Category Archives: Electronic Storytelling

Digital Sharecropping: Lessig warns of user-generated content exploitation

In May, Lucasfilm announced plans to enable fans of the “Star Wars” series to “remix” “Star Wars” video clips with their own creative work. Using an innovative Internet platform called Eyespot, these (re)creators can select video clips or other content and then add images or upload new content, whether images, video or music. Eyespot is one of many new technologies inviting “users” to do more than use the creativity they are consuming. Likewise, Lucasfilm is one of many companies recognizing that the more “users” use their creativity, the thicker the bonds are between consumers and the work consumed.


A dark force, however, has influenced Lucasfilm’s adoption of Eyespot’s technology. A careful reading of Lucasfilm’s terms of use show that in exchange for the right to remix Lucasfilm’s creativity, the remixer has to give up all rights to what he produces. In particular, the remixer grants to Lucasfilm the “exclusive right” to the remix — including any commercial rights — for free.


Hybrids are an important future of Internet growth. Businesses will have to think carefully about which terms will excite the masses to work for them for free. Competition will help define these terms. But if one more lawyer protected from the market may be permitted a prediction, I suggest sharecropping will not survive long as a successful strategy for the remixer.

Commentary from Lawrence Lessig for the Washington Post


Leave a comment

Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Aggregate, Digital Commons, Electronic Storytelling, Fair Use, Same as it ever Was, Tools, User generated content, When New Meets Old

Assignment Zero: A grand crowdWriting experiment

But I contribute to crowdsourced journalism because I want my work to yield a high “social good” return, and by that metric, overall, the experience has been frustrating. With some of these projects I ended up with nothing to show for the time I put in — either from being unable to get or enter the data, or from not following through where I probably would have, had there been support. (Support is crucial: if not for my editor’s encouragement at a bleak moment, you wouldn’t be reading this now.) And in the projects where I did contribute, my work had no visible effect — because of no follow-up or no publicity, or because what I provided just wasn’t very significant. All in all, I likely could have spent the time more productively at home on my own weblog.

Excerpt from WIRED’s Open-Source Journalism: It’s a Lot Tougher Than You Think

Wiki writers stand in stark contrast to the traditional image of the solitary, tortured artist. In crowdsourced fiction and nonfiction writing, the social narrative can trump a literary one. Still, from the complete expressive freedom of “A Million Penguins” to the careful scripting of “These Wicked Games”, each crowd created concrete works, though vastly different in length, content, salability, and final format. “What I have learned is that it would be possible to crowdsource a novel, but I think it would have to be done in a more controlled way than we did,” said Jeremy Ettinghausen, Digital Publisher for the U.K.’s Penguin Books. “What we decided with ‘A Million Penguins’ is that it was ‘all or nothing’ and that the experiment was about: there are no rules, there are no breaks, there’s no quota of people. We had a goal in mind that it was an experiment, and we were all in it together.”

Excerpt from WIRED’s Creative Crowdwriting: The Open Book

More from the Assignment Zero website and an introductory note from Jay Rosen, Executive Editor with Assignment Zero.

Previously from WNM: When we all write, does the reader lose? and Not ‘everyone’ can write a great novel

Leave a comment

Filed under A democratic medium?, Blogosphere, Electronic Storytelling, Networks, Open Source, Technology, our Mirror, web 2.0, Wiki

Games (unlike film) offer players a ‘matrix of future possibility’

This article looks at the specificity of the image within contemporary video games and examines what might be thought of as the distinct qualities of a game gaze that is different from the cinema gaze. This necessitates a consideration of the specific temporality of video game play where the aesthetic is generated in a maelstrom of anticipation, speculation, and action. Video games prioritize the participation of the player as he or she plays, and that player always apprehends the game as a matrix of future possibility. The focus, always, is not on what is before the player or the “what happens next” of traditionally unfolding narrative but on the “what happens next if I” that places the player at the center of experience as its principle creator, necessarily engaged in an imaginative act, and always orientated toward the future.

Abstract from Barry Atkins’ What Are We Really Looking at?: The Future-Orientation of Video Game Play in the 2006 edition of Games and Culture.

Leave a comment

Filed under Electronic Storytelling, Gaming, When New Meets Old

When we all write, does the reader lose?

Authorial responsibility has been increasingly decentralized by the collective manipulation of media parameters. Whereas this encourages a sense of freedom for those exposed to such narratives, participation in narrative realization and a lack of interpretative dislocation can actually impair a reader. To demonstrate how excessive mediation can liberate or limit an audience, this article will compare how William Blake’s “The Fly” and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas differently enable and disable the authority and agency of storytellers and readers.

Abstract from Jon Saklofske’s Thoughtless Play from the 2007 edition of Games and Culture…begging the question, can a group of people write a (good) novel? Their sure seem to be a lot of ways to go about doing it.

1 Comment

Filed under A Culture of Participation, Electronic Storytelling, Gaming

Does the attention economy create an attention crises?

Things get more interesting when we realize that our attention crisis is not only our problem. It is also a big problem for news sites, blogs, search engines and online retailers. Our scarcity of attention hurts their economics. The web sites that contain content relevant to us have a big incentive to make sure that we find it. Consider this scenario. You navigate to a news site and start reading the headlines. What is the likelihood that you leave if you see an irrelevant headline? High. Another example. You go to Netflix and look at movie recommendations. What is the likelihood that you will stop browsing after Netflix shows you a movie you do not like? Again, very high.

Read The Attention Economy: An Overview from the Read/Write Web. Previously from WNM: Goldhaber’s “Attention Economy,” Attention Analytics, RSS pattern recognition and Lessig describes the “Economies of Culture”

Please contribute to the “Attention Economy” article at the Whats New Media Wiki

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogosphere, Business 2.0, Electronic Storytelling, Productivity, Technology, our Mirror, User generated content

Not ‘everyone’ can write a great novel

Students at the UK’s De Montfort University in Leicester have joined forces with Penguin to launch a “novel wiki.” The project, which will run throughout the month of February, is designed to see if thousands of users can do as good a job at creating a fictional narrative as they can at describing the Jetsons. Several days into the project, it sadly (and predictably) looks like they cannot.

Read this article from Ars Technica

Leave a comment

Filed under A Culture of Participation, Electronic Storytelling, Wiki

Does hypertext fiction have a ‘real’ audience?

Despite continued interest from the academy and creative writers, the question remains as to whether ‘ordinary’ readers, used to the conventions of print narratives, can enjoy hypertext fiction. Since each hypertext fiction interface is more or less idiosyncratic, readers can be discouraged by unfriendly interface designs. Radically re-structured narrative forms can also cause confusion for readers. Critical works and empirical research from literary studies and interface design provide clues towards a better understanding of the effects of hypertext fiction upon readers, and knowledge from both fields can be productively merged in empirical studies of hypertext. This article provides a methodological specification, and a summary of findings from my ongoing study of readers’ responses to a range of hypertext fictions and their interfaces. Though there are barriers to reading pleasure, these can be overcome, and there is evidence that hyper text fiction can be as engaging and enjoyable as fiction in print.

Abstract from James Pope’s A Future for Hypertext Fiction from Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Leave a comment

Filed under Electronic Storytelling