Final Project- Finding Daddy

For this project I took the picture collage story I made about how my daughter found her dad. My Daughter was happy to tell her story and was excited to help me with it. Together we wrote her a script to record for the video I made. I wanted the story to be from her perspective so I asked her questions about the story and wrote the script, then she approved it haha. She also helped me pick the background music. This story is very important to her and I, plus it is one that too many people can empathize with. Below is the link to my video called Finding Daddy.


Into the Unknown

We’re pulled into stories because of unresolved questions. As Ira Glass demonstrates, even a story about nothing, an average man in a quiet house, can be made compelling if it is framed and structured in a way that makes the audience ask questions. By calling the silence in the house unnatural, it primes the audience that there’s something intriguing, something unusual about the silence. And if the silence is unusual, then logically there should be a reason for why it’s so quiet. The very fact that a story is being told suggests (but doesn’t guarantee) that there is a point, a reason, as Ira Glass says “for wasting their time.” So the audience wants to know what that reason is, and it gets reinforced by the reiterations of how silent the house is.

The story remains interesting for the rest of the example as the man gets out of bed and goes down stairs in part because that question is reinforced but also because there is a sense of progress (the man moving through the house) which assures the audience that they will get an answer to their question. Of course, there is no resolution in Ira’s example, but we can see how even something unassuming as a man in an oddly quiet house can be made intriguing.

J.J. Abrams expands on that with his talk about The Mystery Box. Just like they always say with horror movies, the less you show the monster the better, and similar to McClouds theory about how we can project more onto simplified, iconic faces, giving the audience the room to start wondering about their questions allows them to get themselves involved in the story.

I find that digital literature both excels and struggles with this, especially with hypertext fiction. The work usually begins in medias res and due to the non-linear method of storytelling becomes fragmented: the audience isn’t given all the information they need in the order in which is most convenient for them to get it. Instead, the user needs to either seek out that information or wait for it to be presented. In works like afternoon, a story the pieces at first lack context to such a degree as to being almost meaningless, but as the user reads more and more lexia, they start to make connections. Characters begin to be recognized, themes emerge, and a causal narrative can begin to be pieced together.

This initial disorientation can be great, because it leaves the audience with questions and the desire for answers which makes them more engaged. However, this also needs to be tempered with assurance that the resolution will be satisfactory. If Ira Glass continued his story with the man exploring his quiet house and nothing happened, eventually the audience will get bored. I experienced this with J.J. Abrams’ show Lost, where I was very engaged during the first couple seasons because I wanted my questions answered, but by the third season the answers the show provided felt unsatisfactory and were quickly replaced with new questions, which resolved just as disappointingly.

It’s a balancing act in the end, keeping the audience intrigued by raising questions without becoming frustrating or confusing, but keeping them invested by providing just enough answers so that it doesn’t feel pointless. This can be difficult in interactive media because the author has given up the tailored experience for the audience to be able to interact with the story, and the cycle of questions and answers becomes more delicate. However, it could also allow the audience to choose whichever lead intrigues them most. This is why, even though I love combinatory poetics and storytelling and their emergent aspects, the self-driven aspect of hypermedia I think is a better fit for my final project.

Final Project

Disappointed in the results of the randomization aspect of the previous draft, I remade the project in Twine 2 and redesigned it as a hyper-link based non-linear narrative. Taking inspiration from Grammatron and afternoon, a story, the narration follows the disjointed thoughts of the main character by allowing the user to select keywords in the text to go on loops and tangents. Some passages are still randomized to add variety to the story. These semi-randomized passages act as hubs that will be looped back to multiple times by most users, and the randomized text acts to make it less repetitious but also links randomly to other passages and helping a user that may be stuck in a loop. While some passages loop back towards the beginning of the story, I tried to control the connections so that most later passages will funnel the user towards the end rather than indefinitely looping them back to the beginning. While loops, fragmentation, and repetition are key themes in the story, it is intended for the user to eventually reach the end.

I wanted to incorporate more media initially into the piece, but switching from HTML/CSS and JavaScript to Twine 2 ended up being trickier than anticipated, so more focus was put on fleshing out the text of the work and the picture elements from the first draft were cut.

On a personal note: This story is (mostly) auto-biographical about a time I was grappling with suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, homelessness, and trauma. The crash at the end of the story was something I had planned to enact, but in the end I didn’t. I decided to go back to school. It hasn’t been easy, but at least I’m still here. I guess this project was a way of trying to process it all. I eventually had to say goodbye to the Jeep, but it always got me where I needed to go.

