The future of storytelling

I was reading Angela James’ article on epublishing on Romancing the Blog which led me to muse upon the future of storytelling.  Not in the e vs. print sense, but whether professional storytellers of any sort will survive the ever-expanding profusion of free entertainment.

I can spend all day surfing and never throw down a penny past the nominal cost of my weak-ass dial-up connection.  You could argue that there’s value in paying a gatekeeper to pre-screen the monumental loads of hooey to be found out here.  But once you’ve paid $8 plus popcorn a few times to see the mind-numbing dreck on most movie screens, you start to doubt that anybody’s pushing for quality even at the millions of dollars level.

Which wasn’t really my point.  (See?  That’s why you need gatekeepers.)

My musing was actually about what happens to a tribe that doesn’t have common myths at its heart.  By tribe, I mean all humanity.  Would we have common myths like the Great Flood if all of us had been plugged into our own personalized RSS feeds?  Would we have the Bible — and from thence religion — if you could have customized the chapters and printed on demand?

Would it be worse?  Or better?

Maybe it really is just about the gatekeepers.  Instead of the storytellers deciding which myths become common, maybe the listeners decide.  Maybe our written tradition, which sort of ate the oral tradition, will in turn be supplanted by the new viral tradition.  People will make their own myths, and occasionally a few of those myths will catch on.  For a microsecond, anyway.

Maybe nothing is really changing after all.

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