Tag Archives: Feature

Digital Ghosts – Something creepy this way comes

2 Aug
My ghost by mattwi1s0n

My ghost by mattwi1s0n

Here are two topics that I’ve been following coming together in a creepy, creepy way: social automation and social network profiles that remain after death.

I’ve been thinking about social media automation for a while now as it’s been cropping up more and more in discussions of personal branding and social media marketing.  Although automated social media may seem to be a bit of an oxymoron (how can you be social if you’re not actually participating?), it’s definitely the future, especially for celebrity and corporate presences on social networks. Continue reading

Amazon, eBooks, and the demise of Borders and bookshop culture

18 Jul

BooksThe era of the big box bookstore is coming to an end and I, for one, am saddened by this.  Yes, I know they were big, bad corporate giants that came in and destroyed neighborhood bookstores and coffee shops, ending third places and stifling locally-owned businesses in many communities.  All that’s true – and awful.

But at this point, the closing of your local Borders isn’t likely to mean that a locally-owned bookstore is going to spring up in its place.  (Although I wish that would happen!)  It’s really just going to drive more business to Amazon (or iTunes).  Yes, I know they’re both big, bad corporations, so why should I care if people buy from Borders or Amazon?

Because I like bookstores – large and small.  I like browsing.  I like wandering the aisles and touching the books.  Picking them up and feeling their weight.  I like to pick an edition based on the way the pages feel in my hand.  For me, buying a book is a tactile experience.   Continue reading

Becoming Real: Harry Potter and The Velveteen Rabbit

12 Jul

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Book CoverIn honor of the release of HP 7.5 this weekend, I bring you an excerpt of my thesis, “The Branding of Harry Potter: How Fanfiction is Challenging Concepts of Owner and Author”.  Before jumping in, here’s what you need to know:

I love Harry Potter and I love fanfiction; not in the way that I sit around and read it all the time, but you know, if I’m ever in a really bad mood…  I love fanfiction because it teaches people how to write and encourage people, especially young people, to find their voices and develop their skills as storytellers.  Everyone knows that Harry Potter struck a chord with a generation, but not many people know how it uniquely impacted creative and bookish teenagers.  Millions of their derivative works can be found on fanfiction archives across the internet.  Their writing and art, based upon Harry Potter and other fictional stories that became touchstone cultural artifacts, made up some of the earliest examples of Web 2.0.  And they did it all because of their love of the stories that inspired them.  Here we go… Continue reading

Hyper-text and Storytelling

16 May

Young Indian man reading on a laptop.Today SocialTimes has an article about Twitter, hyper-text, and the evolution of storytelling (Are Twitter Storytellers the Heroes of a New Postmodernism?).  It’s written by Amanda Cosco who is proving to be my social media soul mate – recently she’s written articles on foodies, citizen journalists, Lady Gaga, and super hot nerds.  Ms. Cosco discusses @VeryShortStory a Twitter feed that’s been telling an ongoing story in bursts of 140 characters over the course of the last two years.  She discusses the positives (including interactivity) and negatives (including lack of continuity) of telling a story through Twitter, but the piece really gets interesting when she talks about reading in a larger cultural context. Continue reading

Social Media and the Art of Storytelling

6 Apr

A few days ago, Chris Sullivan of MyNorthwest.com wrote an article called “The art of storytelling in a world of technology”.  He asked if you can tell a story over Twitter and wondered if the limitations of the medium limited the message.  He quoted professional storyteller Anne Rutherford as saying “Whatever their age, whatever their circumstance, if it’s a good story and it’s well told we completely have the ability to respond to that. However, what I think we’re losing is the opportunity to be in those situations.”  Ms. Rutherford believes the communications over digital technology, particularly via social media, are causing us to cut back on our in person interactions, and thus on our chances to tell and listen to stories.

In response to Mr. Sullivan’s article, Amanda Cosco of the Social Times said:

“It is my argument that social media makes story-telling even more possible today than in earlier years. While I’d agree with Sullivan that we’re not sharing stories in the same manner as we used to, I’d suggest that Story itself is an evolving beast, something that grows and mutates with time. Throughout history, storytelling forms have changed with technology— from oral traditions, to the printed word, to most recently digital media—but the elements of narrative can be detected throughout, as Story manages to creep its way into every linguistic or visual expression.”

And, I agree.  We use social media to connect and to share about our lives.  Really, our posts, tweets, and status updates come together to tell our stories.  A new “friend” is a new character entering the story.  Every check-in on FourSquare brings a new scene.  So, while the medium may be changing, the stories are still being told, now more than ever.  After all, we’re all writing our autobiographies, whether we know it or not.

Admittedly, social media tends to focus more on non-fiction than fiction.  (Interesting, because if you asked teens or twenty-somethings what they prefer, I bet the vast majority of them would say fiction.)  But, there are whole realms of online social interactions that are devoted to fiction.  Although they’re not as big of names as Facebook, they’re still important.  LiveJournal has many story writing communities.  And, there’s always fanfic.  (Yes, I realize that fanfiction.net is probably the lamest fanfic link, but I’m not sure who all is in the audience here and how many of them would think I were crazy if I posted some other ones…)  See the story of Cassandra Clare (fanfic author that got a book deal and made good) for an example of social media and online communities leading to authorship.

In response to Mr. Sullivan’s dare (“I challenge you to tell a great story on Twitter”), I submit that Charles Dickens released his stories in serial format.  I’m sure that they were much longer than 144 characters, but his medium was novel at the time, too.

So, keep updating, keep posting, and keep tweeting —  after all your writing you’re own story.  (And if you don’t write it, it probably won’t get told.)

Update: I’ve posted a follow-up piece, Social Media and the Art of Storytelling, Reader Responses.  I was so impressed with the thoughtful and articulate comments that I couldn’t just let them sit without a reply.  Read some selected comments and more on the topic here.


MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new in the world of Internet culture.  Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes.  MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration.  My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on freshly pressed, bringing a while new readership to my blog.  Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on?  Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

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