Notes for Dean

Dear Dean

These are some notes on your draft. I hope you find them useful.

Base structure (as I’ve outlined before):

1. Describe the dimensions of area or domain you are working ( i.e. narrative or even horror narrative)

2. Clearly define what the problem is or what is the question(s) you are trying to answer (i.e. The horror narrrative has evolved to suit cinematic forms. As new modes of production, delivery and consumption emerge through media convergence, how can the poetics for horror narratives be adapted to suit these new forms?)

3. Succinctly explain why this is important or why this should be of interest to anyone (i.e. Entertainment is not just a significant industry, it shapes and reflects the values and parameters of our cultural identities. Understanding these cultural forms is an important component of engagement beyond passive consumption.)

4. Describe how you went about addressing the problem or answering the question

(i.e.

a. You surveyed a range of works that were seminal to to the development of successful networked narrative

b. You experimented with a sequential range of narrative projects

c. You evaluated the success of these projects )

4. Propose a way forward (i.e you describe a model for making mobile narratives)

5. Describe what have you learned (i.e. technical constraints, usefulness of old models, future works that embody your proposed model such as the wishing well)

Notes:

Section 1. Your research is about narrative. It is not about media convergence. Media convergence is an important factor but it is not the only factor. As a practitioner and theorist it is important that you display a discursive and critical stance toward your subject.

Section 1 of your text needs to be summarised. Overall, it is characterised by repetition and hyperbole, ‘a genie’s lamp, a magical portal to a networked nirvana…’ . You have a tendency towards a breathless evocation of some form of device-enhanced paradise without mentioning the qualifications that I’m sure you would make in general discussion or if someone else made the assertions that you are making.

For example, ‘ at the touch of a button, a user can capture, forward or upload information to…’. Now maybe I’ve missed something but I’ve yet to encounter a phone interface that actually works like this. Most people I know (young and old) struggle with inconsistent interfaces and the constraints of flawed sequences of commands that often mean that only the simplest functionality is actually used.

I think there is research available to support similar difficulties that most people have with video recorders etc.

The point I’m making here is that you have enough experience with mobile media not to provide us with a critical overview of the constraints as well as the possibilities.

More important is that what we need to be reading here is not so much about mobile phones as about ‘narrative’. What is narrative? What is the scope of your interest and why should we be interested?

Is it that you are interested in the role (or fate) of narrative in convergent media?

Is narrative dead or is there a new model of narrative emerging?

When you have provided a context for us to understand your domain of interest you can begin to describe the factors (relating to media convergence) that we need to consider.

When you talk about these factors it is important to describe the impact of convergent media on your own narrative project. What changed and why? When you write about these factors work out from your own experiences. What you have written in section 1 tends to include restatements of some broad observations made by others. To be engaging and rigorous you need to be very specific and to anchor quotes etc in your own work.

Section 2.

You open by repeating some of the text from the first section, ‘ old wisdoms cannot be refashioned’ but you then go on to refashion some old wisdoms. I’m not sure why you want to go back into the analogue (cinematic) world for your models here. The relationships between old media and new media have been explored for a long time by major thinkers like Marshall McLuhan, Jerry Mander, Noam Chomsky etc. Many of their observations such as McLuhan’s ‘new media makes old media content’ have been proven to be so prescient that they almost become cliches. The web is more than 10 years old and there is no need to argue that it has changed the world. We are already in a ‘digital future.’

I found most of this section quite strained because it was a though you wanted to ignore the fact that people have been making networked narratives for a decade. It is simple not true to say that ‘ there is very little in the way of resource material for such a process (writing online narratives) . These days I’m way out of date on networked narratives but here are just just a few of the classic texts:

1. Bush, Vannevar. As we May Think ASCII text version: First published in The Atlantic Monthly, 1945

2. Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes, trans. by Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977

3. Nelson, Ted. Xanadu

4. Ulmer, Gregory L. [1985] Applied Grammatology: Post(e)-Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys. Johns Hopkins University Press,

5. Landow, George P. [1992] Other Convergences: Intertextuality, Multivocality, and De-centeredness , Johns Hopkins University Press

6. Landow, George P. [1992] Reading and Writing in a Hypertext Environment

7. Richard A. Lanham, The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts, The University of Chicago Press 1993

8. Squier, Joseph. Life With Father (a very powerful online narrative)

9. Amy Freed, Amy and Brown, Robert [1995] A storyspace Site of Convergence: Autobiography and Post-structuralism

10. Bolter, J. [1996] Degrees of Freedom

11. For sheer power and compelling engagement, I’ve long been a great fan of Young-Hae Chang “Heavy Industries” for example:
Dakota [http://www.yhchang.com/DAKOTA.html]

Into the night [http://www.yhchang.com/INTO_THE_NIGHT.html ]

Artist Statement [http://www.yhchang.com/PERFECT_ARTISTIC_WEB_SITE.html]

And then there’s UTube. Surely this is one of the most fertile zones for micro-narratives and their accompanying interactions - what about the tagging phenomenon?

Post script:

One of primary concerns is your choice of text as a suitable form for your exegesis. When reading your text, I craved examples, real examples that illustrated not just the narratives but also the media constraints you have encountered. I think I’ve said this to you before but why can’t your ‘media mongrels’ blog contain your exegesis?

We as readers need links to media files and a networked/mobile medium would be more appropriate.

It takes me back to your exhibition. The fact that you all chose to enlarge and print out the low-res images spoke to the limitations of how to consume mobile media and its role as a production tool.

I hope this helps. I’ll add more as I think some more. I think you’ve got what you need to reshape this but I also think you need to take a much stronger position than you have been.


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