Archive for the Category »W9: Interactivity «

Copyright…

So after reading all of this information about copyrighting, I’m now living in fear that my digital story is violating all sorts of copyright laws and I’m going to get hauled off to the pokey.  Excellent.

Just based on my own experience with this digital story, I am getting the impression that copyright laws are getting more and more difficult to enforce as we move into an increasingly online environment.  I think the new standard is that if you are using something for your own use, as long as you don’t sell it or show it widely, you’ll be ok.  Policing the internet is notoriously difficulty and I think a different paradigm will be needed to contend with the porous boundaries that we are now confronted with in this regard.

It has always been a difficult balance to strike, wanting to uphold the rights of the artist (or inventor, in another context) and wanting the public to have maximum enjoyment and use.    Plus, like it or not, the internet is a game changer in this area.  People from all over the world have access to content they otherwise wouldn’t and are using it in increasingly creative ways.

My DST contains a clip from a movie, and I’m hoping that none of you are going to turn me in. Otherwise I don’t expect that the copyright police have the resources to check out everyone who borrows something from a movie, surely they will be looking after bigger violators than us.  Hopefully.  I am looking forward to the discussion in class because I think this is a particularly interesting topic for a new media class, and I think copyright law is going to end up evolving in some really different ways.

Interactivity and Standards

NB: This is late. Very late. Class starts soon. I have no excuse, I just had three major deadlines this week, and this post fell by the wayside. But I figure better late than never.

Okay– I had a couple thoughts on this week’s readings.

I tried to view various interactive storytelling projects on my Droid, just ’cause I was out and about and had some free time on the bus. I had various levels of success, but in general, not great.

In general, interactive storytelling projects seem locked into flash, high-bandwidth stuff that is too slow on a mobile device, and in general are locked into a single, not-phone-friendly style sheet. Really, the most successful projects are the simplest, the ones that stick to text, HTML, and maybe pictures.

This is problematic. Being mobile-accessible is quickly shaping up to be the new digital divide, especially when dealing with minority populations, who are more likely to have a wireless device be their primary means of accessing the internet.

Personally, I’d predict that with the new generation of tablet devices taking off that’s starting with the iPad, this will become even more true, and that poor white populations will likely start following this pattern more as well. Handheld is the future for people who don’t need heavy computation power and don’t need to write stuff of length.

HTML5 isn’t all the way there, yet, Flash doesn’t work on most handheld devices– and at least Apple so far has decided that even when Flash starts working on handheld devices, it won’t be supported on their mobile OS.

I think that interactive storytelling is a really exciting potential, but it is honestly going to be hindered from the most fruitful kinds of development until we can get some standards out there that make these projects accessible to everyone. And especially since we’re all looking at this issue as public historians and educators– it’s important that we use the tools that work for the greatest number of people, if we really see our missions as democratic. A balkanized web is good for none of us, if our mission is really outreach, education, and enlightenment.

Of course, there are incentives. In the process of finding interactive standards that work across devices, you can also incorporate place-based computing deep into the standard. You want immersive digital storytelling? You can’t get more immersive than actually moving around in real life. That’s what makes ARGs such a great way to get people involved– it gives you that “through the rabbit hole” experience that changes the way you filter your experiences as you go through the day… In other words, it does exactly what we’d like to do as educators and academics.

Again, though, the potentials for place-based stuff are limited by the lack of standards. The move in smartphones toward apps has been great in that it’s opened up development, and sped progress by letting developers try to make what they need rather than waiting for the phone carrier to make it for them. But again, it’s had a balkanizing effect. Augmented reality and place-based applications are scattershot, and many are locked into one or another OS. If I’m a Droid and you’re an iPhone, there’s a lot of stuff we can’t both do, unless there are MULTIPLE avenues by which we can get to that data.

And since interactive storytelling is rhizomatic to begin with, forcing developers into this sort of reduplication is almost ENSURING that deep, interesting projects don’t get developed.

