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I’d like to build upon the idea of Tumblr as hypertext, as mentioned by “Reclaiming the Reader” below. When I played through Patchwork Girl, I understood that the concept was non-linearity, but in many ways I was deeply disappointed by how linear it actually was. If I began at PG’s head, I read about her eyes, her nose, her ears, her mouth in sequence. If I began to read through the quilt, the natural progression was from one square to the one connected to it– yes, I could jump around, and did in fact do so, but it was no more satisfying. I didn’t feel that going back through in a different direction, or randomly jumping around using the map, offered me any creativity or greater connection to the piece. I don’t feel that it told a different story, or told the story in a new way; rather, the story was as a whole a disjointedness of pieces, and the whole of that together, however it is read, makes the story. Not that this is in itself a negative thing… but I didn’t feel that it quite accomplished what it set out to do.

For a long time I had a Tumblr account. My only follower was my sister, and I never made an attempt to gain more followers. I had to delete it because I no longer had time to devote to endlessly searching the archives. For me, Tumblr was a place to search through a seemingly endless supply of .gif images, artworks, and quoted song lyrics and assemble my own “patchwork girl”– an image of myself, my moods, my likes and dislikes. In other words, I sounded my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the internet. It was a moving-picture diary, telling a temporally linear story of an otherwise disorganized mind. This, to me, is hypertext. There are many active, productive members of Tumblr who use the site to showcase their writing, artwork, viewpoints, or skills– I was not one of them. I produced no content. All I did was link together pieces I found intriguing with my own meta-data: “tags” that I utilized for my own reference, so I could read my story a different way. I could look only at my “GPOY” tag to see a story of my (sometimes humorously exaggerated) self-image. I could look only at my “:)” tag to read the story of things that made me smile or brought me joy. Likewise, I could use the tags to search the archives– whether I wanted to add something related to the “giraffes” tag to my own blog for some reason that day, or whether I simply wanted to read the massive, crowd-sourced Giraffe narrative produced by the Tumblr community. I could follow the trail of a certain post’s “reblogs” to see the hundred different stories of which that one component was a part. And etcetera. It is the meta-data that made this, in my mind, a real and satisfying form of hypertext storytelling– many posts were multiply tagged, and so the .gif image of a man repeatedly smacking his head against the wall in anguish could be part of ten of my own different narratives, all pointing to the same overarching story (my life and interests) but part of their own internally coherent narrative, as well as a hundred other narratives, all equally coherent.

Please don’t misunderstand– I’m not saying that my Tumblr was nearly as deep, compelling, or valuable as Patchwork Girl. My Tumblr blog was a standard, boring tumbleweed of geekery, complaint, and actors whom I found attractive.

However, the meta-data, to me, is what Patchwork Girl was missing. When I played through the story, I remember thinking “If I were to write my own version of the Patchwork Girl, I would host it on the web and crowd-source it. Individual pieces could be added by anyone who visited. Meta-data organization would allow readers to personalize the narrative in a true sense. The creative process would be active, rather than consist of being buffeted around by chance or confusion. People could consciously construct their own narratives of, say, ‘moments when P.G. is more powerful than the reader’ or ‘moments that the word “piece” is used.'”

However, thinking it over, I’ve come to the conclusion that my Patchwork Girl would look a whole lot like Tumblr… and every user of the site would be his or her own Patchwork Girl.