Thank You.

This project is the result of the combined efforts of some amazingly talented people. A big thank you to Alice
Robison for her curricular and instructional design with all the exercises and questions, and to Angela Love and
Eun Jung Lee for the wonderful cross-media interpretative illustrations and information graphics associated with
each chapter, and to John Dessler and Chris Bell for layout and formatting. My greatest appreciation for their
creativity and generosity which helped make this textbook even better. And thanks to all the contributors (listed
below in alphabetical order by last name) who shared their ideas and insights to provide a book full of interesting
perspectives. And to the students who created art and music for the CMC Media Files to help with the Cross-Media @ Play
exercises. And to my wife, who's my sharpest critic and greatest support.

Clark Aldrich
Bob Bates
Jim Bizzocchi
Jan Bozarth
Ed Covannon
Patrick Curry
Monique de Haas
Christy Dena
Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen
Tracy Fullerton
James Paul Gee
Rodney Gibbs
Max Giovagnoli
Jo-Anne Green
Dan Irish
Henry Jenkins
Heather Kelley
Jay Klein
Kurt Lancaster
Brenda Laurel
Donna Leishman
Angela Love
Toby Miller
Michelle Riel
Katie Salen
Warren Spector
Helen Thorington
David Todd
Adam Greenfield
David Gurwin
William Uricchio
Steffen P Walz



Cross-media Communications are integrated, interactive experiences that occur across multiple media, with multiple authors and have multiple styles. The audience becomes an active part in a cross-media experience. It is experiences that occur across the Internet, video and film, broadcast and cable TV, mobile devices, DVD, print, and radio.The new media aspect of the “cross-media experience” typically involves some level of audience interactivity. In other words, it’s an experience (often a story of sorts) that we “read” by watching movies, dipping into a novel, playing a game, riding a ride, etc.

This textbook was written with Freshman-level Courses in mind. The overarching goal is to provide an overview of cross-media design and development. It is meant to be interdisciplinary and introductory in concept and implementation.


One of the goals of writing this book is to present an informed next-generation look at mass media and mass communications in a time of significant change. Cross-media is not necessarily a new phenomenon, but its time has come to truly flourish. Advertising has always tried to incorporate a unified message across multiple media. Transmedia is a field that explores and creates experiences across multiple media. In the mid to late 90’s the internet boom promised the incorporation of cross-media interactivity into transmedia experiences, but with the bust those promises have only now come into fruition. Currently, the technology is ubiquitous enough and the culture is more connected than ever. This has enabled more and more interactive cross-media experiences to begin being designed, developed and experienced. We are entering an era where our media experiences will be integrated together and we will be able to interactively participate in these experiences.

An inspiration for this book comes in part from my involvement with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University. The ETC ( is a professional Master’s program in which students work on semester long projects with interdisciplinary teams working together to create interactive media experiences. I believe a strength of the ETC is that it has a cross-media focus on how entertainment technologies can be applied across a variety of fields and disciplines.


The text of the book is arranged into four sections:





Together, these sections provide a solid overview of cross-media communications, one that builds from a general introduction to a specific examination of the media and genres of cross-media to a discussion of the concepts involved in designing and developing cross-media communications. Each section further divides into chapters, with a total of 13 chapters across the four main sections.


There are several educational features throughout the book.

Cross-Media @ Play exercises follow each of the 4 sections and make use of CMC Media Files available for download on the ETC Press website. These exercises help guide readers through a semester-long project that relates to the all the topics and to the media found in the CMC Media Files. This media is meant to prime brainstorming, and students are encouraged to create their own media as they work through the project. This project shows how cross-media can be applied.

Cross-Media @ Work images are information graphics and interpretive illustrations of each chapter, providing students opportunities to reflect on the readings from a more visual perspective. Information Graphics visualize each section and related chapters. Interpretive Illustrations summarize each chapter and the book as a whole. In both cases, students are encouraged to think about how these images resonate with the text.

Each chapter starts with learning objectives and key terms and ends with a chapter summary and related questions, all to help encourage active engagement with the readings.

Throughout the text there are specific examples, case studies, foundations, and professional perspectives with experts in the field to better illustrate the nature of cross-media.

CMC Media Files

The CMC Media Files help show how cross-media can be applied, with art and music for the Cross-Media @ Play exercises, and also the Cross-Media @ Work information graphics and interpretive illustrations that complement the chapters in the text.

The CMC Media Files are available for download at:

You can also search the web for some good media examples or create your own. A Creative Commons search ( is a great way to find images that you can use for these exercises.

Section 1: Introduction

This section provides a solid introductory look at cross-media communications. The first chapter offers definitions of the terms involved and the process of creating cross-media. The second chapter has a historical look at the development of cross-media and its context in our culture.

Chapter 1 – Terms and Process

The first chapter offers definitions of the terms involved and the process of creating cross-media. This will enable students to engage with the language used when discussing cross-media and how it’s created.

Chapter 2 – History and Context

The second chapter has a historical look at the emergence of cross-media and its context in our culture. This chapter helps place cross-media on a timeline.

Section 2: Media

We’ll start with media in general. Of course, it seems obvious that cross-media communications necessarily involve various media, but it will be useful to examine the media more closely so that we can see their various strengths and think about how they could best fit together to complement each other in a cross-media experience.

This section of the book covers the variety of media that are typically involved in cross-media communications. The chapters are organized into the four primary types of media in order to examine the characteristics of each and how best to integrate them into a cohesive and engaging experience. We start with textual, then proceed through electronic, to digital, and end with environmental. Examples of each are provided to illustrate our discussion.

