Interactivity and Storytelling

When I first started reading “Web 2.0 Storytelling: Emergence of a New Genre”, I was a bit unnerved by the first couple of lines, “A story has a beginning, a middle, and a cleanly wrapped-up ending. Whether told around a campfire, read from a book, or played on a DVD, a story goes from point A to B and then C.”  I was shocked that this this was the way the article started because if there is anything that we have learned from this class, it is that there is no universal way to define a story, and that as our society evolves, the ways that stories can be told are becoming increasingly diverse and innovative.  Luckily the article continued on to tell us about how storytelling has changed.

The readings and stories explored for this week’s class show that interactivity can give the recipient greater agency in digesting the story.  For example, The Washington Post’s “TimeSpace: Inauguration” allows the visitor to jump from photos to text to videos about President Obama’s inauguration.  This format allows the viewer to interact with a timeline in the way that he or she desires; the participant is able to experience the event in a way that makes sense with his or her preferred style of learning.  Interactivity also gives the author/creator more room for creativity.  The Library of Congress’ The Exquisite Corpse project allowed multiple authors to breath life into a story.  Although this particular story takes a somewhat linear story line, it demonstrates to the reader that interactivity is allowing for new modes of creating stories.  Stories developed through the digital storytelling format are no longer relegated to this “A then B then C” format, but rather are allowed to explore outside of the traditional realm.

In regards to how interactivity can change academic arguments, I think the possibilities are huge and could give great returns on the academic front.  For example, historians often critique one another’s work based on the argument that her or she would have said.  How many history book reviews have we read that say something to the tune of, “I wish the author would have explored [insert topic not particularly relevant to this particular work],” or “I would have liked the author to focus more on [insert subject matter related to reviewer's area of interest].”  Perhaps increased interactivity in academic writing would help deflect some of this criticism by making modern academic arguments less of a linear statement and more of a well-researched but roundabout path of exploration.

Category: W9: Interactivity
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