My first experience utilizing new media to build a story happened less than a year ago when I wanted to create a slideshow for the homecoming of my younger brother. Of course, besides sentimentalism and quirkiness, this type of narration would have been more conventional according to The New Digital Storytelling‘s author. Or not? I have to admit that because I was using a computer to create a narrative, I may have dwelt in the idea that such creation would be understood as part of the ‘new’ new media narration style.
Moreover, historians consider the idea of “telling a story” as a contested definition of history. Stories may imply a fictional construction. Furthermore, there are historians that argue that the profession cannot tell a story, or otherwise it would mean its own liquidation as discipline. Authority issues play a strong role in this debate. For example, if historians agree with the premise that history is another literary genre, anybody may be entitle to produce such fiction, and then, how to differentiate from good and bad history? Well, it would be up to the audience to decide.
However, Bryan Alexander brings to our attention very interesting examples of fictional-history-narrative, that have to do with the use of Web 2.0 platforms. Two of those are cryforbizantium and the Orwell Diaries project. The first one utilizes Twitter as the medium to narrate the story of Bizantium through tweets.
Obviously, the audience knows that Constantine XI is not writing this tweets. However, it serves to engage the public in potential future conversations: in the creator-narrator’s blog, in the audience’s Twitter feed, and in any other forms of social media available to them.
The George Orwell diaries seems like the natural use of a blog for the purpose of historical narrative. The creators decided to post a journal entry matching our current date. For example, the diaries start in 1938 and the blog started in 2008. It really possesses the capability to engage new audiences, and to create multiple levels of discussion based on the functionality of WordPress, also pointed out by Alexander.
Definitely, digital storytelling appeals to our society’s appetite for social media, fostering interpretation and debate while engaging the public in ongoing conversations.