NEWORKED No End In Sight: Networked Art as a Participatory form of storytelling

The writer, Marco Deseriis explains the relation between networks and narratives. He claims that success of a network depends on the appeal of the stories it produces. A network is held together by a ‘promise’, readers/members are trying to achieve a certain outcome, they want to reach an ending.

Texts circulating the internet are more malleable than traditional forms like books, plays or films. These texts can change over time and the author loses control over them. A story evolves like the way a storyteller would change a story to suit a particular audience. In a way this brings about the death of the author.

Deseriis lays down three rules of a Networked Narrative, the first being the setup of a conflict, an unresolved situation which he calls the ‘denotative function’. The second, calling the individual to action, to perform a role, this is the ‘performative function’. The third is the laying down of a set of rules/ethics/system of beliefs that must be adhered to (pragmatic function).

Hypertext is text displayed on a computer with references to other text that the reader can immediately access. The reader has to adapt to this new style, they can not skim or skip through passages as they can in traditional forms of text as they have to be aware of what they are reading to ensure they don’t keep meeting the same texts over and over. A solution to this is to become a ‘metareader’, by trying to trace a map of their own reading the reader ‘gains a sense of readership’.

Deseriis goes on to talk about Hackivism and gives some very interesting examples; The Yes Men, TMark, E.toy.com etc. These groups created great projects by hacking into corporate websites and databases and generally causing havoc for the offending companies. The reason they were so successful was because they recruited individuals (drawing them in by using the narrative structure describes above) to carry out tasks en masse.

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