GROKKING TRANSMEDIA – 2006 Style. Second Life meets Transmedia Universe

In 2006 I felt the nacent Second Life had enough “viewsers” paying money for virtual items to invest in bringing the StarbaseC3 Universe into the platform. Of course  ever since as it was created a decade earlier, the C3 Universe was “made” for online 3d MMO immersive viewsers, and after Linden Labs had finally listened to our reasoning about IP rights in 2003, and “value” could be found for third parties within the SL platform, it was time to “Invade”.:)  So in 2006 I created a small “Invasion Fleet” for Second Life and also found a partner who was finally able to provide “Stereo Lithography” 3d Printed models for a “almost reasonable” hobbiest price. So we Invaded with a set of 3 ships, that came with a story background within the Starbase C3 online world, and added the first built in “games” for a vehicle in SL – a target drone” shooter that was embed in each ship sold. And to that  the ability to purchase “desk toy” model of each of the 3 ships sold and a new level of  “narrative immersion” was introduced to those in SL who were interested in original Sci Fi RPGs.

Its interesting now to re read the “grokking” of what we offered then, now 5 years ago. Transmedia had yet to become a buzz word  and “virtual worlds” were just getting their first play in the blogworld of  overnight “experts” in the metaverse:).

Its a fun read as Transmedia thinking collided with Virtual Worlds thinking for the first time in the “SL blogosphere”.;) 

Grokking at the speed of light…


Since I dont get invited to fancy panels at SXSW or DED , I’ll have to use this blog to offer my unique view of the “transmedia” meme of 2011.  I’ve said before in earlier installments of this “secret series” that almost all “transmedia” methods being talk about today were alive and very well in the 1980s.. Especially in the toy/tv kids world business. Without the 24/7 nature of the Internet/mobile devices  the “deeper”- more immersive” elements now being offered couldnt be developed, but all other avenues utilizing every medium possible were explored.

Today I found this clip posted at AINT IT COOLS NEWS, Seems like Leonard Nimoy will be returning to being a robot;) The geeks are thrilled. But this clip, the teaser for a 1986 feature film for the obviously “transmedia” IP..the “Trans” formers…. really hit me as the day the Transmedia died.

Leonard Nimoy, Orson Wells, and JUDD NELSON…. “judd nelson?!”  now this was “TRANSMEDIA PRODUCTION!”  All fighting the Decepticons and saving the world!. Michael Bays films have been “B- movies” compared to this cast and action packed cinema event!… 😉 Transmedia came screeching to a hault after this Im sure…

Dead. but like any good Zombie…not really.

Come the color macintosh and hypercard in 1988… and the “personal tool” to make a  “new media”. And the day the apple hit henry jenkins in the head in 1993…

and “Transmedia” was born again. To slowly find students and converts, and to grow again into the giant robot, (bad robot?;) of magic boxes,bloggers and stories, and trade show panels and VCs… All poised for the MEGAFUTURETRON to come..!!

But for now, behold the day the transmedia died. Id love to meet the makers of this Film, and i really need to find a full copy via Emule tonight.;)



WEBGL VERSION OF FIREFOX 4 RELEASED – Native Web3D in a Browser- Finally

Well it only took 15 years of bad techie politics and egos to get us to a place where 3D rt media plays natively in a popular browser. Firefox 4.0 with webgl support active has shipped and as of last night demos of “slow” but working web3d content can now be seen as easy as a jpeg or gif or html file. Now the game is to get exporters for the most popular 3d apps like Max and Maya, and Im sure thats only a few weeks away. Blender has a web3d exporter for download offered today, and I need to go find the old “o3d” files I had made when Google was the buzz around its O3D initiative before it tossed its support toward the Mozilla/ Kronos/ WebGL players.

