Speculative Fiction Story Outline

Monday:

7 AM: RALPH (gorilla journalist) lands in Nigeria to begin his first big journalistic endeavor.

Noon: RALPH goes out to get a feel for the town and the first foreign country he’s ever been in.

10 PM: RALPH gets his first dose of serious doubt about his new adventure.

Tuesday:

11 AM: While RALPH browses the market for food, he meets TUNDE (easygoing adventure-seeker) and they hit it off.

4 PM: RALPH convinces TUNDE to visit a local outbreak hospital with him.

5 PM: TRUNEWS (poor news outlet) breaks a story about a new outbreak in Nigeria that’s killing hundreds. This is proven false within 5 minutes and they apologize.

Wednesday:

10 AM: TRUNEWS breaks news that the ongoing situation in Liberia is actually getting worse. This time, they are correct.

10:30 AM: ANN agrees with TRUNEWS’s report.

11 AM: CHET announces that he will be on the ground in Africa, leaving his current post in Ukraine.

Thursday:

8 AM: TUNDE attempts to show RALPH the ways of his continent in terms that RALPH will understand. This only confuses him more.

2 PM: RALPH convinces TUNDE to give the hospital another crack. This trip goes just as poorly.

8 PM: CHET announces that he has arrived for a short stint in Nigeria before heading to the real front lines in Liberia.

Friday:

5 AM: RALPH and TUNDE sneak in to the hospital early, due to light security.

9 AM: CHET (all-star reporter) shows up to the same hospital, is weary of RALPH and TUNDE’s credentials.

Noon: TRUNEWS reports that CHET has contracted ebola and died. ANN (reputatable news outlet) aggressively denies this and scolds TRUNEWS for their reporting. TRUNEWS apologizes.

Saturday:

9 AM: CHET, TUNDE, and RALPH land in Liberia.

1 PM: CHET, TUNDE, and RALPH visit a hot outbreak hospital in the city.

5 PM: The hospital is attacked by rebels attempting to free the patients from what they think is a government scam. It’s very violent.

Sunday: 

8 AM: the violence continues as the three are forced to bunker down in the hospital.

Noon: the violence finally ends as the rebels move on.

4 PM: the three characters say their goodbyes and RALPH ponders whether this really is the life for him.

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Speculative Fiction Character Voice Sketches

Ralph voice sketch (keys: a mixture of formal news writing mixed with conversational tone when things get heavy or otherwise uncomfortable)

RALPH ON TWITTER: I’m here at an outbreak clinic in Liberia. Should have more information as the day progresses.

5 minutes later: I have left the outbreak clinic in Liberia. Not only am I vomiting at an alarming rate due to the things I’ve seen, I was also kicked out for not having credentials. #sigh

Tunde voice sketch (keys: decent grammar paired with lots of laughing at Ralph and pop culture references)

TUNDE ON TWITTER: Wit the Ralphman going to hospital. He dont know whats going on at all hahahaha its like Mad Max over here now man.

Speculative Fiction Character Descriptions

Ralph is a recent college graduate turned gorilla journalist. Jumpy in nature, he only took the project on due to a speech given by a freelance journalist his senior year about those in the field not taking risks anymore. He says his immune system is in “good shape” but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to stomach this ambitious project.

Tunde is a native-African who agrees to help Ralph on his new journey. His eagerness to help comes up mostly due to his obsession with American culture. Something he doesn’t completely understand, but is completely enamored with. He is pretty easygoing and thinks Ralph’s panicky nature is absolutely hilarious.

TruNews is an up-and-coming news organization who wants desperately to get the ongoing scoops in the ebola epidemic. So much so that they tend to get things wrong in the rush to be first.

ANN is a reputable news organization with the resources to cover the epidemic correctly. They have people stationed all over the continent and are almost always right.

Chet Williams is a reporter for ANN and is one of the best at his job. He aggressively covers the ongoing situation and will go anywhere for the story. His practices meet journalistic standards, but he isn’t afraid to toe the line to get the information he needs. He’s a bit egotistical, but also knows the importance of what he says and prints.

Read and Respond: Character and Story in New Media and Transmedia

The first project I picked was the piece on @MayorEmanuel. I find novelty Twitter accounts really interesting, especially if they’re pulled off in a fresh or actually inventive way. Sinker’s project definitely did that in spades. Telling a story from his unique, punk point of view in politics was probably something the group surrounding the race didn’t expect. You couple that with the timeliness of the project and I think it’s an incredibly interesting endeavor to take on.

Next, I chose the @YourAuntDiane account. Really, really funny tweets coming in from this account. It’s not the hardest concept in the world, but it’d be really tough to pull off if the person behind it wasn’t actually funny. You need the thinking to come up with it, but the execution needs that extra juice. And that’s really my favorite part about this account:  it’s just really funny. She’s (?) weaving a really interesting story on that timeline.

