The Internet is the New Campfire

It wasn’t that long ago that stories were told predominantly around the campfire. The oral storytelling tradition has been around much longer than the print tradition, made ubiquitious and accessable by Johannes Gutenberg in the 14th century.

But things are changing. Bricks and mortar bookshops are shutting down, print material is being replaced by e-material, and story telling is becoming more oral, but also more visual. We now tell our stories over the web using words, pictures, games, sounds, and interactivity.

Now you can tell a story using tools like Social Samba to construct a Facebook-style interactive fiction, or you can upload a YouTube video telling a story – real or fictional. Stories are limitless now. Transmedia, combining multimedia platforms to create a story, is all about immersive engagement.

But, I hear you cry, is this the end of the book? The novel form actually only dates back about as far at Gutenberg himself. There are differning accounts, but the first novel in English appers to have been published in the 14th century. Neatly tied in with the age of mass printing, the novel is perhaps doomed to die with the end of the predominance of the era of print.

If you read the popular press you will often see articles bemoaning the attention span of young people – apparently so dismembered and distorted by the hyperactivity of the computer game. But how does that explain the devotion to 3407 pages of Harry Potter and 2443 pages of the Twilight series (depending on your editions).

The death of the novel? I don’t think so.

But, certainly the emergence of the Internet as our new campfire. An oral and visual storytelling tradition that doesn’t need words on a page, but does need spoken words, images, sounds and interactivity.


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