This morning I heard about this piece, “The internet is killing storytelling” by Ben Macintyre of the Times from Steve Inskeep of NPR who heard about it from Tina Brown of the Daily Beast.Â I haven’t finished reading it yet but it seems relevant to many of our concerns.Â Hopefully I’ll find time to turn my attention to it later today and post some comments.
The internet is killing storytelling
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Is there a shorter version of this article…maybe just a youtube video or somethin’…no more than 30 seconds tops?
As is often the case, the essay does not come close to living up to the headline. Macintyre even concludes with, “Narrative is not dead, merely obscured by a blizzard of byte-sized information.” Likely, Macintyre did not write the headline.
His points are largely anecdotal but I did find the Microsoft research he threw in (which only obliquely supports his claims) of considerable interest. Reading that “someone distracted by an e-mail message alert takes an average of 24 minutes to return to the same level of concentration” prompted me to turn off my new email alert at work and I did feel an uptick in productivity for the rest of the day.
You would think–if one believes the idea that narrative as a form has been compromised–that poetry would become a kind of perfect form for its ability to combine brevity and meaning and collage of experience. That has largely not been the case, although poetry has been well adapted to Facebook and blogs, email and mobile devices.
I am also intrigued by that factoid about email distraction. I feel that distraction daily. Unfortunately, I feel I work in a deadline-heavy industry where people email and expect a response within the half hour. So the idea of just switching off is difficult.
I’m certainly checking my email at least every half an hour anyway but I am no longer distracted by crap email that “Betty from Development is going to be out for an important meeting this afternoon.”
I agree, it seems like poetry would be the obvious choice for the internet. So why doesn’t it have more of an online presence. It would be so easy to intersperse poetry on side bars sites along side the viral videos. Something like The New Yorker print magazine or even the Harper’s “readings.” Are you hopeful for the future of poetry? I know. Big question. Too easy to ask. But I would love to know your thoughts on this.
Also, where would you direct a person who was interested in reading poetry online? If the answer is, “just fucking google it” that’s fine too.
BTW, just composed a terrible little poem for the ornaments this year. Hope to have them out before Christmas….
J. E.–Already looking forward to that ornament. What a great gift. We will have ours proudly displayed–in a few weeks. I’m definitely not one to get the stockings up before Thanksgiving…
I hope the visit with the Peters is going well.
My quick response is: poetry is really thriving. More books of poetry are being published than ever before, some on very large presses, most on small and university presses, and more and more from very small start ups or book artists. The quality of all of that can be debated, but it does feel like there’s more. The issue is probably that the overall audience for poetry–in terms of book sales, at least–still remains fairly rarified. But I talk to a lot of people who get their dose of poetry from the New Yorker or from Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac or those kind of “passing” encounters. But still, that’s significant. So I remain hopeful.
As for online sources, there are many. The best poetry resources include: poetryfoundation.org, poets.org, and poetrydaily.org.