An artwork by Ireashea Bennett depicting a photograph of an apartment building about to be demolished, with the word “Hope” collaged on top.

Stanford University Press

Documentation

Transmedia Stories by Patrick Jagoda with Ireashia Bennett and Ashlyn Sparrow

The following documents the original digital publication Transmedia Stories: Narrative Methods for Public Health and Social Justice by Patrick Jagoda with Ireashia Bennett and Ashlyn Sparrow (Stanford University Press, 2023). DOI: 10.21627/2022ts ISBN: 9781503634701

Download video transcript.

Overview

This publication is a much-needed intervention into discourses of transmedia that illuminates how media engagement and speculation can shape policies and perspectives. The project immerses readers in the materials that comprise transmedia pedagogy and collaboration, and in doing so, elucidates the processes and possibilities of original practice and research. Unlike much of the existing scholarship in digital media studies, Transmedia Storiesi> is unique in connecting readers directly to sites of media production and introducing them to the voices and perspectives of a diverse range of collaborators.

The authors' key argument is that popular ways of twenty-first-century thinking, such as design thinking and participatory culture, and specific techniques such as speculative design, do not grapple sufficiently with cultural difference, including along lines of race, gender, and sexuality. Beyond the people, youth of color, whom this publication centers in the context of digital media and design, the project also seeks to demystify the methods by which narrative and game-based work is created. Through visual, audio, and interactive features, as well as detailed accounts of social interventions, this publication hopes to demonstrate how large-scale design projects might be conducted with youth of color in ways that are ethical and efficacious.

The project was originally released December 2022, with an official publication date of 2023, at https://transmediastories.org. It is the eleventh publication of Stanford University Press’s initiative for the publication of interactive scholarly works funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. A web archive of this project can be accessed via the Archive link on the project’s cover page at https://transmediastories.org or downloaded from the Stanford Digital Repository collection at https://purl.stanford.edu/jf302kz7177.

Technical Requirements

At the time of publication, this project requires internet connection and is best experienced via any active JavaScript-enabled browser. Browsers current at time of publication include Safari 15.6, Chrome 108, Firefox 107, Microsoft Edge 107, Opera 93, and other contemporary browsers. For best experience, the project is recommended for desktop viewing, though it is also viable on smaller devices. Because it contains video, it is best experienced on a device equipped with audio output.

Technical Specifications

The published version of the project relies on the Scalar 2.6.2 platform run in a LAMP server environment running CloudLinux 7.8 and PHP 8. Custom CSS styles and scripts have been added to the root directory (filenames and pathway noted below). A timeline was created using the TimelineJS library, and its code is hosted locally with the project.

To rebuild the Scalar publication, a user may import the project data file in the SDR collection to an empty Scalar 2.6.2 application. The additional custom files should be added to the root directory as indicated in the Technical Structure section. The following configurations should be applied in the Scalar dashboard:

Basics

Title: <span data-hide-versions="true" data-margin-nav="true" data-duplicatable="true">Transmedia Stories</span>
Subtitle: Narrative Methods for Public Health and Social Justice
Description: [blank]
URI segment: ts
Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction: Narrative Methods for a Transmedia Era
  2. Story Circles and Digital Storytelling
  3. Narrative Video Games
  4. Transmedia History
  5. Speculative Design
  6. Alternate Reality Games
  7. Coda: “Fourcasting” the Future
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Works Cited

Style

Interface: Scalar 2
Navigation: Yes
Background image: 4) Martin Luther King Jr., Freedom Movement Rally (July 10, 1966)- first page of speech.jpg
Thumbnail image: [none]
Custom style:

@import url('/footer/footer.css');

/*.path-breadcrumb {
  display: none;
}*/

/* Remove comment icons */
#comment_control {
   background: url();
}

/***** TOC *****/
.chapter-banners {
  display: block;
}

.chapter-banners img {
  width: 100%;
  max-width: 710px;
  height: auto;
}
/* Image containers */
.wcack-column {
  float: left;
  width: 50%;
  padding: 5px;
}

/* Clear floats after image containers */
.wcack-row::after {
  content: "";
  clear: both;
  display: table;
}
/***** End TOC *****/

/***** Chapter Pages *****/

/*Section Headers*/
.left-header img {
  float: left;
  margin: 0px 25px 25px 0px;
  width: 100%;
  max-width: 206px;
  height: auto;
}
.center-header {
	display: block;
}
.center-header img {
  width: 100%;
  max-width: 710px;
	height auto;
}
p, ul, li {
  font-family: sans-serif, Arial, Verdana;
}
.paragraph_wrapper ul > li {
  margin-left: 4rem !important;
}
p.epigraph, p.epigraph-attribution {
  margin-left: 100px;
  margin-right: 100px;
  font-family: Georgia, Times, serif;
  font-size: .85em;
  color: #202020;
}
p.epigraph {
  text-align: center;
  font-style: italic;
  margin-bottom: -.5em;
}
p.epigraph-attribution {
  text-align: right;
  margin-top: -1em;
}
/***** End Chapter Pages *****/

Custom JavaScript:

$(document).ready(function() {
  $('body').on('pageLoadComplete',function() {
    $('body').find('> footer, #footer').remove();
    $('body').append('<footer><div><div>©2022 Stanford University | <a href="http://transmediastories.org/tou/index.html" title="Terms of Use">Terms of Use</a></div><div>ISBN 9781503634701 |  DOI <a href="https://transmediastories.org">10.21627/2022ts</a>  |  OCLC <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1351847459" target="_blank">1351847459</a></div><div>Published by <a href="https://www.sup.org" title="Visit SUP">Stanford University Press</a></div></div></footer>');
});
});

Publisher

Scope: Book
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publisher logo: [blank]

User Experience


screenshot of project cover page
Figure 1. Landing page for the project. Clicking Enter opens a new window with the main project site.