It’s all so tiring and late by a decade, but it’s good to finally start the interface media change over on the web. Since it’s already beginning to excite those on mobile devices. The shame is that it’ll be the  mobile devices that make 3d interfaces mainstream, and that the same people who fought over tech issues for 15 years may be involved again in holding back creators visions of user experiences, for their own coder religious ego based biases.

The next steps. already announced by companies like Unity3d are to make “actual” real-time 3d content authoring tools ( for sale-not sas) and allow them to compete via price and capabilities in a free market that serves designers and their clients. A system that allows a full ecosystem for RT3D media to flourish.

Let’s hope that dosen’t take another 15 years. 2001-3 Wayback Machine Archives – Lost Transmedia History

Ive used the Wayback Machine to find the remnants of the site from 2001. It was a pure ONLINE TRANSMEDIA template for it’s time. Before any RSS driven linkage of “social sites” . It premiered a web machinima 3d animated pilot that was supplemented by comic art(since i didnt have the budget to continue the 3d animations) Viewers could then enter a 3d avatar virtual world AS the main 4 characters and interract in the next story phase. It also had a 3d shooter game based on the story world., as well as message boards, an ebook tech bible etc.  The links to the advanced media elements are now lost, but one can find them at difffernt locations on the web and at And most of the “technologies” that drove the games /3d animations etc are long gone. Which should be a lesson to creatives online, thatthe  tech companies arent in buisness for you as customers;) and that online media- your work- is not being designed by the tech companies  business models to “last”. Forget LONGTAILS, “they” arent being designed for by your tool makers.. unhappy? then make it change;)!

Anyhow- enjoy the peak at 2001 or so- – and “transmedia” online  before it had the snazy name.;)

Iv’e also linked the first chapter of “FIRST STEPS” which was meant to be the “story novel” of the transmedia IP. There was a full pitch doc for the novel/online universe that Im looking to find — if I can get one ill post it, I lost alot of older files in a move this year. 

best c3


I really suggest reading this article even though the new webzine “Continent” its published in,  has the silliest tagline Ive read in a long time.;)

Yes, OK, it’s not a “special report” and like usual not a “real” secret. I just needed a “story headline” to connect the narrative of the posts I’ve been making on transmedia recently.

For those who wish to continue makeing a living off  “creative content” and “ip” over the next 50 years, I can’t think of a more important article/topic Ive seen online in almost a decade.

You Judge.

A Sneak Peak of Tomorrow – Hero today, Reality Tomorrow

They just ended the”voting” phase of this contest to “create a hero for the 21st century” and the “Stan Lee Foundation”. As you all know Stan Lee was in  part responsible for the comic book stories and characters that have affected our culture and its thinking for over 50 years.

This world wide contest offers a unique view into the psyche of todays younger creative set. it would be wise for many to study the galleries. What you see there, mutliply by 1000, and youll have some idea of the future societies to come. Both Real and Virtual, and of course , combined;)

Many designs are “tracings” of older comic book, super heroes that have been our cultural gods and goddesses, or myths for a century, but others are something new. Something that will be as strange as a man in a bat outfit fighting crime was in 1940. Or of  heroes  who got “superpowers”  from  “radioactive”  accidents  in the early -mid cold war atomic 60s.

I tossed in an entry…I  had an idea that i thought might be a good “design/idea”  for the Lee Foundation. After the contest ends I’ll add some thoughts on the contest,  creativity in the age of the web and social media values .

Till then, I truly suggest the look at Tomorrow  the rather large gallery offers.:)


I had a different topic for part 3, but I saw this post by old pal Mike Pinto today. As i mentioned in other posts, much of what I look at as “transmedia”  had always found its  new- medias surrounding programs and IP designed for youth and childeren.

The japanese anime/otaku markets though in the 70 and 80s, most likely due to smaller market sizes  were permitted to make/publish a wider range of media IPs. Thus topics and programming beyond “kiddie” shows became common, and soon found there way west to an older audience that responded to its visuals and more complex story telling ways.

