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Chicago-Based Artist Is Crowdsourcing a Novel: Clever Idea or Recipe for Disaster?

Tech 2012/04/29 21:56:51
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Crowdsourcing has brought us some wonderful things: Wikipedia, Urban Dictionary, Threadless, Khan Academy—just to name a few. But a novel written by the Internet? We’re not so sure that’s a good idea.

The Collabowriters, which was conceived and created by Chicago-based artist Willy Chyr, is “an experiment in creating a crowdsourced novel.” To participate, all you have to do is register. From there, you can submit content and vote on what lines should make it into the story. The novel is being pieced together sentence by sentence as users enter submissions (of up to 140 characters) and the rest of the community votes—giving the proposed sentence a score of either +1 or -1.

According to the project’s website, “The submission with the highest score becomes the sentence in the novel, or at least until another submission surpasses its score. In order to proceed to the next sentence of the novel, one of the submissions in the current sentence must receive at least a score of 5.”



Here is an excerpt from the novel so far:

It was a dark and stormy night. Zachary, wet and miserable, had been dispatched by his father to scamper across town to pick up some drugs for his step-mother. From the road, he could see the still frozen river. It was only March but it was starting to melt. In a week, the ice would be gone. The barbed sweet stenches of sewage wafting up between the ice cracks on the canal were arrogantly broadcasting an early spring. From somewhere across the canal, a soft sound was barely audible over the moan of shifting ice and garbage: "Help."

Zachary stopped, at first unsure of what he had heard. But through the sound of the rain, he heard the cry again, this time louder. Apprehensive but curious, he gingerly approached the source of the noise with deliberate steps. Zack found the source of the sound and froze: a two-way radio. While common in the past, batteries hadn't existed for at least two decades. What was something so precious doing in the slush next to the canal? "Jackpot," he whispered.


Hmm . . . it’s no masterpiece but it isn’t completely terrible either. Frankly, we’re curious to see if this book will ever actually be finished. According to Publisher’s Weekly, the median length of a novel is about 64,000 words. So far The Collabowriters have agreed upon around 550. With no word or time limit, the end of this story could be a long time coming.

What do you think SodaHeads? Is crowdsourcing a novel a clever idea or a recipe for disaster?

Read More: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/04/29/would-you-read...

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Top Opinion

  • glass_butterfly ~YSU~ 2012/04/29 22:22:23
    Clever Idea
    glass_butterfly ~YSU~
    +8
    I love anything that brings together creative minds.

    Though the story sounds like the start of something I could have written in the forth grade with my handy-dandy thesaurus (using words like "dispatch" and "scamper" is so unnecessary, sometimes simple is better).

    But as long as they're having fun and don't take themselves too seriously I'm sure nothing but good can come out of multiple minds working on one thing. head nod GIF

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  • KellyKatra 2012/09/28 09:04:47
    Clever Idea
    KellyKatra
    I've played a game like this once with a friend on facebook. It's fun to play, but a novel? As long as people keep adding to it, cool.
  • phil white 2012/09/26 21:53:02
    Clever Idea
    phil white
    This is an interesting idea. It's probably a lot like how folk tales came into being.
    I've seen several instances where the amorphous public improved on catch phrases written by professionals.
    The one that comes to mind is Churchills' "Blood Sweat and Tears" speech.
    As originally delivered it went "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
    The British public used that part as a catch phrase that "went viral" in a 1940's sort of way.
    The mass of the public shortened it to "Blood sweat and tears" which was a significant improvement. Ultimately the people tend to be right.
  • Karl 2012/06/30 04:18:36
    Recipe for Disaster
    Karl
    I don't really know, but it's kinda early to tell. I think the fact that everyone's writing style is different would become a problem after awhile.
  • MorganRae 2012/05/28 17:25:53
    Recipe for Disaster
    MorganRae
    Too many different people, different mindsets. It's not terrible...yet...
  • CookiiCutter 2012/05/24 05:26:53
    Clever Idea
    CookiiCutter
    Awesome!
  • HarleyCharley 2012/05/18 15:04:43
    Clever Idea
    HarleyCharley
    would be interesting....
  • RoyJLores 2012/04/30 23:20:37
    Clever Idea
    RoyJLores
    if done well it could work why not? It's not a new concept though it has been around in internet forums for a while know it is commonly known as Round Robins.
  • Zamboni - Madoka Magica fan... 2012/04/30 22:27:17
    Clever Idea
    Zamboni - Madoka Magica fan BN0
    It stimulates creativity, I suppose. So, yah, clever idea.
  • Bibliophilic 2012/04/30 21:37:35 (edited)
    Recipe for Disaster
    Bibliophilic
    4chan will find it and...it will become crappy. I sort of hope that they do.
  • tommyg - POTL- PWCM-JLA 2012/04/30 20:42:42
    Recipe for Disaster
    tommyg - POTL- PWCM-JLA
    Sounds like maybe someone is to lazy to write it themselves. lol

    Oh, I forgot.....he's an "artist".
  • Omni 2012/04/30 20:05:22 (edited)
    Recipe for Disaster
    Omni
    +1
    Novel sounds really awkward so far. You have a mix of amateurish style and experienced style, leading to this unrefined feeling. For instance, "The barbed sweet stenches of sewage wafting up between the ice cracks on the canal were arrogantly broadcasting an early spring." Arrogantly? That's a really awkward choice of words.

