Sunday, February 01, 2009

From yahoos to Yahoo - from Ulysses to UGC

"From yahoos to Yahoo - from Ulysses to UGC - how experimental and innovative literature offers lessons and pointers to the social media future" is the title of the session I'm leading on Tuesday night at Manchester's latest Social media cafe. It's a think-piece rather than an essay, a lecture or a presentation - since I'm positing a number of ideas, and seeing whether they have any validity; ideas 2.0 in other words. Where has the web come from? Yes, we know the internet began as a futureproof military comms network, but the web, and the services that have been built upon it, have been developed by technologists, for use by all, but with the inspiration of a range of archetypes. Is the web based more in the visions of science fiction writers and other fabulists than we think? Our rich literary history provides us with plenty of archetypes that have been and could be applied to the information age. Yahoo! took its name from "Gulliver's Travels" and fantastical literatures such as this are surely archetypes for every type of platform game or virtual environment. Even more appropriately, the 20th century saw the linear narrative exploded in every direction - and can the word games of Borges, Joyce, Stein and the OuLiPo offer us a key to developing the new media of the next few years? In turn... in a richly complex non-linear digital world, will literature respond to the social media and networking aspects of the web? And how do writers change in an information age, writing direct to screen in a text box... creating the live and changeable multi-author narrative of a Twitter stream...

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