one of the questions from this weeks lecture was asking if databases are narrative. or if they are changing the nature of narrative. the basic answer we got was that databases are not narratives, they are lists. a narrative must follow a story, it is driven by cause and effect. a list is simply… well, a list.
a cool example adiran showed us in the lecture was the cowbird site. i checked it out when i got home and i have to say, it’s a very interesting site and some of the stories on it are great. but, like adrian said, it is not a narrative. maybe the stories it contains are narratives, but the site itself and the way it is presented isn’t. however, going through the site, it did kinda feel like a hypertext narrative. while it was not written by one author with a specific narrative intention, it still has those attributes of the open endedness of the hypertext narrative. there are unlimited possibilities of which story you will see next because each page links out to heaps of other pages that link out to more so that no two journeys through the site are the same. but, even if it allows us to endlessesly scroll through a bunch of mini stories, the cowbird platform is not itself a narrative, it is a database, a collection of stuff, tit bits and stories. it is a scale free network, people can constantly contribute their own content and it will be added to the network and connected to what has been shared by others.
so that got me thinking… is the internet just a giant database? i mean, it doesn’t really just seem like a list to me, it’s so much more. but it also doesn’t really tell a story, unless you look at it metaphorically or something and it can tell the sotry of the evolution of mankind over the last couple of decades. i mean, we pretty much have everything online and all that content together can show how society has changed. i guess that’s kind of not a narrative. maybe it is, society is affected by cause and effect and it all goes online. but probably not. well… i tried.
well, that’s anything of any sub par level of intelligence that i have for you tonight. however, there is another pretty cool site thats kinda like cowbird (and also nothing like cowbird) called “stumble upon” which you give in your preferences (such as your likes and interests) and it just finds random pages from across the entire internet that it think you would like. very easy to lose hours just stumbling across the internet. have fun 😀