The Memory Store is a novel that you can join in with.
Have you ever read a novel and conjured up your own imagined world and characters? Do you see potential branches for narratives as you read them?
On the Internet it is now possible to produce narrative experiences that an audience can not only read but also write into as well. Novels, in which users can participate and shape the fictional world and the characters that reside in it, are possible, but how might such a novel be constructed? The Memory Store is an experiment with this new form of participatory fiction. The project, available here online – http://www.thememorystore.org – invites users to not only read the memory transcripts of the fictional character Jules Stewart but also to submit their own writing about life in Liverpool in 2115. So if you write and are interested in writing online read on…
The Memory Store is a future technology in which residents of this future city of Liverpool can archive their memories. This imagined world of the Liverpool corporate strata, a city of high-rise buildings that include work places, leisure facilities and residential accommodation all interconnected, so there’s no need to leave, is constructed by all of the writers who send in contributions. They describe the city, events that make up its history and the characters that live there.
Residents of the corporate strata are connected to a network with an implanted computer chip and their memories are collected. This archive of memories provides a history of the place, a social archive, which Pattern Surveillance Officer Jules Stewart can use to solve crimes. By searching through the memories of residents she can piece together themes, clues, evidence to help her construct the plot and solve the mystery of a missing person.
Readers can follow the investigation of Jules Stewart as a linear narrative or they can follow the themes that run through the writing of other authors in the site, or they can follow another author’s character.
Writers can come to the site, imagine themselves as a fictional character in Liverpool in 2115 and submit a memory from that character into the store.
All writing on the site is awarded a verification rating, a percentage score that indicates whether the corporations consider the author to be a reliable source. In this way writers can add in any plot ideas that might align with or be far from the investigation of Jules Stewart. Writers might want to tow the corporate line or raise a more cautionary note about corporate living. The interconnection comes from the fact that all writing is in the archive of the Memory store.
There’s a map and a timeline on the site that provides some background to the city and its history. The links to Newspulse lead to a collection of fictional news, some of which has been awarded high verification rates by the corporations, whilst other stories have low verification scores, for presenting an alternative view. These news stories provide a sense of the ethos that is the preserve of the corporate strata and those that challenge it.
So far I have given talks and run several workshops across the UK to find writers to contribute, now I really want to find writers online.
To contribute your writing go to the website – http://www.thememorystore.org – choose an image on the right side of any of the pages and select that image. This will take you to a page in which you can insert your writing and submit it.
I would recommend writing in a word processing package first so that you can save your writing. Once you hit submit the writing disappears from the page so you don’t get a copy unless you have one saved somewhere else first.
The Memory Store is a research project. I am registered on a PhD at Liverpool John Moores University in participatory writing online. I have a facebook group to discuss the site and its development so it would be great if you have any comments for me about the site if you would join in with discussion there –
And on twitter – https://twitter.com/SarahHaynes09
If this sounds interesting to you take a look and send me some writing!
Here’s an extract to whet your appetite –
Four in the morning and Fat Peter makes a theatrical bow, as I head for my table. I ignore him and settle into the dark corner, away from the blue glare of the neon sign over the door. A quiet night, even by Berry-Berry standards, two drinkers perched on plastic fruit, as far away as possible from each other, faces blank, focused on the network.
I sink down into a squishy plastic strawberry that in this place counts as a chair. The menu, projected onto my retina, floats, a transparent layer in the foreground of my vision. It boasts drinks flavoured like every berry there ever was, including all those sixties splices that didn’t catch on. The menu is long, too long. I’d know it scrolling backwards. My eyes blink it closed.
I’m about to order my usual, when Fat Peter, hovering by my shoulder says ‘Know what you need? a guavagoose shake, as good as a memory wipe or I&I therapy. Trust me it works. It’s… ’
‘Anything,’ I snap.
I need my sleep sack. Peter takes a breath, about to say more. I dismiss him with a flick of my wrist. He can keep his theories to himself. Tonight I’m here to celebrate, quietly and alone and really just for my network footprint. News will be out by now, better for the heroine to finish with a victory drink than sleeping. Case 166 closed, the Lime Street Stalker captured and I’m topping the board, one step nearer to Strata twenty. I log on to see what cubes are available. There is just one vacant. The network takes me on a VR tour. Sky visible from windows, individual shower room with a water allowance of 40 gallons a day. A cascade of green leaves tumbles down the walls of the stairwell. The sleep sack looks soft and inviting. I don’t bother to stifle a yawn. All I want to do is sleep and to wake with no recollection of the stalker’s victims, their bulging eyes, purple tongues, tear streaked faces of their relatives. It’s all archived in the memory store so I can forget.
The bar’s default music selection, cuts to a jangling medley on a fruit theme, streaming into my ear canal I shake it off and set my own soundtrack, driving rain.
Congratulations messages from the CEO’s of various corporations and requests for interviews from all the main influencers and commentators blink on the periphery of my vision. I keep them to one side. They can wait. They can all see I’m out, celebrating.
Fat Peter passes me a tall glass of a red liquid. Apparently it contains at least five percent biological fruit. His shirt is taut across a round belly, buttons strain, trousers forced to cling low to his hips underneath the overhang of his gut, an ancient leather belt in the waistband loops holds everything in place. On his old fashioned, white collared, shirt a red juice stain is splattered below his rib cage on the left and I flinch, for the tiniest millisecond, I think he’s been wounded.
He pulls over a blueberry pouffe and says, ‘We were right then?’ nodding at me eagerly.
I raise an eyebrow.
‘Come on, of course I know. Hey in this place, Berry-Berry, we’re into currant affairs, get it.’
‘It’s in News Pulse. Everyone knows.’ He waits for my response but I don’t want to talk. I drain my glass.
‘Suit yourself,’ he says rising slowly and with some effort, pressing his hands on his knees. ‘I just hope it’s all there in your transcripts. “Fat Peter detected the pattern first, all the crowd memories uploaded that recalled a smell of almond. I couldn’t have done it without him.”’ This last muttered with his back to me as he heads for his serving hatch.
An alert message overlays my vision, centre screen. Flashing furiously, a new assignment. I flag it Unable To Respond. Someone else can pick it up. Head of Surveillance and Detection pings back immediately that this is Top Priority and I’m the only woman for the job. Jet Wong herself has noted my pioneering use of filtering crowd memories to work out the plot and wants me to find a missing person, her adopted daughter, Estelle Fischer.
Case 167 begins.
Sleep will have to wait.