Ever wonder what happened to Mark Leyner? One second, he's hanging with Letterman; the next, he's in the dustbin of gastroenterological history. Looks like now he's doing an audio fiction piece on Audible.com called WireTap (link on the right). This serialized radio theater features the wiretap conversations between a painkiller-addicted 19-year-old living in the penthouse of the Princeton Hilton and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Yes, very Leyner.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the potential of this medium. WireTap uses some techniques that make the online audio theater experience slightly more unique -- sound collage, wire-tap effects, stilted voice characterizations -- but lacks the same moment of engagement that leaves much online literature/art empty. To put it another way, here's the big question: what could online audio (whether documentary or theater) do that "This American Life" can't?
Certainly, if someone hasn't done it already, there could be interesting models for interactivity with audio. We've all seen the music mixing board apps, which are fun when first encountered, but usually sit as unvisited bookmarks because they do nothing with narrative. I've been wondering: how can we take this cut-and-paste mentality and apply it to online audio narrative in ways that don't seem as dull as a Burroughs cut-up. (Don't argue with me. Those were dull.)
I'm still mulling this over, but I have a few ideas. I'll test them out here soon.
(Traditional narrative radio forms aren't to be overlooked. Subway Series 2002 from WNYC, for instance, is something I look forward to.)
I've been talking to friends about the recent ascendency of Wired. No, seriously, the magazine has gotten better in the dot-com slump. I guess the Times thinks so too, based upon this profile of the new editor. In other mag news, Jann Wenner is running Rolling Stone again, and there might not be a MTV Magazine after all.