MMI Revolution

The Creative Web is coming — blurring the lines between websites, books, movies, art, and social media. Stories are interactive. Articles include videos. Everything is online and part of a conversation between reader and maker.

The revolution has sparked and I want to fan the flame.

This is a list of some of my articles on the MMI Revolution (mixed-media, interactive revolution). I explore what it means to tell stories that alternate between images and text or teach using videos, art, and technology.

It doesn’t stop there. Coming in early 2016 is mmirevolution.com, a hub for artists, thinkers, authors, dreamers, and technologists to build the next generation of mixed-media, interactive content. Don’t go anywhere,

Something Awesome This Way Comes.

Resources for Visual Artists: Public Domain Images

As a blogger and artist, I am constantly struggling for high quality images to use in posts and pieces. Royalties can bleed you dry, especially for something as trivial as a rant or simple blog.

BlenderDiplom has come to my rescue. These sites are filled with royalty free, public domain images that are actually high quality.

Resources For Public Domain CCO Images

Share the love in the comments and let us know some of your favorite image houses.

(Five) Tips from a Designer, continued

In the last article, Reema Yeager brought us very practical tips to enhance our design. Now, she picks up where she left off.

Color or Colour

Color is very subjective, but there are general human psychologies that nearly all of us react to. Learn what colours mean, color psychology seems trivial but can have a huge impact on your project. For example: green – depending on the exact shade – can mean money or nature; blue – depending on the specific hue – can mean warm and inviting or cold and distant; yellow is a strong color that people either love or hate, period, it can also make babies cry more and elderly – especially in hospice care – shake more.

Combinations of colors can be pleasing or unsettling. Monochromatic colors (eg shades of grey to black) can be pleasant but boring, they need an accent color or two to bring life to them and draw attention to important items. Complimentary colors are complete opposites on the color wheel (eg orange and purple), they can be vibrant and contrasting when paired together, but they fight for dominance. Analogous colors are colours that are next to each other on the color wheel (eg green, blue and purple), these are often found in nature and are pleasing to the eye, but they recede and it becomes hard to tell what is important. Stay with a simple pallet and follow #1

Themes

To bring all the above points together, find or create a theme that your work revolves around. Make that theme narrow, but not too tight (eg water vs river; horror vs supernatural fiction). Too vague and you don’t know what to focus on, too tight and you won’t have enough inspiration material (eg mental disorders vs OCD handwashing due to fear of germs; high-end sports cars vs Lamborghini Diablo). Why do you need themes? It helps you pull inspiration to create your color scheme, find a balance, know what to focus on, and stay consistent.

Putting it all into perspective

I’ve recently worked on a new showroom design for a client, as well as their new website, marketing materials and presentation standards. In other words, their branding. While they had a logo, colors (royal blue and intense orange) and fonts picked out, they didn’t have consistency. Their former space and branding was alright, but it didn’t follow the above principles. The sales team had to explain to their clients what their mission and goals were, it was not self-evident. In the initial stages of design I researched their culture, clients and business model, called The Canoe Theory. I gathered inspirational pictures and reference materials to create a theme: canoeing down a river. For each of the above principles I asked myself, what would I see canoeing down a river and how does this translate into the design? I was able to create a simple color pallet for the showroom: blue and orange shades that subtly transition from before sunrise (cool, dark and intense) to mid-day (warm, bright and light) from the front to back of the showroom.

I could understand what balance I needed to strike, there’s some angularity and rigidity in the canoe, but then there’s fluid natural forms in the foliage and water, so the design is angular but juxtaposed with rounded, soft edges. Because of this theme, I could focus on simplicity, if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t belong (on the existing presentations there was a lot of information that was not necessary, and so they were streamlined to show only pertinent information that fit with the whole brand). And, finally, I had all of these things guiding me so I could create consistency (eg all the artwork, abstract or otherwise, is centered on that feeling of nature you might experience while canoeing). This has become their brand. The story they were telling is now intuitive to client’s who’ve never heard of them, clients “get it” without being told. Now the story they tell their clients enhances their design, not the other way around. From digital to physical, the same principles apply no matter what you’re creating.

This post is by Reema F. Yeager, a designer, storyteller, artist, and good friend.

