Retreated to think about social stories

Another long period of silence here on the blog. Reason for silence being, that I have spent May on the beautiful island of Lesbos (courtesy of the University of Agder in Norway) seminaring, reading, thinking and outlining the content for a book, I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, drawing on and expanding on some of the projects and articles I have been involved in the last couple of years. It’s going to be a book about the relationship between (software) design, aesthetics and sociality, and how these three aspects in each their way form what I call social stories, ie the simple narratives that we publish on social media sites and in other online venues about our personal experiences (and here I include experiences from both the offline and online worlds, we move in ). 

I want to explore further why we tell stories in these “public” venues, how interaction design and aesthetics (in a broad sense) influences how and which stories are told, what the stories are about, what their function are and finally what some possible generic structure for these stories look like. I will also try to argue that we might want to reconsider what the concept “interactive story” means – perhaps it is not so interesting to talk about the structural interaction with the story anymore, rather I propose we study how people interact in response to the stories told.  In a sense,  I guess you can say, that Im trying to develop a “social narratology” (a concept inspired by an article by Mariana Valverde from 1991, she however uses it in an entirely different context, ie the sociology of law).  

So far, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how to visualise the proposed relationship in some form of model. Currently, it looks like this:

A model for understanding social stories:

social stories model

© Lisbeth Klastrup, 2009

I know it needs to be explained much further (which it will be in the book), but if you read this, I’d really appreciate any comments you might have at a first glance. Does it make sense at all?

How do I theoretical approach this? At the moment, I have started to look more closely at theories about the relationship between sociality and media (and how they shape each other), narrative psychology and social psychology, as well as social identity theory. I will also be looking at the narrative structure of soap operas and autobiographical narratives, and finally Im trying to dig out relevant theory on the design of social interaction in digital media.  Luckily, I have been granted a month’s stay at the San Cataldo retreat in Italy in all of June, so expect get through a lot of reading and writing while there. I’ll keep you posted…

 PS.  Actually, I havent been that silent: instead, as a form of experiment in visual communication, I’ve been keeping a (publicly available) photo diary on Facebook for that last month or so.


jeremyMay 20th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I’d recommend On Justification by boltanski and thevenot, which discusses how we justify, but hinges on questions of social stories. There is also the book Modern Social Imaginaries. Most of what i read in this stays away from questions of identity and psychology and constructs things from the social and political.

Jan SchmidtJune 11th, 2009 at 10:25 am

Looking at social-web-practices as social stories is a very interesting perspective. The heuristic model/triangle makes sense to me – I wonder, however, where you’d locate the notion of “audience” in it (and for that matter, comcepts like “public” or “publicness vs. privacy”? One could argue, for example, that there are different ways to tell stories, like conversation [networked conversation?] or proclamation, and this ties not only to different topics and sites, but also to different (imagined?) audiences.

Andrea MameliMarch 21st, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I’m very interested on this book. May you informe me on?
We can also organize a presentation in Sardinia (Italy).
Let me know, please. Andrea Mameli –

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