Transmedia storytelling is a great new medium for storytelling that matches up with the technology and trends of today. But it didn't start today, it has truly existed for a while now - we just didn't know it.
The world wide web started in the early 1990s and revolutionized world communication, interaction and spread of information. Thus humans started sharing information, creating both producers and audiences of the internet.
One of the first major breakthroughs of transmedia as a medium would be journalism. It is crucial for humans from all over the world to hear the latest news about serious topics such as natural disasters, economic crises or wars. Thus, inevitably, this new medium of communication called the world wide web would be a perfect way to communicate news to others. Why is this transmedia storytelling? And did transmedia storytelling exist prior to the internet?
That is simple. Transmedia storytelling is a story told over multiple different platforms over time. Although it is true that these platforms need not necessarily be over the internet, it should also be noted that participatory culture forms part of transmedia storytelling and that the internet is one of the most convenient and successful forms of communication. A large part of transmedia storytelling is the relationship between the audience, the creators, and how the two interact. Transmedia storytelling embraces UGC (user generated content) and wants the audience to be involved in the creative process.
After journalism came marketing. Companies are always looking for the newest and most creative way to brand their products or market franchises. This is the point where advertisements and campaigns can cross the boundary into art and entertainment - because although they are intended for commercial purposes, some of these engaging campaigns truly do offer entertainment and is a form of art. And certainly, the UGC is a form of art as well. Fan fiction, parodies and remixes form part of the participatory culture which is linked to transmedia storytelling. The web interaction of the audience also forms part of transmedia storytelling.
Transmedia storytelling as a medium embraces the idea of creating a world in which audience members can immerse themselves, yet also a way for the audience to encounter aspects of the story in their daily life. Franchises do a very good job at getting costumes, props or other elements from the story world available to the audience. Though, franchises are not necessarily transmedia storytelling because they don't always tell a story.
The goal of transmedia is to take one story into another platform but keep the same characters and the same world - therefore different situations or information is revealed, but the character personalities and rules of the world do not change.
Transmedia storytelling is just in the beginning of its lifetime, and there is certainly room for this medium to expand and evolve. This medium is already forming part of our daily lives and the technology we use - the producer, consumer and pro-sumer process is becoming part of internet culture. Storytellers - whether that be through film, literature, journalism or any other medium - should explore and embrace this new medium and the potential it holds for spreading a story.