Social media has changed the face of storytelling. Characters, real and fictional, tell their stories in 140 characters or less on Twitter; filmmakers have found storytelling outlets in YouTube and Vimeo; stories are told on blogs, through all sorts of media from text to photos to news clippings, on Facebook walls and beyond. E.A Marciano, a Brooklyn-based writer, has turned to these channels to tell the story of four Brooklynites in The Hyp Replacement, an experimental literary project told through Twitter, Tumblr, Blogspot and YouTube. I had the opportunity to speak with Marciano to find out more.
Before we get to my interview with the brains behind The Hyp Replacement, let’s take a quick look at what the project is. The Hyp Replacement is about four characters—Yaya, Sandy, Eloise, and Sol. The characters all live in the same brownstone in Brooklyn and each character tells his (or her) own story through a different social network. Yaya is on Twitter, Sol is on YouTube, Sandy is on Blogspot and Eloise is on Tumblr. Longer text posts of “narration” tie the characters together.
Marciano explains, “They struggle to find love, careers, and fulfillment of destiny. Eventually they work together to each establish their small businesses and together a business that’s not all together legal – starting an underground Amsterdam style Marijuana coffee shop. Love, sex, adventure, and hilarity ensue.”
The story takes place in 2010, but Marciano started telling the story on January 1 of this year. The story is told through chapters that are released on an almost daily basis. I asked him what inspired him to embark on the project. He told me, “After reading a New Yorker article back in 2008 about the unique success of Japanese cell phone novels and getting more involved in blogging culture in general, it occurred to me that producing/writing some kind of multimedia online based story was desperately in order.”
The Social Networks
As I mentioned, Marciano has started telling the story using Twitter, Tumblr, Blogspot and YouTube (he’s hoping to add Facebook and others to the mix as the story grows). I asked him why he chose these for to start. He old me, “I feel each reflects a compelling range of approaches and personality types to online sharing.
“Twitter is rapid, condensed, spontaneous, and fragmented. It has the potential to express huge moments in the fewest words and I feel it’s an especially compatible social medium for an urban blogger.
“Tumblr is light on text and instead allows users to express themselves in a visually rich manner.
“Blogspot is like the grandpa of blogging. The platform is less flashy and a bit more ponderous to use. I feel like it still attracts an older variety of bloggers who enjoy publishing food, music, travel and news related posts. They tend to be more text heavy and are especially conducive to the raw, unedited, aggressive rants that were largely associated with first generation bloggers.
“Lastly, YouTube. I mean, who isn’t making videos these days? It’s an incredible force that allows for the widest range of weird and awesome. Since I picked up a Flip Cam I thought it would be really fun to have a character who was into amateur filmmaking and who was into traveling around NYC in order to ‘capture’ its ‘essence’ so to speak.”
Since the characters in The Hyp Replacement are all on their own various social networks I asked Marciano about whether or not readers could interact with them. He told me that while he’s encouraged people to follow them, people cannot actually interact with them. “As much as I enjoy incorporating the different social media, I really wanted to maintain a certain kind of integrity to the story. The interaction component felt gimmicky in a way I wasn’t ready to embrace. I really liked the idea of the characters existing in these worlds, but also being someone untouchable. It’s like theater to a degree. The audience is right there with the actors, but no one’s rushing the stage to affect change in character development or the course of the play.”
Find out more and start reading the story from the start at TheHypReplacement.com. What’s your take on multimedia storytelling using social media? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.