Using the # for a Second Screen Experience
I’ve never watched an episode of Game of Thrones. Well, there was that one time on campus, but let’s face it, I was only there for the free pizza.
So while everyone was excited about the release of the new episode, I was slouched in the corner holding pizza in one hand, my phone in the other, and anti-socially (but happily) checking Twitter. I clearly wasn’t watching the show, but with the rate of #GameOfThrones mentions flooding my Twitter feed I might as well have been. I was unintentionally apart of the transmedia storytelling experience.
Transmedia storytelling, as Jenkins (2007) defines it, represents a process where “integral elements of fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating unified and coordinated entertainment experiences“. In other words when multiple mediums contribute to storytelling experience, but one that is multi-directional and unpredictable.
So how does social tagging facilitate the transmedia experience?
The hashtag, through its grouping and classifying abilities, unifies collective identities and thus supports the expansion of transmedia. It acts as a prefix to indicate a search term that essentially allows audiences to keep track of the talk that emerges. Page (2014) refers to this as the creation of a ‘polyphonic back channel’, a commentary of a particular event, which most of the time happens to be in real time.
Take the #DoctorWho hashtag on Tumblr for example. Social tagging has created a space for users to post fan art, to commentate, to appropriate scenes, all as it happens on television. This is what was identified as the ‘Second Screen Experience’ (Jenkins, 2007). The ‘audience’ has an audience as participants use the medium and its features (such as the hashtag) to call on each other’s expertise (collective intelligence) to make a unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.
Thus transmedia texts are not necessarily singular narratives. They are worlds sustained of different characters, stories and events (Jenkins, 2007), and social tagging is one of many functions to facilitate this experience, where one can turn to gain the information needed to comprehend the universe created.
Anyone watch Britain’s Got Talent? #Pawsome
Jenkins, H (2007), ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101’, ‘Confessions of an Aca-Fan’, March 22, viewed April 18, 2014.
Page, R (2012), ‘The linguistics of self-branding and micro-celebrity in Twitter: The role of hashtags’, Discourse & Communication, Vol 6. No. 2 p181-201, viewed April 19, 2014.