Readings #8

6292717216_39a94ee71b_nDuncan Watts, Photo by TedxMidAtlantic


The Duncan Watts reading raised the idea that if we start to actively look for them, networks are in fact all around us. It’s also raised that networks are just human-made either. I think one of the more important ideas Watts raised came at the start of the readings – that the total network power is sometimes greater than the sum of its contents.

Albert-László Barabási wrote about how networks, especially human social networks, involve clusters, and said that the notion that network links are random was killed off by the discovery of connectors. Barabási said connectors, a part of a network that has many more links than the average, are found in many complex networks, including human social networks and the network of the web.

Symposium #6

What is the untapped potential of hypertext? Will we ever be satisfied with it?

Elliot bringing up hypertext within video as a development in hypertext reminded me of Strange Talk’s interactive music video for Climbing Walls.

Stange Talk & Proctor & Gamble’s formerly interactive video clip

I remember seeing it on the front page of YouTube and being disgusted by the unashamed advertising, but it’s a pretty relevant example of hypermedia in videos. The music video was an ad for Cheer Detergent – viewers were invited the click on objects, where they were taken to a Facebook page and given the chance to win those items. It was a fairly innovative use of hypermedia and the ad campaign was successful in gaining attention, but you have to hope that hypermedia in videos has a lot more interesting scope than advertising.

Interactive Narrative

The key take-out of the Douglas chapters for me involved the sequentiality of the interactive novel. Douglas says that although it is sometimes described as non-sequential, it definitely isn’t, because anything that has parts following after other parts is sequential – a box which interactive novels of course ticks.

Interactive writing becoming more prominent seems to make sense when you consider the relationship between interactive novels and conversational realities. Whilst they don’t currently address all the points of conversation that were raised, I guess they are a step in the same direction. But it’s important to note Douglas’ point on the tradition book and interactive novels co-existing, because traditional narratives work in a different way – they involve a total consumption of a created world. There’s a joy in being taken on a journey and not necessary agreeing with every turn.

This, though, assumes that people actually want to read like they converse, which I don’t think is the case a lot of the time. Of course there is a heavy shift to two-way communication in reading material (for example newspaper columns inviting immediate comments in their digital versions, blogs and blog platforms like tumblr allowing people to build on existing content with ease), these mostly rely on a story being told in full first, and expanded on second. One of the newest semi-social writing platforms to take off, Medium (created by one of the founders of Blogger), is dedicated to people taking short amounts of time out to read in a fairly one-way structure (although it claims to be dedicated to collaboration, in essence it’s just write and read). 

However Douglas’ point that interactive novels allow for the reader to decide when the ending is, that the ending comes when the reader is satisfied and that may come at the multitude of times, is very relevant to the reading habits of audiences.