A story is told by one person or by a creative team to an audience that is usually quiet, even receptive. Or at least that’s what a story used to be, and that’s how a story used to be told. Today, with digital networks and social media, this pattern is changing.
Well, maybe not. This is quite a lengthy article but rich in offering lots to chew on. Here's what I like:
- It contains a very decent history of digital storytelling.
- It chats about one of my favorite sites on different tools to use to create digital stories, 50 Tools (the author of that site is also one of the authors of this article) -- (http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools)
- It names Web 2.0 storytelling as a new genre
But a lot of their premises that they base their thinking on is flawed. For example, they state, "Today, with digital networks and social media, this pattern is changing. Stories now are open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable."
That dynamic has actually been happening for millenia as people tell open ended stories in conversation, branch into different stories when chatting, our brains effortlessly hyperlink experiences and stories together, we re-fashion our stories into art / architecture / fashion and other media, we participate in other people's stories (that what being human is), plus we explore and recraft stories in unpredictable ways. Many writers in this technology field are just simply unaware of the work of social /cultural scientists in how stories have been shaped, moved, and disseminated across time and space since the dawn of time.
Yet what Web 2.0 does for us is make the naturally occuring often invisible dymnamics of storytelling more visible. For years I've said that storytelling is creating art in the air. Web 2.0 storytelling helps us see the ephemeral nature of storytelling. And I agree with the authors that Web 2.0 speeds the whole process up.
Another premis in this article that is problematic is the statement that micro-content on the web is storytelling. Well, it's actually a conversation. Some are stories, some are not. They are the fabrication of relationships and connection that build a metaphoric story. Sam Keen and other psychologists have apply named this aggregation as the 'myths we live by.'
The story definition the authors use is quite weak: "art of conveying events in words, images, and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment." This comes from wikkipedia. And you can see how this definition is so general that it is almost meaningless. Here's a better one that I've used for years: “A story is an act of communication providing packets of sensory material and characters, structured along an arc, allowing the listener to quickly and easily internalize the information, understand it and create meaning from it.” This helps us articulate the difference between microcontent and a story.
Aggregates of the word "I feel..." from across the web are not a story. But it is fascinating information! Not everything is a story.
Another false premis: "At a different—perhaps meta—level, the boundaries of Web 2.0 stories are not necessarily clear." Well, in truth, the boundaries of ANY story are not necesssarily clear. They are only clear if you think a story starts at the beginning and ends at the end. Yet if we look at storytelling as a dynamic event, then the storytelling event starts way before the words "Once upon a time" are uttered, and only ends if the story becomes completely forgotten.
Serial storytelling is not new and the meaning of a story is endlessly varied. But it is a lot of fun using Web 2.0 technologies to craft, share, and digest stories.
Read the article from these adjusted lenses I've given you and let me know what you think.