Tweet Fiction

The following eleven-minute TED Talk by Andrew Alexander combines two of my great interests: 1) story-telling and 2) changes in information technology. In particular, Alexander, a writer, founder of the Twitter Fiction Festival, and member of the News and Journalism Parternship team at Twitter, talks about what is happening to how we tell stories in the age of social media. His particular interest, not surprisingly, is the diverse ways that Twitter has been used to share fiction. From a collection of Tweets from the perspective of various characters that ultimately explain the events of a person’s death (a twist on the classic mystery) to a literary fiction piece released by the New Yorker one tweet at a time, something is happening with the way we think about and tell stories.

This isn’t new, of course. As Alexander points out, each discovery of a new means of communication and information technology plays with and shapes how we tell stories. From the serialized stories of Charles Dickens to the radio dramas of the thirties, we keep reinventing fiction because to be human is to live in, with, and under stories.

I’ve heard of experiments like those Alexander describes when it comes to the faith as well – tweeting each chapter of the Bible as a discipline by which to read the story through a fresh lens, or re-telling the nativity story via social media.

As earlier writers discovered, for instance, with the Elizabethan Sonnet, the discipline of the medium (in Twitter’s case, 140 characters or less) demands an exercise in creativity that can yield surprising and sometimes inspiring results.

And, given my discipline, I’ve wondered what it would be like to Tweet sermons rather than preach them. Trying to convey the essence of a message in such a short space might yield a greater punch just the way micro-fiction forces storytellers to feature only what really matters.

In any event, I’d be interested in your experiences with the changing nature of fiction and story-telling and ideas about how to harness them to share our faith.

Note: If you are receiving this post by email, you may need to click here to watch the video.