The transitory nature of Twitter makes it difficult to tell stories, whether fictional or otherwise. While there are tools (ScribbleLive, CoverItLive, Storify) to collect tweets, an editor is required to aggregate the work.
In the example of Elliot Holt’s #TwitterFiction [sic] project, the story is narrated by three characters, each with their own Twitter handle. Indeed, the permalinks to Holt's tweets are not active anymore, so the story only exists in its aggregated form.
|A screenshot of Holt's story on Penguin Press' Storify.|
Holt’s story was part of the Twitter Fiction Festival and hosted by Penguin Press. In the finished project, an editor from Penguin has aggregated the content into a Storify page. Should the editor be getting credit for their role in the story’s creation?
I agree with Slate’s David Pierce that:
"In most ways, the Story Time Twitter reading experience is awful. You’re waiting for tweets, as the author painstakingly tries to contort a long story into some indeterminate number of 140-character chunks. Tweets get lost in your timeline unless you’re vigilantly paying attention.”
Though I'm a transliterate reader, I find it difficult to follow a narrative without an aggregated story. Therefore, Twitter fiction presents a problem of accessibility: not all readers have the time/means to enjoy the story live. Typically, I tune into the Twitter story well after it has unfolded. Take for example, the tale of Aziah King (NSFW). I would venture that this aggregation is counter to Twitter’s nature as a place for brief texts written quickly in a casual manner.
As Rita King puts it, "Twitter story experiments aren’t shackled by the linear requirements of paper”. Though I applaud the progressive nature of Twitter stories, I still cling to narratives in print. This recalls our reading of How the Page Matters by Bonnie Mak. To me, the stories still ends at “the edges of the cognitive space” of the page (p. 13).
In Andrew Fitzgerald’s TED talk "Adventures in Twitter fiction", he provides an intriguing graphic of Twitter interactions. This web is so wide, it is impossible to extricate any one user or story.
Reviewing @magicandrew 's TED talk https://t.co/PwQjs4xzN5 Fascinated by graph of verified #twitter users #NMN pic.twitter.com/ZLhoNzXiiG— Gwyneth Dunsford (@gwynduns) January 27, 2016
I think this graphic is an apt metaphor for the multimodality of Twitter. In contrast, print fiction is distinctly one dimensional. That said, print media is innovating and expanding its boundaries.
It makes me think of the early 2000s, when newspapers tried to garner more web traffic by starting printing QR codes alongside stories. Little coded boxes would appear next to the text, encouraging readers to scan the code and connect with further information online. This technology was cumbersome at best: you had to download a separate app to read the codes. Of course, now QR codes are somewhat redundant thanks to advances in near field technology (NFC).
Holt, E. (n.d.). @ElliottHolt's #TwitterFiction Story (with image, tweets). Retrieved January 27, 2016, from https://storify.com/penguinpress/elliotholt-s-twitterfiction-story
King, R. (2013, May 22). How Twitter Is Reshaping The Future Of Storytelling. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from http://www.fastcoexist.com/1682122/how-twitter-is-reshaping-the-future-of-storytelling
Mak, B. (2011). How the page matters. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Pierce, D. (2016, January 22). Gather Around, Folks, for the Brilliance of Story Time Twitter. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2016/01/gather-around-folks-for-the-brilliance-of-story-time-twitter
Fitzgerald, A. [TED]. (2013, October 11). Andrew Fitzgerald: Adventures in Twitter fiction [video file]. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6ZzmqDMhi0