“It was only in 2007 that I became aware that what I’d actually been working on had a name… ‘transmedia.’” Quickfire Q&A with TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Alison Norrington
If you’ve heard of transmedia then you’ve heard of Alison Norrington. Alison is one of the major creative forces in the movement and has been involved with TEDx Transmedia since it started in 2010.
This year she moves from behind the curtain to the stage, as a speaker in the Dreamer session of our programme.
Alison is constantly flying all over the world developing her projects, advising major creative companies on strategic planning and storytelling and running transmedia masterclasses. Read her full biog on the official TEDx Transmedia site tedxtransmedia.com
We managed to pin the author down for a few minutes to chat about her background, upcoming TED Talk and why she finds the WEkids: Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters theme inspiring.
Hi Alison, please can you give a brief overview of your relationship with Transmedia and what led you to thinking about it?
I actually didn’t think ‘transmedia.’ I thought about interacting, reacting and engaging with my readers beyond the confines of book. I was writing contemporary novels for women and made a point of infusing them with modern cultural touchpoints that referenced European cities, musical genres and artistic practices. The more the stories featured classical, jazz or blues, referenced Degas’ ballerinas and reached out to Valencia, Paris and Lisbon, the more I wished I could expand the mythology and offer a more sensory, immersive experience that was discoverable and playable beyond the page.
I could see the potential for opening up my storytelling box, but it was 2005 and my only options seemed to be an accompanying DVD/CD with each book. It was clunky and smacked of ‘bolt on’… When I started my MA in Creative Writing & New Media in 2006 I began writing my fourth novel, which became my dissertation project and was told experimentally through blog posts, forums, email, a YouTube channel, machinima and social media platforms. It was only in 2007 that I became aware that what I’d actually been working on had a name… ‘transmedia.’ Who knew!
The theme of this year’s TEDx Transmedia, WEkids, is about harnessing child-like wonder and courage to make media that has a social impact. What do you see as the potential of that approach?
Fabulous storytelling that can interact and engage directly with niche audiences is, in itself, hugely powerful and has the potential to make significant impact. Brian Clark of GMD Studios has begun to write about phenomenal work and that’s what we should all be aiming to achieve.
Childhood wonder and courage is phenomenal in itself and it’s the insights, observations, freedom of expression and absence of fear that makes kids like that. We tend to lose some of that along the way. WEkids is exciting as a TEDx Transmedia theme this year as it challenges us to shake off the constraints that prevent us from thinking outside the box, encourages us to play within our stories and to share and test our ideas. It’s playful, free and non-judgmental.
The subheading is Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters; which do you most identify with and why?
I’m a combo of all three, but your funky little quiz told me I’m a Mindshifter. I feel like a character from Dr Who!
What did you want to be as a kid? What were your dreams and aspirations?
Everything! Like most kids I wanted to experience anything new, but found that writing seemed to underpin and then override all of my ideas.