Personal Stories, Corporate Templates


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Presentation given at The Network as a Space and Medium for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Art Practice, 8-10 Nov 2009, in Bergen, Norway.

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  • The first novels were epistolary, set together as chains of letters. Novels were also written as diaries.
  • That’s a slight simplification of what MarikaLüders actually says, but more or less her point – she wants us to focus not only on mass media, as media studies has tended to do in the twentieth century, but also on personal media, which include digital and non-digital (pre-digital) forms, suhc as diaries, scrapbooks, phone calls.
  • Here’s a coupleof pages from my school diary, which is almost twenty years old. There are a few prompts here, but really most of it is embellished freely. However, there’s clearly symbiosis with mass culture. The flower power reference, the sort of adapted drawing for someone vaguely The Cure-ish, a poem copied in (by popular Norwegian Jan Erik Vold). Note of a movie I saw with a friend.
  • Here’s a traditional photo album. Photos glued in in order with annotations. Meant to be shared with friends and family.
  • Currently there’s a fad for scrapbooking, where you create photo album pages more like magazine spreads. An example of how mass media can affect the genres of personal media.
  • Will status updates find their way into diaries and other personal media? Or did corporations like Twitter and Facebook take the idea of status updates from personal media, non-corporate (or just less corporate?) media such as SMS and
  • Wi
  • A wedding is always-already imagined as a memory, as a story.
  • Even when people make their own pregnancy journals they follow the same cultural templates. Congratulations – first gifts – first ultrasound…
  • Originally published in McSweeny’s (
  • Personal Stories, Corporate Templates

    1. Jill Walker Rettberg,University of Bergen<br />Personal Stories,<br />Corporate Templates<br />The Network as a Space and Medium for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Art PracticeBergen, November 8-10, 2009<br />Image: “iheartlatkes”, (CC)<br />
    2. Literary narrative genres develop from personal narrative practices<br />Photo: (CC) Lenore Edman<br />
    3. Writing girls<br /><br />Image: by “This Year’s Love”<br />
    4. Personal media are the opposite of mass media.<br />Lüders, Marika (2008) ‘Conceptualizing Personal Media’. New Media and Society 10 (6): 683-702. <br />
    5. Photo: Jeff Hitchcock (“Arbron”) (CC)<br />
    6. Photo from Flickr, CC by Dean Michaud (DNAMichaud)<br /><br />
    7. Today’s narrative practices are changing rapidly.<br />Norway: every month 60% use Facebook; nearly 10% use Twitter (<br />
    8. Miles Hochstein: A Documented Life<br />
    9. Eleanor Antin: Carving, 1972.<br />
    10. Noah Kalina, 2006:<br />
    11.<br />
    12. People love it – and make their own versions<br />
    13.<br />
    14. Tehching Hsieh, 1980-1981<br />(<br />)<br />Thanks to Mark Jeffery for telling me about this.<br />
    15. Simple rules seem to encourage everyday creativity.<br />
    16. We follow cultural templates both in living and documenting our lives.<br />(CC) Carlos Mendoza<br />
    17. Preformatted baby journals are examples of normative discursive strategies that either implicitly or explicitly structure our agencies.<br />Van Dijck, José (2007) Mediated Memories in the Digital Age. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP. <br />
    18.<br />
    19. What happens when these narrative patterns aren’t hand-crafted but are automatically generated?<br />Image: (CC) Terrenin Virginia<br />
    20.<br />
    21. This is the opposite of the preformatted baby journal: our daily (unconscious?) patterns are visualised<br />
    22. Four ways social media organises representations of our lives:<br />
    23. Facebook Friend Visualiser (TouchGraph)<br />
    24.<br />Google search history<br /> Archive View<br />
    25. The World as a Blog<br />Nike’s “Just Map It”<br />“Countries I’ve visited”<br />
    26. Mass cultural production follows templates set up by the professional entertainment industry. Are we even more firmly colonized by commercial media today than in the 20th century?<br />Manovich, Lev (2009) ‘The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production.’ Critical Inquiry 35 (2):319-31. <br />Image:<br />
    27. We’re always trapped in (and inspired by) genres, stereotypes, rituals, patterns.<br />
    28. What would literary narratives following these personal but computationally assisted practices look like?<br />
    29. A story told “in Facebook”?<br />
    30.<br />Or like those marketing campaigns that uses your data through Facebook Connect?<br />
    31. Or something better.What do you think?<br />