Drawing on MIT’s legacy of media innovation and its deep commitment to open and accessible information, the MIT Open Documentary Lab brings storytellers, technologists, and scholars together to explore new documentary forms with a particular focus on collaborative and interactive storytelling. The Lab understands documentary as a project rather than as a genre bound to a particular medium. In the spirit of MIT’s open courseware and open source software movements, the Open Documentary Lab is collaborative and committed to sharing knowledge, networks, and tools. The Lab is catalyst, partner and guide to the future of reality-based storytelling.
Henry Jenkins defines transmedia storytelling as “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.” Scholars, creators, and industry stakeholders across disparate fields have latched onto this concept, exploring its possibilities and limitations, and documentary is no exception. For documentary, transmedia offers a way to reach new audiences, immerse them in a story world, incorporate different perspectives, extend the life of a project, and experiment with non-linear, participatory, and interactive elements. The following list exemplifies the possibilities of transmedia documentary storytelling.