Friday, September 17, 2010

Trying to tap the idea of a Tweet story

I think it was the John Quincy Adams Twitter feed, created by the Massachusetts Historical Society about a year ago, that first caught my attention. I had been using Twitter as a note-taking/sharing service for several months, but this exposed another interesting application of the service to me: Twitter as a way to tell stories.
Over the next few months, I every so often came across other groups or people trying the platform for storytelling, including the folks at TwHistory, sinking The Titanic again and recounting the 1847 Pioneer Trek of Mormon settlers and recreating Gettysburg. I also since have seen more attempts at this, even from purely fictional (and comedic) directions, such as the recutting of the film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" as a string of Tweets (they also incorporate FourSquare, but that's another blog post).
Anyway, when Dr. Rich Rice's Theories of Invention in Writing course this semester offered me an assignment involving creating a piece of rhetoric to be analyzed, "such as a scene from a movie," I thought this is just the excuse I need to try my own version of TwHistory (I really like that term) and to combine it with my work at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, and the Fort Vancouver Mobile project.
So I have this historical anecdote in hand, dug up by the project's assistant director Jon Nelson. This story, told through a variety of documents generated by different people, is related to the first module of the FVM project, recounting how Hawaiian pastor William Kaulehelehe was contacted and brought to Fort Vancouver in the mid-1800s. My plan is to create Twitter accounts for all of those characters and then tell the story, through their real words, via this modern form, then analyze the rhetoric they used to bring Kaulehelehe from his tropical paradise to this rainy frontier outpost. This all also will be delivered through a node in the Kaulehelehe module of the Fort Vancouver Mobile project, so I might end up creating a Twitter-like service to pull it off, just to give me a bit more control of the output. But we'll see.
To analyze the piece rhetorically, I plan to put together the story and have pop-up bubbles on a Camtasia-like presentation provide commentary on the rhetoric. How does that sound?


Cristopher Broyles said...


Your project about recreating the dialogue/discourse about FVM through Twitter sounds really innovative. It will be an excellent forerunner, I think, to the second project, which involves recreating dialogue in a Plato-esque fashion. I look forward to seeing the end result :)
If you did both dialogues about the same topic, you might be able to do a comparative rhetorical analysis that might serve as a good lesson for your students (if you teach) or perhaps as a workshop presentation; you would have two custom examples that you developed that you could use to explain the discourse similarities and differences between platonic dialogue and Twitter dialogue----plus you’d be “showing” and not simply “telling”---which always helps the listener retain more :-)


Deb said...


Your project sound incredibly creative and impressive! Since this project will require you to make editorial choices though--and your historical figures and documents don't exactly conform to Twitter-speak--it will be interesting to hear about your editing process. What words did you keep at the original length, if any? Why? I would assume there will be vocabulary that may not already have standard Twitter abbreviations, so the creation of new signs or symbols will be interesting as well. I think the rationale that goes into your editing and dialogue process will be as interesting as the project! Can't wait to see it!

Emily Loader TTU said...

Can already envision the bubbles pop ups! Brett, I really appreciate the creative and enlightening idea because our class will have such diversity in deliverables throughout the semester. If you need to post some trials, go for it. I'd love to give feedback.

Rich said...

Twitter as a way to tell stories, indeed. Interesting post. I think the assignment offers you much flexibility to come up with another way of working with the content you've been working on for your dissertation and grant writing work.