Had Digital Technology made us better at storytelling? – Alexander Lewandowski

When asked this question, my first answer was decidedly ambiguous. From my personal perspective, the answer is a definite yes, but then my mind remembered the dark recesses of the internet where I had once accidentally crawled, the parts filled with hordes of Sonic, yes, as in the hedgehog, fan fiction ranging from flavors of decent to terrible. This made me rethink my answer. Is digital storytelling making these people better storytellers by giving them a platform and fans to read their work?

At first glance, the answer is no. In most circles outside its niche, Sonic fan fiction is not highly regarded as good literature, and few outside the circle admittedly read it. But as I thought more about it, I began to decide the answer to be yes. Digital storytelling gives Sonic fan fiction writers, and fan fiction writers in general, a platform to initially host their work, and in this case, that is everything. One of the best ways to become a better writer is to simply write, and allowing these people to create their material with the help of a popular franchise and an online distribution platform (complete with fans and even a helpful critique here and there), causes them to keep writing, and in the process, improve both their skills and confidence while doing so. For some fan fiction writers, this process continues until they become comfortable enough to leave the realm of fan fiction and begin creating their own prose, one that is already bolstered by the skills they learned in their previous writing.

Without digital technology, many of these writers likely would have given up or simply never written anything in the first place, and writing and improving one’s storytelling is simply better than not writing or improving at all. Even if only 10%, 5%, or a measly 1% of these fan fiction writers go on to produce original content, we are still left with better storytelling than if we were without. This scenario extends beyond to any kind of digital storytelling imaginable, and in my opinion, the improvement it brings benefits us all. 

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2 thoughts on “Had Digital Technology made us better at storytelling? – Alexander Lewandowski

  1. meaganmthornton January 22, 2015 / 5:31 am

    I’m not a particular fan most fan fiction. Most of what I’ve seen has been some form of sexual-based fantasy (like a conversation I had with a friend about some fanfic she was reading about a sexual relationship between Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakinshield . . . as if . . . Bilbo doesn’t have a proper beard like dwarven women!).

    While we may disagree on whether fan-fiction is good storytelling, you bring up a very good point that the technology does give people the opportunity to flex their creative muscles and write. Maybe what they are writing isn’t very good, but perhaps it would lead to something good.

    Hopefully it won’t be another “50 Shades of Grey”.

    – Michael S. Webster

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  2. meaganmthornton January 25, 2015 / 4:18 am

    Fan fiction is certainly a genre unto itself. I will not be checking out the Bilbo, Oakenshield tryst. But I do like the points you are making here about extending access and encouraging people to tell stories. -Meagan

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