What might be the biggest digital storytelling project so far began this week. Obama for America is an ambitious Tumblr site, aimed at aggregating stories generated by any Obama supporter over the next year.
We’d like this Tumblr to be a huge collaborative storytelling effort—a place for people across the country to share what’s going on in our respective corners of it and how we’re getting involved in this campaign to keep making it better.
Storytelling: so far the stories are personal anecdotes, short-shorts about lives under stress. Some of them echo the We are the 99 Tumblr, but without photos (so far), making for a good example of intertextuality.
“I feel as if, after 18 years, I am a fairly decently trained marketing & communications manager. I should be earning plenty of money for my family to thrive on, but instead my skills are languishing and my unemployment is dwindling. I’ve talked to recruiters, employment agencies, and i network. I’m doing all of the right things, is what I’m saying, and I’ve been out of work since April. I’m the person you WANT at work. I put in more than my share of effort. I work hard. I care about the results of my efforts. And I still don’t have a job.”
Note the political framing of that content within its post, and its quick plunge back into social media: “Why can’t you wait for Republicans in Congress to take action on jobs? Submit your story or blog it and tag it ‘we can’t wait.'”
Social media: OfA openly asks for submissions, for each supporter to send on “a story, photo, quote, or video”. Someone at the Obama team edits some of the stories (for example). More Web 2.0-ishly, OfA takes advantage of Tumblr’s built-in social affordances: reblogging, liking, commenting. For example, this nurse’s story appears, which links back to her Tumblr. Or see these comments etc. attached to the “Hi Tumblr” introductory post:
Another interactive element: there’s an ask feature. Can’t tell what happens with that yet.
To sum up, the Obama campaign is now relying on digital storytelling to help win reelection. If this takes off, we should be able to consider 2011-2012 the time when social media storytelling gets mainstreamed.