In the US in the 80s large toy manufacturers and tv programming networks (following many deregulations made by gov) were teaming up to produce GIJOE cartoons/toys/ HEMAN and Thundercats, etc.. each with major media buys and marketing iniatives… – all targeted primarlity 5-10 year olds. Writing and Design was all still very much designed for the broad -large – multinational child markets in the comfortable middle class western culture of the 80s.

But post Star Wars, post Heavy Metal Movie, and post disneys TRON, the comic books and teen otaku were aging and changing, and IPs needed to be getting grittier for more teen/ college age types, as well as specialty stores- comic book stores/ toy stores as they began to pop up started by this same older crowd… – the secret lairs for geeks:)

Anyhow- check out this little review by Mike and guys… Lessons learned from the combo of written media/ illustrated media, animated media, and soon expriments done in new media/games etc by these folks… led to the online and mediaverse world of transmedia that some large corporations today are looking for.

Even geeks needed to get together and deal with “others” in realife..without an interface- or twitter.  Something to think about for the next gen of geeks, this gen of geeks is now being asked to create.:)

The Secret History of TRANSMEDIA part 2 – Music to their Ears

Evolution, we always have a past form that informs our current forms. Same for Transmedia, and this post will mention two projects that also seem missing from the current transmedia webcastings.

Man from Monkey? How about the Family of man (A Partridge Family) from the Monkees. 😉

Within a year of the British Invasion of the Beatles (who became certianly transmedia-but did start as a club band;) the machine of US markets needed one of their own. The Beach Boys were also too “real” as band/songmakers, so the next step was to “completely” design and mass market a pop band and sell them via the mass image machine of TV. Thus “The Monkees” were created. A Casted, scripted, TV show, Album released, Fan Mag published – it was a hit. A few years later the same formula was used to create “The Partridge Family” As i write this post, 40 years later Im watching the TODAY show which has a woman who has written a book (top seller) all about her “love of david cassidy” (keith) at 13. The actor/singer has shown up on the show to give her a kiss, and plug his latest dinnner show in florida;) She of course is wearing her “official” fan club “keith partridge” pin from 1971.

So there are two quick transmedia IPs from the 60s and 70s that have models still being used today. Google them for more info. It’s all there.

BTW- Thanks to the excellent PBS series “Pioneers of Television” I learned myself that “Romper Room” 1950-60s a show from my earliest childhood (1960s), was actaully a “franchise”. Licensed out to local markets and locallized by their own ” tv teachers” and “the culture” of the local states populations;). BRILLIANT.

BOZO as well was a franchise. Amazing. These show certianly were the birth of true Electric mass media transmedia.


Having originated scifi online “transmedia” in 1995 with, the response of universal is not surprising to the unlicensed commerce done using BSG with Sl for years. I had worked with scifi and genre traditional media IP owners for years before I created the model for online fan driven scifi mmos in 95 (what is now called modern online transmedia)., Their inability to see beyond the one -broadcast – one product -medium they “did” is why i created the mass mediaum – fan friendly license and property. Built on C3 – community, creativity, and commerce (that could be fair to all putting in many hrs of time needed for a universe to grow)

Nothing was “new” in universals agreement-letter- response- as too manya re reporting online via blogs. At best the news is  raising of the need for those who “publish” and “sell” online to “understand” REAL IP law and issues, and realize you get the type of virtual world that you make… both good and bad.

One also must not reward piracy… but alas that is what most of these blogs and “epic win” type stories around the BSG issue are reporting… thats sad.  People shouldnt cheapen their future just because they think you can get something for nothing (or free) today.. and that im afraid is STILL the MEME of VIRTUALITY being SOLD by many metapeddlers..