To keep the Twitter theme going to the end, I chose the reality TV show project for my final choice. What to love about this project is the sheer ambition. Cross-platforming this thing over four social media platforms is a daunting task. Another interesting thing about this project is the immersion you can subscribe to with it. I could easily see a teenager completely digging their claws into this. Especially because the characters will be so topical to their lives.

Read and Respond: Jenkins & Transmedia

Henry Jenkins is the creator of our classes’ buzz word these days:  transmedia. Jenkins studied the idea of fandom for decades now, and believes that five logics have been the benchmarks in transmedia and fan participation. They are: the logic of entertainment, the logic of social connection, the logic of experts, the logic of immersion, and the logic of identification. These logics are easy to understand and help guide Jenkins’ case that transmedia has really grown in recent years.

I do agree with Jenkins view on the possibilities of transmedia in today’s world. It’s not easy to see, really. You look at a movie like The Avengers and see how absolutely insane the marketing is for something like that. Fans can get all of the toys and such, but they can also pair it with communication about it through Twitter, Reddit, fansites, and, oh yeah, they can see the actual movie. It’s easy to see a huge reaching franchise just wearing different hats, these days.

An example I thought of immediately was for the movie Cloverfield. The monster film came out in 2008, but there was a considerable community behind it starting the previous year. The film’s creator, J.J. Abrams, is very secretive about his projects so he left a lot to be seen even with his trailers and promotional materials. This led to much speculation and that played right into Abrams’ hands. The filmmaker had MySpace pages made for each of his characters, had fictional websites made to “track” the movements of the monster, and even merchandise that came with fake newspapers.

The immense campaign was so fun to play along with. I remember a friend and I waiting in bated breath for every new update. Trying desperately to decipher each new clue before finally giving in and looking it up online. Now this is just viral marketing, but it led to a huge culture waiting for this film. There were hundreds of mock-ups drawn by fans of what the monster would look like. And while all of the ones I saw (which was a significant number) were wrong, it was still an incredible ride just looking though them and speculating.

And that’s really why I think transmedia is such a prevalent thing in today’s world. If you love something as big as Lost, the Harry Potter series, or The Avengers, you want it in your life in all the ways you enjoy. You don’t just want the t-shirt to wear around the house. You want the trailer on your phone and computer and to pair it with constant Twitter updates on trailers and even casting. It seems like it’s so much easier to get fully immersed in these things today than it was 30 years ago.

That isn’t to say it can be all good, either. With some of these franchises, they are diluting the market with just bad media. Most, if not all, Twitter feeds for huge movies are awful. They just repeat the tagline and ask you if you’re going. It’s providing nothing new for your experience. And not that it was the whole picture, but the amount of money a movie like Transformers made on toys and such had to influence the decision to keep making those dreadful things. Transmedia in 2014 isn’t a bad thing, but it must be handled correctly.

Ebola Update IV

For a sense of background, the Wikipedia page seemed like an obvious next step. It was interesting to know that the current outbreak is the worst in the history of the disease. The numbers that came in on the 17 reported that now 2,746 people have died (according to WHO statistics). As an American, it was a curious thing to read about how a possible cause of the spread is that there are certain death customs in which the deceased body must be washed. That is a very difficult thing to try and take away from these people, so I can imagine that would cause a stir.

Next, I hopped to the BBC’s page to look at their updates. They reported on the end of the lock down in Sierra Leone and had an updating article that discussed the degree at which the disease can climb. According to the article, the current ebola spread has killed more than all of the others combined. It’s quite scary to think about that. Especially considering it’s still crawling across the continent and there obviously still isn’t a cure.

The r/ebola page on the website Reddit continued to be a great source this week. There was an extremely interesting thread posted yesterday that compared the Cholera Riots of the 1930s with the current ebola epidemic.  Fascinating parallels at work as the riots also featured people striking out against those there to help them. In both cases, the people feared that the government tried to poison them in an act of population control. A crazy notion but this truly is a remarkable situation.

Ebola Update III

First, I checked the two Twitter-affiliated things we chose. Dan Nwomeh’s Twitter account and Matt Dennebaum’s curated Twitter feed both provide interesting information. Dennebaum’s intrigue lies in the fact that it’s mostly pictures. But seeing it is an entirely different experience than just reading about it. You get to see the insane levels of protection the Red Cross and other organizations must take to prevent catching the disease. And you also see the harrowing villages of quarantined people on their own land, which is an experience itself.

It’s a little jarring when you compare that with Nwomeh’s feed. Working as a Minister of Health for the Nigerian government, he must report on the state of the disease in his country. But jumping from those images to strictly numbers is like looking at it in a completely different way. He pretty much sticks to, “X amount of cases, Y amount of dead” throughout his timeline. I know it isn’t supposed to, but it almost comes off as a little cold.

I also looked at the Channels TV station a fellow group member found. This is different from our other sources in that it isn’t strictly dealing with the spreading of ebola. Rather, it’s a 24-hour news cycle from the continent in which the disease is so rampant. And while they do provide some updates, there is also, no surprise, other things going on so they must also report on those. In the three or four times I checked, I got mostly other news. The ebola news they did cover was just numbers.