Filed Under: media, technology, writing
Published On: May 24, 2012
If you’re nerd enough, you know the true test of any new social media solution – can you play D&D with it? And nerds can be pretty quick in picking up on whether a medium supports the needs of the game.
Some folks in publishing don’t seem to be as quick on this. Case in point, over the past few years, there have been numerous attempts to simply port stories into Twitter.
Now, Twitter is a fantastic medium. And it’s one that really works for writers because the attention required is small and the system rewards those who regularly return for small dips in the information stream.
This type of use is directly opposed to the type of information diet that storytelling flourishes in. Whether presented in part or in whole, written storytelling rewards users by dominating focus.
Which is why when I saw that The New Yorker plans to serialize a Jennifer Egan short story my first reaction was a very guttural, “Ugh, don’t do that.”
Mind you, Egan seems to know what she’s doing and the story isn’t a direct port of a traditional short story. But, the numerous bad attempts to story-tell on Twitter from 2008, 2009 and beyond instantly bubbled up.
And believe me, there were a lot of really ill-conceived attempts to just smash fiction into twitter.
That isn’t to say that Twitter isn’t a good medium for delivering story, rather than a direct port of a story into 140 characters is not an optimal use of Twitter.
And the very reason you don’t see nerds rolling dice over it. Message and method must match.
So what type of storytelling does flourish on Twitter?
- story that rewards intellectual snacking (single-threaded narratives)
- story that gives instant rewards (short jokes, sudden turns, etc)
- story that references other materials (supplemental storytelling)
- story that that interacts with readers (digital improvisation)
However, if you’re interested in reading Egan’s serialized short, you can find more of it here.