New World Take on Oral Tradition

15 February, 2007

Blogs, Creative Content

I vaguely recall from some distant “Life and Times of Chaucer” course, taking notes on the importance of Middle English bards and storytellers who roamed the countrysides of Europe spouting news and singing songs. In the midst of sharing real-life news headlines as if in some promordial, verbal RSS, I’m sure they also spun Chaucerian yarns inspired by the busty milk maid from the night before.

Is the image that far flung from the current era of “new media”? Humankind has launched great civilizations built on oral traditions, laid foundations for the world’s religions and we still continue to share stories over the happy hour beer and the late night blog. What’s surprising is that people seem surprised.

Almost a year ago The Economist covered the new culture and heralded it with a guarded mix of excitement and trepidation. The article dubbed the new movement, “participatory media.” Actually, it’s a lego land of interpersonal mashups.

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