Sunday, December 26, 2010

How Technology is Maybe Changing What We Read and I Like Parts of This Reality and Not Others

I know this article is old. May 2009, man, that was lifetimes ago. Michael Jackson was still alive, Deepwater Horizon hadn't blown, people were still enchanted with Obama. But forgive me, I'm a slowhead and just found this article called "How Technology Is Changing What We Read" and when I read it I thought things and felt things that I would like to now, briefly, record in verbal form on my little corner of the interwebs.

The concept: technology's effect on fiction, specifically on this emerging form called the "zoom narrative" that is designed for phone apps. There's an example linked in the article called "Shadows Never Sleep." It's accompanied by illustrations and meant to be played with on an iPhone's touchscreen. But you can see a preview of it on video if you dare click on the link above.

The +'s: It's different. It's kinda artsy. You can hold it in your hand.

The -'s: I'm scared to think of the future of literature reduced to iPhone apps and *cringe while typing the word* "twiction." Then again, who doesn't at first feel threatened by and then resist the concept of change? It's not going to ever take the place of a full book or even short story. But still. Twiction? I just can't support it at this juncture.

Also, in this particular example, there wasn't much literariness or up-my-alleyness to appreciate or follow. It was more like some silhouette shapes juxtaposed with language that slightly resembled vapid adspeak. Maybe if someone else tried to write twiction or "zoom narratives" I would proclaim it radical and/ or avant garde. This form could better serve segmented flash pieces or experimental prose poems than traditional stories.

The rest of the article also addresses flash fiction, which I bow down to and have no qualms with, and the boon of online publications, which I celebrate. So technology's not all bad. And I find the new literary communities forming almost solely on the internet so fascinating. Writers used to build their literary neighborhoods through MFA programs or regional ties (see this recent Slate article that looks at the MFA/NYC dichotomy), but the internet has changed all that.

And now, my idea for a new literary genre, designed to be read on any app or fancy device, easily memorized and remembered and retold aloud in the old-fashioned fashion: one word stories. Go to it.

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