Monday, November 1, 2010

A Transmedia Paddling Guide?

Mark and I met a few days ago to talk about the series of 14 paddling guides he envisions for the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges. My role is helping to include natural history in the guides, pointing out features paddlers will be seeing as they travel along routes and providing informative stories about them. By the end of our meeting I had a set of excellent maps to work with and a better sense of how I should be proceeding.

Inspired by some other activities, I was led to speculate on how the paddling guides could not only be issued in multiple media formats, but possibly also how they might ultimately become interactive. Here’s how it might work:

The paddling guides, including maps, text, and photos are printed as laminated brochures.

Later the 14 guides could be bound together in book form, with expanded natural history information and more photos.

Or suppose the guides and the guidebook (as an e-book) were available for download. Users could print needed sections at home, or download the entire book onto a smart phone or i-Pad to be brought along on paddling ventures.

So far these materials would qualify as “multimedia,” but what about transmedia?

Suppose users could contribute observations and stories? Information posted on a live blog would report real-time observations. If connectivity were good, observations could be downloaded
or uploaded onto the blog in the field. For example a post might be, “The pair of bald eagles observed last week near waypoint SAN03 are on the nest and appear to have begun incubation.” Posts might be practical: “A fallen tree makes it impossible to ascend the Gopher River beyond waypoint 07.”

Ultimately the guidebook could be a living one, with updates as events are recorded. For example a section appended to one route might include a 10-year record of bald eagle activity at a particular nesting site.

This is already a fun project, even more fun when it offers a vision of the future.

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