Web 2.0 and Folklore

While reading “Web 2.0 Storytelling: Emergence of a New Genre,” I couldn’t help but think of Tiger Woods. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard something or other about the Tiger Woods sex scandal online and in the news and attention to his situation has landed full force with his most recent press conference where he apologizes for his “discretions” to his family, fans, and endorsers. In fact, this is only the second time anyone has heard directly from Tiger or his wife about his affairs which is why so many people tuned in to hear him apologize vaguely for wrong doing without actually admitting to anything beyond “cheating.” However, one needn’t go any further than Google to find a bevy of very specific, graphic, and raunchy stories and rumors about what people have charged Tiger with doing. In thinking about “Web 2.0,” isn’t there something about digital story telling that reminds us of the tradition of folklore? Isn’t there also something about folklore that reminds us of the ever pressing and worrisome issue of gossip? Folklore is a tradition spread orally and its stories survive through the verbal telling of them. As the story passes from person to person, it is tweaked and altered during the exchange. Obviously, none of these are exactly ground breaking observations, but the relationship between digital storytelling and traditional folklore seems worth considering. “If readers closely examine a Web 2.0 project, they will find that it is often touched by multiple people, whether in the content creation or via associated comments or discussion areas. If they participate actively, by contributing content, we have what many call social media” (Alexander and Levine). Because these works are created by a multitude of people, it is often hard to determine who or where the information comes from. As you may have noticed during our exercise in creative criticism this week on our class wiki page, we do not know who actually generated the original text. Again, this isn’t anything we don’t already know, but this is one major, and glaring, difference between print and digital literature. Sure, we can cite a website or article from the internet just as we do a print text, but who exactly generated that information and the validity of it is certainly less clear. Even though the digital age seems to be defined and made possible by new digital tools which allow for amazing and complex interactions and interconnectivities to take place, its abilities and limitations seem as oddly primitive as folklore in many ways. Just ask Tiger.

Philip Petrunak


~ by philippetrunak on February 21, 2010.

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