Silverlight As A Transmedia Platform

The advent of Windows Phone 7 is particularly exciting to current Silverlight programmers, because Silverlight (along with .xna) is the development platform for the new phone.  I recently recorded two Silverlight TV episodes, and in one I created a typical form that might appear in any LOB application, but I created it simultaneously on both the phone and for the web using identical Xaml and C#.  (This is not to deny that there are some differences in coding for each, but the overlap is very very high).

Link to SLTV video

But does it make sense to create the same application on the web and on the phone?

Certainly that is the default assumption… you take your application and shrink it down to the form factor of the phone.

This crude migration never makes it to market (or dies a quick and painful death) because a phone has (surprise!) a much smaller screen.

The    improvement is to re-envision the UI to be easier to use on the smaller screen.

And, frankly, that is where most developers stop.  Not that this is bad; there are many applications that have been modified so as to have an excellent phone UI and I’m certain that Windows Phone 7 will have many exemplary migrations.

It is not that this is bad, but it may be a missed opportunity.  The phone offers different opportunities, different use-cases and different capabilities than a browser or desktop application.  Is it possible to create a second, complimentary application that stands on its own but together with the web application make for a greatly enhanced experience?

Transmedia Storytelling

The premise of Transmedia Storytelling is to tell the same story on various media, but to use each medium to its own advantage.  According to Wikipedia, the concept of Transmedia Storytelling was first mentioned in 1991 by Marsha Kinder in her seminal work Playing with Power in Movies, Television, and Video Games: From Muppet Babies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles She asserted that this approach  “works to position consumers as powerful players.”

Some ten years later this was picked up by Dr. Henry Jenkins at the  MIT Media Lab. He said,

The coordinated use of storytelling across platforms can make the story more compelling

Is there a lesson to be learned here for Win Phone 7 developers?  It is early days, but the Silverlight Hypervideo Project provides a great test bed for this concept.  Rather than simply migrating the HVP to the phone, we will pursue the idea of creating a separate, phone-based and phone-directed application that when used in tandem with the HVP will create a (you should pardon the expression) synergy that should make each more valuable.

Much more on this soon, and you can follow the progress of this effort on the HVP site.

About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty has three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects and is the author of 2 dozen books and a couple dozen Pluralsight & LinkedIn Learning courses. He was a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP and a Microsoft MVP.
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2 Responses to Silverlight As A Transmedia Platform

  1. Pingback: HyperVideo & Windows Phone 7 Project Update | Jesse Liberty

  2. Pingback: Silverlight como plataforma para proyectos transmedia | Noticias Transmedia

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