Ironincally, reversing that future was the ” story” of StarbaseC3-(well, story as many transmediates use it now;) way back before everyone was selling and talking about its licensing methods and distribution methods as “new”..;)

 I read a blog that had Jeff Gomez state ” transmedia was a priveledge” yes, it can be a very powerful process/method … and lets hope that clearer minds can see that as we move it forward and make it “bankable” and we see much more of it in the real world around us. 😉

BTW- the Irony of the new BSG/Caprica Universe as recreated by R.Moore and folks dosnet get past me as the “IP” that finds itself forcing folks/fans to face the future theyre making for themselves…  🙂

\ best c3 .

IBM to Patent “Not Bumping your head on a Virtual Ceiling?

For the consideration of  Design professionals and educators of design methodolgy for a century.I’m sorry for the format, it’s a simple cut/paste from an ongoing LinkedIN Groups Disscussion. I assume public..and not a Wikileak, but then again, seeing how my POV is being distorted into “picking on IBM” , I’m not so sure I wont have to soon color my hair oddly and join Assange in a secure mansion in Europe.;)-  thats a satirical joke for all the techies who will read this.:)

HenryStop Following Follow Henry
IBM Learning Commons : Virtual World Design Principles
Hypergrid Business has just published an article detailing specific design principles incorporated into our “IBM Learning Commons” virtual world learning environment.

With no solid walls or traditional buildings to speak of this environment is really about connecting people and social learning.

It’s a radical departure from what designers usually start building when they first get into virtual worlds. Instead, we’ve left out real world elements that didn’t provide any significant value to the user experience. The exception of course is when you are trying to provide a contextual environment for learning. But this doesn’t need to be a whole office tower or city block. In this case we bring the right-sized environment to the learner and instantiate it on demand when it’s needed.

Sound interesting? Take a moment to read the article and let me know what you think.

– Henry

3 days ago

IBM’s principles of virtual design – Hypergrid Business

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Larry Rosenthal • “Radical” and “patents” are strong “specific” words from “IBM”;). Maybe some prior art research is in order. The “design principles” you are speaking of have been used by many for 20 years in “online” 3D environments and are much older in environmental design work in general.

2 days ago
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Lisa Laxton • Interesting approach but I have to agree with Larry about similarities to early efforts by folks in the 3D community. I am glad you found a way that works for you – keep up the good work to promote Virtual Worlds! Collaborative research is a good idea – we can all help each other. Let me know if my team can assist you in your endeavor – I believe we can bring value to the effort

2 days ago
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HenryStop Following Follow Henry
Henry Watson • Ok, you got me on the dramatic “radical” comment :), but my point was that most of the learning builds I’ve encountered (and apparently those encountered by Hypergrid editors too) over the past few years do not exhibit these design principles.

The patent mentioned was actually in reference to a methodology for designing virtual spaces in general and not those particular design principles discussed (I can see that wasn’t so clear in the article).

Although the design principles may have been around for years as you say, unfortunately they aren’t applied as often as they could be to improve user and learning experiences. I hope to see more thoughtful design in virtual learning environments and would be interested to hear of examples where you’ve seen similar principles applied.

1 day ago
• Reply privately• Flag as inappropriate • Flag as promotion . Larry Rosenthal • What youve encountered (as well as what Maria looks for in topics/encounters) is up to you both to explore. PR and declarations of “firsts” and ” radical” new, are of course, old in the digital media pr world. That said:

A general patent on designing virtual spaces? Again an idea that I would think concerns many designers who exhibit careers and works going back way beyond 3 years of IBM interests and Second Life projects.

Seeing is more common than hearing today, and we live in an age Im told when one dosent need to wait monthly for a design journal to be published, or for a car trip to a library to see, hear or touch, many examples of virtual worlds expressed via online means.:) One can only hope your patent officer assigned has discovered this brave new world:)

Heres just one article on 2d/3d Virtual Design Principles published and republished many times online since 1996. Once for the DUX Confernece as requested for an event night presentation on such matters.

