Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happily ever after...

One of the cliches of the brand business over the past ten year has been to emphasise the importance of storytelling. The form of the story has tended to be governed less by the audience and more by the medium through which it is told - the medium is the message I suppose. (Alternate director's cut ending: Or the other way around.)

In an article in the Telegraph Sam Leith, Literary editor responds to concerns about the end of Story telling in the era of Twitter and Grand Theft Auto but reaches a less than gloomy conclusion:

Changing technologies have affected the means by which stories are told. You can follow the story of a person's life pointillistically through a Twitter feed or voyeuristically through a webcam.

You can read a self-contained novel; one with an alternate ending; or a choose-your-own adventure book.

You can steer petty criminal Niko Bellic through the nodes of GTA4's restricted but ingenious video game structure; or follow the endlessly overlapping plot arcs of an open-structure narrative like a soap opera.

But when you strip off all the bells and whistles, these stories will be in all the important essences no different from the stories that Vladimir Propp, or the authors of the Bible, or Homer and her many co-authors, would have recognised. "Next generation synthetic performer technologies" or not.

The rise of interactive, alternative ending narrative experiences might well give extra resonance to the thought that a great story has a beginning, a middle and an end. But not necessarily in that order.


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