The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Storiesby Frank Rose
Not long ago we were spectators, passive consumers of mass media. Now, on YouTube and blogs and Facebook and Twitter, we are media. No longer content in our traditional role as couch potatoes, we approach television shows, movies,
"A broad and deep look at how electronic media are changing storytelling . . . . Completely fascinating." Booklist, starred review
Not long ago we were spectators, passive consumers of mass media. Now, on YouTube and blogs and Facebook and Twitter, we are media. No longer content in our traditional role as couch potatoes, we approach television shows, movies, even advertising as invitations to participateas experiences to immerse ourselves in at will. Frank Rose introduces us to the people who are reshaping media for a two-way world, changing how we play, how we communicate, and how we think.
The media discovers that the best way to sell a commodity is with a good, potentially interactive story.
After the success (and legal battles) of mass-market movie tie-ins for commodities likeStar Wars, fans today are encouraged to write their own stories and flesh out the details of their favorite obscure plotlines and characters. Just like Homer retellingThe Iliad, fans love to author their own escapes, even if they're unoriginal. But why feed the avarice of the techno-schizoid media masquerade hosted by mega-rich executives? Because, as Wired contributing editor Rose (The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business, 1995, etc.) writes, storytelling is genetic. The author, dealing primarily with the history of storytelling and consumer desires and skillfully circumventing predictable stabs at psychology and sociology, finds that it's the fault of mirror neurons in our brains. Mirror neurons allow us toexperience what we perceive as if we wereactuallyperforming the perceived act ourselves, albeit to a lesser degree.The video game Grand Theft Auto, for instance, rewards felonious criminal behavior as your digital homunculus runs amok. Mirror neurons, however, trigger impulses in your brain that fire as if you wereactuallycommitting the crimes in real life—suggesting that, at the very least, there are real consequences, and possibly real rewards, to immersive entertainment. Stories have always been immersive, but digital technology makes them omnipresent—see the massive popularity of Lost, The Sims and other TV shows, movies and video games. So, like it or not, you're likely already immersed. In a country of more than 300 million people, there are millions of devoted fans who prefer to be fettered to headsets and keyboards.
An intriguing snapshot of where media will continue to move in the near future—great for rabbit-hole spelunkers.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
As a contributing editor at Wired, Frank Rose has covered everything from Sony's gamble on PlayStation 3 to the posthumous career of Philip K. Dick in Hollywood. His books include the bestselling West of Eden, about the ouster of Steve Jobs from Apple. He lives in New York City.
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