Final project proposal: a hypertext work of my friends' and family's stories


One of my favorite writers, Ken Wilber, once said: "We move from part to whole and back again, and in that dance of comprehension, in that amazing circle of understanding, we come alive to deep meaning, to value, to vision." This way of viewing the world--in an integral fashion--resonates with me both in how I approach life and in my scope of media studies; to understand the parts you must know the whole, and vice versa. I would like to apply this philosophy to my final project through a work of hypertext storytelling.
Everyone has a story (or a few) that is so uniquely unique that it defines each person's very self-identity. I want write a work of hypertext lit that weaves together the hilarious/sad/unbelievable/incredible/heartbreaking/profound/whatever stories of my family and friends. My project ties to media theory in three ways:

1. My project will enact Michael Joyce's hypertext medium . . . and ideally I will plan it out in an engaging and navigable way. I am thinking of using a previous work of hypertext lit, The Unknown, as my inspiration. I like how this piece incorporates a map--I really want to do something like that, therefore I'll have my stories rooted in geography, as well provide a familiar mode of orientation for my readers.
2. I plan to explore Walter Ong's idea of orality vs. literacy. All of the stories I've heard have been communicated to me verbally, and I plan to transfer them to a textual form. This signifies a shift in audience and basic meaning of the stories--my summary will touch upon that difference.
3. The most underlying media theory connection to my final project is Guatarri's idea of the machine: the set of interrelations of the components. This idea evokes the integral and holistic nature of Wilber's philosophy and redefines the machine. My project will in fact create a machine that is constituted by the interrelation of my friends' and family's stories.

** I am not sure yet how exactly I will construct my hypertext, but if anyone has suggestions, I would love to hear them!

I'm assuming many of these stories will be personal. Will real names be used?

I really like this idea. I think it will be both academically and emotionally fufilling for you. While reading your proposal, I keep thinking about our class wiki and the connections between our lives.

In your critical paper, you may want to incorporate Michael Joyce's ideas of topographical writing and how the audience can become authors of their own learning by creating their own linkages to the stories. ***In what ways could their experiences with the stories be different from your own?

I agree that this is a great project idea, and that creating a hypertext out of the kinds of stories that you describe will provide both a fascinating glimpse into the intertextual ways that our identities develop and a pragmatic way of investigating the theoretical ideas behind hypertext. You will, of course, want to change the names and details to protect the innocent (and the not-so-innocent), and you'll want to think very hard about whether there are any of the stories that simply shouldn't be posted online at all. As to tools... there are various software packages out there, like StorySpace and TinderBox, that will allow for relatively simple hypertext creation (though StorySpace is a bit dated, at this point). Let's talk some about this!

Very cool. It sounds like a sort of memoir of society, rather than just of one individual. This has the potential to be a very moving text. Your use of character will be interesting. Traditional stories that follow an individual or a small group of individual relies on making the reader grow emotionally attached to the characters -- to sincerely care for their wellbeing enough that the plot creates an emotional response in the reader. What happens when stories are constantly crossing paths, changing characters, changing narrators, etc.? I would be interested to know how you plan to deal with that. Some solutions might also work around the issue of character privacy. For example, a character might have to be unnamed for continuity's sake, but this also avoids breaching anonymity.

I doubt you'll have any shortage of stories, but I've got plenty if you want to hear them. As do we all, for that matter.