Please be free to click over to the works done by myself with Cube3 since the early 90s. The principles and the actual resulting projects/products have been for the most part, presented or written about publically for 15 years or so. I spoke many times about these works and the reasoning behind them at both of the Web3D sigs I founded over the years,

I also produced a website for Showtime/ New Media Festivals/Labzone in 2001 all about web3d projects and designers/artists/ etc. I would say most of them applied similar principles to their works. In my position as editor, it was such applied principles that usually gave me cause to choose their works as valueable to others and warrent publishing.

The attempt to make “good design methods” a patented – single controlled entity -“technology” is I believe why “unfortunately” will contribute to the continued lack of “thoughtful design” in virtual environments. Method patents are not quite what they “used” to be, for that, neither are we.

Once… less was more. 😉 today Im always reminded that more means less.

23 hours ago
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Amy Groves • Hmmm. Just to correct one point, IBM’s been involved with virtual worlds for waaaay longer than three years.

Also, I do think that you have to really be able to dive into the specifics to be able to see what’s unique about this particular learning design. This is about more than how buildings are designed and constructed; it’s about how the design is driven by learning best practices suggested by research. The key word here is probably “learning,” not “building.” The sponsoring organization for this project was IBM’s Center for Advanced Learning.

That having been said, thanks for the link to the Cube Productions article. Looks like interesting reading.

20 hours ago
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John Jamison • It’s nice to see the continued effort of IBM to take a serious approach to virtual environments…when many others remain outside. And it seems to me that what is described in the article, while not exactly ‘radical’, may be a very sound approach for IBM, and the uses of the v-world that it anticipates for it’s culture.

But as out here in carbon-based land, it is going to be extremely difficult to agree on a common set of design and usage guidelines that will translate to all groups. I have been active in research and development in v-worlds for about six years now, completed my PhD research on virtual environments, all focusing primarily on development options for education and training. We hold meetings, develop interactive simulations, create authentic assessments…along with a range of other activities, looking at how to “do” learning in new ways made possible in the v-environment.

For our needs, our list of guidelines would look different than those of IBM. While ‘connecting’, and ‘social learning’ are certainly a wonderful part of the virtual environment, the over-riding focus for us is using the environment to create unique and meaningful “learner experiences”….which may or may not include social interaction…depending upon the situation and objectives. The virtual environment lets us manipulate so many modalities and sub-modalities that we can engage learners as never before. For our needs, we’re not focusing establishing guidelines about whether there should be ceilings, walls or chairs, or consistency. These are all good things, and apparently fit IBM’s needs very well. That’s outstanding.

But we are looking the environment as a responsive place in which we can create authentic interactions with new learning, and when it contributes to learning, interactions with each other.

It’s a great time and place to be involved…keep up the great work!

John/Virtual Bacon

19 hours ago
• Reply privately• Flag as inappropriate • Flag as promotion . Larry Rosenthal • Hello Amy.

“3.5- 4 years” was the articles “Hamilton’s” assertion. not mine. In terms of “web3d” media ( virtual worlds can mean another thing imo) I do remember working with IBMs “hot media? metal” back in the 90s.;) with an author on a book about web3d media.

Again I have no knowledge of what IBM plans to attempt to patent or not, only the article and comments here to react to.

I do know that “learning” and “design” are broad terms, and that “best practices” are usually considered with marketing terms rather than patents.

Interface design using real-time 3d media has been around commercially and in academia for 20 years plus. I’m sure certain aspects people have used may be called unique, as to the strength of /or business politics of particular patents, either granted in the past or future, one can only confront them, when they’re public or an issue to a concerned party.

I’ll end with “Education”, and specifically “the educational results” using 3dmedia does demand us to do better, since the majority of experiences presented using the medium has come tangentially from the game and entertainment industries for the last 20 years.

thanks for the further info.

19 hours ago
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DavidStop Following Follow David
David Miller • Hmm, I think amphitheatres pre-date IBM . .

