Does storytelling change in context of new forms of media?

This is the title and central question of a great article in The Philadelphia Inquirer today, in which the writer Katie Haegele asks some well-considered questions of Sue Thomas, Scott Lloyd DeWitt (director of the digital media project at the Department of English at Ohio State University) and Robert Coover (T.B. Stowell Adjunct Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University):

…what about the writing experience? Is literary writing for digital media different in a way that matters?
…Does good, old-fashioned storytelling really change just because it is distributed in new forms of media?

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3 thoughts on “Does storytelling change in context of new forms of media?

  1. Hi Chris,
    I also posted this interview on my blog. I find it interesting that these questions still need to be addressed. Of course it’s good to continue conversations but it seems those working with new media or digital work need to continually tame their optimism and remind print-lovers that the two ways of reading and creating aren’t opposites – just different (I have in mind the recent spate of comments on the Guardian Book blog).
    Ian pointed me to another post that mentions the Philidelphia Inquirer interview: here. She makes a good point: “As writers, we want the reader to feel immersed in our fiction world. Is adding music and images “cheating?” By no means will digitalit wipe away traditional literature, just as the written word hasn’t erased oral traditions.”

  2. These questions perhaps don’t matter for digital media artists. Maybe they are more for the patrons of art. New art always stirs up the debates, but the artists’ job is to do the new art. Us lay people just ask questions such as these so we can place the new art in our minds, situate it internally and then understand its impact on us. I personally don’t think a simple delivery system switch changes stories enough to classify them as something different. But when more art and nuance is added, then perhaps the basic message of the story changes. For example, changing a font of a pretty flower poem from the common Arial font to the equally common Times New Roman font wouldn’t change the poem for most patrons. Changing the font into some wild, wacky, skull-and-crossbones typeface would.
    Anyway, that’s for us to talk about. Jess, keep your optimism high and forge on. Know that it is just little old us figuring out our world.

  3. Hi PurpleCar – thanks for responding.
    I think you’re right, in that we’re asking question in order to situate new/recent/continuing developments. But, (for me anyway) I think optimism helps progress (in the creating sense and in the thinking sense) these changes. You mention font, maybe a few years ago a font change would have solicited wide reactions but now, as you note, “patrons” might not really take that into account. Instead, nuances (good word!) are what will illict those reactions. How an artist/author/creator uses fonts (words too?!) alongside images and streaming video. How the reader might interact with all of the above – now that’s what I’m looking forward to us discussing. 🙂

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