I have a new Flow column up, this time asking a more general question about the role of viral videos and other internet technologies in shaping political discourse. I think that what is most interesting about the column is the discussion of “just-in-time participation” (after Matt Hills’ concept of just-in-time fandom), the idea that political participation on the internet has a temporal rhythm, that viral videos create a brief explosion of activity that fades quickly. I’ve been thinking about these issues quite a bit lately, in part because I’ve been discussing the rhetoric of political videos with my students this semester in my freshman composition class (in a modified version of my Rhetoric and Democracy course) but also because of a couple of longer articles I’m writing on the topic. More later as I begin to get a better handle on those ideas.
Still working on several large projects (including a stack of papers waiting to be graded), but realized I hadn’t updated in a while. In addition to my book project (and the Flow article), I’m revising for a book collection an article I wrote some time ago on the “alternate-reality” films, Run Lola Run, Me Myself I, and Sliding Doors, all of which came out within a year of each other in 1998-99. All three films use concepts of alternate realities (or, to use Brian Greene’s phrase, the multiverse), in remarkably similar ways with regards to their female protagonists. I’m not really interested here in the physics but in how the alternate-reality plots map onto the “database identities” of the films’ major characters. I then try to map those questions back onto the late 1990s debates about the role of digital media in fragmenting film narrative, with Jeff Gordinier (in an Entertainment Weekly article) and Godfrey Cheshire representing two competing versions of that debate. It’s probably a little too much for a 7,000 word article, but I think there’s a lot of interesting material here.