Blog Highlights: Interactivity

“The cult of the individual student, the solitary, one-way communication only for the teacher’s eyes, and for a grade, has killed higher education’s lure for many young people–especially boys. The problem is suspension of life in school, waiting until school is “over” to contribute and truly express oneself. This is changing and the nature of learning and teaching is changing for the better due to these tools.”
Douglass

“storytelling 2.0 opens the possibilities of taking various tales, told by numerous characters, and re-arranging specific dialogue to create an original story. Suddenly, users can use modular dialogue and re-fashion them in a way they were not originally intended. In storytelling 1.0 and 2.0, the audience is a participant, is a creator (especially when the story is passed down to another generation). But what we can now achieve is a modular disassemble and re-assemble that can produce limitless results–with open and discoverable resources, open and transparent licensing, open and remixable formats needed. The question though, still comes back to the point we have discussed all along: is there a story worth telling?”
Sibaja

“I’ve been thinking about the term “storytelling” and wondering if it is really the best term for the interactive potential of the digital “Web 2.0” environment. Implied in storyTELLING is a focus of the “teller” of the story and not the interaction with and participation in the story. The author is the active party (i.e. the teller) and the audience is the passive party (i.e. the story tellee). An audience may not even be necessary for storyTELLING at all. Although it reminds me of the old riddle “if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?,” storyTELLING implies that communication is not required for a story to be told. In other words, the term implies that if a story is told and no one hears, storyTELLING still took place. Might “interactive storyMAKING” better embrace the communal nature of web 2.0? . . . . Our social structure is so intimately tied to notions of authorship, ownership, and property that the role of the storyTELLER (and the product he/she creates) is buttressed in innumerable ways.”
Bergman

“‘Stories are now open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable.’” This statement seems most representative of the newest role of storytelling in an interactive environment. Stories have evolved from the pages of a book and the words of the orator’s mouth to the digital world’s landscape of possibility. Stories now exist to unite the collective thoughts of many voices and perspectives on a particular topic or event. These collaborative narratives come to life through an organic and ongoing process of interactivity; its users create and recreate the components and structure of a never-ending story.”
Lapple

“Digital storytelling works in an interactive environment by giving the user agency, rather than the medium acting upon the user solely. In TimeSpace: Inauguration, we saw the Inauguration from different vantage points–it gave us a sense of story across space. The user can see the big picture, and as we lose identity as a society, maybe we lose our social context.”
Warburton

“Not all storytelling in an interactive environment challenges the traditional role of reader or spectator. Breaking Ulysses into micro-chunks on twitter only effects the transmission of the story, challenging narrative coherence. Some storytelling might hold up better to fragmentation before becoming incoherent than James Joyce. Academic work might even benefit from increased fragmentation.”
Odiorne

“However, I think the main feature of storytelling in an interactive environment that distinguishes it from all others is its collaborative nature. Many people are involved in the creation process, combining microcontent from many different users, turning it into social media. While one person or small group of people may create the original story or idea, through comments, online discussion, response videos, and blog entries, the stories take on new life and new meaning.”
Parks

“All along we have been asking how digital storytelling will change academic arguments but perhaps we need to change digital storytelling to accommodate the academic argument. Fusing the old with the new seems to be an innovative move that our creative and intellectual minds can benefit from.”
Hubai

“But what has really sparked the Web 2.0 revolution is a third element: read/write/remix. Web 2.0 gives us the ability to pull information together from disparate sources, creating our own story from various elements. This is what makes digital storytelling work in an interactive environment. Storytelling 2.0 (Digital Storytelling utilizing Web 2.0 tools) combines an interactive environment with collaborative attitudes from the contributors – up to and including the readers!”
King

“I thought the article Before Every Child Is Left Behind really hit home with several of the discussions we’ve had in class recently. It addressed the need for innovative thinking, the lack of innovative education going on in the classroom, the difficulty of working epistemic games into a curriculum focused on standardized teaching and testing, and how devastating this will be to the future of our nation. I felt like I was reading a future chapter from a history book that describes how the U.S. fell from grace as a superpower.”
Cook

“It is not enough that these tools and creative means to teach through digital storytelling exist, it is incumbent upon us to take the brave step to learn, and incorporate these tools into our experience. “
Goodwin

“With web 2.0 platforms, collaboration can occur in real time, with real time feedback and critiques as well. This question reminded me of that youtube video we watched in class showing the use of google docs to ask a girl on a date. This same type of engaged discussion can translate to the world of academia in digital environments.”
Plumb

“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.”
Janes

When reading the WaPo article, one relives the Inauguration, even if you weren’t there, allowing multiple perspectives and different stories that intersect (or not) within the greater story. This sort of interaction has profound implications for teaching, especially teaching history. . . . Text, like a history textbook, utilizes a linear format to tell the story, but using a digital environment one can create a timeline, multiple points of interest, allowing the viewer to see some of the things that were occurring at the same time and how everything blended together.
Fachner

“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. . . 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.”
James

Category: W9: Interactivity  Comments off
Interactivity

So what is the story?  The question today is more what is the new software and how is going to get me where I want to go without too much interruption.  The site  (http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools) that has the 70 latest Web 2.0 tools seems to be the most fitting for this question.