    Adverbs often don't work well in fiction — and that's due to the inexperience of those using them. While writing a report, or at least simple descriptions for an overall non-fiction piece, their implementation can often be successful, regardless of who's straggling them in said composition. But they reek of inexperience when used so childishly in fiction. Not that they can't be used in fictitious work, but it sounds really bad here. Heh, probably due to the fact that they're being imposed by so many people; there's no sense of balance or concord,
  • sglmom 2012/04/30 20:04:48
    Recipe for Disaster
    sglmom
    +1
    Here's my thoughts ..
    This is not his creative vision ..
    this is the creation of others ..
    An Artist should stand alone on their creativity ..
    Not rely on others to produce their product ..
  • Omni sglmom 2012/04/30 20:14:29
    Omni
    +1
    Well, yeah. If he seriously released this story with his name scrabbled down as the author, there'd be a serious issue of creative theft.
  • sglmom Omni 2012/04/30 20:23:58
    sglmom
    +1
    Exactly ..
    (and I'm sure that is in the near future .. he'll put his name on this too ...)
  • Fergie 2012/04/30 19:37:51
    Clever Idea
    Fergie
    I like it :) I'd definitely be curious to read
  • Margaret Jacobson 2012/04/30 19:03:29
    Clever Idea
    Margaret Jacobson
    maybe it will work ......I'll bite
  • Lakota Deviant 2012/04/30 17:40:53
    Recipe for Disaster
    Lakota Deviant
    +2
    Still interesting but it won't turn out to be a good story. If multiple people are pulling the direction of the story in diffrent ways how will it ever make sense?
  • Omni Lakota ... 2012/04/30 20:15:04
    Omni
    Exactly.
  • geneticmistake 2012/04/30 11:25:08
    Clever Idea
    geneticmistake
    .....but not new. Before there were blogs (or at least before they were common) I came across a web site that was doing just this. People would start a story and anyone who wanted to could join in the writing. At that time one had to send their contribution since the web wasn't as interactive as today.

    This could be fun for many people. But if they wanted to copyright the finished novel, well that might be a nightmare.
  • Paddington Frisk 2012/04/30 11:01:32
  • Wanderer 2012/04/30 09:12:25
    Clever Idea
    Wanderer
    A novel written by the people for the people...Brilliant.!! Guaranteed sales...
  • Omni Wanderer 2012/04/30 20:15:32
    Omni
    +1
    Guess who the money goes to!
  • Wanderer Omni 2012/04/30 21:39:47
    Wanderer
    I give up...who.?
  • Omni Wanderer 2012/04/30 21:48:30
    Omni
    +1
    Publication :]
  • Wanderer Omni 2012/04/30 22:07:36
    Wanderer
    Time Magazine? at least the guy will keep his job for a while :)
  • Poet003 2012/04/30 08:57:33
    Clever Idea
    Poet003
    Sublime and innovative
  • Little Fawn 2012/04/30 07:25:39
    Clever Idea
    Little Fawn
    +1
    You can do something similar on Webook.com. Someone will start a chapter and you can go and add a chapter to continue the story. It's a very good exercise to strengthen your writing skills, to bend your mind and to make you think. It's nothing new.
  • katywon Little ... 2012/04/30 20:26:10
    katywon
    +1
    I agree with it as a good exercise in writing skills. But it has been done and not successful.
  • Little ... katywon 2012/04/30 22:09:59
    Little Fawn
    +1
    More often than not, yeah, it's never really successful. But I'd do it if only to be able to sharpen my writing skills.
  • katywon Little ... 2012/04/30 22:29:00
    katywon
    +1
    Nothing wrong with wanting to contribute. It might be fun too.
  • Little ... katywon 2012/05/01 01:14:20
    Little Fawn
    +1
    That's true.
  • Anthony Souls 2012/04/30 07:08:46
    Recipe for Disaster
    Anthony Souls
    +2
    Novels never turn out correctly with this method. It's reminiscent of the story game that you used to play as a kid, and it always ends with nonsense.

    Take care,
  • katywon 2012/04/30 06:47:20
    Recipe for Disaster
    katywon
    +1
    Its been tried before and not very successful.
  • RJS 2012/04/30 06:46:32
    Clever Idea
    RJS
    I'm not sure it'll work, but I'd be interested to see the final outcome.
  • Arianne 2012/04/30 06:44:39
    Clever Idea
    Arianne
    But we'll see how it goes. I prefer books made by individual authors because there's a consistency in the writing style.
  • Cellar Door 2012/04/30 06:24:27
    Clever Idea
    Cellar Door
    I think it sounds fun--definitely not something I've heard of before.
  • Red_Horse 2012/04/30 04:58:46
  • Jayfeather 2012/04/30 04:10:39
    Clever Idea
    Jayfeather
    Interesting concept. I'm gonna sign up!
  • niviongo R ☮ P ☮ 12-20 2012/04/30 03:06:11
    Clever Idea
    niviongo R ☮ P ☮ 12-20
    5 adjectives per 2 sustantives; is not bad. It will be Ok.
    Above all, is innovative.
  • KendraTaylor 2012/04/30 01:47:23
    Clever Idea
    KendraTaylor
    But how will they split royalties if the book becomes-for some reason- a best seller. I'd want my 140 character submission worth of money!

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