12 April 2006

Exciting news of the day: I’m going to be speaking at the Reboot conference in Denmark this summer.

Looking forward to it lots, though obviously I need to start working on the talk soon. Still, following ETech, I don’t think I’m going to let myself get quite so stressed.

What follows is the rough pitch I outlined in an email (written, as ever, in conference-abstract-ese); final version may vary, obviously, but I think it conveys the gist of what I want to discuss:

“Telling stories – what social software can learn from Homer, Dickens, and Marvel Comics”
or: “Social software as serial narrative”

Social software is playful, and much ludic analysis has been made of it. But what of narrative analysis? After all, we use this software to tell the grand serial narrative of our lives – cataloguing them via Flickr, journalling them (in whatever form) via our blogs. And then consider the wealth of parallel narratives many people have – a delicious account, a Flickr account, multiple blogs, LiveJournals, MySpace accounts, some contradictory, some anonymous, some fictional, some fact. This isn’t a bug, it’s a feature; we should encourage parallel storytelling, encourage the formation of personas, and make the interaction between these different platforms as complete as it needs to be to support this.

We should design our software around these narrative impulses. In ten, twenty, thirty years time, for good or ill, we will want to look back at the stories we told – for they are part of our greater story. So as well as encouraging parallel narrative, we need to consider how best to support the long ongoing narrative that we weave.

So: let’s look at how, over history, serial narrative has been told, distributed, and retrospectively altered, and see what it tells us about the tools we build to tell our stories.

1 comment on this entry.

  • Marston | 2 May 2006

    So you’re going to speak? Awesome, I will definitely try to check it out. This will be my first Reboot as I barely missed the last one. Denmark is such a lovely place.