Participatory Storytelling: Robert Pratten

On July 25th, 2012 Robert Pratten gave this presentation to Toronto's Transmedia 101. It was the best explanation I've seen yet of the tool Robert has developed - Conducttr (a platform for storytellers to organize and deliver their stories across social networks) - along with some very helpful illustrations about how to build a participatory story around traditional linear media. For example, see slides 29-32, and think about how your fictional characters can live online (e.g., via a Facebook page) - interacting with a participatory audience - while the traditional linear narrative is also progressing.

If you're paying attention to how social media is changing storytelling - you're probably already aware of how online experiences are augmenting some traditional TV shows (see MTV's The Hunt). Robert Pratten is fascinated by the possibilities of this kind of storytelling. And that's why he's developed Conducttr. Storytellers, who aren't experts at coding, can use Robert's platform to invite the audience to learn more about their stories by going online or even through texting on their phones - in a way that Robert is helping to make organized and elegant.

If you're new to this kind of storytelling (and almost everyone is), Robert's illustrations (above) might help you. For example, the fat dots in slides 30 and 31 above can be thought of as characters that the audience can interact with online - perhaps via that character's Facebook page or Tweets. The idea is that the most enthusiastic fans can go online to interact with favorite characters in a story - perhaps discovering additional information. Conducttr is a tool that helps storytellers to plan and implement these kinds of tweets or conversations with a fictional character on Facebook or Twitter or even just SMS - making that kind of online activity easier to plan and implement. For an more detailed explanation of Conducttr - you can click this link.

Instead of simply building a linear narrative - using only traditional linear storytelling (e.g., an episodic TV or web series, or chapters of a book published online) where the audience is basically passive - storytellers can now build experiences that invite audience participation.

Thanks to Siobhan O'Flynn, Carrie Cutforth Young and Anthea Foyer for organizing the July 25th, 2012 presentation at the University of Toronto. And, as always, really grateful for how generous Robert Pratten is with the work that he is doing.

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