After clicking enter on the landing page (see fig. 1), visitors arrive at the internal platform and the Table of Contents (see fig. 2).


screenshot of table of contents page
Figure 2. Screenshot of the Table of Contents, the firts internal page of the project.

The text is made up of six chapters and a coda, as well as some peripheral pages. Any of those chapters can be reached via a dropdown menu in the upper left-hand corner of the page (see fig. 3).


screenshot of dropdown Table of Contents
Figure 3. Screenshot showing the dropdown menu in the upper left corner.

The first chapter operates as an introduction to the overall project. Each subsequent chapter has a title that names the narrative method or form that is the focus. These methods include story circles and digital storytelling (chapter 2), narrative video games (chapter 3), transmedia history (chapter 4), speculative design (chapter 5), and alternate reality games (chapter 6). The coda then expands on contemporary forms like Twitch-based live-streaming. In addition to a theoretical introduction to these methods, this text uses developments in digital publishing to introduce readers to a full range of media through which these methods might be practiced. To further orient the reader, each chapter includes the case study or case studies that are the focus of that chapter.

To take one example of a chapter, we can consider chapter 2, “Story Circles and Digital Storytelling.” Each chapter begins with a banner image and a series of epigraphs (see fig. 4).


screenshot of the top of a chapter page
Figure 4. A tyical chapter beginning.

The full chapter appears on a single web page that you can scroll down to read. You can click on any of the included images. We included countless images in this text as a way of further marking credit for the youth who participated in the case studies that make up the text, and to model the kind of documentation that educators, public health and social science researchers, and activists might engage in for their comparable projects.

Each chapter begins with an introduction and a short high-level overview of the narrative method in question. This includes the definition of key terms, as we use them, including “story circles” and “digital storytelling” in chapter 2. Each chapter also includes an in-depth case study. In this case, the case study is a project called South Side Stories, which was a two-year project that partnered with Black and brown heterosexual and sexual minority youth between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four (see fig. 5). The text that follows details the storytelling workshops that made up this project. Though the categories are different for each project, they tend to include methodological decisions, participants, an overview of the workshop process, and basic qualitative or quantitative results.


screenshot the Case Study section of a chapter page
Figure 5. Screenshot of a typical chapter page, in this case a Case Study section.

We also include the equivalent of a discussion section. In the case of chapter 2, we think through the various ethical issues that go into telling and recording digital stories on intimate topics. We also include quotations from participating youth who took part in interviews and focus groups.

Though each chapter has different details, this chapter includes a section in which we look at a public health project from the standpoint of the humanities. Here, we present a series of digital stories, which were created in this workshop, and analyze them from a formal, cultural, and sociopolitical perspective. In this section, we also offer a series of videos that participants can view on their own (see fig. 6).


screenshot showing embedded video with freezeframe on a Pride parade float
Figure 6. An embedded video in the chapter entitled "Story Circle sand Digital Storytelling."

The end of each chapter includes links to works cited and a list of the full project team. The works cited is a standard bibliography for that chapter. The reader can also link to the full project team from the bottom of each chapter page. For each chapter that includes a case study, we include a list of the major players who contributed to that case (see fig. 7). Transmedia Stories has depended on a large coalition of collaborators. The book itself was composed, in both text and multimedia features, by a small group. But the projects that make up the primary cases came from years of work among both a core and rotating group of researchers, designers, teachers, curriculum specialists, students, parents, grant writers, and organizers.


screenshot of project team page listing names of collaborators
Figure 7. Screenshot of the project team credits list for "Story Circle sand Digital Storytelling."

To offer a slightly different kind of experience, we can look at chapter 6, “Alternate Reality Games.” This chapter offers three unique routes through the experience. First, it can be read as a traditional book chapter augmented by images (see fig. 8).


screenshot of the top of the 'Alternate Reality Games' chapter
Figure 8. Screenshot of the "Alternate Reality Games" chapter.

Second, this chapter also includes a series of five video segments which come in at approximately four to ten minutes each that make up a short documentary film, directed by Philip Ehrenberg. This film weaves together the voices of S.E.E.D. game designers and players as well as video documentation recorded on-site. Below each video, there is also a link to a textual transcript of the video (see fig. 9).


screenshot of an embedded video with link below it to its transcript
Figure 9. Screenshot of an embedded video with transcript link below it.