Okay, sorry, it is far to easy and tempting to pick on IBM. IBM has poured 10’s of millions into virtual worlds and are a big reason we have working hypergrid teleports in OpenSim. Thank you IBM for the resources, both in money and talent, that have furthered virtual worlds overall.

It is very tempting to build in traditional ways and that is often rationalized as helping to “suspend disbelief” for learning scenarios. Good virtual world building means taking into account those factors in virtual worlds taht affect user experience. Things such as ceiling heights. Unless you change some debug settings, walking into a space with 8 foot ceilings without being in mouselook is terrible. Same for landing areas and what Henry was pointing to.

Of course, the purpose of your environment is the latgest driver for design. I do middle school science work so a desalination plant needs to approximate a real one to an extent.

Even with 4 years experience with 19 sims in Second Life and now a private OpenSim grid, I still want to base my builds on pseudo-real architecture. I have a fully floating lounge 200 metres up that I built two years ago and I still struggle with the concept of it in my head!

Hats off to you IBM for continuing to research and develop virtual worlds and contributing to my enjoyment of them!

4 hours ago
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Amy Groves • David, thank you a million times for pointing out how easy and tempting it is to pick on IBM. I can’t tell you how challenging it can be sometimes to engage in meaningful public dialog without sinking into defensiveness. Ultimately, what we’re really trying to do here is share our work with people so that it will do some good.

Your example of the eight foot ceilings was interesting to me because it’s a really good example of what I think Henry was referring to when he wrote that Learning Commons is “a radical departure from what designers usually start building when they first get into virtual worlds.” I still think Henry was correct in his statement. To this day I still see new builders putting in eight foot ceilings. Learning Commons has almost no ceilings or doors, except in certain very specific cases in which we require a realistic environment for staged role plays. I think the trick here is to provide the correct degree or verisimilitude for the type of learning that is being offered.

Another thing that we see new builders doing all the time, and which I think continues to be a danger and a bother even to experienced builders, is overbuilding. In Second Life it’s so easy to build that we become our own worst enemies. With Learning Commons, we looked at requirements gathered from over 40 different internal learning programs and pilots, distilled them into a set of common basic requirements, and built from that. What we found is that by making our spaces highly configurable by the learning facilitators or instructors, we could satisfy 85-90% of the instructional designers’ requirements within only two contiguous regions, not a lot of prims, and a limited texture library. People have noticed that IBM currently maintains only a fraction of the 40+ regions that we once maintained. It’s not because we’re less interested in virtual land; it’s because we have finally learned what to do with it — particularly for adult corporate learning.

Our build is uncluttered, in keeping with our desire to minimize cognitive overhead. At the same time, our design conveys a sense of openness because we wish to encourage the social and informal learning which is such a big part of how adults learn in a corporate environment. It takes a lot of meetings and a lot of field testing to get the balance just right.

There’s a video on YouTube about one of the courses that’s conducted in Learning Commons. This course is atypical in that these learning designers did much more customized building than any others have elected to do. Nevertheless, it does give you some views of a little part of Learning Commons.

1 hour ago
• Reply privately• Flag as inappropriate • Flag as promotion . Larry Rosenthal • Please. Give us a break. Picking on a multibillion dollar corporation? One that today has it’s employees publically posting about Patenting the obvious fundamentals to the design processs that trained designers for a century have passed on as ” free Knowlege and eperience or as formal education” not Patent licenses..I dont expect much agreement on forums like this anymore, thus isnt that the real problem with this meta “virtuality” that we have- ahem IBM? to be “grateful for” ?

This thread was started by an IBM employee. Asking for thoughts.Too bad My thoughts were about the “patent” statements in the article as well as “radical” aproaches that clearly are not radical or new for professional designers.- and thus the patent statement seems to be “one” of business politics, and not any “faux altruism” for others, even those like David.

“Think! “used to be IBMs “motto” I guess with todays employees it’s “be grateful and don’t pick on us.”