Research Critique: The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence by Douglas Davis (1994)

The huge difference between broadcast TV and the Web is the keyboard. With that people can say anything; they have full expressive capacity.

This quote by Douglas David resonated exactly with my thoughts on the whole piece of constructing the world’s longest sentence – people were free to put anything. ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING – that I find it daunting.

I see it as the most open and free and possibly longest comment thread in the world. Or a 1990’s open-to-public twitter feed.

Indeed, things got scary quite fast. Scrolling the first few pages already got me choking on my drink as I spotted some sentences that got rather dark.

You have people scolding their bosses. Some soliciting love and partners. And some even professing funny stuff

Essentially, the web offers unlimited amount of audience and word travels especially fast on cyberspace, with the sharing and tagging we’re able to do. We can see it literally as a web (pun unintended), or like a network of connections branching out and multiplying its source upon being shared. Hence, the amount of super participation is extremely high on a public platform, especially for one like Davis’ piece. Audiences collectively come together to contribute to the sentence in any words of their lexicon – which trigerred some replies to the previous sentence where they tried to lend some help. Others were just plain negative.

In summary

In the bigger picture, I believe this was a work to explore and examine how people interact when they are completely limitless to the content they can type and how this interactions trigger the next portion. They somehow co-relate like a butterfly effect. However, it seems that more negative statements/content can be found in this whole text, holding together what we have learnt in the previous reading – that we may get bolder in the third space as we aware of the lack of physical contact to the other parties we are interacting with.

Ultimately, the anonymity plays a huge part in the content we enter. This is also how the term ‘keyboard warrior’ was formed, right?

Oh I’m not done yet

On a slightly extra note, I think the future development of this piece now is to really look at the conservation of it. It first launched in 1994 – that’s as old as me, and the type of software used to contain the information had several errors as mentioned in the readings. Perhaps the team taking on the project could revamp on the system to store the data and accentuate the user interface and aesthetics of this super-participatory piece. I can see it as a minimal looking website with clean aesthetics for audience to intuitively input their sentence in contrast to the wordy landing screen they currently have.