Digital Genres

July 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

What are the new digital genres? New lingo is springing up — “cross-platform” or in the phrase that shows up no where in Google, so that must mean I coined it (not saying I did, just that Google can’t find it — “re-sourcing digital content”, by resourcing digital content, I mean that when an artist or author creates digital content, how do you use that resource.   Each digital publisher needs a Digital Resource Department that operates like a Human Resource Department — assigning the digital content out to its numerous potential incarnations.  Digital genres aren’t so much new genres as new genres that have the potential to be monetized.

Some Potential Digital Generes:

Interactive fiction: A merging of the gaming genre with the literary world.  Many forms of game have long contained a form of interactive story telling — for my generation, Dungeons and Dragons.

Non-linear fiction: Using hyperlinks to create a non-linear narrative. This genre could easily split into multiple genres — romance, mystery, erotic, literary.   Traditional publishing has gone down the non-linear rabbit hole.   A memorable non-linear text for me was The House of Leaves.  James Joyce at least feels non-linear to me and almost anything by David Foster Wallace proves that footnotes are the print version of hyperlinks.  Poetry is replete with non-linear type images and narratives (thus the success of T.S. Eliot “The Wasteland” App on iTunes) .

Multi-media Fiction:  This seems to be the genre that gets the most attention, but also the one that I think in a way is a little overblown.  Is the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, multi-media fiction because it contains a chapter that is a PowerPoint presentation?  What about DVD extras that include text?  Audio books?  The written or spoken word changed into digital form moves seamlessly across media, that isn’t genre, that is flexibility.

The difference between the artist and the publisher is the publisher’s concern over how to monetize a new digital genre.   The digital world only seems to exacerbate the century old conflict of cash and artistic purity.  Yet, the potential for profitably monetizing artistic efforts in the digital realm that expands your potential market into the millions and billions, you only need a micro-percentage, a relatively small tribe of followers to patronize the artist to artistic freedom.

The palate of digital expression is larger than any artists or writers  have had at their disposal in the history of the earth. The critical question is how do you sell what you do digitally. Where is your audience going to read it — a phone app, on their iPad, Kindle, Nook or computer screen? How are you going to get them to pay for it? I want exciting digital genres, but like any artist, you need to pay attention to your canvas and the gallery where you can sell your wares.

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