'The urgency of this moment is to use the Transmedia approach to make media that matters.' Q&A with Transmedia Producer and TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Josh Shore
Transmedia Producer Josh Shore takes a very spiritual approach to creativity and in this fascinating Q&A for TEDx Transmedia he discusses everything from investigative journalism and Hollywood’s use of transmedia to remote viewing and quantum physics.
The man who mediates whilst scuba diving is bringing a unique vision to Rome on September 28, register here to see him live.
To give you a bit of background on his career, Josh began creating original TV shows for MTV, and later for USA Network. In 2000, he met Peter Gabriel, and co-founded GNN.tv (Guerrilla News Network) designed to reinvent news for younger generations. Josh also formed a digital animation studio in Vancouver to create transmedia initiative Illuminated, a 360-degree IP that includes cross-platform entertainment and ‘transformative gaming.’ He’s currently Chief Strategic Officer at ATO ATO Integrated Media, based in Shanghai, China.
Enjoy his insights!
The theme of this year’s TEDx Transmedia, WEKids, is about harnessing child-like wonder and courage to make media that has a social impact. What do you see as the potential of that approach?
As all the cultures, crises and phenomena of the planet become more visible to us, and with everyone now connected and empowered to make media themselves, we are very much like kids, waking up to our new potential to amuse, inform and activate one another in new and interesting ways. If someone is passionate about something, there is nothing stopping them from making content that expresses their perspective, stimulates a dialogue, nurtures a movement, and galvanizes a community. So there is great opportunity for the courageous to challenge prevailing wisdom, shift perspectives, catalyze action and up the consciousness.
The subheading is Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters; which do you most identify with and why?
Although I am a Dreamer and a bit of a Geek, I think I was properly categorized as a Mindshifter. Much of what I have worked on has been about opening eyes to situations and perspectives we may have been unaware of… and shifting perspectives. There is so much to understand about our selves and our planet that we don’t get through popular culture and a mainstream media diet. So that is what is most exciting about the new information and social networking revolution that we are experiencing. The power is now ours to seek out information for ourselves, formulate our own opinions, come together across borders and social spheres, and become newly empowered in our lives.
What did you want to be as a kid? What were your dreams and aspirations?
As a kid, I didn’t really have a singular focus. Like every kid from Montreal, I wanted to be a hockey player - either Guy Lafleur or Wayne Gretzky would have been nice… I mean, everyone in Montreal worships the Canadiens ice hockey team, so it’s hard not to catch the fever. Then when all my friends sprouted up around me, that dream faded from possibility – at which point I flirted with being an oceanographer because I love beaches and diving and the magical alien life in the oceans. Perhaps one day, I will wake back up into that dream… But for now, the dream is to see everyone share and connect through their own dreams, experiences and creativity.
What attracts you to speaking at TEDx Transmedia in Rome?
I am excited to share ideas with others playing in the same transmedia sandbox. It was an honour to be asked to speak at TEDx Transmedia and be able to contribute to the dialogue. Rome is charged with a rich legacy of dialogue, creativity and innovation, and I think Zaha Hadid’s stunning space provides a suitable backdrop for celebrating the potential of entertainment and technology.
TEDTalks are renowned for their inspiration, energy and focus on the personal. Can you give us a taster of what you want to bring to Rome?
I hope to bring with me the urgency of this moment to use the transmedia approach to make media that matters, and to stimulate deeper more meaningful conversations and communities that are empowered to affect change and confront the issues and mysteries of our world. We need to question the intention of what we are producing at this critical time of our development and see the responsibility incumbent on those who make and deploy media – especially across multiple platforms.
You have talked about the need to build ‘socially transformative communities.’ Why, what are they and how can people go about building one?
I would characterise a socially transformative community as one that seeks to contribute to society and transform it and its users for the better in some way – helping them reach a higher level of understanding, plane of consciousness, personal potential, whatever the case may be. The global citizenry is now reorganising into digital communities unified by shared passions and commitments. And through those communities, the voice and actions of millions can become laser-focused to affect change like never before. With information, entertainment, gaming, apps, and social networking working in harmony to inspire and guide our social evolution, we have the tools to crowd-create a positive future.
You started the Guerrilla News Network to highlight global issues through cross-platform programming. What’s your opinion on the current state of online news?
Despite the many new and emerging news options online, there is still nothing that leverages all the currently available features and functions to fulfill and evolve the true promise of a real news network. Committed investigative journalists and real documentary filmmakers don’t currently have a platform that supports their efforts – and yet our phones make everyone into storytellers or news purveyors… while crowd-funding and live streaming are radically changing the landscape of potential. So there remains a huge opportunity for a digital news brand based on integrity, and free from the complications of advertising, to inform, empower and enforce the voice of the digital public.
How would you like to see online news reinvented for the future, if you think it needs to be?
A true guerrilla news network is waiting to be born that empowers the public to support reporters or stories, either through live streams, edited segments, interactive documentaries or other hybrids of reportage and information we have not yet conceived of… a crowd (not sponsor)-funded network of digital journalists, streamers and documentarians, covering different hot spots, issues and unfolding events with real interactivity. All the technology is here - it just needs to be stitched together into the right app, launched by the right partners who promote it to the appropriate communities, and I expect we will soon see the complete transformation of news online.
Your thinking and creative work - particularly your film Illuminated and the Dreamcatcher network - has been informed by East Asian spirituality. How did that happen and what draws you to that kind of approach?
In 2001, my GNN co-founder and I did a series of interviews at the Prophets Conference with people like Huston Smith, Michio Kaku, Ram Dass, Ralph Metzner, Stan Grof, Robert Anton Wilson and others… an amazing spectrum of thinkers touching on everything from non-ordinary states of consciousness and remote viewing to enlightenment and quantum physics. The concepts really resonated with me and I could perceive a growing tide of people opening up to a similar worldview quickly coming together online, as elements of Eastern philosophy began taking root in the West. That said, there is a scarcity of content and community mobilisation for this psychographic. So Illuminated, and the associated dream-sharing social platform, Dreamcatcher, are designed to begin to fill this void with meaningful media and community that ultimately bridges the global cultural divide…. serving as different spokes of a transmedia experiment that brings people from around the world together through transformative content, games, platforms, networking and experiences that deepen their lives.