21st Century Storytelling @ Icon 2008


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Reesa Brown's presentation at Icon 2008: Revolutions, in Tel Aviv Israel. This slideshow covers recent developments in online storytelling as well as a preview of the Continuous Coast project.

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21st Century Storytelling @ Icon 2008

  1. 1. 21st-Century Storytelling
  2. 2. 21 st Century Storytelling A Presentation by Reesa Brown with contributions from Kit O'Connell With art by Amul Kumar, Debs, Freya Paxtwist and Gaelsha Icon 2008: Revolutions Links from this presentation: http://delicious.com/todfox/ae2 Released under a Creative Commons Share Alike License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/il/ For more information visit: Continuous Labs -- http://www.continuouslabs.com/ Reesa Brown -- http://www.reesabrown.com/ Kit O'Connell -- http://www.kitoconnell.com/
  3. 3. Howard Hendrix "I think the ongoing and increasing sublimation of the private space of consciousness into public netspace is profoundly pernicious.  For that reason I don't much like to blog, wiki, chat, post, LiveJournal, or lounge in SFF.net.  A problem with the whole wikicliki, sick-o-fancy, jerque-du-cercle of a networking and connection-based order is that, if you "go along to get along" for too long, there's a danger you'll no longer remember how to go it alone when the ethics of the situation demand it. "I'm also opposed to the increasing presence in our organization of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free.  A scab is someone who works for less than union wages or on non-union terms; more broadly, a scab is someone who feathers his own nest and advances his own career by undercutting the efforts of his fellow workers to gain better pay and working conditions for all. Webscabs claim they're just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they're undercutting those of us who aren't giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work. "
  4. 4. Cory Doctorow “ But there’s another reason that these new media tell stories in different ways from their old media predecessors: They’re telling different stories. TV sitcoms, novels, feature films, and other traditional forms are cages as well as frames. The reason that every sitcom lasts 22 minutes is that no one tries to make sitcoms about stories that take five minutes to tell. The reason movies last 90 minutes is that no one tries to make feature films about subjects that take 30 seconds to elucidate — or 30 days. “ The critics of new media often point to its failure to live up to the standards of old media. Some scientists and science journalists wring their hands at the idea that the Mars landers and the Large Hadron Collider emanate information in the form of anthropomorphized Twitter messages, arguing that these messages lack the formal virtues of science reporting and papers. “ It’s true. They do. They don’t succeed at being better in-depth science articles than the science articles. They succeed at being better Twitter messages than science articles; they succeed at producing and sustaining a different kind of interest and understanding than a long article in the weekend paper. “ The low cost of deploying new media online is revealing a heretofore unsuspected appetite for stories in different boxes than we’ve heretofore used — and a universe of stories waiting to be told.” --Don't Judge Old Media by New Rules”
  5. 5. 9 Months of Talking <ul><li>Why can't new technological developments be looked forward to with excitement, instead of doom and gloom? </li></ul><ul><li>9 months of talking amongst our household about this topic, and others' attempts to embrace new technology, resulted in this presentation and the project it describes </li></ul><ul><li>Previous version given at Arse Elektronika 2008 in San Francisco, CA in September </li></ul>
  6. 6. Storytelling on the Internet <ul><li>Most Internet publishing involves directly translating old media models into new media </li></ul><ul><li>Much like the early days of TV, when shows were radio programs with cameras pointed at them </li></ul><ul><li>Some artists are beginning to explore the possibilities of the new medium </li></ul>
  7. 7. Modern Explorations of Storytelling and Technology
  8. 8. Stephen King <ul><li>Released “Riding the Bullet” online in 2000. Free for a short time, downloads overloaded the server. </li></ul><ul><li>In response he put “The Plant” online in serialized form. If enough people paid $1 per chapter, he'd keep posting it. </li></ul><ul><li>Over time, people stopped paying. </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion: You can't make people pay multiple times for the same novel. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Jim Baen's Universe <ul><li>Online magazine founded in 2006. </li></ul><ul><li>Translates the print model to the web – you can buy subscriptions or pay for an individual issue. </li></ul><ul><li>Also includes giveaways like previews of upcoming books. </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-DRM (copy protection) stance. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Free Fiction Online <ul><li>Cory Doctorow has been successful in publishing despite giving away his works under a CC open source license, sometimes allowing non-commercial derivative works. </li></ul><ul><li>Baen Free Library, giving away full text of popular Baen books, often included as a CD in Baen hardcovers. </li></ul><ul><li>Tor.com, a recent science fiction social networking site with free books and stories </li></ul>
