’t say that I have ever had any intentions to having the largest number of followers I can amass. I truly believe that it not important to me. But I had racked up the number of those I was following because I can’t resist a teacher or writer that interests me.

Still …

In the course of my weeding, I “unfollowed” more than 500 accounts, and still have many more to go. (Sidenote: there has to be a better way than scrolling through time in my account, as each page loads in my Follower Page. Sigh. If you know a better way, can you tell me?).

My criteria was: does I recognize this name, even remotely? Do I ever see or notice this person in my timeline? If not, the likely result was an unfollow. I haven’t yet made it to the bottom of my follower list, so more are likely to go. (Note: I think I am going to explore this topic further in another post)

I also weeded out by blocking about 600 accounts that were following me. How the heck did so much debris get into there? I found marketing companies, strange invitations, weird bots, and folks with no connection to anything I am interested in. BlockBlockBlock. I went back two days later, and there were more new accounts to block. BlockBlockBlock.

This could be a full-time job … (I know I can set it up to approve every follow request but that seems like it would just exasperate the issue of email notifications.)

As for other social media, I took a pause in Mastodon, my latest social space of choice for writing and connecting in a federated space, but Mastodon still feels more personal to me, and under control. I missed writing in that space more than any other.

My Google communities seem fine and manageable (although I left a few G+ communities that I no longer needed), and Flickr and other places were not sources of much concern (in relation to flow of media and access … privacy safeguards are always another issue).

Facebook is a place where I have an account, but only because I run the Facebook page for Western Massachusetts Writing Project. Still, I ended the deluge of email notifications from Facebook, and quieted the siren’s call of all that I was apparently missing. Same with Instagram.

This is what I did with my off-line time instead of what I usually do (including writing blog posts) … I wrote postcards every day for the entire week for my CLMOOC friends, and sent out two postcards every day into the world. I made the social more personal, and it felt good (as the CLMOOC postcard project always does, by re-affirming the human connections.) Two postcards arrived during the week, too. That made me happy.

I still have much to do, but it felt good to do some weeding and resting. You, too?

Peace (amid the quietening),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude7

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

DocDigitalDetox7

and

DocDigitalDetox8

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude6

DocDigiDetox6

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin