A New Age of Literature (#7)

The advancement of technology has given us new tools to work with in all forms of life and culture, and literature is no exception. Digital literature includes platforms such as eBooks, websites, and blogs, but even social media platforms like Facebook can be used to share stories with others, and without the need for a professional publisher.

Particularly with the advancement of social media, I would argue that there are multiple mediums in which to share stories. Social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram can communicate stories through the use of images, and with little to no words involved. People have been telling stories this way for years, just like the First Nations peoples did with their totems. You can also combine these platforms into creating powerful narratives, using a combination of words and images to make a story even more impactful.

There are digital platforms that allow you to share your story orally as well. Youtube is a great example of this. You can record yourself telling stories, self-publish them, and share them with a large amount of people. However, this way of storytelling is different still from traditional storytelling, where someone is able to change their telling of the study (MacNeil). In the case of Youtube videos, it is like publishing a literary work, in that once it is published it remains (virtually) unchanged, or cannot be changed as easily as traditional storytelling can.

Hypertext is also a ‘digitized’ form of another type of literature or piece of writing – that of interactive stories. Perhaps you remember the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books from your younger days. These books required you to read through a passage and then flip to a certain page depending on what you want your next actions to be. This allows the reader to have even more involvement with the story, and in a way they are able to shape the story themselves. They still do not know what their choices will bring (unless, of course, you opted to read the choice passages beforehand and chose the path you found most desirable), so a story is still being told to them, but they simply have more interaction now and a greater sense of control. ;Through the use of hypertext, this same form of storytelling can be brought in the form of digital literature. Sometimes hypertext may just be used in a posting like this one, where the reader can make a decision about whether they want to delve further into the literary work or not, or sometimes it can be used like in the interactive fiction books, where one is immersed within the pages of the web to follow through a story with many clicks and page changes.

I believe these two aspects of digital literature have positive impacts on literature and stories. They allow more people to communicate easily and through multiple mediums as well.  More readers and listeners can be reached, and this can allow a single story to spread very far – one that would probably not be able to otherwise. And that could be a very sensational story indeed.


Works Cited

Croom, Kukhautusha. Visual Literature. Digital image. Morementum. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2016.

Jerz, Dennis G. “Interactive Fiction: What Is It?” Interactive Fiction: What Is It? N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2016.

MacNeil, Courtney. “The Chicago School of Media Theory Theorizing Media since 2003.” The Chicago School of Media Theory RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2016.

“How to Tell Powerful Narratives on Instagram.” Nieman Storyboard How to Tell Powerful Narratives on Instagram Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2016.

4 thoughts on “A New Age of Literature (#7)

  1. Natasha

    Hi Sylvia!
    I agree with your reasoning behind the positive impacts digital literature can have. It’s great that in these digital spaces like Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Tumblr, we can connect with people all over the world through their stories. My question for you is do you believe there are any negative aspects of how accessible stories are online? One thing that comes to mind for me is how sometimes we can be desensitized to the incredible and/or tragic stories we see in online platforms. When you see stories online everyday ranging from Syrian refugee testimonies, to buzzfeed articles, sometimes the exposure we have to all these stories can seem overwhelming and we can become desensitized by what we see. If you believe there are any negative aspects of digital literature, do you think the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones? Great post!
    – Natasha

    1. SylviaHalpert Post author

      I think it’s great that we have access to all this information so quickly, and how fast we are able to share it and discuss it with each other. Yes we may be desensitized by it quicker but it is not like this effect is no existent with newspapers or even word of mouth. Some things you would not have heard of until the next day or even few days after. I think stories become more personal as well — we hear from people who are actually experiencing the things that are happening in the world and we may in fact feel closer to them as a result and feel the impact the event has on the world.

  2. Linda McNeilly Purcell

    Hi Silvia,

    I enjoyed reading your blog post, and I found the link you posted to Instagram particularly interesting. I have a few thoughts that I would like to share to expand on what you have said.

    You mention that some YouTube videos are a digital form of oral storytelling. I agree, because whether an oral story is told face-to-face or through an online video, the storytelling involves much more than just the words that are spoken. Included in this is the tone of voice, the hand gestures, the setting, and other factors. The nonverbal component of storytelling makes up a large percentage of the difference between written and oral storytelling, and has a huge impact on how the story is perceived by the viewers. In written stories, the words are on the page, and can be interpreted differently by different people, but still the words are on the page. As you mention, digital oral stories, once released, remain virtually unchanged. I would like to add to this, that they still contain the non-verbal impact of oral stories, and in this way straddle the line between oral and written storytelling.

    Regarding your point about creating powerful narratives through Instagram. This is certainly true, and is another form of storytelling. However, there are many different forms of storytelling. For example, the composition of this course is revolutionary, and the format is a form of digital storytelling. Each of us tells our story of how we respond to the weekly readings and weekly assignments. Each of us has a different experience, and as a result when we read each other’s posts we receive a much broader understanding and appreciation of the works we are studying. The addition of hyperlinks and images adds to the stories we tell, and expands our message, as does our comments to each other. In some ways the hyperlinks are akin to the nonverbal component of oral storytelling. I look forward to reading more of your posts, and interacting with you online.


  3. ChristyLi

    Hi Sylvia!
    I agree on your view that social media has taken storytelling to a whole new level. I especially like your point on the difference between traditional and modern storytelling. Your opinion on the hypertext is also inspiring as I have neglected the existence of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book. You have also mentioned in your blog that both Instagram and Snapchat conveyed stories, though Snapchat may contain only very limited words. In my opinion, Snapchat may be able to convey a part of story, yet I doubted its effectiveness in delivering a complete story. Therefore, I wonder what is your view on Snapchat (or other social media that only allows limited use of words) in the ability of conveying stories.

    Thanks for the inspiration! I enjoyed reading your entry


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