A Facebook Book

Maybe not so ironically enough, I first read about Matias Viegener’s 2500 Random Things About Me Too via social media. The book was written on Facebook, and relays an experiment on the construction of identity in a “Facebook-drenched world of self-manufacturing and short attentions spans“; a statement that our class could argue with. The book’s publisher notes that it may be the first published book entirely composed on Facebook.

Viegener wrote an article for The Huffington Post, “How I Wrote A Book On Facebook“, about his process. He claims he didn’t have any intentions on composing any kind of notable literary work when he began posting random things about himself in response to a Facebook chain letter. He notes that he wanted to start his own list of random facts about himself, but randomness is not random if it is focused on, which relates to ideas from Burroughs article about The Cut-Up Method. The idea for a book came symptomatically from the amount of feedback his post got from friends, relatives, and acquaintances. His text unintentionally took on a dialogical form, his Facebook community was actively implying and inferring information. This exchange of information and experience inspired the book. In this way, he uses a version of the cut-up method by choosing which among the comments should be inserted into his story.

In Viegener’s article he includes an excerpt from the book. The text of the book takes the form of numbered lines, clearly meant to count the 2500 random things. Using the background information Viegener provides about his process, it’s possible to see how each number could represent a different person who was participating in his Facebook post. The chosen sentences seem fragmented, yet they have a cognitive flow. I thought Viegener’s process correlates with our class, although the product is a physical book, because he utilized the link between technology and society, as well as the connection of seeing and writing, which we read in Bolter’s article. The flushed left sentences create a lot of space on the page, space that is traditionally used up by paragraphs of text to tell a story. Since the story was formed through conversation on Facebook, the space conveys a metaphorical space between thoughts/perspectives. His work is different from the digital works we’ve been discussing because he doesn’t keep his platform constant with his process, but does that make it lesser? I lean towards yes because if he had chosen to publish this as digital literature, he would have been able to build upon it and make it active, as social media/the Internet is, instead of freezing the story in a physical medium.