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William Ulricchio on the role of the author in interactive documentary

William Ulricchio, Director of MIT's Comparative Media Studies Program

William Ulricchio, Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program

Interactive storytelling, both narrative and documentary, is something I want to better understand – certainly it’s got a lot of potential for new storytelling forms and structures, and that’s pretty darned exciting, but I have some reservations.  I have difficulty with the concept of “author as collaborator with the audience”, in part because, as a consumer of stories, I chafe under the restrictions of a largely powerless collaboration – the communication is generally between audience and product, not between audience and creator, and that doesn’t result in a real co-creation experience.  That’s tremendously frustrating, a false empowerment of the viewer as storyteller.

But “author as curator”, discussed here by Ulricchio, is quite a different context for understanding interactive narrative, one I relate to better.  Pulling together the narrative strands of a curator is interaction, but not, to my mind, a form of co-creating the story – it’s an interpretive role.  (Interpretation certainly isn’t passive, or happening without the personality and thoughts of the interpreter – ask any actor – but it’s not the same process as collaborating on the story.) Continue reading


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Joe Sabia on the Technology of Storytelling

Still from Joe Sabia's TED talk on the technology of storytelling.

Still from Joe Sabia’s TED talk on the technology of storytelling.

In just under four minutes, Joe Sabia traces the evolving technology of storytelling, beginning in the 19th century with interactive paper-based tech, and ending seconds before the final moments of his own talk with interactive tablet-based tech. Continue reading