An interaction paradigm that combines 'storytelling' with
opportunities for interaction, as for example
in the blendo approach discussed in section 3.2,
would seem to be most favorable.
Interaction then may result in either changing the direction
of the story, or in the display of additional information
or even transactions with a third party
(for example to buy some goodies).
Whatever your target audience, whatever your medium, whatever your message, you have to be convincing if not compelling.
In the tradition of rethorics,
which is the ancient craft of convincing others,
a new line of research has arisen under the name
of persuasive technology.
In the words of my collegue, Claire Dormann, persuasion is:
- a communication process in which the communicator seeks to elicit a desired response from his receiver
- a conscious attempt by one individual to change the attitudes, beliefs or behaviours of another individual or group individual through the transmission of some messages.
In other words,
the purpose of persuasion is to accomplish one of the following goals: to induce
the audience to take some action, to educate the audience (persuade them to accept to accept information or data), or to provide the audience with an experience.
In the area of multimedia, one may think of many
Quoting Claire Dormann,
in interactive media, the field of application of
persuasive technology ranges from E-commerce,
social marketing (like an anti-AIDS campaign) to museum exhibits.
Also E-commerce provides an obvious example.
To convince people to buy more, more persuasive messages and technologies are developed through the use of humorous and emotional communication, agents (such as price finders) or 3D representations of products and shops.
For health campaigns (or any campaign of your choice) one can imagine
3D information spaces with agents presenting different point of views
and where users are given different roles to play.
In a museum you might want to highlight key points through innovative
and fun interactive exhibits.
Although the subject of persuasive technology
is far less technology-oriented than the name suggests,
multimedia (in a broad sense)
form an excellent platform to explore persuasion.
As concerns multimedia authoring, set yourself a goal,
do the assignment, explore your capabilities,
convey that message,
and make the best of it.
What can you hope to achieve when working with the new media?
Think about it.
Are the new media really new?
Does anyone want to produce something that nobody has
ever seen or heard before?
But it takes some philosophy to get that sufficiently clear.
In [Remediation], the new media are analyzed from the
perspective of remediation, that is the mutual influence
of media on eachother in a historical perspective.
In any medium, according to [Remediation],
there are two forces at work:
- immediacy -- a tendency towards transparent immersion, and
- hypermediacy -- the presence of referential context
Put in other words, immediacy occurs when the medium itself is
forgotten, so to speak, as is (ideally) the case in realistic painting,
dramatic movies, and (perhaps in its most extreme form)
in virtual reality.
Hypermediacy may be observed when either the medium
itself becomes the subject of our attention as in some
genres of modern painting, experimental literature
and film making, or when there is an explicit reference
to other related sources of information or areas of experience,
as in conceptual art, many web sites, and also in CNN news,
where apart from live reports of ongoing action,
running banners with a variety of information keep the
viewers up to date of other news facts.
Now, the notion of remediation comes into play
when we observe that every medium draws on the history
of other media, or even its own history, to achieve
a proper level of immediacy, or 'natural immersion'.
For example, Hollywoord movies are only realistic to the
extent that we understand the dramatic intent of cuts,
close-ups and storylines, as they have been developed
by the industry during the development of the medium.
As another example, the realism of virtual reality
can only be understood when we appreciate linear
perspective (which arose out of realistic Renaissance
painting) and dynamic scenes from a first
person perspective (for which we have been prepared
by action movies and TV).
Even if you may argue about the examples,
let it be clear that each (new) medium refers,
at least implicitly, to another medium,
or to itself in a previous historic phase.
So, what does this mean for new media, like TV or virtual reality?
Let's start with virtual reality.
[Remediation] comment on a statement of Arthur C. Clarke
Virtual Reality won't merely replace TV. It will eat it alive.
by saying that
... he is right in the sense that virtual reality remediates
television (and film) by the strategy of incorporation.
This strategy does not mean that virtual reality can obliterate
the earlier visual point-of-view technologies,
rather it ensures that these technologies remain as least
as reference points by which the immediacy of virtual
reality is measured.
So, they observe "paradoxically, then, remediation is as important for
the logic of transparency as it is for hypermediacy".
Following [Remediation], we can characterize the notions
of immediacy and hypermediacy somewhat more precisely.