  11. 11. Free Fiction Online <ul><li>International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day in response to Hendrix's comments </li></ul><ul><li>Weekly roundups of free fiction such as Futurismic's Friday posts </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion: If you give it away, they will pay you for it. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Podcasts <ul><li>Paying markets such as Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod </li></ul><ul><li>Radio show style programs such as “Metamor City” </li></ul><ul><li>Make money primarily through sales of merchandise, donations, sometimes including CDs </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion: Online storytelling involves more than just text. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Metamor City podcast
  14. 14. Podcasts <ul><li>Involves finding a niche market – the 1000 true fans theory of online profit. </li></ul><ul><li>Brings storytelling to new audiences, such as the visually impaired </li></ul><ul><li>Audiobooks are a pre-Internet example of similar branching out into multimedia storytelling </li></ul>
  15. 15. Lonelygirl15 <ul><li>Began as a seemingly real video blog of a teenage girl </li></ul><ul><li>Gradually became known that it was a fictional story created by writers </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion of first story arc of the series unfolded in real time, with videos posted throughout a day as they “happened” </li></ul>
  16. 16. Lonelygirl15
  17. 17. Lonelygirl15 <ul><li>Some fans created their own videos which were good enough to be integrated into the “canon” Lonelygirl15 storyline. Fan creations actively encouraged. </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion: 21st-century storytelling blurs the line between canon -- “official” creations and timelines – and fanon – the creations and timeline that play out in fans' minds and fanfic </li></ul>
  18. 18. Alternate Reality Gaming (ARGs) <ul><li>Commercial enterprises – almost all successful ARGs involve a corporate sponsor or advertise a product (such as I Love Bees for Halo 2) </li></ul><ul><li>Tell stories that involve players in the world </li></ul><ul><li>Blur the line between fiction and reality through phone calls, email, hidden puzzles on websites </li></ul><ul><li>The Dark Knight ARG sent players to a bakery to receive a cake with a hidden cell phone in it, which would give a message from the Joker </li></ul>
  19. 19. The Dark Knight ARG
  20. 20. Alternate Reality Gaming (ARGs) <ul><li>Year 0 ARG, created for Trent Reznor of NiN involved fans with hidden messages in mp3s left at concerts, including spectographic analysis of sounds </li></ul><ul><li>Lucky “winners” of the ARG got to attend a secret concert in a hidden warehouse which was broken up by a fictional swat team </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion: 21st-century storytelling blurs the line between fiction and reality </li></ul>
  21. 21. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog <ul><li>Collaboratively written by Joss Whedon, his family and friends during the writer's strike </li></ul><ul><li>3 12-minute videos about a mad scientist, his superhero rival, and the girl they love </li></ul><ul><li>May be the first commercial online musical </li></ul>
  22. 22. Dr. Horrible
  23. 23. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog <ul><li>Given away for free over the course of a week online, simultaneously a best-seller in high-quality format on iTunes </li></ul><ul><li>Soundtrack also a best seller </li></ul><ul><li>If you give it away, they will pay you for it. </li></ul><ul><li>Merchandise sold for Dr. Horrible appears in the videos themselves, such as T-Shirts worn by Captain Hammer or his fans </li></ul>
  24. 24. Shadow Unit
  25. 25. Shadow Unit <ul><li>Created by commercially successful storytellers Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette, Elizabeth Bear and Amanda Downum </li></ul><ul><li>“Fanfic” for an imaginary TV show (Criminal Minds meets the X-Files) </li></ul><ul><li>Finale of the first season was a novel released in real time over the course of a week </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporates ARG elements by deliberately blurring the line between fantasy and reality </li></ul>
  26. 26. Shadow Unit (Blurring the Lines) <ul><li>“Shooting script” from the TV show is hidden on the Shadow Unit website, complete with annotations by the actor </li></ul><ul><li>Characters have LiveJournals and interact with their readers as if real people </li></ul><ul><li>A fan, Txanne, has become the online girlfriend of Chaz, a fictional character from Shadow Unit </li></ul><ul><li>Fans created their own fandom, the “Deltas” </li></ul>
