distributed narrative

By Jill Walker


An overview of my research on distributed narratives.


This essay is published as part of jill/txt and is written by Jill Walker.

ISSN: 1502-8003

Last modified
23 Mar 2005 13:49

Written and published with Tinderbox.

In 2004 I started researching distributed narratives. I'm in the early phases of the project, still searching for the concepts and questions that will help us to understand this phenonemon. Here is an extract from the first abstract I wrote about distributed narratives:

Distributed narratives don't bring media together to make a total artwork. Distributed narratives explode the work altogether, sending fragments and shards across media, through the network and sometimes into the physical spaces that we live in. This project explores this new narrative trend, looking at how narrative is spun across the network and into our lives.

This page tracks my progress on the project.

Blog posts

You'll find all my blog posts about this research in the category of my blog that's called "Contagious, memetic, distributed".

I bookmark relevant links at del.icio.us, using the tags viral and distributed. I mark research papers that are relevant to the project with the tag distributed at CiteULike.

Papers and presentations

"Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks". Forthcoming in Consalvo, M., Hunsinger, J. and Baym, N. (eds.) The 2005 Association of Internet Researchers Annual, Peter Lang, New York. This paper begins to explore distributed narratives, giving lots of examples and beginning to find ways of discussing them as a group. It started as a presentation at AoIR 5.0, September 2004. I also gave a version of the talk at Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen in November the same year. The 10 page version (PDF) of the paper is the closest to the article that will be published in the AoIR annual, though it will be revised a little. There's also an earlier 20 page version (PDFs) and there's a web version of the powerpoint slides I used at AoIR.

"The Perils of Fiction". Talk given at InterMedia, University of Oslo, November 2004. Web version of slides and notes is available. Here some of the same examples are discussed, but from a different angle, using Foucault's ideas about the author function.

"Pattern Recognition: Reading Distributed Narratives". This paper is in progress, and will discuss ways in which distributed narratives have implicit connections, signally that there is more to be found and inviting readers to keep searching. (Spring 2005)

"Feral Hypertext: Emergent Connections and Hypertext Literature." (Tentative title) Paper to be submitted to ACM Hypertext 2005.


In the autumn semester of 2004 I taught a course on Digital Media Aesthetics that focussed on contagious media, distributed narrative and emergence. The course blog contains a list of assignments given and an outline of what each class meeting dealt with. Most of the material is in both English and Norwegian.


I began my annotated list of email narratives a few years ago, and it's useful for this project as well.