Blog Post

Digital Storytelling, pt. II: The Dramatized User

A couple/few days ago, I discussed some past research that I've done about digital storytelling, specifically that as more control of the elements of the character and story are handed over to the user that the role of the story creator is increasingly diminished to something resembling the role of God in Descartes' view of the universe: someone that sets the basic ground rules and then steps back with minimal intervention.

For this post, I wanted to talk about the research that I'm doing right now for my thesis that is something of an extension of my older work.  Within the realm of virtual reality (which I consider to be not just 3D immersive worlds like Second Life but also the whole of the interactive Web that encourages users to form meaningful relationships with others, such as Facebook), users have taken to dramatizing their online lives in the same ways that the physical reality or narrative is dramatized.

Without recreating my entire thesis here (lord knows that I work on it incessantly so I'd prefer to just scratch the surface here), the basic idea takes Kenneth Burke's pentad of dramatism, which consists of act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose.  Users across the Internet, be it on Second Life, World of Warcraft, Facebook, or Twitter, are dramatizing their lives and I've found numerous instances of online happenings that fulfill Burke's pentad of dramatism.

The overall goal of the thesis is to add the virtual reality to the list of 8 realities as established by William James and James Chesebro.  And to be honest, I'm just now wrapping up my literature review so I don't really have any conclusions to share with you all here, but rest assured, whenever I establish my findings, the HASTAC community will be the first to know.





Your reference to people dramatizing their lives via new social media platforms reminded me of David Foster Wallace's parodied concept of "found drama" in Infinte Jest.  Here is a quote that captures part of his satirical point of view:

"A few people are randomly selected, and whatever happens to them in a set period of time
constitutes the 'drama'" (1028).

I only share this because I think Wallace's satire is funny, I am not making a comment on your specific research.



 I like that you're moving here:

"Kenneth Burke's pentad of dramatism, which consists of act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose."

I keep feeling that there are Aristotelian rules still at play, but in fractal forms.

Hope to hear from you again.