(Five) Tips from a Visual Designer

You’re probably wondering, or guessing, what a visual designer really is. “Designer” is a description that applies to so many professions and niches that it’s hard to know what it really means even if you are one. What I mean, is someone who visualizes everything and uses design principles to bring that concept from idea to reality. That’s who I am.

Tips to keep in mind when you are creating your next project:

  1. Consistency
  2. Less is More
  3. Balance
  4. Color
  5. Themes

Consistency

Whatever you do, work on or create, keep it consistent! Keep consistent formatting, consistent colors/fonts/sizes/visuals, consistent layouts and styles, etc… Decide what you like or want or need for your project and keep repeating that over and over, everywhere. More than 3 fonts, more than a few layout styles, more than a few colors, basically too much going, on starts to look like a hodge-podge (technical term, lol).

Less is More

This started with the Bauhaus movement and became the foundation of minimalist design. Look at any high-end brands now-a-days, and you’ll notice a recurring theme: Minimalist. Less is more because the viewer knows what to focus on. It also makes the designer acutely aware of what’s really important. Ask yourself, what content, features, and extras can you cut out and still keep the integrity and intent clear to the viewer or user? Can you use images instead of words to get your meaning across? Are you using the right medium to get your ideas across in a simpler, more impactful way? Don’t be afraid of blank (negative) spaces, these are equally important. This leads into the next tip

Balance

There’s a balance of content vs negative space; large vs small; dark vs light; organic or fluid vs rigid or angular. This also includes too much vs too little; too big vs too small; too colorful vs too bland, and yes, there is such a thing as too minimal. There’s symmetrical and asymmetrical balance. Asymmetrical is still balanced. You might have lots of little items on the left that is balanced by one large item on the right. Asymmetrical can also have a grid or pattern that bounds items together. Our subconscious notices imbalances even if our conscious mind doesn’t, and we instantly feel uneasy and don’t know why. Balance allows people to focus on what’s important, not why we dislike what we are seeing. You need to find a balance so your content/idea/product shines.

This post was by Reema F. Yeager, a designer, artist, storyteller, and good friend of mine.

Benefits of Multimedia Education

I preach Educational Storytelling and the mixed-media, interactive revolution. But, the two are not separate. In fact, my ultimate goal is to help create a platform for interactive and personalized curriculum design using a multimedia platform.

Just to “test the waters” as it were, I have collected a few “stater” posts and articles about the benefits and use of multimedia in education.

  • Benefits of Using Multimedia in Education is an overview for a graduate level course on multimedia education.
  • This report, “Multimedia Transformation,” examines the many ways multimedia tools are transforming teaching and learning as schools work to raise achievement and prepare students for careers that require increasingly sophisticated uses of technology.
  • The last is a list of software and applications that can be used to create multimedia educational resources. As with everything in technology, the list can be a little outdated, but still valuable.

I will dig deeper into all of these as time goes by. For now, I just wanted to get them out there.

Please add your own to the comments.

The Future of Content: Immersive and Expansive

This post is part of The Future of Digital Content series, which discusses six traits I believe will be at the heart what content will look like in the coming years. These traits form a roadmap that lies at the heart of my research and experiments. The traits also work together, mixing and meshing, to paint a picture of how our future selves may read, watch, learn, and listen.

Read the rest of the series.

Let’s recap real fast. We are talking about what content may look like in the future. How is the line between books, television, internet, apps, and other content forms blurring? With shortening attention spans, how will content evolve?

So far, we’ve touched on five:

  1. Mulit-access – we want our content delivered in many different ways.
  2. Multi-modal – we want content that includes several forms of communication (video, text, sound, etc)
  3. Interactive – We want to take control of our destiny (or content). It should respond to us. Personalized.
  4. Collaborative – Working together with readers and other creators to build something more than we could ourselves.
  5. Social – In real live and in cyberspace, social between authors, characters, and readers.

Now, at the end, we reach immersive and expansive. My personal favorite.

Stories have universes, and we want to explore more than just the small part we see in a video or read in a book. Immersive means that we will be able to surround ourselves and explore content on our own terms. Expansive means that content will link together with other content.

