Do we need containers for stories?

Does the word ‘literature’ presuppose containers?

I’ve been thinking about writing for smartphones in the context of Ambient Literature. The idea of the book/ebook/app/website/phones themselves as types of containers for stories interests me. Ten years ago, the idea of a book as an analogue container, and an ebook as a digital container, was useful. But since then that use of the word seemed to fall away. Now, as many (most?) internet users move away from the open web toward closed platforms or ‘walled gardens’ (for example, as designed/driven/dictated by Facebook and the services/platforms Facebook owns), do we need containers more or less than in the past? If a ‘container’ is defined as broadly as stone tablet/human storyteller/book/app, do ‘stories in containers’ conflict with our developing ideas around ‘ambient literature’? Does thinking about thresholds and boundaries in storytelling conflict with our ideas about the borderless, unbounded stories afforded by pervasive media? What can thinking about Ambient Literature tell us about storytelling both within a walled garden and on the open web? Is the research project, in fact, an opportunity to move away from thinking about containers and into more ubiquitous forms of storytelling?

Can we really be post-locative? Are we, indeed, post-digital? Can we be post-container?

— Kate Pullinger

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