Your mission, should you choose to accept it: to “hack” an existing Web 2.0 platform / space by planting a narrative where it was never designed to be.
Ok, you actually have to accept this mission. But it’s as simple as that, so hopefully it’s an enjoyable one.
What story you tell? Up to you. What platform you use to house it? Also up to you.
The idea here is that you begin to think creatively about the narrative potential of an existing participatory platform, and to think about how the insertion of a narrative into such a platform could re-imagine, disrupt, or challenge the traditional use of that space.
You should begin this assignment by deciding on the story you want to tell. Is it a personal narrative? A work of fiction? An informative, educational, or persuasive piece about an issue or cause that’s important to you? The subject matter and genre are entirely up to you, but it’s best to begin with a clear, detailed story idea, and let the platform you use to tell that story follow naturally from the story itself.
Think about the sample guerrilla lit projects we looked at, and ask yourself why Keith Obadike chose eBay as the site of “Blackness for Sale,” for example? There is a method to the madness, a reason that story belongs in that medium, on that platform. In order to conceptualize your own project, you need to know your story well. Only then can you brainstorm a platform or space to house that story that will add a dimension to the narrative, that will make the act of telling the story there a clever and purposeful intrusion.
Are you trying to make a statement? To highlight critical flaws or gaps in the system? To share your ideas? To surprise users with art or beauty?
Once you’ve decided on your story and the right platform in/on which to tell it, you will execute the hack by constructing that story in that space. To do this successfully, you must study your Web 2.0 platform in great detail. You need to learn the conventions of form, length, style, and substance. You need to adapt your story so that it fits, just enough to blend in (while still being a re-imagining of the platform’s purposes). That is, your project here should not just be a reddit forum post, nor should it be just a work of fiction posted on reddit. You need to use the style, tone, and language of a typical reddit post, but to upend or manipulate that form in some way, too.
The length, genre, form, and style of this project is all very open-ended, because different platforms have different requirements. Here are a few parameters
- Your project should involve a significant amount of your own writing (whether in a single block of text or a series of smaller, shorter posts);
- Your project must be housed / presented on a Web 2.0 platform but will be handed in as a post to your blog (this may involve some archiving / documenting / permalinking of your own posts to be able to share them later, depending on the staying power of the posts, and anyone else’s ability to delete / edit your work);
- Your project must include either multiple media OR hypertext (both are fine but only one is required) and must invite, encourage, or solicit participation in some way;
- If you use a social media platform, it cannot be the same one you worked in for your location-based narrative group project;
- Your project must involve some kind of juxtaposition, contrast, or surprise between the narrative content and the platform. There should be something unexpected about this combination.
Some things I’ll consider when evaluating your projects:
- Is the story thoughtfully crafted? Does it have an idea/theme that is worth exploring? Does it have a clear narrative arc?
- Is the piece innovative? Surprising? Does it feel new?
- Do the form and content feel inseparable? Is the technology necessary to achieve the full effect of the narrative?
- Is it thoughtfully constructed? Does it demonstrate attention to detail?
You’ll bring a complete draft of your work-in-progress to class for peer feedback on Tuesday, 2/19. The final draft of your project is due via blog post by 5pm Friday, 2/22.
Your blog post should include a 500-1000 word reflection (this reflection will serve as your weekly blog post) on the process of creating this narrative, that is itself both hypertext and multimedia, and is written for a public audience. Here are some questions to consider when writing your reflection:
- What inspired this narrative? How did you come up with the idea for it?
- How do the form and content work together and compliment each other? Why this form for this story and vice versa?
- Reflect on the process of its creation. What was fun or interesting about it? What was challenging? How did you overcome or work around these challenges?
- What artistic choices did you make while constructing this project and why?
- What is unique about this kind of storytelling? What advantages does the medium offer?
- Did you learn anything during this creation process that you will carry with you after you leave this class?