Transmedia for Change (T4C) is an umbrella term that encompasses transmedia activism (change in society or community) and personal growth (change in lifestyle, personal development). Underlying T4C is the belief that stories matter, that those stories need to be told to the right people at the right time and most importantly that projects should offer a pathway to success.
As I stated in my early post, Where Next for Reality, nothing is real: the reality we experience is grounded in the stories we tell ourselves. So T4C advocates for storytellers to a. engage audiences with positive messages that inspire and motivate better choices and b. provide solutions.
Creating impact ought to be the factual storyteller’s overriding goal. It’s too easy to say a project’s goal is to “create awareness” without articulating what change that awareness should bring about nor how the aware should take action. Take for example projects that say they want to raise awareness about privacy. How many provide a real debate about the trade-offs between privacy and security or privacy and convenience or privacy and price? And many of these privacy projects on the one hand attack Facebook while on the other use the player’s Facebook information there to create the wow effect of the experience to supposedly “highlight the dangers”. Isn’t that contradictory? Like explaining to someone the danger of gunpowder while getting them to light a firework. Where’s the wow in these privacy projects without the privacy invasion? My point here is only that the makers should go beyond awareness as a goal and think how their projects can deliver solutions. Telling forgotten people’s stories or allowing people to tell their stories isn’t enough – it’s still just telling and not doing.
We should use our stories to engage and our technology to empower. Rather than imagine the interactive documentary (idoc) project as a beacon, it ought to be a solution.
No Website Should be an Island
A problem I see with many webdocs is that they are beautiful works of art to be admired but likely have little impact. Although they’re online and clickable many feel like gallery pieces that showcase the integration of art and technology – amazing data visualizations and smooth flowing, storytelling user interfaces but they kind of just leave me admiring the craft while disengaged with the issue. I never feel like I really enter the story because the prowess of the design draws attention to itself and away from the message.
So what if someone spends a prolonged amount of time on a website if really what you want them to do is go into the streets? How can they take the message with them? And importantly how can they take that message to others?
If future projects are to create greater impact, they need to connect to people where the people are – they’re mobile, they’re in the real world and of course they’re across platforms.
In Rude Health
In our project for the Mexican health authority, we’re connecting a mobile and desktop game to patient visits to HIV clinics. There is no typical hub website, it’s the patient at the center of the experience (i.e. their life!) and orbiting them are the platforms they use. When players visit a clinic, they have a “VIP pass” on their phone (a reward and incentive for taking part) that enables them to jump the line and doctors send an SMS to receive a single-use 5-character code that is given to the player to “check-in” at the clinic (which must be completed within 10 mins before the code is deactivated).
Far from being an “awareness campaign”, this is a project intended to change the behavior of men – encouraging them to negotiate better with sexual partners and track their attitudes and behaviors against three sets of game mechanics so that we can see which mechanics are the most effective in increasing the frequency of clinic visits.
Note that everything plays out anonymously – safeguarding the privacy of participants – while still providing a referral mechanism for players to invite friends and allow us to track the biggest referrers and which mechanic inspires the most referrals.
All this is created with Conducttr from off-the-shelf functions – massively reducing the cost of deployment and instantly being massively scalable and secure.
Join us to discuss these ideas or present your own at this year’s Conducttr Conference on October 16th in London, UK.