How did web storytelling enable the slender man?
Slender man is a great villain because he was the product of a collaborative nightmare. When you write a story, it’s based on what you think is scary in your limited time and experience. When you build a story over the internet with others, man hours can be poured in at no great cost to one individual, and the horrible aspects of the story can be critiqued and refined constantly by a great number of opinions. It’s a process that creates great depth of story that can’t really be replicated by other means.
Take “Secure. Contain. Protect.” For example, it has 1,000’s of user generated entries of paranormal items collected under the guise of a secretive government agency trying to protect the public from them. Anyone can submit an SCP article (which would be an awesome daily assignment by the way), and the best ones get added to the wiki. The stories play off of each other and create a vast and sprawling universe for fans to play in and interact with through submissions. It has also spawned some YouTube shows, here are a few links (I highly recommend the first one, so creepy…):
Do you see it as a new means of storytelling, or traditional storytelling in a new medium?
I think it’s similar to more traditional storytelling from days past, when people would sit around a fire and tell stories. The people listening would add things, and the person telling it would tweak things every time they told it to make it better, scarier, etc. I think internet storytelling is a resurgence of this, just on a much larger scale.
But, the internet also offers new storytelling elements. Such as time stamped dated blog posts, Photoshop, YouTube, forums, etc. In that way, the internet has taken traditional storytelling and added several richer layers of context.
How do you see “digital” as being different in storytelling?
Using the internet to tell a story is similar to a found footage horror movie. It grounds and humanizes the story and characters in a way that makes it more relatable and realistic, and thus more scary. It’s like the Mark Danielewski book “House of Leaves”, in which a guy steals a box of notes out of a dead old man’s apartment and starts piecing together the story of a house with paranormal properties. The pages of the book are made to look like cocktail napkins, notebook entries, or whatever else the old man’s notes were scrawled on. It creates engrossment into what the main character is finding out. I see the digital element of storytelling doing the same thing by adding diverse elements that add texture and context that more traditional means can’t offer.