As a multimedia instructor, this site is very handy and yet frustrating because as always there is too much information and too much to choose from.  How  does one sort out all the fluff from the stuff that one needs to  get the job done?  Speaking of which, what is the job anymore?   There are so many sophisticated ways of producing special effects now that interactivity is redefined daily.   Where is the baby and who spilled the proverbial bath water.

All the selection and non stop development of tools is frustrating to someone who likes to keep things simple and uncomplicated.  Perhaps it is a sign of my generation or perhaps I am way tired of information overload.  This is one reason I do not teach software based courses anymore.  The amount of learning to learn the tools takes up too much time.

I only have one thing to say about educators who try and teach all this stuff…good luck because you  could be on line twenty four seven and never catch up to all that is going on and all that you need to know to teach or learn your craft.  It is comparable to a bowl of mercury.

Moore’s law is a great example of how everything is speeding up and doubling at the rate of every two years and is not expected to slow down until 2015.  Will we then be able to breathe a little and just operate with what we have?  The continuation of all this proliferation of software development in some ways mirrors our capitalistic thinking processes and in some ways mirrors our intellectual searching for newer and better and more improved.  But my question is when is Web 3.0 coming?

This question is a direct result of the conditioning I have been under over the past twenty years or so to be on the edge of technology.  However, today I am simply not buying into all the newness.  I utilize tools that have been standardized such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver.  I try not to make a fuss about their dashboard changes every two years.  I even do not buy the latest and greatest software versions anymore.  My money software program is officially five years old.  Who cares if the company is going out of business or that the software is being discontinued.

As for interactivity and storytelling I believe that concepts will repeat themselves eventually.  Just like in the art world where an artist appropriates from another artist.

Interactivity, as I noted in my comment on another post, is an element of storytelling in many cultures. Audience and storyteller reinforce each other, make noise, move, elicit the story from the teller, who never tells it twice the same way. Audience members form the story with the teller, or become a chorus, or call for changes. We have perhaps lived in a period in the West in which storytelling was less interactive than it had been throughout time and elsewhere. That is because we have lived through the emergence of print and broadcast media, journalism, etc. in which stories became mass produced articles of consumption delivered in full color, moving, with sounds and music, and lacking any sort of 2-way expression. We sat motionless in front of the box (radio or tv), on the box (desk or couch or theater seat) and were expected to be a polite listener. No more. Computers, initially a passive medium for reading and an active one for producing text and image, are now Portals to a Lost World of interactive storytelling, a global interactive medium. The interactive element has returned, but we need to re-learn it. I really enjoyed looking at all of the different examples of literary, artistic and technological storytelling–Jonathan’s TED presentation on feelings is a bit on the techno-side but makes great abstract, moving art, and is quite meaningfully conceived and constructed, unlike a lot of techno-art that leaves the viewer wondering what it all means.
As for the classroom examples, I have had my own humble experience of transformation. Two girls in my history class were always distracted, seldom prepared, and usually pulling each other off task, looking hopelessly innocent when I called them on it. An assignment I do for studying Greek mythology involves having students do a comic strip or other rendering of a myth. These two girls marshalled some family members, put them in chitons and videotaped the story of Helen of Troy and Priam. It was amazing, since both of them had trouble formulating essays, but were quite good at the more visual, active medium. The students and teachers in the programs described in the readings combined the virtues of learning the technologies, teamwork, generating topics and projects from their worlds, and using video and film to change their communities. Writing papers as proof of learning is overrated and tiresome (I am near the end of coursework and still haven’t written a single paper I would want to read, or “only a historian would care.” On the other hand, working on web projects, leading & watching discussions in workshops, and learning digital media have enhanced my experience. The cult of the individual student, the solitary, one-way communication only for the teacher’s eyes, and for a grade, has killed higher education’s lure for many young people-especially boys. The problem is suspension of life in school, waiting until school is “over” to contribute and truly express oneself. This is changing and the nature of learning and teaching is changing for the better due to these tools.

storytelling 2.0

I really enjoyed reading the articles this week, and even more so the responses they produced. It’s really interesting to see how people understand “storytelling” and how they understand what “2.o” represents. I don’t pretend to understand all of it myself, but I think back to Lev Manovich’s ideas of modularity (I apologize if any Clio 1′ers from last semester shuddered at hearing Manovich). If we are able to take digital components, and break them down into their modular components…by nature anyone can pick up these components and re-arrange them in order to create a different product-either slightly altered or radically different. BUT, if you take modular components from disparate sources to create a new product, then the possibilities are endless.

