Assemblages are the Postmodern Story


There’s a problem with all this talk of “content” in my mind.  It’s contained.  It’s boxed.  It is boundaried, even though we can unlock it from its containers in all our glorious socialness.

It’s created for distribution along or in specific channels.  The format of our “content” must fit (conform) to the media (platform).  Text just doesn’t seem to fit into Pinterest all that well.

“Content” is created with a specific intent, and that is usually “engagement” (secretly we mean viral, but we’d never speak that term before it went that way).

“Content” has one voice even if we “Storify” it.

“Content” doesn’t trust its “consumer.”  The mandate for attention means it has to pack a punch, hit us in the face, as we are swiping by in our liquid media flow.  Content can’t afford the time to peak curiosity and allow it to unfold into attention.

“Content” is stifling.  It leaves little room for breathing or complex meaning.  There are no gaps. It is all gravity and no elegance.  It collapses into invisibility. Constant replenishment is inescapable.


So, in postmodern tradition, “content” is being re-examined through the lens of “Story.”

Gary Goldhammer at H&K Strategies champions today’s “Story” as the “Layered Narrative.” He writes:

A Layered Narrative allows space for interaction, sharing, collaboration and contribution. Every unique layer makes the source material stronger and the core story more engaging….Think of the layers as a series of “sidebars,” all related to the central narrative but each owning a unique characteristic, angle or call to action.

ware-BuildingStoriesGary’s layered narrative crystallizes the forms of media upon which the story layers may be constructed: paid, earned, owned and shared.


On its face this Layered Narrative may seem to emphasize the solid or constructed part of the story – the assemblages of content and assemblages of channels – but implicit in these is the most liquid of all media: the messengers, the tellers of the story, the talk, the sharers.

The messengers are also the medium.   The constructed narrative is disrupted, interrupted by the messengers working collaboratively in their channels and places to understand the story, to gather it’s meaning or uncover personal relevance.  The degree of visibility of the teller (her “influence”) imparts a particular meaning to the story while her talk also shapes the meaning of the story.  She herself is an assemblage of her communication platforms and the meaning imparted by her in each is the interplay of the platform and her talk.

Our challenge in building the layered story is not only to construct it but to account for the meaning of our assemblages of media and the assembled meaning.

The meaning of the story will be impacted by each medium. The story will be used by the medium. The “content” is never the narrative.

Assemblages of content, in assemblages of channels, and flowing through assemblages of messengers is the postmodern “Story.”

For you:
Check out a wonderful postmodern story book: Building Stories by Chris Ware.

Categories: Content, Trends


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