Fictiocracy

By Marcus on 23. Februar 2018 — 3 mins read

What I propose is a systematic application of the principles of fictional world-building and transmedia storytelling to the real world.

While checking out the Institute of Network Cultures i found this brand new text called Fictiocracy: Media and Politics in the Age of Storytelling by Davide Banis who happens to tackle a bunch of topics more or less closely related to my field of interest. As always i am up for some proper word-inventing. There is not that much going on when you type in ˈfɪkʃ(ə)krəsi/ n. pl. A quick crosscheck brings you back to 2015.

Fic-ctio-cra-cy /ˈfɪkʃ(ə)krəsi/ n. pl. – cies. 1. Political regime that, implicitly or explicitly, considers the distinction between fact and fiction irrelevant. 2. A political or social unit that has such regime. 3. The principles of word-building and transmedia storytelling applied to politics and journalism. 4. The title of this longform. [French fictiocracie, from Late Latin fictiocratia]

Banis starts with referencing Kurt AndersenAmericans have always been prone to fantasies (mainly in fictions, religions and conspiracies) but never to the degree encountered in this time of fake news and post-truth politics. In this sense, the internet acted as catalyst, multiplying the impact of falsities and further blurring the boundary between fact and fiction.

VR, AR, MR and all other Rs promise to free us

And continues with an „attempt to achieve an understanding of so-called post-factuality as a form of fictionality.“ He proposes „ a systematic application of the principles of fictional world-building and transmedia storytelling to the real world, and in particular to politics and its amplifier, journalism.“

This could additionally be done by digging way deeper into concepts like framing („To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and / or treatment recommendation for the item described.“ – Robert Entman: Framing: Towards a Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm, 1993)

from the constraints of

But my personal interest begins where Banis just scratches the surface: „
Stories are not like flat horizons to be admired at a distance anymore but environments to be navigated and, even more simply, lived. This blurs the boundary between fiction and reality. But what kind of reality are we talking about? ‘Reality is a scarce resource’ wrote communication theorist James Carey a while ago, but nowadays it seems that reality comes in potentially infinite supply. VR, AR, MR and all other Rs promise to free us from the constraints of a single world-experience.“

He makes clear, that „this abundance of reality is – to a certain extent – a, new phenomenon“ and states that „clear-cut boundaries are a thing of the past“ but his interest then circles way more about strategies to cope with well let´s just say things like Trump: „I will argue that, contrary to common belief, the myth of objective journalism cannot represent an answer to propaganda and misinformation. We need to tackle the issue from a different perspective. We need more, not less, misinformation.“ Alright, point taken. We can and should discuss that. Tactical Media is an answer but tactical New York Times might not. 

a single world-experience

But while „digital media are now called emerging media“ i want to dig deeper into what the overlaying, mixing, altering or – yes hell yeah – manipulation of different realties may mean. Not only in the context of propaganda and misinformation, but as a new and all-encapsulating way of receiving and sending data and information to man and machines through a new medium coined by new interaction models.

Back to Banis: „given that we live our lives mainly through media. In this sense, in a time when media are to humans what water is to fish, media studies are almost a form of applied ontology.“ Besides all that thoughts that blow through Brattons Stack are here as well, like „the boundary between the military and civilians blurs like the one between reality and fiction.“*

*Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr begged Facebook, Google and Twitter: ‘Don’t let nation-states disrupt our future. You’re the front line of defense for it.’ The ‘nation-states’ Burr refers to is foremost Russia, who you could say engaged in different forms of online information warfare in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections.