Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More on Cross-Platform Institutions

Earlier this year, I put up a post about Hollywood's New Geek Elite... how they've transformed the entertainment industry by taking popular TV shows across multiple platforms. The idea was that storytelling would no longer be confined to the TV show itself.... the big arc of the story would be developed online, through gaming, graphic novels, tv, movie spin offs, book deals, etc. I put up some questions about how the church can also use these kind of media options.

Since then, I've found the wonderful weblog Museum 2.0, which is asking the same kinds of questions for Museums. How can museums extend their relationships with patrons/visitors beyond the physical visit? How can exhibit design be tweaked to draw more people in to asking questions? How do we engage people in participating in the museum rather than just viewing the museum?

At said weblog, they just put up a great post on how Scholastic Books is going cross platform for their new book series 39 Clues. Then they consider what museums can learn about enhancing their online experience:

But the approach is valuable. It takes humility to acknowledge that museum visits can't--in most cases--accommodate every kind of relationship museums would like to have with visitors. There are content-related experiences and preferences that would be better served in alternate environments. Art museums have always created catalogues to accompany exhibitions, which are one cross-platform way for obsessives to deepen their relationships with content.

But what about the grazers, the visitors who come once but never make it back to that time- and location-specific experience of visitation? What other engagement platforms could connect those individual museum experiences into a more continuous, growing relationship?The Web is certainly one of these platforms. Too many museums have an overly structured concept of the online pre- and post-visit experience that limit the opportunities for pervasive engagement. Rather than thinking of extending one museum visit with a pre- and post-visit, we should be thinking about linking many museum visits with online experiences.

Scholastic has the audacious attitude that people will want to read all ten books, and The 39 Clues online experience is unapologetically geared toward that long-term investment. Imagine a museum game that requires visitors to visit six times in a year to connect with six different exhibits that punctuate a more open-ended online narrative. Forget "build the exhibit and they will come". This is "build the narrative and they will return".These narratives need not be crass advertising grabs; they can become opportunities for visitors to educate themselves in a range of ways about museum-related content. Because despite what the New York Times may say, it's not an OR situation. All of the media experiences in our lives--of objects, of books, of games, of video--can be ANDs. We just need a good enough story to help people make the connection.

So the question becomes, how do we build multiple experiences, opportunities that build and provide opportunities to delve deeper..... how do we enhance our online and offline experiences to draw people in deeper?

Some practical for instances from Covenant-First. We're putting together a devotional for Advent. I've asked several authors to write individual reflections and we're compiling them and professionally printing it through Lulu.com (I'll put up an announcement when it is available online). This advent devotional can be done as a standalone devotional, but it is designed to support the sunday sermon series we're doing through advent.

This in of itself is a cross-platform attempt to get people encountering scripture together. Additinoally, it won't be place bound.... any of our extended family anywhere in the world will be able to order this devotional through Lulu and go through it. Lord willing, we'll have our sermon-audio challenges worked out and anyone will be able to download the sermons as well.

The next step? Online interactions. Perhaps we put together a Facebook Group to allow people to discuss insights, or tell their stories online. Enhance the reflections by adding your own... that kind of idea.

Your thoughts?

Soli Deo Gloria