Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Module 5: Twitter Fiction

Image from the Twitter Fiction Festival, 2015.

      Add a comment to Module 5’s blog post in which you respond to Carla Raguseo’s statement: “Twitter fiction can provide learners with a rich language experience in easily digestible fragments. It challenges them both as readers and as writers to attempt and explore multiple meanings and to develop academic skills such as synthesizing and paraphrasing while fostering structural and semantic awareness in playful experimentation.”
      Live tweet @JessL THREE initial reactions and responses as you make your way through ONE of the three Twitterature readings       


  1. I once took a course in distilled prose -- much more challenging than expected, so I appreciate the effort that goes into Twitter fiction. Ironic to think of the time that must accompany crafting this kind of fragment -- and hard to imagine that the author gets the kudos he or she deserves. While my experience with "Twitter fiction" is limited to this course, I suspect that a "close read" of most Twitter fiction would reveal rich meanings and clever phrasings communicated in the briefest of ways.

  2. Carla Raguseo raises an interesting point in her article, Twitter Fiction: Social Networking and Microfiction in 140 Characters. As an EFL (English as a foreign language) instructor, she believes that Twitter fiction can be used in classrooms to help provide learners with robust examples of the language in short and easy to absorb chunks. At first look, this idea sounds great -- what better way to experience a new language and not be overwhelmed! But, after reading the three assigned Twitter fictions, I realize that the idea is much more well-suited for an individual with intermediate or advanced English skills.

    The three Twitter fictions were all incredibly different, from a stream of consciousness from a fetus, to crowdsourcing objects to a film noir tale. Two of the tale used hashtags that non-native English speakers may have a difficult time following or synthesizing. For example, steampunk featured heavily in Carriger's 'Mysterious Victorian Objects'. Is it a topic that is popular outside of English speaking countries and will readers be able to build their skills on something that they don't understand?

    Raguseo also notes that readers can develop "structural and semantic awareness" by reading Twitter fiction. Can they? With only 140 characters per tweet, grammar and word choices can suffer, but you could also only be viewing one piece in the puzzle. To understand the entire story -- to understand the story as the author intends -- you need all of the puzzle pieces. If an entire story is contained in 140 characters, Twitter fiction can definitely be an excellent learning experience for both native and non-native English speakers.

    Although I want to wholeheartedly agree with Raguseo on her statement, I keep thinking of Claude Monet's artwork. From a distance, the shape of each impressionistic painting takes form and the picture is complete. The closer you come to the painting, the less you see of the whole and the more you see the individual brush strokes and colours. Although beautiful and interesting on their own, you need the context of the whole picture to make sense of the small brush strokes. The same is true with Twitter fiction. Although the tweets are lovely and have meaning on their own, you need to have the entire story to assign context and meaning to the microfiction.

  3. I really thought that Twitter was just a place for “status updates” but this class is teaching me that it is so much more than that. It really is a flexible, global, public, innovative, collaborative space where art & technology are integrated.

    To be honest, Twitter never came to mind when I thought of fiction and I am personally more fascinated by non fiction stories, especially personal development literature. I’m not sure if Twitter Fiction can really provide learners with a “rich” language experience but I concur with the rest of Carla Raguseo’s statement. As Brad Meltzer puts it, twitter fiction is a fascinating exercise because “it really makes you think about what it takes to tell a story.”

    Twitter facilitates “playful experimentation” and allows for communication, in real time, between a variety of readers and writers from all over the world. I also think that the Hashtag is a great way to organize and manage information. I appreciate the well designed, bite size tweets and I don’t want to miss out on this creative experience. Thus, I’ve started following those of interest to me such as Six Word Stories and Complete The Tweet.

  4. Before our class, I had honestly never heard of Twitter fiction. Researching and reading our modules, Twitter fiction is actually fascinating. It can be so diverse, and engaging. From the interview with Brad Meltzer, he’s quoted by saying “Everything can be an art form”. Who knew that Twitter can be part of literature? I’ve always saw Twitter as place a medium for news and updates from people I know.

    I like to separate the question from Module 5 and answer per sentence:

    Twitter Fiction can provide learners with a rich language experience in easily digestible fragments.

    True, Twitter is two the point, no need for useless descriptive and information that wouldn’t matter to the story.

    For people with accessibility issues (reading difficulties/dyslexia) and EFL, it allows them to be engaged, asks them to be fully aware of what they are reading and what it means. Even re-reading the tweet can help them learn the language, and interpret it better. Some languages don’t use as many words to describe to explain an idea. Unlike English which has a lot of confusing words that can be easily miss interpreted. Grammar is important, but it can take a back seat if the point the author is trying to make can be addressed simply and clearly. Grammar is left out of poems a lot of times.

    Twitter Fiction can enable any user to not only read, but also contribute to the story. Creating the reader a chance to add to the story by making them think of the words they wanted to share in the Twitter world. Readers and writers can contribute a free from of poetry.

    Twitter has a profound effect on various social, political, educational and cultural areas globally. Authors and readers, can contribute to the conversation and create a story that can be shared with more than themselves.

    Twitter challenges both the readers and authors to explore meanings of the words and images that were tweeted.

    It challenges them both as readers and as writers to attempt and explore multiple meanings and to develop academic skills such as synthesizing and paraphrasing while fostering structural and semantic awareness in playful experimentation.

    As author @meganabbott’s Noir Tale, asking the public to send in pictures for a story. Any picture or lack of picture can be a challenge, cause there could be anything submitted.

    As a reader, your challenge is your interpretation and contribution to the story. Twitter is a hybrid nature of microfiction – adding pictures, videos as well as texts – the story can be interpreted many ways. Plus, the use of blogs, websites to give the story more background can truly synthesize the fiction.

    Also, twitter can give a chance to make the fictional characters come to life, with their own Twitter account and other Social Media accounts (Facebook). To give the story’s character more depth. List can be made to make it easier to find stories later on, like an online library.

    Twitter can be fun, it’s open to a vast audience where anyone can contribute and collaborate. There are not beginnings and endings with Twitter fiction. There are so many interpretations and stories that can be made on Twitter, the literature is endless. The learning is endless.

  5. Many see Twitter fiction as a constraint on traditional literature, the blocking of artistic freedom and diminishing of the bigger picture needed to tell a story. But really, did Proust need 4,215 pages to tell In Search of Lost Time?

    There are several reasons why I agree with Raguseo's statement. Firstly, the overuse of idioms, cliches and metaphors juxtaposes the real conversations had between people creating content for the sake of content and not meaning. Twitter fiction actively denies the poster of engaging in this practice by its very nature. Furthermore, Twitter fiction develops both writer and reader skills by both experimenting with language and identifying structural possibilities. Lastly, experimentation is inherent in literature.

    Melissa Terras, a professor of Digital Humanities at University College London, says that every literary medium has some kind of constraint, and Twitter is simply the latest restriction.

    “It’s the role of literature to play with forms,” she said. “In poetry you have very rigid forms, and people have to operate within those constraints. With Twitter fiction, people are taking the limitation of 140 characters and doing something creative. It’s a slightly different art form and it creates a different experience of fiction.”

  6. I admit that as someone who is terrible at picking up other languages, I'm probably not the right person to judge what tools and tricks might help. But I would guess that it would be difficult for early beginners to understand the nuances within the language that can often hold a world of meaning behind a seemingly simple 140-character story.

    However, for more advanced language learners, this could be exactly the sort of tool to help, if they are at that stage of learning about such nuances. At the same time, there remains a structure to these stories as writers refrain from using unnecessarily wordy descriptions. By reading Twitter fiction and comparing it with other types of fiction like short stories and novels, this could be an excellent tool for distinguishing between types of descriptions and stories.