Fan fiction is what Transmedia wanted to be

One of the most popular forms of expression on the web involves shared narratives that span text, video, illustration, interactivity, comics, and even animation. Crowds of people spontaneously organise to create and distribute some of the most creative works available online.

I am not talking about Transmedia. I am talking about Fan Fiction.

The multi-platform storytelling that we call Transmedia is an attempt to replicate the creativity and involvement of fandom communities. A corporation doing this artificially is akin to trying to culture bacteria by replacing the growth medium with antibiotics. Multi-platform fan-created media can’t be replicated on its own, without the fandom, because it isn’t a “thing” but a symptom. Fan fiction is the spontaneous expression of a creative and collaborative community with a shared interest. It isn’t a media artifact but one characteristic of many of a vibrant community.

The community is the thing, not the media.

To truly replicate fan-created media you first need to make something that interests a lot of people. Then you need to nurture the community around it, make sure it has spaces that are safe from you and your involvement and then you hope for the best.

If you have enough fans and they feel safe enough to do so and if they care enough about your work, then they will create. The diversity of the stories and the media they will tell will be directly proportional to your fandom.

Trying to build that phenomenon artificially from the top down will always fail.

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