“Interactive Documentary: Setting the Field.” Studies in Documentary Film 6.2 (2012): 125–139

An interactive document or I-Doc is a platform that allows information to flow between both the author of the document and the end user in an interactive way. This view of interactivity requires a physical action to take place between the user/participant and the digital artefact. It involves a human computer interface that creates a personalized document for the user to interact with creating a deeper and more memorable experience.

I-Doc’s are primarily presented with four different interactive modes, Conversational, Hypertext, Participative and Experimental.

The conversational, This type of I-doc, uses 3D worlds to create an apparently seamless interaction with the user, lends itself to the Conversational mode because it positions the user as if ‘in conversation’ with the computer. It is also often seen in video games, It gives the user the possibility to explore freely the created 3D world also called sandbox. The user is virtually thrown into a world which they can explore and interact with.

The hypertext type of I-Doc interacts with the end user in a “Click here, go There” way. This is organised though a closed database of video clips where the user can browse the suggested videos by clicking on different hyperlinks. This gives the user an exploratory role not as open as the “Conversational mode” as the end user can only chose between pre-existing options.

The participative mode is very well described in its name, It requires the user to take part in the development of the product. The user takes part in an open and evolving database giving their part though the I-Doc. As the participative mode is used during production the information gathered directly impact the end result. Users may be involved and help launch the product, translate it or even take part in the filming process.

The experiential mode combines both the virtual and physical world. These I-Doc’s are often location based feeding the end user information customised to where they are. This creates an experience that challenges the user’s senses and their enacted perception of the world.


I believe that both makers and audiences should use I-Doc’s to their full potential as it is an excellent way for the “Makers” to gather important information and for the “Audiences” to feel involved and a part of something. That said the Makers have to keep in mind that not all information gathered from these documents is exact as there are many things impacting the end users decisions depending on I-Doc Mode/Type. Commonly seen the end user may often choose a certain path not based on what they really want but on what they would like someone to choose (ie. For lunch chose to eat fast food, but if someone walked up to me and asked what should they eat I would suggest something healthier). Depending on which type of I-Doc is used, location and the end users awareness about the subject will also impact the decisions taken

As long as this is taken into consideration and the correct type of I-Doc is chosen I believe that the implementation of an interactive document is a must for many projects to reach the level of success desired.

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