Telling Stories Around the Computer

book computer

According to Alexander in The New Digital Storytelling chapter we read for this week, there are many different outlets for webs storytelling. My personal favorite, and the most simplistic, is blogging. Alexander goes into great detail about blogging and discusses the notion of blogs as internet diaries, which I found very thought-provoking; you can tell own story, your own life. People can simply read or comment, opening up a dialogue between the writer and reader that would otherwise not exist. I like that Alexander splits up the blog types even further, including character exploration, time-based republication and one-post stories. Alexander created separate genres for online storytelling within the blogosphere, which parallels the online web storytelling to print, which also has genres. The online ones are different and more particular. For example, Alexander quotes Angela Thomas saying, “Fiction which is produced where an author or authors have used a blog as a writing device, using all of the features afforded by the blogging or journaling software, such as hyperlinks, graphics, and the commenting system.” The online world can incorporate more aspects into the story.

In addition, online storytelling can reach emotions the same way as books, sometimes more easily because one can write quick, succinct stories that one can connect with and then move on from. They are more accessible short stories or installments. Alexander explains the storytelling principles as “The blog structure breaks up the flow of content into a serial sequence. The two main characters are the ground of the story, each going through personal transformations. The social framework is made available through these blog posts ’ comment features, along with similar interaction elements over in MySpace.” These aspects are present in each of the examples given in the chapter.

As an English major, I love the reference to epistolary novel, but I never thought to compare it within diary blogging. Like Dracula, the epistolary storytelling style is incorporated in some online stories, which I feel keeps the reader enticed. Alexander says these temporal projects produce and active audience because of the emotions expressed, the locations and the events that happen in each time lapse. The blogs also ass a social layer because others are involved in the story. The idea of someone being able to be so involved in another’s story and for a writer to receive daily feedback and see how their work causes others to react, is a very interesting aspect to this new style of writing.

Alexander’s discussion of twitter is interesting as well. I do not spend much time on twitter, but I understand Alexander’s argument that twitter can create characters over time. However, I am less convinced as wiki services as storytelling devices. I understand them as collaborative means to work on a story, but the story would not stay there, but be published elsewhere, so I can only think of it as a collaborative means to creating.

Alexander’s discussion on social images is more convincing for me. The well-used cliché “A picture is worth a thousand words” is used by Alexander, but it is true. Images are really important for stories. The way I see it, you can start with a picture and create words, or you have words that project a picture onto the reader. Flickr is a good outlet for the first, while blogging may be best for the second. The idea of telling a story with just images reminds me of an old flipbook, where the picture changes slightly from page to page, and completely by the end. The “Farm to Food” example Alexander uses is thought-provoking to someone who reads for their major, but when I remember certain photos, especially sad, depressing ones, they really can tell a story. The story goes even further with a sequence of photographs and fiction and non-fiction are played around with. Outlets such as Flickr also allow feedback and discussion of ideas.

“Facebook is the novel we are all writing” quotes Alexander when introducing Facebook. It is indeed a well-used outlet and can hold a lot of information about a person: faces, friends, likes, dislikes, jobs, etc. But Facebook can also show a story over time. I have had mine since I was 15 and I have certainly changed since then, and thus my story over those years is represented with photos in the least. The idea of creating a fictional Facebook page for a character or book is really interesting as well and can make a character seem more alive to the reader. With Alexander’s arguments in mind about digital storytelling and Facebook, I certainly believe that both the Wire Facebook page and Scenes from the Wire tumblr share the story of the Wire. The Facebook page has photos of the show, quotes, characters and logos. All of these things highlight certain characters, aspects or plots of the show and therefore I think the page does show at least part of the story of the Wire. I believe the tumblr shows more of the story because it has more images and direct quotes that can depict a scene, mood or idea that is important to a certain plot or character’s development. The idea of gifs telling a story is definitely new media, but I really think it works within Alexander’s explanation of digital storytelling.