  27. 27. Shadow Unit <ul><li>Have completed one of five seasons </li></ul><ul><li>Second season expected to begin in January 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion: 21st-century storytelling is multidisciplinary and is a collaborative effort. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Where's the sex? <ul><li>Sex drives technology, pornography has helped spur development of Internet technology </li></ul><ul><li>Sex part of the development of storytelling technology – within 200 years of Gutenberg's invention, erotica was being published with movable type presses </li></ul><ul><li>Mature explorations of sexuality lacking in most current online storytelling. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Sex in online storytelling <ul><li>Polly Frost's science fiction web show “The Fold” </li></ul><ul><li>Online collaborative erotica on literotica.com and writing.com </li></ul><ul><li>Online storytelling may face similar problems of sexual maturity as in video games, see Daniel Floyd's video essay, “Chasing Maturity: Video Games and Sex” </li></ul>
  30. 30. “The Fold”
  31. 31. But how do you make money? <ul><li>Shadow Unit is a full-time job which attempts to pay 5 people on donations and some merchandise </li></ul><ul><li>When we attended Fourth Street Fantasy Convention in Minneapolis, MN we found many other industry professionals wondering how to make money online </li></ul>
  32. 32. Storytelling Business Models
  33. 33. The Business Model Paper <ul><li>We researched existing projects such as those mentioned in the previous section </li></ul><ul><li>We spoke to writers, artists, artisans, ARG experts, and two professional business-model consultants about their ideas and concerns about online moneymaking </li></ul><ul><li>Now being posted as a series of daily blog entries at: http://dreamcafe.com/words/ </li></ul>
  34. 34. Trying it Out <ul><li>Having engaged in so much research and conversation about 21st-century storytelling, naturally we wanted to try out a project of our own </li></ul><ul><li>How far can we push these new models of online storytelling? </li></ul><ul><li>Our project had to reflect the themes, ethics, and storytelling paradigms that we wanted to explore, disrupt, and ruthlessly exploit </li></ul>
  35. 35. The Continuous Coast Project
  36. 36. The Continuous Coast Project <ul><li>Created in collaboration with our housemate, Steven Brust </li></ul><ul><li>Over the course of 9 months, we realized the project was bigger than just us so we recruited other writers, artists, artisans, computer geeks, and other creators to join the project </li></ul>
  37. 37. “ Concert Poster” from another world
  38. 38. Unearthly concert photo
  39. 39. Continuous Coast (Open Content) <ul><li>Continuous Coast is an open content shared world. </li></ul><ul><li>The setting, stories written about it, and most products created within the world will be released under the Creative Commons Share-Alike license </li></ul><ul><li>A viral license which allows derivative works and commercial re-use as long as it falls under the same license </li></ul>
  40. 40. Continuous Coast (Open Content) <ul><li>The license encourages “community-based storytelling” </li></ul><ul><li>Anyone who wants to can create in our world and do so commercially </li></ul><ul><li>This legitimizes fanfic and fanon </li></ul><ul><li>We will give away content and encourage our visitors to pay for it by bringing them into the world as True Fans or its “citizens” </li></ul>
  41. 41. Continuous Coast (World Building) <ul><li>Our goal was to create a world we'd like to live in that still presented real challenges </li></ul><ul><li>A sex-positive world with a wide variety of accepted relationship styles </li></ul><ul><li>A partially post-scarcity, but not utopian setting, which eliminates starvation, the struggle for subsistence, and certain other key challenges </li></ul>
  42. 42. Scarf from Continuous Coast
  43. 43. Hair Jewelry from Continuous Coast
  44. 44. Continuous Coast (Blurring the Lines) <ul><li>Influenced by Jorge Luis Borges' short story, “Tl ö n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage interactivity with fans </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage fans to take on in-world characters and interact as them in “real life” settings </li></ul><ul><li>In addition to normal merchandise, create artifacts which are “imported” onto Earth from Continuous Coast </li></ul>
  45. 45. Artifact of another world
  46. 46. Conclusion: 21st-Century Storytelling
  47. 47. 21st-century storytelling <ul><li>The 21st-Century will spawn new and unexpected forms of storytelling. </li></ul><ul><li>No longer the lone writer hunched over his keyboard. </li></ul><ul><li>Inherently multidisciplinary, multimedia, and multigenre. </li></ul><ul><li>The novel does not die but becomes part of the overall 21st-century storytelling paradigm </li></ul>
  48. 48. Stuff For You <ul><li>This slideshow will be available by October 20 at: http://continuouslabs.com/icon2008/ </li></ul><ul><li>Business Model posts ongoing daily at: http://dreamcafe.com/words/ </li></ul><ul><li>Links from this presentation available at: http://delicious.com/todfox/ae2 </li></ul><ul><li>Visit http://portoutreach.com/ and http://luftonrunner.com/ to begin exploring the Continuous Coast project </li></ul>
  49. 49. Copyright © 2008 Continuous Labs. Some rights reserved. Released under the Creative Commons Share-Alike License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/il/ Latest version available Oct 20 at: http://continuouslabs.com/icon2008/