A mashup I saw last semester came to mind:

the mother of all funk chords

OK, if you didn’t bother to click the link above, and hear an amazingly “fun”ky mashup, my next comment doesn’t make sense. If you look at this mashup, replace the 1-3 second “sound-bite” with a phrase-each one pulled in from separate sources of storytelling.

So you could conceivably construct a fictional story where the main character…let’s say Jesus… is sharing a long-lost pearl of wisdom with Luke, based on a lost book of Luke that was found by US soldiers in northern Iraq in 2008. In his warning to Luke, we’ll construct Jesus’ words using mash-up cuts from Star Wars to produce this dialogue: (Jesus) “Patience isn’t too big, it’s enough. You know it to be true. ” (Luke) “But, Father, I am a boy. I get excited…it isn’t quite enough to search for patience.” This fictional piece of dialogue comes from Star Wars lines such as Darth Vader saying “Luke, I am your father…search your feelings, you know it to be true”, Yoda saying “the boy has no patience” “…and well you should not” Luke saying “but it’s too big”, Leia saying “being held by you isn’t quite enough to get me excited.” and ” I am not a committee.”

Ok, a screenwriter I am not. But storytelling 2.0 opens the possibilities of taking various tales, told by numerous characters, and re-arranging specific dialogue to create an original story. Suddenly, users can use modular dialogue and re-fashion them in a way they were not originally intended. In storytelling 1.0 and 2.0, the audience is a participant, is a creator (especially when the story is passed down to another generation). But what we can now achieve is a modular disassemble and re-assemble that can produce limitless results–with open and discoverable resources, open and transparent licensing, open and remixable formats needed. The question though, still comes back to the point we have discussed all along: is there a story worth telling?

storyTELLING

I’ve been thinking about the term “storytelling” and wondering if it is really the best term for the interactive potential of the digital “Web 2.0” environment. Implied in storyTELLING is a focus of the “teller” of the story and not the interaction with and participation in the story. The author is the active party (i.e. the teller) and the audience is the passive party (i.e. the story tellee). An audience may not even be necessary for storyTELLING at all. Although it reminds me of the old riddle “if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?,” storyTELLING implies that communication is not required for a story to be told. In other words, the term implies that if a story is told and no one hears, storyTELLING still took place. Might “interactive storyMAKING” better embrace the communal nature of web 2.0?

Simple, interactive stories have been around for a while. I recall enjoying “choose your own ending” books and “Encyclopedia Brown” mysteries which invite the reader to parse a story for clues and figure how the bad guy (usually a kid named Bugs Meanie) got caught. But in these instances, the narrative is still tightly controlled and a clear, delineated relationship between the author and the reader exists. Yes, this environment is interactive, but this is still storyTELLING in the sense that the author has created something for the reader. Video games like Myst that were mentioned in the readings are “high-tech” versions of the same paradigm.

A more interactive, open-ended model involves abandoning the notion of authorship altogether. At the risk of exposing my inner geek, my most powerful experience with truly interactive storytelling involves Dungeons and Dragons. I used to get together with a group of seven guys approximately one evening a month for about 5 hours to play. Over the course of 6 years, we developed a story arc to which everyone contributed. No single person could be considered the “author” or storyTELLER, yet there was most certainly an interactive compelling narrative which engaged all participants. Although I don’t have any personal experience with “The Sims” or “Second Life,” my understanding is that these games use technology to create a virtual environment to build the same kind of dynamic, interactive, communal storylines.

The digital environment has the potential to change some aspects of academic writing, but to the extent that academia rewards authorship as “contributions to the field,” I don’t see the paradigm of storyTELLING changing. Academics receive social, professional, and financial rewards for writing/creating in their own name (and the name of the institutions they represent), not engaging in anonymous communal experiences or repositories of information like Wikipedia. Our social structure is so intimately tied to notions of authorship, ownership, and property that the role of the storyTELLER (and the product he/she creates) is buttressed in innumerable ways.

