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Frank Rose        

Author of The Art of Immersion. Writer and speaker on the impact of technology on entertainment, advertising, and society. Digital anthropologist.

Frank Rose is a recognized authority on the future of media. In his new book, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories, he argues that we are seeing the emergence of a new form of narrative that’s native to the Internet in the same way the novel is native to print. Told through many media at once in a nonlinear fashion, these new narratives encourage us not merely to watch but to participate. Often they engage us in the same way games do. They’re not just entertaining but immersive, taking us deeper than an hour-long TV drama or a two-hour movie or a 30-second spot will permit.

For anyone in advertising, in marketing, in entertainment, or in news, the implications are profound. As disruptive as the Internet has been to media business models, it is only now changing media forms-that is, the way we tell stories. It blurs boundaries that long seemed inviolate-between author and audience, story and game, entertainment and marketing, even fiction and reality. To function effectively in this new environment, executives and creatives alike need to understand the emerging grammar of storytelling that The Art of Immersion explains.

Frank gained his perspective from years as a contributing editor at Wired, where he has written extensively on the impact of technology on advertising and entertainment. Along the way he covered such topics as the making of Avatar, Sony’s enormous gamble on the PlayStation 3, Samsung and the rise of the South Korean techno-state, and the posthumous career of Philip K. Dick in Hollywood. But he also has a depth of experience that comes from covering entertainment and technology for years before that.

Before joining Wired, Frank was a contributing writer at Fortune, focusing on the rise of global media conglomerates like Disney and Vivendi. Earlier he had turned his attention to Hollywood, working as a contributing writer for Premiere and writing The Agency, an unauthorized account of the rise and near-collapse of what was once the most successful talent agency show business. As a contributing editor atEsquire in the ’80s , he documented the tribal rites of subcultures ranging from New Wave in New York to entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. This led to his 1989 best-seller West of Eden, about the cult of Macintosh and the ouster of Steve Jobs from Apple.

Frank has been a featured speaker at conferences ranging from the Guardian‘s Changing Media Summit in London to Social Media Week in Hong Kong. He has participated in debates about the future of media at South by Southwest, the Cannes Film Festival, Ars Electronica in Austria, and numerous other venues. He has also spoken to students at schools ranging from the NYU Graduate School of Journalism to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where his book is now required reading. He lives in Manhattan, where he got his start writing about the punk scene at CBGB.

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Another word buzzing around the conference was "immersion" — as defined by Frank Rose in his fascinating new book, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories. In it, he talks about how the Internet is changing the way we create and consume narrative. He notes that media innovations, such as radio or television, take a few decades before we learn how to best utilize them. TV started out as live broadcasts and ended up creating a new form of narrative. The Internet started out as a digital repository for print journalism, but is now creating a new form of engagement. "We are ceasing to be consumers of mass media," says Rose, "we are becoming participants in social media — a far more fluid environment in which we simultaneously act as producers, consumers, curators, and commentators, sharing our thoughts and perceptions with people we know and with people we don't."

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