Yarn Balls

March 13, 2007


Don’t you love it when you think of something really cool, but you don’t have the skills to make it happen – and then you find out someone already has?

Back in October of last year, I suggested a couple of the projects that I’d like to see Booktwo build. One of these was Exquisite Corpus, an updated take on the old parlour game, Exquisite Corpse, where players took it in turn to add to a drawing or story created by the previous player. Sadly, we never managed to implement this.

However, we were very pleased to stumble upon Yarn, a collaborative story-writing tool created by the folks at The Daily Jolt, a US College network (and is somewhat proprietary for that, but hey). Yarn allows people to start their own stories, or add to those created by others, and they can also splice off at any point from existing stories to create choose-your-own-adventure-type tales. Go have a play.

Yarn isn’t presented as a cutting-edge literary tool, but it has the potential to be one. The other project we suggested late last year was Infintie Entries, a distributed wiki-novel. This was fulfilled up to a point by Penguins’ Million Penguins project, but the latter failed – in as much as it became unmanageable and was eventually euthanised – because it tried to synthesise a single voice – one version of the truth – from a wealth of disparate voices. If the wiki- or massively-authored novel is to succeed, it needs to embrace dissonance and non-linearity, it needs to take the path mapped out by avant-garde writers like J. G. Ballard and William Burroughs. Yarn, cutesy though it is, provides one possible framework to make this happen.

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