Online Caroline and I

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A talk given in 2001 about the web drama Online Caroline, a serial fiction in 24 days which uses web cams, diaries and email communication with the reader.

This developed into <a href="http://jilltxt.net/txt/onlinecaroline.html">a chapter I wrote for First Person, which you can read here</a>.

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  • “ I thought this talk was going to be called “Dear Screen: emails and web diaries as storytelling” - I guess that’s what you’ve been told. I am going to talk about emails, web diaries and narration - but most of all, I’ll talk about me and Caroline. I’m one of Caroline’s friends. She sends me emails every day and she updates her web site so I can see new pictures of her boyfriend and their flat and the latest clothes she’s bought. She has a webcam running so that every day when I visit her site, I can see what she’s up to. Sometimes she asks me for advice, and I tell her what I think she should do. She asks me about my life too, and I answer all her questions: how old I am, what my name is, and whether I think my best friend is liable to sleep with my boyfriend.
  • Online Caroline and I

    1. 1. Caroline and I jill walker/dept of humanistic informatics/university of bergen/norway visiting scholar/school of applied communication/rmit http://cmc.uib.no/jill [email_address]
    2. 2. http://www.onlinecaroline.com
    3. 3. email from Caroline Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 01:02:52 -0100 From: caroline@onlinecaroline.com Subject: Your will is my command, Jill To: jill.walker@uib.no So I did what you asked, Jill. Paris is fantastic. Simon is less so. But I'm trying to keep the arrangement as professional as possible. We dine at the best restaurants, saunter earnestly around the galleries... Oh alright. I'm NOT in Paris. Still stuck in the flat trying to decide what to do. I gave Simon a good thwacking with the pepperpot and sent him on his way. He deserved it. But it puts the Paris 'job' in jeopardy, obviously. Simon, I'm afraid, is an idiot. It happens every time David goes away. Within days he's round with the vodka and offers of work, stories about how mad David is and how he can take me away from all this. And now he's trying to wind you up too. Did he succeed?
    4. 4. forms
    5. 5. realism no loose ends
    6. 6. boundaries real/virtual real/fictional clear in traditional media, blurred on the web
    7. 7. simulation representation
    8. 8. simulation representation <ul><li>blends virtual and physical spaces - the virtual space is continuous with and extended from physical space </li></ul><ul><li>the two spaces have the same scale </li></ul><ul><li>the boundary is de-emphasised </li></ul><ul><li>the spectator is free to move </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. frescos (inseparable from architecture) </li></ul><ul><li>separation of virtual and physical space </li></ul><ul><li>two spaces have different scales </li></ul><ul><li>boundary marked by a screen </li></ul><ul><li>presupposes spectator’s immobility </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. renaissance paintings (can be moved) </li></ul>Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media, 2001.
    9. 9. the story
    10. 10. it’s reading me
    11. 11. But we're hardly strangers, are we? Three visits in and you've already given me quite a lot to go on. No emails from you, though. You seem to be relying on whatever I - or XPT - can provide you with. Quite nice in a way, but a bit limiting. Means I have to do all the talking - which makes me look self centred - or FUNNY, eh? There was me banging on about not liking children, and then discovering you're already a parent. Ah well, you still came back for more. Whatever you tell me about kids or anything else, I have to accept that you might be lying to me about who you really are. It's early days. I guess from my end I might have to accept that loneliness DOES have something to do with it.
    12. 12. But we're hardly strangers, are we? Three visits in and you've already given me quite a lot to go on. No emails from you, though. You seem to be relying on whatever I - or XPT - can provide you with. Quite nice in a way, but a bit limiting. Means I have to do all the talking - which makes me look self centred - or FUNNY, eh? There was me banging on about children, when you don't have any. Ah well, you still came back for more. Whatever you tell me about kids or anything else, I have to accept that you might be lying to me about who you really are. It's early days. I guess from my end I might have to accept that loneliness DOES have something to do with it.
    13. 15. leave him or tell him? I do love David. And I want to be straight with him about that parcel business. (So I won't be leaving him as you suggested!). email no. 8 to “Jill” I do love David. And I want to be straight with him about that parcel business, as you suggested. email no. 8 to “Jack”
    14. 16. she’s watching me You’ve convinced him that you’re interested in his theories, because you took a look at the “My Boyfriend” section again last time you came. You shouldn’t encourage him. email no 14 to “Jill”
    15. 17. movement
    16. 18. immobility forced movement
    17. 19. captivity
    18. 20. bluebird 1 webcam, day 1
    19. 21. bluebird 2 webcam, day 9
    20. 22. guilt I am so messed up. Perhaps I'm going mad. Perhaps it's you sending me mad. I feel like you've turned me into some kind of weirdo - I wait in for you every day like you're part of my daily routine. Like you're the sneaky bit of chocolate or ice cream that probably SHOULDN'T be part of my routine. (email 9)
    21. 23. more guilt He [Simon] says you're either sad or a bit of a perv to be spending time online with a complete stranger - as if loneliness or sex were the only reasons why someone like you would want to start a friendship with someone like me. (email no. 4)
    22. 24. help me! Don’t think I haven’t noticed how oddly David is behaving, by the way. The question is: what can I do about it? I mean, what can WE do about it? What I'm trying to say is - don't just sit there. HELP ME OUT HERE!! (email no. 19)
    23. 25. final email Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 01:03:37 -0100 From: gerald.inomynte@xpt.co.uk Subject: Re: Caroline. Thank you for your input, Jill To: jill.walker@uib.no Dear Jill. Thank you for participating in Online Caroline, and helping XPT to complete the process of give and take that enabled Caroline to get what she wanted. Thanks to you, our operatives were allowed to carry out their tasks without hindrance, and Caroline's life was irrevocably changed. We were particularly grateful to you for preventing Caroline developing complicated and distracting relationships with Simon and Sophie. She did not want them. Relationships in general formed only a part of what Caroline wanted. You were much closer to the mark in guessing that her dreams and desires had something to do with security - of a kind. You will no doubt be pleased to hear that Sophie Tate was recently elected as an XPT Family Member, in recognition of the Tates' work over many decades, nurturing and commercialising the ancient art of give and take. Simon Davies has successfully launched his new title 'The Other Paris', published by Other
    24. 26. conclusion ?
    25. 27. contact info jill walker dept of humanistic informatics/university of bergen/norway visiting scholar/school of applied communication/rmit http://cmc.uib.no/jill [email_address] Bevan, Rob and Tim Wright. Online Caroline . 2000-2001. Available: http://www.onlinecaroline.com Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.

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