Saturday, April 27, 2019

Experimenting with the Platform

Mayan Codices
It seems to me that every story is meta in regards to the platform the author uses to tell the story. The platform will influence how readers interact with it. And you disregard this at your own peril.

Are you telling stories around a campfire or using a blog or a video or a game or telling a story in a bunch of bound paper? In each case, you will need to research how readers interact with the platform you've chosen.

Digital stories aren't just paper stories cut and pasted into a blog or recited in front of a camera. I guess they could be. We could call an e-book a digital story but think of all the opportunities we're missing when we do that?

I tried my first (and maybe only) Twitter poem. Writing your first story or poem on any platform will teach you how that platform works. For instance, blog stories need lots of spacing and content chunking to make reading them palatable. Large blocks of text look too intimidating to online readers. Brains process online content differently than offline content and you may need to compensate for the tendency for skimming.

You will also learn by making mistakes. Twitter poems come with many challenges as well and I feel my poem was worth doing just to discover the pitfalls. There were problems setting up multiple accounts due to recent political events. Posting also presented a challenge as I was creating conversations between all of my accounts. How to do this with one browser? I tried opening various browsers, going incognito in browser tabs, and opening and closing accounts after each comment.

I also needed to learn about posting order on Twitter for both main posts and comment post seen from various accounts (all which required testing) and to consider how Twitter was created to be consumed (most recent content on top, lesser on the bottom) and how readers are actually reading Twitter (from top to bottom, not starting with the first Tweet) and how I might misuse Twitter to display a vertical poem (by posting it backwards). All the idiosyncrasies had to be tested and planned for.

These learning curves probably existed for the earliest manuscript and book makers as well. They probably wondered how people would interact with a physical storytelling device? Would they know how to turn the pages? How would they learn to read? Think of that almost insurmountable challenge! Wide-spread literacy!

Challenges create layers of difficulty and timing to execute (even in traditional publishing).

I've always wanted to do a project in a codex format, like the picture above. All the same challenges and problems apply. Will readers know how to read it, centuries after this format was a popular form of story telling? Will readers of the future know how to read our blogs?

It's all fascinating. So, what should we experiment with next?

Works Cited

McCray, Mary. "For Whom the Bells Troll." Accessed 27 April 2019.

"How Chunking Helps Content Processing." Nielsen Norman Group, Accessed 27 April 2019.

"Digital Texts and Reading Strategies." Association of College and Research Libraries, Accessed 27 April 2019.

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