Interactivity

“Stories are now open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable.”  This statement seems most representative of the newest role of storytelling in an interactive environment. Stories have evolved from the pages of a book and the words of the orator’s mouth to the digital world’s landscape of possibility.  Stories now exist to unite the collective thoughts of many voices and perspectives on a particular topic or event.  These collaborative narratives come to life through an organic and ongoing process of interactivity; its users create and recreate the components and structure of a never-ending story.  Stories exist beyond the finality of words on paper to the endless imagination of its revolving creators.  The ability to navigate a story through images, archives, artifacts, oral histories, etc also adds an emotional connection to the story which may or may not have been easily evoked through words or text.  The 9/11 archive is a compelling example for this type of emotional connection; offering those who were not directly connected to the event the opportunity to experience the depth and profound impact it had on our country.  In this way, stories can be viewed, felt, experienced, and remembered, rather than heard, read, and forgotten.   

With regard to academic writing and argument, it seems the digital environment elicits a greater exploration beyond text.  What is investigated and laid out in scholarly writing requires a deeper examination and a different kind of preparation to turn into images or an interactive experience.  One example is the interactive reading wall.  While the original content for the wall was derived from academic writing and scholarly preparation, it is the presentation of the material that reaches a higher intellect and deeper emotional level. Participants can immerse themselves in the material at their own pace, focusing on the elements that speak to them the most.  Academic writing may only lend itself to a particular audience of other academic writers and scholars.  A digital environment opens up the material to a larger audience and engages those who may not have otherwise felt compelled to do so.  How many people would rather navigate a reading wall versus sitting in library reading a dusty old text book?

Interactivity

Digital storytelling works in an interactive environment by giving the user agency, rather than the medium acting upon the user solely. In TimeSpace: Inauguration, we saw the Inauguration from different vantage points–it gave us a sense of story across space. The user can see the big picture, and as we lose identity as a society, maybe we lose our social context.

I thought the 9/11 archive was very appropriate for digital storytelling because so many people alive today lived through it. Hence there would be a desire to interact with the material, rather than take it in more passively if it were a subject that many didn’t know about and would be far more likely to relate to in a detached way. And you see it on the site: people uploading their own pictures and telling their own stories.

In Evan’s thesis project interview video, he suggests that game and narrative are different things, but maybe the game derives from the same source.

The section on ARGS were interesting, the issue there is whether one loses touch with their personality, and therefore, learning (among other things). This would be my greatest fear in developing an ARG.

Will ARGs be the way of the history future, I don’t know. One of the issues is to assess whether people lose touch with reality and the uncertainties of life. I don’t agree with McGonagle that games necessarily make people better.

The digital environment changes academic writing and argument by their own story structure (AGRs). It changes the argument by calling into question whether one needs an argument. Still, the web is here to stay. Web 2.0 storytelling said it best: “stories now are open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable.”

Interactive Storytelling

Storytelling in an interactive environment can be as simple as making a relatively closed narrative available for reuse, like embedding a video on a social networking site, or more open to critique, for example, commenting on a blog. It can also be more complex, allowing for multiple authors, collaborating without the limits of time and space or as part of a puzzle or game space. A story can unfold through user choices in multiple environments.

In Alternate Reality Gaming, a story can exist over a number of websites as well as in the ‘real’ world of physical spaces, museums, phone booths, billboards. As Evan’s Thesis points out, game spaces do not often hold the same storytelling power as say, films, which depend heavily on voyeurism, identification with certain characters, narrative closure, and a host of other techniques in which the viewer becomes immersed as a spectator.

Not all storytelling in an interactive environment challenges the traditional role of reader or spectator. Breaking Ulysses into micro-chunks on twitter only effects the transmission of the story, challenging narrative coherence. Some storytelling might hold up better to fragmentation before becoming incoherent than James Joyce. Academic work might even benefit from increased fragmentation.

The Stolen Time Archive, in Vector’s Journal, is a good example of how academic writing can change in a digital environment. The emphasis in this project is on argumentation as part of a process of analysis and conjecture, rather than as a tool in service of a conclusion. Like much current digital scholarship, or historical scholarship, generally, Alice Gambrell’s work is based on an archive of materials, which can accessed through a list or a collage. All of the items have at least two rather disparate interpretations that reflect strands of current scholarship and develop sophisticated and coherent arguments. In contrast to text scholarship, the interpretation of primary source material appears more open and contingent. The reader may look at the archival material directly, before experiencing the context of the academic arguments. Digital presentation allows the creator to present competing interpretations without ultimately concluding that one is more ‘correct’ for the primary source.