On Galleycat, Jason Boog links to today’s edition (MP3) of his ten-minute podcast, the Morning Media Menu, in which he talks with the founder of a new social collaborative writing site called Neovella. Michael Siedlecki founded Neovella after noticing in college that his generation doing much of its reading on-line, and for the most part not actually reading books but instead reading social network stories about their friends.
Siedlecki wanted to bring together the social aspects of social networking and collaborative aspects of writing together, so created Neovella in the hope of getting people writing stories together. The site works like sort of a cross between Ficly and Google Wave—writing is turn-based, with each writer having a specific length of time to get a segment written. When the clock runs out, so does his turn, then it’s the next person’s chance.
The site incorporates Facebook Connect to allow people to sign in through Facebook (and, presumably, use it for sharing links to stories they write). Though the original goal was to allow friends to write together, Siedlecki came to the realization that a lot of people who like to write don’t necessarily have friends who feel the same way, so is incorporating features to allow authors to let random people contribute to their work if they choose.
According to the Neovella FAQ, stories created on the site are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License 3.0, with permission granted to the site to use the content. Among Siedlecki’s plans for Neovella are that the most popular works will be published through Amazon’s Singles program for the Kindle, and any proceeds will be shared with those who wrote the work.
Certainly, getting more people writing together is a laudable goal, but I’m not entirely sure that turn-based round robin is the best way to go about it. I’m a little skeptical that people who like to write together will really go for something that structured, especially given the alternatives available.
For instance, I have had a lot of fun writing stories with other people using EtherPad-based editors such as IEtherpad or TypeWith.me. That writing isn’t turn-based, but allows everybody to write at once, meaning that we can write both sides of a conversation together, and sometimes jump into each others’ characters’ heads if something needs to be said.
Still, it will be interesting to watch and see if it draws the same level of interest Ficlets and Ficly did. Some people see participation and collaboration as “the future of storytelling,” so it’s not surprising that more ways to do it are coming about.