Wake Up Sheeple
On one hand, we can accept this state of affairs, simply permitting conspiracy theories to continue to seep into the world around us. On the other, we can seek to actively counter and combat this influence, hopefully reducing or reversing some of the pernicious consequences of these theories on society.
Succeeding at the latter requires that we truly understand the nature of conspiracy theories and their intricate internal mechanisms. That requires that we get hands-on with the phenomenon. We have to become facile in working with conspiratorial theorizing like we would any other expressive medium that we seek to master.
And conspiracy theories are an expressive medium. For better or for worse (frequently the worse), the genre of conspiracy includes some of the most narratively ambitious, memetically successful, and potent oral traditions of modern American life. Conspiracy theory is a uniquely powerful species of fan fiction about reality, one whose fandoms are capable of creating massive change.
So: inspired by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), National Conspiracy Writing Month (NaCoWriMo) asks participants to complete a daunting but straightforward challenge: to develop a deep, viable, and complete conspiracy theory during the thirty days of November.
Just Asking Questions: The Rules of NaCoWriMo
Participants will have the thirty days of November to compile what we call a conspiracy kit — the minimum viable material necessary to get a true conspiracy theory rolling. Submissions can build on an existing theory or invent an entirely new one. In the spirit of NaNoGenMo, we are also open to programmatically generated submissions.
The conspiracy kit will comprise of three pieces:
- The Revelation: This is a pamphlet sized screed of 10,000 or more words that describes the conspiracy theory, the argument for its existence, and its implications for society. This is the core document for the theory — the operating manual for understanding the conspiracy, seeing its sinister influences, and enabling others to contribute to its development.
- The Chart: We’re convinced that all good conspiracies come with a good chart. Participants will be responsible for assembling a unifying visual which puts all the pieces of their theory together — identifying the perpetrators, showing the relevant connections, and making the conspiracy so obvious that it becomes surprising that no one has ever seen it before.
- The Clues: Truly great conspiracy theories rely on a corpus of curious facts whose relationship to the core theory is suggestive or not yet quite understood. This loose body of clues and evocative connections makes it easy for others to build upon the investigatory work of the original theory. Participants will assemble a collection of images, videos, audio, and other materials related to their theory that will act as a kind of kindling for future work.
NaCoWriMo starts at 12:01am Pacific Time on Nov 1st and ends at 12:01am Pacific Time Dec 1st. Participants are free to use the time however they would like in order to deliver a complete conspiracy kit at the end of the month. But, generally, we envision that November will be split this way:
- Nov 1–8: Research and Development
- Nov 8–22: Revelation and Chart Writing
- Nov 22–30: Revisions and Clue Compilation
We’re planning on launching a simple website at the end of NaCoWriMo which will bring together and feature all the submissions from all the various participants.
Like NaNoWriMo, joining NaCoWriMo is easy!
Just give our Coordinator Tim Hwang a shout on Twitter (@timhwang) by e-mail (email@example.com) that you’ll be participating in November and the general topics your conspiracy theory will be focused on.
At that point, we’ll add you to our official list of participants and add you to an internal email list that we’ll be using for people to share projects and readings, discuss what they’re working on, and ask questions as the month progresses. This is also where we’ll discuss dissemination after the event concludes.
NaCoWriMo is against projects which promote bigotry or incite violence. If you’re thinking about something along these lines, don’t get in touch— we’re not interested.
NaCoWriMo is a project of Tim Hwang and the Centre on Conspiracy Mechanics, a research organisation focused on the development of new methodologies for understanding conspiracies and related phenomena.