Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Crowdsourced Stories

I had an idea a few weeks ago whilst reading this article over at Lifehacker, taking inspiration from NaNoWriMo and my own lack of motivation to do any writing over a few pages, I thought about different ways of sharing and recreating new information and narratives. I'm a big fan of grassroots internet-lead creations, which is one of the reasons I like ARGs so much and I love the idea of bringing disparate minds together to throw up something new, shiney and hopefully not too covered in puke.

So, I decided to crowdsource a story. Crowdsourcing originated in business, where, instead of outsourcing labour to third parties, the company would spread the labour over a group through an open call. I am hoping to use a similar technique to see what we can create in terms of narrative.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be writing the first two or three paragraphs of a story. I'm not 100% on what it will be like yet, I'm not a very talented writer, but I hope to just introduce one maybe two characters and set a scene. Then I will upload this story to a USB drive in a word document, and include another document with instructions. Then I will place the USB drive in a clear plastic folder, include a paper copy of the electronic instructions and then I will leave it in a public place.

The instructions will ask the indivudual who finds it to contribute their ideas to the story and tag them onto the end of my first few bits. I will also ask them to check in here, tell us a little bit about themselves and what they will be writing. When they are done I hope they will again put the USB in a plastic folder with the note and put it back out into the world. I am hoping that eventually we will have a decent story going and at some point we may be able to judge the narrative to be finished, have reached a decent conclusion and we can look at what we have.

If nothing happens, noone finds it or the trail just goes cold then so be it. But I'm excited about it! I'll announce where I've dropped it on Twitter and on here, with a hope that this will stimulate someone to go and pick it up. More news to follow!

There are a few problems I can forsee:

1) Police, seeing a mysterious package on the roadside, will destroy the USB in a controlled explosion.
2) Naughty people may find the USB and upload malicious programs to it, like viruses and trojans.
3) The USB will be picked up by someone, wiped and used as their own personal USB.
4) Absolutely nothing will happen, noone will find the USB drive and it will all fail - I will be discovered years later in the gutter outside a club in soho, choking on a kebab wailing about how I invented the internet.

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