We often write about cross-platform fan engagement as though it has been happening in earnest for three, five, maybe ten years. And yet with Dawson’s Desktop, ‘Dawson’s Creek’ was doing this as early as 1998, and doing it extremely well.
“We knew we were doing something cool that hadn’t been done before — but I don’t think we had any idea how much it would serve as a template for so many future interactive web extensions that would follow it,” Arika Mittman, Head Writer and Producer, Dawson’s Desktop, told Lost Remote in a recent interview. “Nearly every show now has some kind of web element that plays within the fiction of the show, allowing you to help solve the cases or read diaries or watch “webcam” footage. It may seem commonplace now, but we were the first to do something like that.”
Following the first season of ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ Dawson’s Desktop was born. Dawson’s Desktop drew from 25 different fan sites and had a dedicated staff – led by Mittman and Ann Glenn – tasked with producing content. As described in Jennifer Gillan’s 2010 book, “Television and New Media: Must-Click TV,” Mittman “[took] on Dawson’s persona, she drafted his emails, journal entries, IMs… and even documents for his trash bin.”
But the team didn’t stop with Dawson’s Desktop. As Glenn (the web producer on DawsonsCreek.com) described to Lost Remote, soon fans were able to book reservations at The Potter B&B and learn about Pacey Witter’s platform for his presidential bid; then spawned Pacey’s, Jen’s, Joey’s and Jack’s desktops; when the show was on hiatus, fans could keep up with the gang via the ‘Summer Diaries’; their graduation from Capeside High came with a digital Capeside High Yearbook; as for the college years, the team built microsites for both Worthington University and Boston Bay College. Read more