Increasingly, I’m convinced that no media is successful or even complete until it’s been transformed or extended. I know this is not super-controversial—it’s sort of the Creative Commons party line—but it turns out things don’t transform themselves! A lot of media gets CC-licensed and then just sits there.
I’m also influenced by Henry Jenkins‘ notion that the most successful fictional worlds (Star Wars, Harry Potter, and so on) are not so much straight narrative stories as they are “platforms” for people to build on. You need a central story to get people excited about the platform in the first place, but then you also need lots of hooks for them to extend it, both formally (movies, comics, video games) and informally (fan-fiction, fan films, art). The central story is like the iPhone; the extensions are like the App Store! (And P.S., the platform-worlds aren’t all robots and wizards. Ulysses is a platform, too.)
Okay so, I’m a long way away from building a platform on that scale, but it’s fun to sort of “act it out,” even at this stage. Thus, when patron-guests arrived at the Annabel Scheme launch party, they were presented with a piece of evidence from Scheme’s collection. The evidence was all dated and tagged in ziploc bags; it was all very strange.
The mission: come up with the story behind the evidence. There was a Narrative Evidence Research Database collection station set up, off to one side of the party, to capture these stories. Here’s a taste of what people recorded:
I have to say, it is unreal to see other people saying “banana box” and “Sebastian Dexter” and “Annabel” on camera. It really is the next level. Somebody reads the book, enjoys it, even tweets or blogs about it: awesome. I mean, just really wonderful. But somebody acts it out? Sublime.
There’s more to come on this front—I’ve allocated $1000 from the book’s budget for a remix fund, and next week, I’m going to post a form where people will be able to submit pitches. After that, the book’s patrons will all vote on their favorites, and those projects will get funded. Hey: things don’t transform themselves.