To be honest, the inspiration for these traits come from Comicpalooza and other awesome scifi/comic conventions. For those who don’t know how they work, you basically shove thousands of (comic book, sci-fi, anime, and associated awesomeness) fans into a convention center for a weekend. Let the madness begin. The fans bring their favorite stories to life in really interesting ways: dressing as their favorite characters, creating new characters, writing their own stories based in the world, and creating a myriad of art, games, and other materials. This “fanverse” is not canon (not part of the official story), but often becomes just as important to the fans.

It may sound a little weird, but its a lot of fun. And this growing phenomenon can teach us about the future of content.

Expansive Content

This centers around the concept of a “storyverse,” another feature of my research into narrative identity. A storyverse is usually seen in two different ways, as the universe the story happens in and as the universe of story-related stuff in the real world. For clarification sake, I’m going to break these into two different terms.

The Storyverse

This is the world, the galaxy, the universe of the content itself. This is best seen in fiction, where you have characters playing out in a setting. The reader/audience only sees a small part of that universe — whatever the storyteller wants them to see. But, we can imagine that a character has extended family we never meet, lives in a city with unknown streets, and has lived a life beyond the 400 pages of our book. We don’t get to see everything. Most often, the feeling of a story being just part of a universe is what makes a story shine. You’ve heard of three-dimensional characters and internally-consistent worlds? This is the storyverse.

Increasingly, we are seeing storytellers let the reader into more of the storyverse through bonus features, short stories, and connected series.  In this way, we get to choose our own path as we discover the storyverse. There are extra storybits “out there” for us to play around with. For the moment, let’s stick with “cannon” or official bits of the storyverse.

These extra bits don’t have to be bits at all. Look at Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere or the new Marvel movies. In both cases, there are many stories weaving in and out of each other, connecting with  one another, and building a more complete storyverse than a single, linear story can provide. There are many points of entry and many paths through the narrative.

We can see an expansive trait easily in fiction, but it can be just as powerful in non-fiction content. Think of news articles that relate together, articles connected, and bonus features around social media. We are already seeing this everywhere and it is only going to get stronger.

The Metaverse

If the storyverse is all the official stuff of the story or content, then the metaverse is all the other stuff, the stuff outside cannon. For fiction, these are fan stories, cosplay, licensed artwork, and (most) video games just to name a few. It can (and should) be much more though. What about discussions happening around the story? I mean actually embedded in the page. What about comments and markup? These things ring even more true for non-fiction.

The metaverse is where your readers engage with the storyverse.

This is going to happen, regardless of what you do. What will make content successful in the future is an intentional plan to facilitate this metaverse. How can we encourage this interaction, this creation, this collaboration? Those are the content pieces that will win.

 

Immersive Content

Immersive content surrounds the audience, engaging more than one or two senses. It makes the content part of their world, part of their life. We can see this clearly already with virtual and augmented reality.

Virtual Reality, we will define as engrossing reality. Something that completely surrounds and captivates your audience. The VR headsets are the best example of this so far. Augmented Reality is the accepted term for something that adds to but doesn’t replace the audience’s perception. Things like Google Glasses, which overlay a screen onto the real world would fit here. I would add Engaging Reality in which content engages as many senses as possible, not just sight and sound. Think of interactive theatre or those wonderful scratch-and-sniff stickers.

This may all seem out there, but we are already seeing a lot of this happen. As the future becomes the present, these traits will creep into our content. The most successful — the most memorable, powerful, and effective — content will be intentional about how it is immersive and expansive.

The Path Ahead

This leaves us at the end of our Six Traits of the Future of Content. We have seen how the content of the future (and increasingly of the present) will be multi-access, multimodal, interactive, social, collaborative, and immersive and expansive. The winners of the war for attention will use these traits and create some truly mind-blowing content.

This isn’t the end of the discussion, though. These are my predictions, but no one has the crystal ball, and the future will unravel as it does. I will continue my research and my writing and we will see what happens. How the world will surprise us.

This isn’t even the end of this series! We’ve introduced some basic concepts, but how do we make them work? How do these elements fit together? What is the workflow to create these bits of awesome? Stay tuned, Bat Friends.

This is just the start and the future will be awesome!

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