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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Pinocchio revolution—when the protagonists come to life : covert story within the cybercommunity of Facebook Hart, Melissa Jane


Enter a digital world where reality and fantasy intermingle and avatars are not only phenomenological but also tactile. The Pinocchio Revolution—When Protagonists Come to Life delves into a digital story unrecognizable in the traditional sense. This thesis focuses on research that examines the covert story telling practiced within the global cybercommunity of Facebook. To date there are no other published studies on this subculture of Facebook. The story involves cybercitizens that are stuffies (in the United Kingdom they are referred to as fluffies)—stuffed animal toys. The cyberstuffies do not represent an actual human individual but rather, an autonomous fictional character created by a covert human being. However, the characters’ identities often intertwine with that of their human creator. Theories that influence the ethnographical study are the theories of hybridity and intertextuality and socio semiotic theory; all included in the broader multiliteracies theory. In addition, the theory of popular culture as everyday culture theory is considered. Furthermore, as the cybercitizens are both tactile and phenomenological, the theory of phenomenological immersion is explored in the paper. Facebook story is both fiction and nonfiction and off-line/online distinctions are blurred as these worlds become indistinguishable. Identity is fluid and constantly evolving to suit the current story line. The role of multiauthorship is key to the creation of Facebook story. One must be highly socially literate to succeed as a Facebook cyberstuffy. The Facebook story is hypertextual, written using a broad variety of on and off-line modes and mediums. It is a novel and covert approach to creating story—the participants are violating Facebook policy by their mere existence. This adds a dimension of tension to the story as authors create with the constant threat that their “work” and cyber identity may vanish at any moment. The research will benefit the areas of education, media, literacy, and the arts. Exploring new ways in which story is being practiced online through a multiliteracies theory is important for educators. Especially interesting to educators and new media designers will be the formation of online identity and the relationships between identity, cyberidentity, cybercitizenship and cybercommunity and cyberartifact.

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