We’ve been using the term “platform agnostic” for years. But our recent feature article about the future of magazine apps has given us pause to reflect on an uncomfortable truth: We’re not entirely sure what “platform agnostic” means anymore.
Ask a web developer and she will invariably start waxing poetic about hardware architecture, software frameworks and programming languages. Ask a journalist and he’s likely to start talking about the places content is housed – in print, on the web or in an app.
Speak to a film or television producer, writer or marketer and they might casually drop the term “transmedia,” a close cousin of platform agnosticism which is coming into its own as an industry. Last year we attended a conference in San Francisco all about transmedia.
We like to think of Sparksheet as a platform agnostic magazine. That means we aren’t wedded to any particular medium. We love the web, but we also think there’s a time and place for print, TV and even radio (check out our new podcast).
It also means our content is available on whatever screens or device you want to consume it on, thanks to our website’s responsive design.
Confused yet? So are we.
Which is why we’re asking you to give us your take on the same question:
What does platform agnostic mean to you? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
For Rosie Allimonos, transmedia storytelling expands the brand universes of BBC shows like EastEnders and Doctor Who.
If you’re going to extend a show in any way, you have to figure out what its DNA is, what its essence is as a brand. Then you can carry that over to different platforms and decide if there is anything new to be added to the mix.
-Rosie Allimonos, BBC Television
Transmedia pioneer and media scholar Henry Jenkins thinks cross-platform content is all about extending the lifespan of a story.
Pieces of the story can be scattered across media platforms and that creates incentives for us to return to that content again and again, creating multiple touchpoints for brands but also creating an expanded canvas for storytellers to work on. The story is not tied to one platform. It is in all media.
-Henry Jenkins, Author, Convergence Culture
Henry Jenkins. Image by WayneKLin via Flickr.
Brazilian storyteller and startup founder Mauricio Mota thinks the platform itself can shape how a transmedia story is told.
You are not locked to a little island, you’ve got this big map and people will want to explore it on the Internet, on their cellphone, at an event, or reading a newspaper or magazine… Transmedia allows you to develop different parts of a story, for different audiences, on whatever platform suits it best.
-Mauricio Mota, The Alchemists
Platform agnosticism isn’t just about telling good stories. Medical doctor and science journalist Ivan Oransky thinks it has pedagogical power, too.
Journalists have always reported, curated, edited and managed information in various ways, no matter what we called it. What has changed over time, as technology gives us more options, is how we display that information to readers, viewers and listeners.
-Ivan Oransky, Executive Editor, Reuters Health
New York Times editor Jonathan Landman boasts about the flexibility that reporting on the web gives to print journalists. For him, multiplatform means the convergence of real-time news on the web with classic print publishing.
Are we a genuine, platform-agnostic 24-hour newsgathering operation or what? Guy climbs building at 1:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning after the paper had closed and the print editors had left the building. Web staff is on the case. We publish the news at 3:11 a.m. We add new information as it becomes available. We mobilize Sewell Chan at 4:30. By 6 a.m. there’s a 1,000-word story with pictures. Good morning, New York.
-Jonathan Landman, Deputy Managing Editor, The New York Times
Maurício Mota. Image by jmm kazi via Flickr.
For content marketer and writer David Preece, being platform agnostic means being adaptive to the constantly shifting winds of mobile and web-based technologies, be they applications or hardware.
By staying platform agnostic, and making sure you do what’s best for your clients and content, you’ll already be one step ahead of those agencies who are fixated on just developing for the latest web platform regardless of suitability.
-David Preece, Beyond
Same goes for digital and social expert David Patton, who argues that staying platform agnostic lets marketers focus on good content.
Companies looking to sell to consumers or enterprises need to be creating content that can be easily adapted to any platform. Like newsrooms, marketing needs to evolve from being focused on filling a specific platform to creating compelling content that fits in any bucket.
-David Patton, Waggener Edstrom
Tell us: What does platform agnostic mean to you?