- epistemological: transparency, the absence of mediation
- psychological: the medium has disappeared, presence, immersion
- epistemological: opacity, presence of the medium and mediation
- psychological: experience of the medium is an experience of the real
Now, sharpen your philosophical teeth at the following statement,
taken from [Remediation], p. 224:
Convergence is the mutual remediation of at least
three important technologies -- telephone, televison
and computer -- each of which is a hybrid of technical,
social and economic practice,
and each of which offers its own path to immediacy.
The telephone offers the immediacy of voice or the interchange of voices in real-time.
Television is a point-of-view technology that promises immediacy through its insistent real-time monitoring of the world.
The computer's promise of immediacy comes through the combination of three-dimensional graphics, automatic (programmed) action, and an interactivity that television can not match.
As they come together, each of these is trying to absorb the others and promote its own version of immediacy.
Let us once more come back to virtual reality
and its possible relevance in our information age, [Remediation], p. 225::
in the claim that new media should not be merely archival
the rhetoric of virtual reality finally enters in,
with its promise of the immediacy of experience
through transparency. .
So, with respect to the new media, we may indeed conclude:
what is in fact new is the particular way
in which each innovation rearranges and reconstitutes
the meaning of earlier elements.
What is new about media is therefore also old and familiar:
that they promise the new by remediating what has gone before.
The true novelty would be a new medium that did not refer to the other media
For our culture, such mediation without remediation seems
to be impossible.
example(s) -- mobius
Rurger van Dijk, a former student of mine,
has implemented an interactive story in flash.
The story is a romance,
told with images displaying scenes from
the life of the players, a young man and a young women.
The user can choose perspectives, either the
man's or woman's, and watch the story from that point of view.
The story is both non-linear and circular.
The scenes can be connected in various way, and order
is not compulsory.
research directions -- narrative structure
Where do we go from here?
What is the multimedia computer, if not a new medium?
To close this section on multimedia authoring,
let us reconsider in what way the networked
multimedia computer differs from other media,
by taking up the theme of convergence again.
The networked multimedia computer seems to remediate
all other media.
Or, in the words of [Hamlet]:
(p. 27) ... merging previously disparate technologies of communication and representation into a single medium.
The networked computer acts like a telephone in offering one-to-one real-time communication, like a television in broadcasting moving pictures, like an auditorium in bringing groups together for lectures and discussion, like a library in offering vast amounts of textual information for reference, like a museum in its ordered presentation of visual information, like a billboard, a radio, a gameboard and even like a manuscript in its revival of scrolling text.
In [Hamlet], an analysis is given of a great variety
of computer entertainment applications,
varying from shoot-em-up games to collaborative interactive role
[Hamlet] identifies four essential properties that
make these applications stand out against the entertainment offered
by other media, which include books and TV.
Two key properties determine the interactive nature
of computer entertainment applications:
- procedural -- 'programmed media' ...
- participatory -- offering agency
All applications examined in [Hamlet] may be regarded
as 'programmed media', for which interactivity is determined
by 'procedural rules'.
With agency is meant that the user can make active choices
and thus influence the course of affairs, or at least
determine the sequence in which the material is experienced.
Another common characteristic of the applications examined
is what [Hamlet] calls immersiveness.
Immersiveness is determined by two other key properties:
- spatial -- explorable in (state) space
- encyclopedic -- with (partial) information closure
All applications are based on some spatial metaphor.
Actually, many games operate in 'levels' that can be
accessedonly after demonstrating a certain degree
Networked computer applications allow for incorporating an almost
unlimited amount of information.
Some of the information might be open-ended, with storylines
that remain unfinished.
Closure, then, is achieved simply by exhaustive exploration
or diminishing attention.
Coming back to the question what the 'new medium',
that is the networked multimedia computer, has to offer
from the perspective of multimedia authoring,
two aspects come to the foreground:
- narrative format
- procedural authorship
The narrative format is incredibly rich,
offering all possibilities of the multimedia
computer, including 3D graphics, real-time sound,
text. In short, everything up to virtual reality.
But perhaps the most distinguishing feature
of the new medium is that true authorship
requires both artistic capabilities
as well as an awareness of the computational
power of the medium.
That is to say, authorship also means
to formulate generic computational rules for telling a story
while allowing for interactive interventions by the user.
Or, as phrased in [Hamlet],
the new cyberbard must create prototypical
stories and formulaic characters that, in some way,
lead their own life and tell their stories
following their innate (read: programmed) rules.
In section 8.3
and appendix C, we will present
a framework that may be used as a testbed
for developing programmed narrative structures
with embodied agents as the main characters.
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