Is Perceptive Media Evil?
A couple of weeks ago I spoke on a panel at BBC Four’s Character Invasion day. Here the panel was focussed upon the future of of how we write characters in the light of perceptive media. As I’ve attended and spoken about perceptive media in various places I’ve found that there are a few questions that often come up:
Isn’t this evil? Like any tool the answer here is yes, it could be. You could apply this in a way that would be about manipulating people in a not positive way. There is a huge marketing potential for perceptive media. A way of getting peoples attention by making something uniquely relevant to them is of course immensely appealing to advertisers. It conjures up visions of the adverts in Minority Report, where holographic sales people ask you if you’ve enjoyed wearing those cord trousers you bought. As with any tool there is always the potential for misuse but I don’t think that this should prevent pursuing it from my own research angle of creating immersive stories.
If it’s changed will this stifle the voices of others? No, this may offer us an opportunity to create a much greater range in voices. If a perceptive character was altered to suit the reader by reflecting their gender perhaps you can see some potential – so if Harry Potter was a girl for example this could address the underrepresentation of women in the media, without changing the plot of the story. This idea has been expanded on somewhat by chair of the perceptive futures panel, Ian Forester’s in his blog.
How can you deliver perceptive media to more than one person? If you think about how broadcasting works at the moment, we are currently sending the same programme to everyone. No matter if they are watching it by themselves, or with the entire family. Built into our programmes are layers of meaning for different viewers. A good example of this can be found within pixar films, here there is a storyline that pleases both adults and children at the same time. In order to make a unique experience for more than one person is not necessarily problematic. If the perceptive elements are based on location for example, mentioning a local landmark is relevant to everyone in the room.
Can I have a go? At the moment there is not a set place for you to stick your oar in and have a bash at making something perceptive media. It is in it’s infancy, and so you’ll see perceptive media works beginning to appear over the next few years. If you keep an eye on places like Kickstarter and attend tech events like Quantified Self you’ll be able to keep an ear on the grapevine of these kind of projects. For the BBC’s perceptive media radio drama you can listen to it here.