Transmedia Storytelling – Sons of Anarchy

 

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We live in an era where people have become very emotionally invested in characters and storylines. We don’t want things to end, and when we can’t let go, we extend. Fans and producers “continue” a tale with transmedia storytelling. Professor and blogger Henry Jenkins defines transmedia storytelling as “…a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience” (Jenkins). Transmedia storytelling often occurs via webisodes, parody accounts (twitter), blogs, books, comics, and fan fiction. These channels extend the storyline, adding detail and further insight to characters that tie back into the original form/plot of the work.

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FX’s Sons of Anarchy, a television show about a motorcycle club, exemplifies transmedia story telling in several forms. Firstly, Apple’s iStore and the Android market released Appisodes, which are short mini clips/episodes ranging from 1-3 minutes. At the end of Season 3, the boys of  SAMCRO (the motorcycle club) were sent to prison. The first episode of Season 4 is the day they are released. In the Appisode “Mexican Basketball (Day 305)” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWbkTVp0uBE), we get to watch them during incarceration, something viewers did not get to see on the aired program. This ties in with Jenkins’s idea that “…transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories…” (Jenkins). This extension of the show gives us more detail and a deeper, greater perception of the plot, as well as “…provide insight into the characters and their motivations” (Jenkins).

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In addition to furthering story lines, “transmedia storytelling is [also] the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence…[which] refer[s] to new social structures that enable the production and circulation of knowledge within a networked society” (Jenkins). On this SAMCROpedia web page (a play on the name of the motorcycle club and Wikipedia) fans are able to discuss on forums, take polls, and chat. This demonstrates Jenkins’s idea that transmedia storytelling allows fans to come together and discuss with one another, furthering the story and their understandings. The SAMCROpedia has photos of each character, their bios, videos, links to popular sites/apps relating to Sons of Anarchy as well as summaries for each episode. These summaries and posts  “…function as textual activators – setting into motion the production, assessment, and archiving information…” (Jenkins).

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Sons of Anarchy is a solid example of what Jenkins discusses on his blog. The Appisodes further plot and understanding with mini clips, and the SAMCROpedia allows for fans to come together and collectively exchange knowledge. These channels take this show and further its continuation, which greatly exemplifies transmedia storytelling.

Work Cited
Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., 22 Mar 2007. Web 2 Mar 2014. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html>.

Collective Intelligence

My chosen Wikipedia article is on the artist Rihanna. The page is a summary of her early life, her career and her accomplishments as an artist. After analyzing the article as well as its history, it is clear that Wikipedia exemplifies the concept of collective intelligence.

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Because it is based on a person, this article has no bias. Its contributors were able to separate their personal opinions and focus more on fact (date of birth, age, albums, top songs, etc.). Its sources are reputable, including relevant and renowned names such as Billboard and Rolling Stone Magazine. Most of its editors also contribute to other celebrity pages which gives the impression that these people are truly interested in the lives of artists, meaning the information is likely accurate.

eeee                                                                                (This user is one of the top 3 editors of Rihanna’s page)

As stated in the article “The Googlization of Everything” by Siva Vaidhyanathan, we need to “…examine what Google has told us” (Vaidhyanathan). Just like Wikipedia, Google “catalogs our individual and collective judgements [and] opinions” (Vaidhyanathan). This means that numerous people are putting in their two cents to create one communal dollar. As great as it is that we are able to share ideas, collective editing does allow for misinformation, inaccuracy, and disreputable sources. We must always take into consideration the fact that these Wikipedia pages are a demonstration of a global “group effort” and the information being presented is based on what individuals consider to be right or wrong, important or dismissible. Rihanna’s page in particular has over 3,000 users coming together to help inform us. The information is relevant and only small daily edits are being made. When she first appeared as an artist in the early 2000’s this page had much more activity, seeing as she was just beginning to grow and new information was still presenting itself.

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Many deem Wikipedia as a weak source because of the fact that it is an endless, ongoing carousel of information. A page is never truly set in stone. But, as stated by Henry Jenkins (author of the post “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About The New Media Literacies”), we shouldn’t “…turn our backs on the enormous value of the Wikipedia project…[we should] help young people place Wikipedia in a larger context, developing a deeper understanding of the process by which the its information is being produced and consumed” (Jenkins). I completely agree. This quote illustrates the fact that Wikipedia is an incredible tool. It is a brilliant demonstration of collective intelligence, a collaboration of ideas by an enormous group of people that otherwise would not have been able to “work” together and share their individual knowledge.

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This idea ties into Vaidhyanathan’s analysis of Google: it is a very powerful, innovative machine and that our total reliance/belief in what we find is really what makes the information “dangerous”. Remembering this concept is crucial in using “machine” generated data to the best of our ability. The same goes for Wikipedia. We have quick access to an abundance of communal knowledge and the potential for its use lies within each human individual.

 

Work Cited
Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About The New Media Literacies.” Web log post. Henryjenkins.org. N.p., 26 June 2007. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/06/what_wikipedia_can_teach_us_ab.html&gt;.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva. “The Googlization of Everything.” (2001): 1-12. Print.