July 16th: Hypertext and Hypermedia


My Boyfriend Came Back from the War, by Olia Lialina (1996)
CityFish, by J.R. Carpenter
Found Floppy, by Andy Campbell
How to Rob a Bank, by Alan Bigelow
With Those We Love Alive, Porpentine (2014)
Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw, by Donna Leishman (2004)

blog prompt:

Hypertext – hyperlinks connecting documents – opens up new ways to write, think and connect with others in networks.  Hypertext created the web, spawned new forms of art and ways of presenting knowledge. But has hypertext done anything new for storytelling? What kind of stories work best in digital form?

A digital story can be made of hyperlinks that follow a linear sequence, like pages of a book. But what about multilinear networks, random access and user interactivity – computer properties that break away from strictly linear sequencing?  Electronic games certainly use narrative forms and there is a rich history of literary fiction that have game-like qualities. Can the computer do for storytelling what it has done for gaming?

Explore the works listed above. Find two that most appeal to you and write a blog post about how the works can be considered stories or not. Do the works present coherent story worlds? What keeps you imaginatively engaged? How does navigation structure bring you into the story? Is linear sequencing clear, vague or unimportant? How do various signs present and/or conceal the works’ meaning?

video lecture:



Assignment #4 :   Hypermedia Story 


So far, we have been exploring more conventional, linear story forms using digital tools – text editors, remix methods and visual design tools. The class will now pivot towards more computational processes in the making and presentation of digital stories. Digital media reduces all forms of media to machine code so that the computer will know how to display an intended sign. Digital stories created by and for a computer environment can include non-linear navigation, direct access to data, stored data in databases, variables, conditionals, search, interface design, random and parallel processes, hyperlinks and other forms of user interaction or “agency”.

Digital storytelling using computational processes creates some complications for our conventional notions of story and narrative. Even though a website typically presents multiple links, giving the user a choice in navigation, that user is still following a single linear path – their own. The question and challenge for storytelling is how to design the user’s own path (navigation through media files) so that it will lead to the understanding of a story or  “story world”.

“Hypermedia” refers to linked media. This can be a linear or directed path of links – for example, from text, to image to video – like pages in a book. A work of hypermedia can also present a network of links – branching or open – where repetition of story elements are part of the experience of navigation. Social media, blogs or microblog websites, can create networks of linked media while maintaining a linear, time-stamped path. A twitter story might develop episodically, with links out to media or webpages in each tweet.  “Transmedia” refers to stories that relate story elements across different media. A transmedia story might chain a website, to a blog, to a video, to a comment, to a phone number, to a text message, to the geolocation of a physical place with live performers.  Geo-coordinates, for example, might unlock a new chapter on a phone.

In this assignment, you or your group, will explore the possibilities of storytelling use any of the above computational processes. This is an exercise that might be the start or framework of a larger idea that can develop further as a final project.


Macro and Micro Patterns: Fractal Narratives




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