Virtual Communities and Collective Narratives: From Tokyo to Mercedes, Buenos Aires.

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The spread in the use of blogs, bulletin boards and wikis during the first half of the present decade gave rise to discussions about the possible applications of these emerging technologies to a wide range of collaborative enterprises. From building Internet communities to authoring encyclopedias, or producing collective narratives in the form of fan-fictions, blog-fictions or wiki-novels, users from around the world have been exploring the opportunities for innovation, socialization, and artistic creation brought forth by these collaborative platforms. This paper examines the intersections between two of the most influential collective narratives produced in recent years in cyberspace: Train Man, the Internet story of a 23-year-old geek (otaku) who relies on an online community to reduce his geekiness and find a girlfriend; and A Fat Woman Weblog (Weblog de una mujer gorda), the story of a middle class family from Mercedes, Argentina, as told from the perspective of an Argentine housewife (a fictional character impersonated by HernĂ¡n Casciari). Some of the elements shared by both stories that will be explored in this paper are: 1) the presence of pseudonymic narrative voices using the possibilities afforded by different collaborative platforms to tell a story interactively on the Internet; 2) the spontaneous emergence of a fan community who rallies around each of the characters to animate the progression of the story, and try to negotiate its continuation and possible developments; 3) the creation, over time, of a pop culture phenomenon that goes beyond its original scope to includeprinted books, comics, theatrical plays, TV series, or films. Despite being so distant from one another, both geographically and culturally, these two stories exhibit a number of communalities pointing to the new ways in which a narrative can be produced and appropriated within the context of network society.

(Source: Author's abstract for ELO_AI.

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Audun Andreassen