May 232013

How has the future of storytelling been influenced by Twitter?

We might have fewer characters to work with, but we still hunger for narrative. New mediums aren’t destroying fiction, they’re allowing us to innovate even more in how we create and consume our stories.

Every five days, a billion tiny stories are generated by people around the world. Those messages aren’t just being lost in the ether, like the imaginary output of monkeys randomly attempting to produce the works of Shakespeare. Instead, the tweets are being archived by the Library of Congress as part of the organization’s mission to tell the story of America. The archive now includes 170 billion posts and counting.

The patterns of human life will be stored in this Twitter archive like a form of digital sediment. Every meme and revelation will leave an imprint in the record constructed of posts by half a billion Twitter users around the world (and over 150,000 more signing up every day).

How has the future of storytelling been influenced by Twitter?


Writer and actor John Hodgman recalls how derisive many people were about Twitter when it first entered the public consciousness. “Many jokes were made,” he said, “about ‘why would I ever want to hear about what sandwich someone ate today?’”

“The early detractors failed to note is that Twitter, while faddish, was not only a fad: it is a tool, one with almost as many unique uses as there are humans to take it up,” Hodgman says. “Twitter offered a very restrictive set of protocols that awaken the imagination: what can I do with 140 characters that will be meaningful to others? The solution has proven to be pretty much endless. And do you know what? If the right person is telling the story, I’ll read a tweet stream of sandwiches all day long.”

We’ve gotten to know new characters through Twitter, Hodgman says, from Bigfoot toGod, and their tweet streams are “more than just jokes, which themselves are the shortest stories of all.” Instead, tweets are “a new kind of epistolary–postcards from a sensibility that over time, describe whole worlds.”

“It is true,” Hodgman says, “that this kind of storytelling is quick, even ephemeral, and largely improvised. It’s really more like broadcasting than writing, and one of the things that makes Twitter so intimate, even in its rowdy, buzzing, crowd-y-ness, is that you are reading someone’s work in real time.”

Read more . . .

via FastCoExist – 

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