And since each of these pages publicly lists how many fans each storyteller has, I then wondered, who, in the eyes of Facebook, has the most fans?
Here's a sample of storytellers and their total numbers of fans as of July 1, 2009 (It's by no means complete. I'm purposely leaving out some storytellers who have not yet broken double digits):
|Storyteller||Number of Fans|
|David Joe Miller||23|
|Olive Hackett Shaughnessy||25|
|Big Joe the Storyteller||30|
|Dianne de las Casas||63|
|Andy Offut Irwin||236|
|Djeliba Baba the Storyteller||303|
I note with some alarm that Trixie, a puppet that appears in storyteller's Priscilla Howe's performances (photo at right) has garnered more fans (42 at last count) in a single week, than several of the tellers on the list, myself included.
In the storytelling podcast realm, Eric Wolf's The Art of Storytelling with Children has 162 fans, and Djeliba Baba's Timeless Tales has 112.
I'm well aware that on the Venn diagram showing the set of all storytelling fans in the real world and the set of Facebook users who like to keep track of their fandom on Facebook there is a very small intersection. That being said, take a look at storytelling events that use the fan pages on Facebook for their relative popularity:
|Michigan Storytellers Festival||14|
|Mesa Storytelling Festival||27|
|Timpanogos Storytelling Festival||43|
|Storytelling Arts of Indiana||117|
|The Stoop Storytelling Series||196|
That last number gave me pause. Because it tells me that there are nearly six thousand people who, as part of their public identity on an online social network, self-identify with an organization devoted to storytelling. (Albeit one with a very specific focus on a very specific style of storytelling). This number of Facebook fans is more people than the entire actual membership of the National Storytelling Network (approximately 1900–2000 persons, although only 262 fans on Facebook.)
Oh, and in case you didn't get the message, and I think only Baba the Storyteller did, once you hit 100 fans, you can get a vanity URL, i.e., www.facebook.com/yournamehere. You could already do this (starting about two weeks ago) with personal pages-- the ability to do this for a fan page (for pages with under 1000 fans) is new.
Not surprisingly, many of the big names in storytelling have neither a personal nor a professional Facebook presence. (It's a generational thing).
A couple more comments on Facebook's fan pages:
Facebook was late to the game on this one. So for a storyteller (or anyone, from a musician to a master yo-yo twirler) to set up a Fan page:
a) it's very difficult to do;
b) all the good models on how to use a fan page aren't on Facebook, they're on Myspace, and the lessons don't crossover
If you want to find the Fan Pages above, enter the name in the Facebook search box, and then when the results come up, click on the "Pages" tab to find the Fan page. You can "Become a Fan" from the search results, or click through to the Fan page and "Become a Fan" from there.