Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Literary Form and Document: The Cell-Phone Novel

There is an article in The New Yorker, “I ♥ Novels,” about the popularity of cell-phone novels in Japan. In addition to literary works, these stories have a documentary function:

The stories are like folktales, perhaps not literally true but full of telling ethnographic detail. “I suppose you can say keitai shosetsu are a source of data or information—the way they use words, how they speak, how they depict scenes,” Kensuke Suzuki, a sociologist, told me. “We need these stories so we can learn how young women in Japan commonly feel.”

These works are shaped by the technologies and networks they use. Some, built up through social networks, are published as printed books; but the form of these paper books is influenced by the original digital form of the work.