“What makes a good story and how has outstanding of that changed over time?” Is a question raised in a recent article in The Verge by Veronique Greenwood, and one that got me thinking.
We are living in a era that is increasingly being defined by a succession of new technologies used for social interaction. It can be difficult to separate what is in a story from how it is conveyed because;
- We’re in the thick of things here and it’s hard to get a good perspective on history as it is unfolding.
- The form of a story plays a role in how it is told. Think, reading a play instead of watching one.
The form a story takes, more specifically, the way that it is communicated is one that I find interesting when it is compared to the older tales of humanity. For example: The Illiad vs Snowfall. Will this New York Times article sink its hooks into our collective subconscious because the technological delivery mechanism is so relevant and attractive to our tastes? Snowfall is still being referenced over two years after it debuted, which are like dog years in internet time. Will it live on after the environment it was created in is no longer accessible or will the eventual technological obsolescence scrub it from history?
It won’t take a long time to find out. Remember Flash? If you work in the interactive community, you probably do. At one point it was the dominant technological form of communication. I got married way back in the early aughts, and I created a interactive CD (using Flash, of course) as part of our wedding invites. I can’t find a computer old enough that can play it. We have the paper invites, we have film from the wedding it self, but I may never find a good way to share the little experience I built for our guests with our daughter.
Will the things we make be held hostage by the technologies we built them in, or will their be a way to transcend technology? The Illiad has. Look at this timeline:
12th century BC Trojan War.
7-8th century BC Homer composed the Illiad as a poem that is spread in the oral tradition.
The work continued being of great importance throughout the Classical Greek, Hellinistic and Byzantine periods.
10th century AD oldest known manuscript.
1473 reprinted in the English book, “Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye and widely circulated in Europe in Latin translations.
1602 William Shakespeare bases Troilus and Cressida off of the Illiad.
1791 William Cowper prefaces his translation with, “I have omitted nothing; I have invented nothing.”
1870 William Cullent Bryant publishes a blank verse version.
20th century sees several re-publishings and the inclusion in many school curriculums.
2004 Troy, the movie.
This leads me to postulate that technology is just the shell that holds a story for a time, before a new shell can be used. A compelling story should live as long as people are interested in hearing it. I hope.
A few questions to leave you with:
- Are we in a new golden age of myth and folklore?
- Will that great story told in Flash have a life 10 years from now? Or will the message be stripped from the medium, leaving only stories behind.
- What will be the next Beowulf?
- Who will be the next Brothers Grimm?
- What can we do to create content, or spread ideas that have universal appeal and longevity?