A little while ago now I attended the media140 conference in London, one of the subjects on the agenda was crowdsourcing and the work that Unilever have been doing with their Peperami brand on crowdsourcing ideas for campaigns (check out this article if you would like more info on the campaign: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2009/aug/25/unilever-peperami-advertising-crowdsourcing).
The Unilever Marketing Manager and a representative from Idea Bounty (the crowdsourcing firm contracted to run the campaign) spoke about how the aim was to get fresh ideas and perspectives from people already involved in the creative industry or possibly the advertising industry: freelancers, graduates, small agencies etc.
This got me thinking… Would it be possible to crowdsource a novel? The concept is slightly different from the Idea Bounty model but goes like this: there are lots of people out there (me included) who love to write and like the idea of writing a book, however most of them do not have the time or inclination to actually sit down and write a full 15-20 chapter 300+ page novel. However, writing a chapter: that might be far more appealing. So we do it like this: one person writes a first chapter, uses their imagination, it can be about anything they like, they post it on the web on a pre-designed blog or website… After Chapter 1 has been read then anyone can take it up and write a second chapter, from there others write a 3rd and so on until the story reaches a natural conclusion.
In my opinion this has 2 really exciting possibilities: firstly: the story could go anywhere, secondly the same story could separate into multiple threads going off on totally different tangents depending on the imagination of various writers, it would be a pure meritocracy with those threads people enjoy continuing and those that do not get traction dying off naturally. I am still germinating this idea in my mind but it could be an interesting online version of that old school game where you stand in a circle and each say a word that then forms a sentence and then a short story etc etc.