This is the tale of three networked narratives. I am jumping the gun a bit on Alan Levine and Mia Zamora’s online course, Elements of Networked Narrative (Spring 2017) by offering a trio of narratives to others should they wish to share.
I am broadcasting seed on the internet’s pastures and…..maybe these aren’t networked narratives? They are on networks, but are they narratives? My naive definition is that if it tells a story and you invite others to make it with you over a shared space–networked narrative, right? Except somebody’s got to join and a social tipping point needs reaching. Yes?
So, starting ad hoc narrative networks and expecting the goats to come down and eat–that isn’t sufficient for a networked narrative, is it? I feel like a lowly assistant in Edison’s lab looking for just the right filament for the light bulb. Let’s try this shoelace. 1000th try? Nope. Howsabout this gherkin? 1001st try? Nope.
Been listening to Timothy Wu, The Attention Merchants, and his observations late in the book about the ‘death’ of blogging are on point.
By the end of the decade, the truly amateur blogger or videographer was something of a rarity, an eccentric hanging on from a different age. Most everyone else was either blogging as part of his job, writing for some professional blog, or had long since hung up his guns. Even Lawrence Lessig, the prophet of a free culture, retired his blog, claiming a degree of exhaustion.
What I am doing here as a blogger is an anachronism, but what I am doing here with networked narrations feels different. I am trying to punch through the blog walls into another dimension that is neither blogging nor social media. I am trying to create useful fictions online with other folk.
The key to getting off Wu’s attention treadmill is to create stuff with others online. The coin of that realm is not attention, but rather care, a willingness to ante up and have skin in the game, and a duty to reciprocate through play. Yeah, I said it, duty.
I think that in the end, narrative networks are a gift culture not an attention culture. And the gift we give and receive is each other’s attention, a gift of time, of focus, and of service toward making stuff together.
So I suppose all three of my networked narratives are actually proto-stories, embryo narratives waiting to happen. If they are taken up they become fully formed stories. If not, then they are stillborn. Or maybe they are just seeds waiting for a more convivial time to sprout and grow.
Whatever they are I do know that one of evolution’s most potent adaptive mechanism is redundancy. Keep casting seed and something will grow. The key is to be egregiously overgenerous with the seed.