Individual Research – Community/Online Storytelling

With the “Web 2.0” revolution – which is more of a collective of buzzwords than a truly life-altering online experience – there have been a number of new attempts at utilizing new technologies in user-generated content. Of particular note are attempts at creating a non-linear, web-based storytelling experience by which multiple users form a collective narrative combining all of their experiences. This sort of experience may be viewed as stemming from popular pastimes such as blogging, which enable users to keep online journals and share their thoughts, feelings, and ramblings. However, these new innovative collective storytelling outlets are far more involved than simple blogs and provide considerably greater potential.

One such experience is a product of Drexel University’s Digital Media program, Philbert and Dodge. The site presents an animation about the two characters for which it is named, but the true functionality of P&D is not in the story it tells solely as an example, but in the potential it provides for a network of story tellers all contributing to the same experience. It supports multiple user log-in and asset management by which anyone connected to the story with a user name and password may cut their own animation with existing assets or upload new ones. Additionally, it automatically packages new animations in the form of a flash video for immediate streaming playback as well as formats that may be downloaded. Its asset management system is also advanced, providing the ability to tag assets as belonging to a clip, and the immediate retrieval of all assets that make up a particular section of animation.

An interesting Java-based exploration in storytelling is We Feel Fine.

This is an interesting experience to discover. Essentially, users may connect via the We Feel Fine API and upload their own feelings. Feelings can be tagged with metadata that allows them to be sorted according to the gender of the person sharing the feeling, the city or location, the weather during the posting, and other traits that may help others understand where the feeling – shared in the form of a brief comment – is coming from. Additionally, it also provides for the sharing of these feelings in “movements,” animated experiences sorting the bouncing feelings – each represented by a dot – in a way that corresponds to the movement and provides a different method of functionality. It is quite fun to manipulate the feelings, throw them about, and experience them while at the same time providing a surprisingly deep feeling of connection to the collective intelligence shared by humanity as a whole. Though the actual identity of those posting the feelings are not shared, there is a considerable number of heartfelt confessions and ruminations that are surprisingly affective.

While blogs and similar means of story telling are less technologically advanced or perhaps less visually interesting as the aforementioned means of sharing, there are occasions in which blogs serve as a peculiar or special example of community storytelling. One such blog is My Baby Monsters. Supposedly, the blog is centered around the stories taught by a seven year old girl. The website is built and maintained by her father, and serves as a locus for children’s stories written not only by the main contributor to the blog (seven year old Josie), but also providing links to other stories for children. Moreover, the blog also features several story topics or beginnings, and through a comment-like system common on blogs encourages that other children add to the stories with their own words. It is a digital example of an old method of storytelling by which one individual adds a piece to the end of the length and passes it on. The only difference is that this draws from potentially an entire world of kids for source material.

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~ by kevinappel on December 13, 2007.

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