The notorious Jeep in question, always pulled through.

Final project

My post is about a young man named Kevin who has a crush on this girl named Marlene. There’s two different paths the reader can take. A scenario where she likes him as well. Or a scenario where she doesn’t like him. Whichever one the reader chooses they get different scenarios on what to say to the girl in each case. Choose a scenario that doesn’t get you the result Kevin is looking for makes the reader have to start back from the beginning. Choose the right one he wants and the reader keeps progressing through the story.

Final Project

This is my final project, Find Dad. For this project, I created a “conspiracy board” for a missing person. I added story elements in the form of audio clips (click a piece of evidence to hear a short audio clip that gives hidden context to a scene) It took me ages to get the javascript right, I hope you enjoy! The website only works on a chrome browser.

Blog Post Eleven

The most basic stories can gather our attention or participation with something as simple as music these days. In the first video, a “boring” story is about a man waking up in a very abnormally quiet place. It is portrayed to be suspenseful. Nowadays, that combined with flickering lights and a little dramatic music, you have yourself a horror film.

These things become more and more accessible with new technology, along with a growing imagination. That is what I find so interesting about this topic. Not only has the technology evolved, but the minds of directors to understand the advancements in tech to allow themselves to theory craft new films and ideas that can or can not be produced. Very adapting career, it seems.

I can improve my storytelling by grounding myself with the roots of storytelling. The first video made things clear. There are two building blocks. An anecdote and meaningful reflection, it asks questions for the viewer to then receive an answer for in the future.

My weakness has been story development, so building blocks help me a lot. Another thing is to make sure there is not a repetitive nature unless there is meaningful reflection. If I ask questions and keep the viewer intrigued, the same action can happen over and over again.

I personally can benefit from making more compelling/interested character storylines. I, however, do find enjoyment in stories that follow a storyline. Still, each viewer could see things differently because perception is key often for a viewer to follow exactly who is or is not the main character, and what exactly is the storyline, vs sub story.

The TED Talk gave me my first reflection on the storyline of Jaws. I always saw Jaws as a shark movie, as simple as explained. Until he pointed out it wasn’t. The suspense of the actions made me skim over the facts of the estranged family with troubling issues in their marriage.

All in all, I’m focusing on being more connected with my story. I want to allow it to tell itself with a better understanding of the two building blocks in which to approach a story and detail on character development.

Blog Post Eight

For my blog post I have chosen to analyze Inanimate Alice, by Kate Pullinger.

This short story film was fascinating to me. I like how it used the symbol of photos/objects to help contrast the words written to give a feeling of the setting the author was intending.

The work was very interactive, as if I was Alice, the 8 year old who is telling the story. By using interactive push-to-play features it felt as if I was sending a message to my lost father. Like I was taking the photos of the flowers on the way. Representing a classical feeling of being a child and having fun in the midst of your family worrying about the event at hand. The innocent cluelessness.

I really enjoyed the film’s side comments such as having a dog, where she lived, the fact of being in north chine, where nothing is. Then relating that to being 500 kilometers from a restaurant.

The index was very curious to my because I felt as if the index was inserted many times. The little girl was very intuitive and gave her perspective in the story while also entertaining me in the main storyline of finding her father. The moments where her mother asks her to be quiet or turn off her phone. There are all times where the daughter’s behavior acted as an index for me to focus my attention back to the story at hand.

These uses of symbol, index, and icon in this short film were very thought out. The way this interactive story played out was actually really fun and advanced for its time in 2005.

The system of signs used in this story were easy to follow, like I’ve mentioned before, very interactive which excited me as the reader. It also was an appropriate and well-balanced taste of plot, twists, character development and letting us into their world. Her father is in the middle of nowhere looking for oil sites in northern china. That helps me to understand the mystery box of what could be wrong with him. Breaking down with no signal was my first thought behind a car crash.

The story intended these thought, they gave information in a great way before giving answers to allow me to be very interested and start assuming before having a meaningful reflection as the viewer to come bc k into the storyline.

I will attempt to not only have myself grounded in the building blocks of a good story, anecdote and meaningful reflections, I will also learn from this drawing the value of having interactive, side developments and character development to help give a story what we all find so enjoyable.