narrative spread so thin you didn't even realize it was there

Walker needs to stop tossing around the word narrative. She admits as much:

•"Neither Obey nor Space Invaders uses narratie in the formal sense as defined by narratologists." (p. 14)

• "...if my various self-represenations on the web can be read as a narrative (and that may not be the best descriptive term), ..." (p. 15)

• "Perhaps these aggregated narratives are not true narratives." (p. 17)

Also, some of the stuff she was saying about distributed narratives made me think about sports and politics. These feel like distributed narratives. They are everywhere and they are steady streams of new info and they are self-organizing and they are beyond organization. You get a haircut and talk them and then talk about them in class and then read a newspaper and then see a bumper sticker and then put on a baseball hat and the diverse prevalence extends on and on. There is nothing to resolve. This is the network. This is life.

I'm not the first person to notice that we get the story about these two things in much the same way. History of past accomplishments is privileged. Most political science guys started off with baseball stats. Company men, hacks, and talking heads w/ inside the locker room/beltwallstreetieway have the pulpit. Some CMC kids wrote a fantasy congress game last year (though, as a serious fantasy sports guy, it gets my two thumbs down). Elections are playoffs and then they are horse races. Fans/voters are combative, provincial, self-important, and loyal to a faul. You always have a sneaking suspicion the whole thing is rigged. The members of the security council always win the most gold medals. Scandals are frequent and boring. Keith Olberman is on the tv. Fox/CBS/NBC/ABC rule.

A proposition. This is the same problem I was having in class, and I have been thinking of a more appropriate description. I threw out database in class, but that doesn't really fit. It works for flicker, but is not flexible for much else. If I conceive of the whole world as a database then it makes sense; pulling out like items and forming them into a story is the idea of a blog. But this is a hyperbolic expansion into meaninglessness. It doesn't create a discreet category which as a human is what I like to do.

Right now the best I can come up with, inspired by your politics and sports example, is conversation. So as opposed to distributed narrative, it would be distributed conversation which is sort of implicit in the word. It accounts for the multiple authorship nature of blogs as well the ability to create meaning by shelley's words, or the placement of a sticker.

I am not satisfied however. Any other suggestions?

So I was reading about Justin Hall and I realized we went to school together for 3 years. He graduated from my school in 1993 and I started in 89-90. It's a really small school so that's a huge coincidence. Weird. First Kind of Blue and now this. His pmog site is down right now or I'd link to it but it is basically real life as WOW. Pretty interesting.

Anyways, continuing with the politics idea, are Ron Paul and Barack Obama really that different from Justin Hall? Primary candidates have become distributed narratives with many, many authors and a narrative dispersed over across all sorts of media. It is clear that the candidates themselves have lost a lot of control over their campaign narratives and their public personalities. In Paul's case the online bloggers/commenters/supporters are much more distinctive and forceful authors than the campaign itself. Other times the web doesn't act like campaign authors would expect. This nytimes article is about the ferality of the web as an advertising venue for the campaign narrative:

"But for all the promise of the Web to allow sophisticated microtargeting of messages, it remains to many campaigns a bit of a Wild West where the rules are still being written and politicians by and large are newly arrived settlers."

Webshorts have become as important as stump speeches and online fundraising as important as donor dinners.

In a way campaigns have always been distributed narratives. In the past people in the media and campaigns themselves told the story and now we have more authors through the web. And campaign narratives have always been physically distributed, from stickers to newspapers to rallies to conversations between people.