Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week 10: Writers and Writing

Note: Image from 180/360/720.

Week 10: Writers and Writing
This week we’ll explore contemporary new media writing and examine how it might be different from
*traditional* print-only works. As Andy Campbell notes of his works: “textual narratives are approached by Dreaming Methods as a key part of the multimedia mix rather than as the absolute central backbone – purposely open-ended, ambiguous, short, fragmentary – and are often additionally considered to be a powerful visual element: blurred, obscured, transient, animated, mouse-responsive.”

Key ideas for this week:
• Ways to write and read rich media documents in a networked environment.
• Read the example books made with Sophie:
• “The interactive nature of the process makes it possible for individual memories to be linked in a creative shared experience; it fosters the development of on-line sound-driven narratives.”

Guest Lecture:
Ximena Alarcon will share with us her ideas on creating and disseminating born digital work.

This week's seed questions:

Q1. Ronni Bennett says that “in the end, it is all storytelling ...all communication is storytelling.” What are some examples in the online environment that support Bennett’s thinking?

Q2. In “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide,” Henry Jenkins writes that transmedia storytelling works best when each medium is used to tell the part of the story that it’s most suited for and that each piece of this story. Find two examples of transmedia storytelling and explain why each platform and story part works best together (think of Radiohead and Heros as examples).

Q3. In the print world, page layout is largely the job of the publisher. That is, neither the reader nor the writer has much choice about how the text (images/sound/video) appear on the “page.” With digital writing, most writers (and readers) have deep input on how text (etc...) appears.  What is significant about this shift? What dialogues are opened up?


  1. Response to Q.3

    In digital writing there are various opportunities that are possible for the author to incorporate into the format. As you are the author and publisher in most of the scenario, it’s one’s creativity that is placed on the web for everyone to see. Incorporating multiple formats of expression into the same story in real time expression is a gift of digital world. The ability of the reader to respond to a literary wok is more accessible. The ‘letter to the editor’ is replaced with the comment columns. The ability to comment is instant and direct. Or people can just like to tell the author whether they like your creativity or not, just by clicking a button. The possibility of an e-mail response is always in horizon. Some of the special effects that can be incorporated into text with sound and graphics especially music, makes the text more attractive.

    With technology making available the virtual world always on our fingertips, these shifts are significant for authors and publishers. The feedback or entropy is significant for the success of any artistic expression.

  2. Thanks Sunil for posting the link to transmedia stories in a previous post. I spent time reviewing and viewing many of them, and I think like you I am now just starting to gain some understanding of the transmedia storytelling. I also reviewed Sophie and again gained increased understanding in how useful these tools and technologies can and will be in learning for the future.
    What really resonated for me after taking a look at the many different kids of transmedia storytelling was Andy Campbell in " Undreamt Fiction" and his comments that transmedia storytelling is to tell different types of stories using technology to appeal to all types of transliterate people,and the intent is not just more technology.

    This 'story' uses white space and letters that combine very differently to form many words in many formats with a mouse 'click'. Perhaps not something I would have appreciated prior, but a beautiful and evocative way to demonstrate the power of letters and words and how they can be manipulated with just a 'click' to mean something very different and be combined very differently to make different stories.

  3. Today's technologies really do show us that everything is about storytelling. The ease of storytelling has brought so much to light that otherwise would not have been if we still relied on 'traditional' storytelling. Take recent natural disasters and political revolts-stories are told from people who otherwise would not have a voice. Every time we use social media-we are telling a story. Posting pictures on Facebook is way of telling a story, it then becomes a collective narrative when others tag themselves or comment on the story. Tweets tell stories-sometimes very important ones about what is happening in the middle of an earthquake or a political protest, and other times completely mundane stories about what someone is having for lunch or listening to on their ipod.

    All of these stories have a way of converging. As writers and as readers-we expect them to. We go onto a website and we expect them to have a Twitter feed or a Facebook fan page. Depending on how much time we have or what tool we are using (laptop, smartphone, newspaper) we want the story available to us in the most convenient and timely manner.

    The shift that has occurred with publishing happening directly by the writer really speaks to the fact that I think we are now part of something where the way we tell a story is just as important as the words we use to tell the story. Websites need to be aesthetically pleasing, text has to be organized in a way that allows you to conveniently read it both on the computer and your phone. Even on YouTube, as much as we say that it allows for people to publish videos that are not 'professional', there is still a sense of responsibility on the part of the publisher to make the video look right.

  4. Tarjinder: very timely to note the recent use of social media technologies to tell the story of several unfolding natural disasters.

    Interesting too that you note that *we expect them to have a Twitter feed or a Facebook fan page* ... do you have any favourite websites that do perform as you expect?

  5. Carolyn, thanks for sharing your reflective take on words and meaning.

    Andy Campbell's work is a favourite of mine - there is something for each kind (mode) of reader and then there's lots for the transliterate readers who can read the images/eerie sound/floating text alongside your own user interaction which often seems to fall just short of grabbing the whole story.

  6. Paul - you note that readers can contact writers with a click of a button, they can *like* a page or send an e-mail. Does this possibility for immediate and quite intimate interaction affect you as a writer/creator? What considerations might you have now that you wouldn't necessarily had before (blog commenting, tweets etc...)?

  7. Jess-
    favourite websites: Shopping on nordstroms is one that I am obsessed with a bit. I think I can probably name more that I don't like, simply because there is too much happening. I'm in the midst of designing the website/marketing for an event I produce and I know that making sure I have info on every 'channel' is important. I certainly know there is work to be done until I get to a point that I really like my website or facebook page, but not having one because it's not perfect-is not an option. I guess that's one of the downfalls of our ability to 'publish' without publishers. We want to get stuff online even if it's not a quality we are satisfied with.

    I'm scared to give the site as it's not up to par but the twitter feed is and the YouTube channel is and Facebook page is

    I'm open to constructive criticism.

  8. Tarjinder - hrm...we want to get stuff online even if it's not *print* quality? I suppose that's like getting a draft of an academic paper out and asking people not to quote from it because it's not the final copy? Is it better to have a FB page up or is it better to wait? I suppose it depends on the audience and the marketing (or otherwise) purposes.

    Just looking at the twitter feed now...twitter is over capacity (I've had this error throughout the day).

    Thanks for sharing the link - I'm sure we'll all take a look when Twitter is back online.