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9 - Digital Cli-Fi

Human Stories of Climate in Online and Social Media

from Part III - Ways of Telling Climate Stories

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2022

Adeline Johns-Putra
Affiliation:
Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China
Kelly Sultzbach
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
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Summary

The contemporary ecological crisis is also a crisis of human perception, representation, and agency. We are required to make frenetic alterations of scale, adjusting our daily experiences, actions and lifestyles to ever-changing global and atmospheric patterns and impacts. Yet the polysemy of climate and its diffuse presence in our lives – as extreme weather event, day-to-day expectation, scientific data, or urgent socio-political issue – also makes it amenable to multi-media or transmedia dissemination. Analogously, digital media is itself characterised by movement across and between microscopic (tweets, data) and macroscopic levels – i.e. a digital sphere marked simultaneously by ‘infowhelm’ and the possibility of mass global, networked, and resistant communities. This exploratory survey ranges from the quotidian dimensions of digital and online media – how changes in climate are being recorded and registered in tweets, blogs, and citizen science – to deeper qualitative storytelling formats adapted from and sometimes in dialogue with old media. The latter include online self-published fiction, podcasting (e.g. the BBC audio drama Forest 404), and personal ‘climate stories’ and testimonies. Ultimately, this essay argues for the continued importance, and potential agency, of human-scale perspectives on micro- and macroscopic ecological complexities and for preserving distinct, often maligned human modes of narrative and storytelling.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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