Storyweb - a proposal to the literary community on the WWW.

And that means you!


Surfing the WWW, I have come upon a number of collective literary projects inspired by the possibilities of hypertext. For instance a hypertext novel written by whoever happens to pass by and contribute a bit. Or collective poems - add a line, if you like - or the longest sentence on earth. Most of these experiments I found rather disappointing, because they were just games, or tried to adapt old forms - like the novel - to the new media. But a novel is a novel, and part of what makes a novel is that it is written by a single person.

The project I propose is something much simpler, but much more appropriate for the WWW. I would like to call it Storyweb, and I think the name reveals the whole idea. A web of stories - stories in the broadest sense - around the whole world. Or is it really so simple?

It should work like this:

It begins with a single text I have placed on my homepage. You can find it at this URL: 6billion.htm. If you pass by and read it, and it appeals to you in some way, I invite you to react to it. You are invited to create a text that in some way relates to my text. That is the only requirement your text has to meet: to relate in some way to my text. It can be a contradiction or an affirmation, an example or something my text has reminded you of. But anyway it should be a thought that has been triggered by reading my text. It could be a direct answer - although this would make it more difficult for others to relate to your text. For this of course is the essence of the whole project: that others are invited to relate to your text in the same way as you did to mine. And so on. And so on. Your text can be a poem or a short story or a haiku or some other form. (Why of course, it could also be artwork of some sort) Only it should not be too long. If you contribute a novel, readers might loose the feeling of moving in a web of texts by a community of writers. Your text can be any language you like. But if possible, you should provide an English translation. And if it's in English, you might provide a translation into some other language.

 When you have created your text, you will place it on your homepage and send me an e-mail to inform me of the fact. Or if you don't have your own homepage you will send the text to me by e-mail and I will place it on my homepage. I will then create a link to your text using the title you propose. And then the process can begin anew with your text. You will create links to the texts that relate to your text, and you will place contributions of homepageless authors on your homepage. After a while, there will be many stories to read, many threads to follow, many texts to relate to. Of course you are invited to contribute at different stages of the growing web.

 Each text should be placed on its own page.

A page that is part of storyweb should contain the following:

The page may also contain a link to the authors personal homepage, and special links to other parts of storyweb the author thinks relate to his/her text (but this sort of link should be used very sparingly). Storyweb pages shouldn't contain any other links.
If you like, you can use the sample page as a template. Maybe this makes things easier, I don't know. But maybe you will want to make your page look much better than this.

Everybody who is interested in the storyweb project is invited to:

Participants especially might wish to direct readers of their homepages directly to their own contribution in storyweb. No problem. But contributors should also create links to other parts of the storyweb they find interesting and to the storyweb homepage. So after a while there can be many, many doors into the storyweb.

So who says this won't be just some sort of glorified newsgroup? Well, this depends entirely on you. Just contribute something worth while. And if you really think the next person who wants to link their story to yours just wrote absolute crap - well no one can make you link your story to theirs. It will be your responsibility not to accept crap, but not to censor controversial material either. Contributors should bear in mind that this is not a discussion group. Each text, although relating to the previous one, should be a work of art in its own right and something worth while to be kept on the web for more than just a couple of months.

 Martin Auer, April 3,1996


Start surfing the storyweb