CALL FOR PROPOSALS Special Issue of Technical Communication: Transmedia, Participatory Culture, and Digital Creation In recent years, digital creation has become a more participatory process. As media companies struggle to maintain control over their own products, consumers continually demand more access to the creative process and more input on the final results. While this may seem on the surface to be a simple matter of intellectual property, a closer examination of trends reveals that both consumers and media companies have much to gain (and lose) from this debate. These stakes form in the postmodern arena of virtual environments, which are negotiated and reorganized as transmedia experiences.  Henry Jenkins (2006) refers to transmedia as “the art of world-making” and “the process of designing a fictional universe that will sustain franchise development, one that is sufficiently detailed to enable many different stories to emerge but coherent enough so that each story feels like it fits with the others” (p. 294). In this sense, digital games, books, movies, comics, and a host of other media have begun to intersect, as media and software companies strive to create alternate worlds for our entertainment, work, and social lives, thereby providing themselves with worlds for transmedia franchises. A single corporate entity may, in this sense, extrapolate multiple products from a single “world.” As consumers, we may read stories, watch movies, play digital games, or communicate online with others, all while inhabiting the same virtual world. In our work lives, companies such as Microsoft and Adobe seek to create another kind of virtual world—one with cross-functional product platforms. Technical communicators, for example, may create various forms of media for a single franchise without ever leaving the Adobe Technical Communication Suite world, or develop résumés and conduct job searches solely from the LinkedIn world. Regardless of its purpose, each of these digital worlds relies on the triad of digital creation, transmedia, and participatory culture. The latter is defined by Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, and Weigel (2006) as a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another. (p. 3) As these worlds successfully become the center of our virtual lives, we seek to exert the same type of control over them that we do over our “real lives,” often resulting in conflict. The resulting participatory culture between media companies and consumers takes various forms and widely varying degrees of success.  In transmedia environments, the stakes in this participatory culture are under constant negotiation, as distinctions between user and developer, client and company, and reader and writer, destabilize traditional theories of transactional communication. Please submit a proposal of 350-750 words and a C.V. to the editors by 15 January, 2018. Your proposal should clearly identify your topic and research methods as well as your topic’s connection to technical communication, transmedia, digital creation, and participatory culture. Completed manuscripts will be subject to double-blind peer review.  Here is an example of how one topic might be connected to the theme of the special issue:
topic tech com example transmedia digital creation participatory culture
adaptive content doctors using mobile technology to interact with patient records instantly database pulls in EKGs, X-rays, blood tests, health history, insurance information; puts out content components for various types of digital and print documents the database of content components; the templates on various devices that structure and format the content components patients being able to update and correct their own medical information and histories; doctors being able to add information, personalize the presentation, etc.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • personalization
  • user-generated help
  • user interface design
  • usability testing
  • technical editing for virtual environments
  • counterfactual analysis in engineering (e.g., examining rejected space shuttle designs in light of the history of the space shuttle program)
  • modding
  • SlideShare
  • internet of things
  • social media
  • artificial intelligence
  • gamification in the workplace
  • open-source software
  • beta testing
  • comics
  • online gaming and delivery modes
  • co-creation and crowdsourcing
  • new media literacy
  • user agency
  • 3-D printing
  Special Issue Editors: David Wright (, Associate Professor of Technical Communication Ed Malone (, Professor of Technical Communication Daniel Reardon (, Associate Professor of English Timeline
Date Action
15 January, 2018 Potential authors submit proposals.
1 September, 2018 Authors submit first draft of manuscripts.
August, 2019 TC publishes special issue.
  References Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. The MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New    York University Press.

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