The Abbottabad raid: telling, telling and retelling
May 5th, 2011

[ abridged and adapted from a longer post at Zenpundit ]

Our friend Bryan Alexander‘s book, The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media, hit the shelves a short while ago (recommended) — and this month Bryan is exploring the various forms of digital story-telling on his new digital storytelling blog.

I’m interested in narrative, too – even when it isn’t digital – because it’s the prime way in which we humans figure out what’s going on around us… Here, then, is a digital telling, telling and retelling of the Abbottabad raid and the death of Osama bin Laden.

The twitter-stream and the analyst

A “purely” digital version of the story – somewhat confused by the “fog” that inevitably surrounds the reporting of highly volatile situations – emerged quite spontaneously in real time via Twitter, when the delightfully-named ReallyVirtual (an IT specialist who had moved to Abbottabad for some peace and quiet) was kept awake by the noise of helicopters overhead and sounds of explosions, and tweeted a couple of late-night friends… and a stream of tweets began which quickly led to an almost thousandfold spike in Yahoo searches on bin Laden, and bin Laden related searches occupying all top twenty spots on Google trends…

You might call that spontaneous, distributed story-telling – but it’s also the raw material for a collated and curated twitter narrative, using Chirpstory, a tool for curating and presenting stories from the twitter-stream:


We’re not done yet…

That in turn provides grist for the analytic mill of B Raman, a highly-regarded Indian analyst, blogger, and former chief of counter-terrorism with India’s R&AW intelligence agency – who winnowed out the chaff and added in his own commentary to create a denser, tighter analytic narrative of his own (click through for  legible version)


To my way of thinking, the spontaneous twitter-stream version, the Chirpstory adaptation and B. Raman’s midrash on it constitute a fascinating and timely contribution to Bryan’s studies — and are at least as interesting as the successive White House narratives I’ve discussed in the longer version of this post, but which are not particularly “digital” and thus not of much relevance here.

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