Chapter 3 - Textual Media

Books, magazines, comics. This chapter focuses on the continual importance of printed media and its ability to ground cross-media experiences. We’ll dig into discursive media like books, magazines and comics. We’ll explore the continual importance of printed media and its ability to help ground cross-media experiences

Chapter 4 – Electronic Media

Television, movies, music. This chapter takes a look at the electronic media and their impact on our popular culture. These media are being adapted in interesting new ways for cross-media experiences. We’ll dive into the electronic media. We’ll look at the broadcast history of television and radio and their impact on our popular culture. We’ll see how these media are being adapted in interesting new ways for cross-media experiences

Chapter 5 – Digital Media

Games, web, interactive media. This chapter looks at how crucial the computer is to cross-media. Cross-media truly blossoms with digital media. From the analog realm of electronic media, we then move into the binary world of digital media; video games, the internet and the world wide web, and other forms of interactive media. We’ll see how important digital is to cross-media communications. Cross-media experiences truly have a chance to blossom with the advent of digital media

Chapter 6 – Environmental Media

Theme parks, performance, merchandise, mobile. This chapter looks at experiences that surround us as we make our way through our daily lives. Along with the virtual worlds of digital media, we will also cover various environmental media found in the real world. We’ll go into theme parks, look at the power of performance, walk around with our mobile devices and buy into merchandise created to go along with cross-media experiences. Throughout, we’ll see experiences that are meant to become a part of our daily lives.

Section 3: Genres

With a thorough discussion of all these different media under our belts, we’ll then move on to thinking about genres. Put simply, media is how we communicate and genre is what we communicate. We’ll look into genre and how issues specific to each genre influence cross-media design and development decisions.

This section is arranged into chapters that examine eight primary genres in use today. Granted these can blur, but these genres give us a nice basis from which to discuss cross-media communications. Case studies of each type show how cross-media can be a powerful way to create an engaging and compelling experience.

Chapter 7 – Entertainment and Art

The chapter looks at how cross-media is being used for entertainment and art. While both of these strive for good aesthetics, they have different goals in mind. In general, entertainment aims to please us as an audience. We want to enjoy ourselves and feel good about spending our money on the cross-media experience. On the other hand, art pushes the envelope. The experiences are meant to challenge us through innovative cross-media expressions

Chapter 8 – Education and Training

This chapter explores how cross-media can be used for education and training. These two are very similar with only slightly different focus. Education is being used here to talk about structured learning experiences meant to complement traditional school settings. This could range from K-12, college-level and lifelong learning. Training refers to learning that is meant to help us better perform and succeed at our jobs and tasks. This is often used within a corporate context, but the government sector (particularly the defense industry) has been incorporating cross-media. In both education and training, cross-media communications enable active, engaged learning.

Chapter 9 – Activism and Public Relations

This chapter focuses on how cross-media is used for activism and public relations. Cross-media communications helps us to organize grassroots movements by increasing awareness and enabling group actions. Public relations benefit from cross-media experiences as they allow us to actively show our community support and get involved. In both cases, cross-media gives us agency so that we feel more directly involved

Chapter 10 – Marketing and Advertising

This chapter focuses on how cross-media started in marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising come from the same perspective, promoting products or services or both. There is a subtle distinction, mainly that advertising is one way to do marketing (we can also hold press conferences, events, etc.). Regardless, it is important to consider these genres because cross-media communications was first employed in ad campaigns that spanned across multiple media

Section 4: Concepts

After covering different media and various genres, we’ll follow with a more in-depth discussion of concepts we should consider when designing and developing cross-media communications. Interviews with experts will challenge us to think about the implications involved in cross-media design.

The final section of our book explores important concepts we should consider when designing and developing cross-media communications. This section begins with a chapter of commentary and critique, looking at the promises and problems around cross-media in general. It then moves into a chapter exploring the transparency of media and technology as well as looking at the potential for ubiquitous and pervasive cross-media experiences. The book ends with a chapter discussing issues of ethics, literacy, and responsibility inherent in creating these cross-media experiences.

Chapter 11 – Commentary and Critique

This chapter is filled with commentary and critique, looking at the possibilities and problems around cross-media in general. We’ll talk about the state of cross-media today as well as what the future may hold. We’ll also apply some critical thinking to discuss the problems and promises of cross-media.

Chapter 12 – Transparency and Ubiquity

This chapter explores the transparency of media and technology and how this is enabling cross-media communications as well as the potential for ubiquitous and pervasive cross-media experiences and how we can have them whenever and wherever we so choose. In terms of transparency, we’ll look at the inter-connectivity of all of our devices and gadgets and how it’s becoming easier for us to use them all together.

Chapter 13 – Ethics and Literacy

The book ends with a chapter that discusses issues of ethics, literacy, and responsibility as we create these cross-media experiences. We should think about issues of privacy and freedom as well as intellectual property and public domain. We need to think about how cross-media requires a new type of literacy of its audience. Cross-media is a powerful way to communicate and it would be best if we consider how this should be done well.


The appendices are full of great information that supports the ideas and concepts discussed in the book.

Appendix A – Citations and Links

This appendix lists all of the citations and links from the book.

Appendix B – References and Examples

The following appendix has lists of books, articles, websites that are informative and entertaining in relation to cross-media communications.

Appendix C – Contributor Biographies

The next appendix has biographies of all the people who contributed content for this book.

Appendix D – Glossary

The last appendix has a list of all the cross-media key terms defined and discussed throughout the book.