Online fiction, Facebook and transparency

I wasn’t at CaseCamp the other night, but I came across a minor storm of Twitter messages (I refuse to call them “tweets”) both during and afterwards, about one of the presenters — namely, an online fiction/marketing experiment called Story2Oh.com. Apparently, some people weren’t too pleased when they found out that the characters involved in Story2Oh were friending people on Facebook without making it clear that they were, well… fictitious creations. At least, that’s what I’ve been able to gather from the dustup in various places.

Eden Spodek, who writes the Bargainista blog, has written about the whole contretemps at the One Degree blog. She was one of the people at CaseCamp who challenged Story2Oh creator Jill Golick about the issue of “transparency” — although she told me and others that she also admired the creativity of the enterprise. She’s the one that Jill refers to as “the woman with dark hair” in her blog post about the event, which appears to have led to Facebook deleting the profiles of her imaginary characters (the site has a policy against fake profiles).

One of the most visceral responses — and I think pretty over the top — came from screenwriter Denis McGrath, who blogs at Dead Things on Sticks. He writes about how he hates people who “don’t get it,” and how they are “uptight idiots” (and worse), who hold up progress for the rest of us. In the comments, he calls the response at CaseCamp “cowardly and hypocritical.” The word “fucktard” appears a lot. Is that really necessary? I don’t think so, but obviously a simple difference of opinion isn’t good enough unless it turns into a holy war.

In a follow-up post, Jill writes about how she doesn’t feel the issue of transparency was as important as others feel it should have been with Story2Oh, because her purpose wasn’t business but art, and blurring the boundaries between the real world and fantasy was part of the point behind the experiment. For my part, I think experiments like that are fascinating — in part because of the strong reactions they produce. I guess Jill found that out the hard way.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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