The tweet, the whole tweet, and nothing but the tweet: The use of cell-phones and Twitter as innovative story-telling devices

cellphone

A few years ago, five of the ten best selling novels in Japan were written on a cell-phone. Most of them were love stories, and three of them were by first-time authors. The cell-phone novel, or keitai shousetsu as it is known in Japanese, has become a genre all its own. With every new technological innovation that improves upon our daily lives – like the ability to contact people wherever you are, or to share thoughts and opinions with complete strangers – there are creative interpretations that develop alongside the utility of the technology. The typewriter improved upon the old pen and paper method of writing, and the word processor improved upon the typewriter, making the task of writing long manuscripts easier and faster than ever before. The cell-phone changed the way we communicate with one another, and the smart phone has further increased our capacities for communication. The use of a cell-phone to write stories, rather than a computer, is a formal innovation in story-telling – the result of having an accessible piece of technology that can go virtually anywhere. This deviation of use has led to the composition of novels on the go. Users of other digital platforms, like Twitter, have also found alternative uses of the social media platform. Several authors, well-established and not, have tapped out novels in bursts of 140-character tweets. The way we tell and experience stories is in flux, and digital devices are providing a platform and a catalyst for these changes. This paper will explore the use of digital devices as a means to create formally-dictated stories, with a focus on the Japanese cell-phone novel and the Twitter novel.

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