Third, given the complexity of this ARG, we offer a precise interactive timeline, composed by Ashlyn Sparrow, which includes over 100 specific events in the game (see fig. 10). Even as the chapter version does not go into detail about every design element, the timeline constellates many curricular details and additional images for designers or educators who might be interested in this level of granularity.


screenshot of an embedded interactive timeline
Figure 10. Screenshot of a timeline embedded in the "Alternate Reality Games" chapter.

Through text, video, audio, and timeline elements, we hope to communicate aspects of the original experience of the S.E.E.D. alternate reality game. Readers can traverse this chapter in one or all three of these ways.

Finally, in addition to works cited pages for each individual chapter, we have an overall works cited page for the entire book that can be accessed from the table of content or the dropdown menu on the upper left-hand side.

Technical Structure

The project is built within Scalar, a content management system that automatically generates URLs that match the author-defined page or media title. What appears in the address bar reflects this naming structure for the titles of those pages or objects. However, the content is not stored as separate html units but is compiled as an RDF-XML/JSON file. Once you have installed Scalar on your server, import the ts-scalar-export.json file. To ensure links to media are matched to the new project URL, use the following scripts in the new book’s database in phpMyAdmin:


1.	SET @book_id = <the new book ID integer, found by looking for the book_id field in the HTML of any page>;
2.	SET @old_url = "https://transmediastories.supdigital.org/ts";
3.	SET @new_url = "http://url/of/the/new/book";
4.	--
5.	UPDATE
6.	scalar_db_versions
7.	INNER JOIN
8.	scalar_db_content ON scalar_db_versions.content_id = scalar_db_content.content_id AND scalar_db_content.book_id = @book_id
9.	SET
10.	scalar_db_versions.url = REPLACE(scalar_db_versions.url, @old_url, @new_url),
11.	scalar_db_versions.content = REPLACE(scalar_db_versions.content, @old_url, @new_url);
12.	--
13.	UPDATE
14.	scalar_db_content
15.	SET
16.	scalar_db_content.background = REPLACE(scalar_db_content.background, @old_url, @new_url),
17.	scalar_db_content.banner = REPLACE(scalar_db_content.banner, @old_url, @new_url),
18.	scalar_db_content.thumbnail = REPLACE(scalar_db_content.thumbnail, @old_url, @new_url)
19.	WHERE
20.	scalar_db_content.book_id = @book_id;

The database structure is defined by the open-source Scalar platform, and the scripts that render the content draw it from the RDF data. This data constitutes twenty-nine unique URL pages and two hundred and fifty URLs to media, including static images and video. One inline interactive JavaScript timeline is embedded via iframe.

To finish reconstructing the project after configuring the Scalar installation as noted above, you would need to download the following files (names in bold) from the SDR and place them in the appropriate directories, some of which would need to be created in the public_html (~) folder on the server, indicated below:

~/captions/[extract ts-captions.zip]
~/footer/[extract ts-footer.zip]
~/timeline/[extract timeline.tar]
~/ts/media/[extract ts-media.tar folder so each file sits directly in this media directory]

Credits>

Author: Patrick Jagoda
Designers: Ireashia Bennett and Ashlyn Sparrow
Ci3 Founder: Melissa Gilliam
Game Changer Chicago Design Lab Cofounders: Melissa Gilliam and Patrick Jagoda
Transmedia Story Lab Cofounders: Alida Bouris, Melissa Gilliam, and Patrick Jagoda
Ci3 Executive Directors: Lee Hasselbacher, Angela Heimburger, Brandon Hill, and Crystal Tyler
Directors of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab: Ashlyn Sparrow and Mason Arrington
Directors of the Transmedia Story Lab: Márquez Rhyne, Elizabeth Futrell, and Suchi Bansal
Director of the Design Lab: Amanda Geppert
Ci3 Communications Leads: Valerie Reynolds, Erin Garcia, Melissa Sherwin, and Lauren Whalen
Ci3 Designers, writers, and workshop leaders: Mason Arrington, Ireashia Bennett, Robin Berman, Leslie Quinlan Burrell, Robin Cogdell, Amanda Dittami, Philip Ehrenberg, Kinsey Erickson, Seed Lynn, Bea Malsky, Emily Moss, Ailea Stites, Ainsley Sutherland, James Taylor, and Keith S. Wilson
Ci3 Researchers and Staff: Motolani Akinola, Brie Anderson, Trevor Bak, Shannon Bowers, Adriana (Adge) Brodyn, Brandon Dull, Camille Fabiyi, Charlie Fuller, Luciana Hebert, Timothy Hoffelder, Erin Jaworski, Ian Jones, Jessica Law, Myles Lawter, Soo Young Lee, Phoebe Lyman, Vanya Manthena, Ellen McCammon, Amy Moore, Darnell Motley, Sara Newton, Mallory Nolen, Sarah Orzalli, Laura Paradis, Jessica Preleski, Madeline Quasebarth, Sierra Ribero, Anthony Rodriguez-Ortiz, Kris Rosentel, Jennifer Rowley, Tina Schuh, Heather Sipsma, Alicia VandeVusse, Catherine Wieczorek, Claire Wilson, Shirley Yan, and Danielle Young

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