Snapchat’s Digital Narrative is “Real Life”

Snapchat, the reining king of social media (ask any 15 year old), will be launching a digital magazine at the end of June, called Real Life.  Real Life’s aim is to publish daily stories and essays addressing technology, and its uses in modern life.

“It’s fun to call a magazine about the internet “Real Life,” and it’s funny for a minute to say “read my piece in Real Life,” but the name isn’t ironic. It has resonance: REALLIFE Magazine was, in the 1980s, the only downtown New York art magazine that was “by and about artists” but not just for art-world insiders.” – Videodrome

I didn’t expect Snapchat, which was first brought to my attention in 2013, to become as successful as it is today, having more users than its social media predecessors, Twitter and, my personal favourite, Instagram. Snapchat is a free app that anyone can download to their smartphone. Because Snapchat is free to use, it relies on sponsored logo animated filters, to draw-in revenue. According to Money Morning, Snapchat makes 100 million annually, and this number is only expected to grow with added marketing strategies, and a growing stream of dedicated users.

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Real Life will be owned and funded by Snapchat Editor-in-Chief Nathan Jurgenson. However, Jurgenson, a self-proclaimed sociologist, insists that Real Life will be a separate platform from Snapchat, and unlike most tech sites, Real Life will not review the latest tech gadgets, but how our lives are mediated by technology and the politics that go along with using tech devices.

With Snapchat’s high profile, and celebrity user fanbase, I wonder who will supply the tech-related content for the magazine? Certainly not Snapchat’s biggest fan, Kylie Jenner … 

As of late, I’ve noticed the push away from using tech as a “frivolous”social platform, and I think that this digital unravelling is something that app developers, including Jurgenson, fear. The implementation of more “literary” tech sites, like Real Life, which use the “essay” as its format of choice, act as a financial safeguard against social media’s “visual oversharing.”

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A Good Audiobook Speaks Volumes

June is audiobook month, and though I haven’t listened to an audiobook recording since I was in kindergarten I can’t help but notice their popularity amongst my twenty-something peer group. I am constantly asked “did you listen to it on audio?” or “did you listen to Meryl Streep’s rendition? Sooooo goooood….. And because I’m not a Harry Potter fan, “omg… but have you listened to them on Audible?

Though I have’t as yet given Harry Potter or audiobooks a chance as an adult, a lot of people have, including former first daughter,Chelsea Clinton, who, in a recent video for The Audio Publishers Association is singing their praises. In fact, Clinton has recorded the audio for her recent book  It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired, Get Going!  and though I haven’t “listened” to her book, I’m sure it’s a delight.

As a partner with APA, Clinton declares that Audiobooks allow her, as a “busy mom,” to multitask: she can walk her dog, drive along congested highways and conduct business (I’m assuming these activities don’t require Clinton’s full attention) whilst catching-up on her reading. If you ask me, these seem like stressful settings to enjoy books, but maybe that’s because I don’t enjoy multitasking (not the key to productivity as formerly believed).bigstock_Audio_book_14340599-e1330386218724

Despite Clinton’s reasons for preferring audio recordings over traditional modes of reading, I believe that we shouldn’t discount audiobooks as important educational tools because they are also convenient. Audiobooks are a fantastic accessibility tool within the classroom; not only do audiobooks enable the visually impaired to enjoy stories, but they are also a successful avenue in the development of reading skills in children.
As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t listened to an audiobook recording since childhood; as a child learning how to “sound-it-out,” audio books became a successful strategy for my teachers in the classroom. Audiobooks encourage young readers to engage with storytelling, while simultaneously developing their reading skills by correlating words on the pages with their respective sounds and pronunciations. According to Cristina Arreol for Bustle News, “more than 85% of what we learn, we learn through listening.” For this reason, audio recordings are also a popular guide for people learning a second language because they, audiobooks, use repetition and playback as a teaching technique.

Though audiobooks have changed in a number of ways since the 90s, for one they are played via digital file and not over cassette player, their ability to engage with auditory learners remains essential.

Technically Literate

In the fight to remain relevant in our tech-savvy and millennial dominated world, technology and literary publishing are rapidly growing co-dependent. One site to take notice of the expanding literary/tech market is technology catalogue site CNET. Despite any scepticism ignited in the minds of the literary and tech set, CNET is proving that both camps are not  mutually exclusive, but can happily come together and form a silky and delicious “technically literate” pudding.

820cc26d07e5ca4592148bfcca65c23aSince March, CNET has been publishing online fiction from established and highly esteemed authors including, Nayomi Munaweera, Cristina Garcia, and Anthony Marra.  Here’s the catch: each author must plot their story around the theme of technology in some creative way, thereby satisfying  CNET’s devoted tech readership. The first story published online to CNET, entitled The Last Taco Truck in Silicon Valley  by New York Times novelist Michelle Richmond, caters to book and technology lovers alike. According to Alexandra Alter of the New York Times,  Richmond’s story “is a satire about an unhinged foodie’s relentless pursuit of popularity on social media.”With her social media focused narrative, Richmond’s 5500 word story, brilliantly speaks to CNET’s current tech saturated market in a way that is not traditionally associated with a technology driven platform – through highly crafted narrative.

Connie Guglielmo, CNET News’s editor in chief, states that the purpose of publishing monthly short fiction is to expand CNET’s audience, and grow their brand. Guglielmo notes that experimentation is so much a part of the current culture, stating that “if you don’t experiment, you stay in place.”

So how can this “technically literate” platform influence the author’s book-savvy fanbase? By introducing literary fiction to an online platform – formerly targeted to tech nerds – CNET is drawing upon a new audience of readers, while simultaneously generating interest in an author’s larger body of work. Everybody wins.