Greetings – I hope that everyone is enjoying Spring Break (and working on their digital stories, perhaps?).
Storytelling in an interactive environment appears to be quite challenging. Instead of telling one narrative, the author or creator should have multiple narratives, or at least one very open-ended narrative. That multiplies the amount of creative effort that goes into the conceptual development of the narrative, and perhaps even the multiplication of content. If the interactivity comes from collaborative form of interaction (like writing Exquisite Corpse or designing an ARG), the challenge comes from creating broad rules or a conceptual framework that can organize multiple storytellers with some overall coherence.
Likewise, interactive scholarship seems to emphasize an open-ended framework focused on a somewhat broad topic. This may come at the expense of a thesis or main, bulleted points. Instead, the user may feel strongly immersed in the topic and connect strongly with one or multiple examples. (This was my experience viewing “Public Secrets,” about injustices in the California prison system, from a 2007 issue of Vectors). Unlike interactive storytelling, I don’t see how interactive scholarship could be truly collaborative. I’m sure it’s possible but I’m not sure how precisely it would work. I’m sure it’s possible, but I don’t know of any examples on the scale of Exquisite Corpse or an ARG.
That said, these readings convince me that we still don’t really know all of the ways that storytelling and academic writing can work in interactive environments. Vectors looks like it is on the cutting edge of online scholarship. On the other hand, the Washington Post’s interactive map of the Inauguration looks to me like a “let’s do it just because we can” sort of endeavor. Evan Bregman’s thesis interview (a great digital story, by the way) demonstrates the sometimes-tiring search for true interactivity. And, as Shaffer and Gee’s study and the Summit on Educational Games’ report demonstrate, research funding is difficult to procure. Perhaps in the next few years we will see entirely new trends in interactive stories and scholarship emerge!