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The XY&Z of Digital Storytelling
Dramaturgy, directionality and design
Peter Samis Tim Svenonius
Assoc. Curator, Interpret...
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via http://www.vox.com/
As of 2013…
19 minutes per day of analog reading…
26 mins/day for box games, card games,
& leisure computer use including web
surfing…
And almost 3 hours for television…
“Part of me believes that if film had
been invented before the book,
books may never have happened.”
–Ken Taylor, Philosop...
So what are some implications for the
way we write stories online?
That first moment when the ground falls away…
More bait on the hook: animated data viz.
Moment of Truth
1. Since it was first published in 2012,
how many of you have read Snow Fall?
2. How many of you have fini...
Speaking of
avalanches, our
attention, too,
gains velocity as
it moves down
the page.
X/Y content model
X = Browse
Y = Deep Dive
Avge Web page
visit: < 1 min.
80.3% of time
spent “above the
fold”
–Jakob Nielsen, 2010, 2011
Will anyone reach
the end of the
article?
Or has attention-
deficit behavior
become our new
normal?
With publishers aiding
and abetting,
inserting diversions
along ...
If so, why are we still telling stories in long columns of
text?
We now specialize in browsing.
Here’s the X-Y playing out in apps and books,
like exhibition catalogs.
Other Models: Matrices
And less time-based, random-access Grids
A vast landscape of teasers.
Retail becomes electric.
“Staff Picks” have turned into an invisible algorithm.
Aggregators offer stories loosely connected by rubric:
And display them in a pleasing, sequential manner…
We have moved into a world of
standardization, which has brought us
great boons:
• Search-Engine optimized
• CSS-conformin...
Is what we’re dealing with simply the
replacement of Flash by WordPress?
Has immersive interactivity become limited to
the world of games and big screen cinema…
…in the theater or at home?
Is it either full Fantasy or sober Journalism?
“Here’s to the crazy ones…”
“They’re not fond of rules.” –Apple ad
From creative improv to a “rappel à l’ordre”
Picasso, Portrait of Wilhelm Uhde, 1911 Picasso, Three Women at the Spring, 1...
Is that where we are today?
Recommender systems and endless browsing
are a weak substitute for deep contact.
There is a pent-up desire for new experie...
Unlike the decay curve of weak ties, we seek a
story that revitalizes and renews our energy.
So if browsing has indeed replaced reading,
what are the implications for storytelling?
One proposal: The Met’s Artist Project
http://artistproject.metmuseum.org/1/walton-ford/
What will be an equivalent that
combines video, text, and image?
“The deepest z-axis
you can ever imagine
is in every artwork.”
–Bill Viola
Nantes Triptych
What we really seek is that elusive Z-
axis, taking us right to the heart of our
attention—
—where it meets the artist’s i...
Stories where the impetus to move forward is
encoded in the meeting of interface and
content.
“Navigation can become conte...
We want intuitive access: the right
balance of
Control
Surprise
Visual
pleasure
Reward
Renewing & replenishing the energy ...
Where the X of browsing allows for easy Y
plunges without sucking us into long-form text,
and yet delivers a Z of depth…
w...
A worthy goal.
Let’s try it.
Thank you.
The XY&Z of Digital Storytelling: Dramaturgy, directionality and design
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The XY&Z of Digital Storytelling: Dramaturgy, directionality and design

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Talk presented at Museums & the Web 2015 in Chicago on April 9, 2015. Co-authored with Tim Svenonius, it's a reflection on how digital narratives have become more efficient--for instance, cross-platform compatible--but less affecting, and an appeal to find more original ways to tell our stories.

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The XY&Z of Digital Storytelling: Dramaturgy, directionality and design

  1. 1. The XY&Z of Digital Storytelling Dramaturgy, directionality and design Peter Samis Tim Svenonius Assoc. Curator, Interpretation Senior Content Strategist Museums & the Web 2015 Chicago April 9, 2012
  2. 2. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via http://www.vox.com/ As of 2013…
  3. 3. 19 minutes per day of analog reading…
  4. 4. 26 mins/day for box games, card games, & leisure computer use including web surfing…
  5. 5. And almost 3 hours for television…
  6. 6. “Part of me believes that if film had been invented before the book, books may never have happened.” –Ken Taylor, Philosophy professor @ Stanford
  7. 7. So what are some implications for the way we write stories online?
  8. 8. That first moment when the ground falls away…
  9. 9. More bait on the hook: animated data viz.
  10. 10. Moment of Truth 1. Since it was first published in 2012, how many of you have read Snow Fall? 2. How many of you have finished it?
  11. 11. Speaking of avalanches, our attention, too, gains velocity as it moves down the page.
  12. 12. X/Y content model X = Browse Y = Deep Dive
  13. 13. Avge Web page visit: < 1 min. 80.3% of time spent “above the fold” –Jakob Nielsen, 2010, 2011
  14. 14. Will anyone reach the end of the article?
  15. 15. Or has attention- deficit behavior become our new normal? With publishers aiding and abetting, inserting diversions along the way?
  16. 16. If so, why are we still telling stories in long columns of text?
  17. 17. We now specialize in browsing.
  18. 18. Here’s the X-Y playing out in apps and books, like exhibition catalogs.
  19. 19. Other Models: Matrices
  20. 20. And less time-based, random-access Grids
  21. 21. A vast landscape of teasers.
  22. 22. Retail becomes electric. “Staff Picks” have turned into an invisible algorithm.
  23. 23. Aggregators offer stories loosely connected by rubric:
  24. 24. And display them in a pleasing, sequential manner…
  25. 25. We have moved into a world of standardization, which has brought us great boons: • Search-Engine optimized • CSS-conforming • Cross-platform • Mobile-compatible • Plays well with aggregators • Socially shareable
  26. 26. Is what we’re dealing with simply the replacement of Flash by WordPress?
  27. 27. Has immersive interactivity become limited to the world of games and big screen cinema…
  28. 28. …in the theater or at home?
  29. 29. Is it either full Fantasy or sober Journalism?
  30. 30. “Here’s to the crazy ones…”
  31. 31. “They’re not fond of rules.” –Apple ad
  32. 32. From creative improv to a “rappel à l’ordre” Picasso, Portrait of Wilhelm Uhde, 1911 Picasso, Three Women at the Spring, 1921
  33. 33. Is that where we are today?
  34. 34. Recommender systems and endless browsing are a weak substitute for deep contact. There is a pent-up desire for new experience— an adventure that seduces & draws us along.
  35. 35. Unlike the decay curve of weak ties, we seek a story that revitalizes and renews our energy.
  36. 36. So if browsing has indeed replaced reading, what are the implications for storytelling?
  37. 37. One proposal: The Met’s Artist Project http://artistproject.metmuseum.org/1/walton-ford/
  38. 38. What will be an equivalent that combines video, text, and image?
  39. 39. “The deepest z-axis you can ever imagine is in every artwork.” –Bill Viola Nantes Triptych
  40. 40. What we really seek is that elusive Z- axis, taking us right to the heart of our attention— —where it meets the artist’s intention.
  41. 41. Stories where the impetus to move forward is encoded in the meeting of interface and content. “Navigation can become content in itself & create a reflexive, liquid information architecture.” -Harald Kraemer
  42. 42. We want intuitive access: the right balance of Control Surprise Visual pleasure Reward Renewing & replenishing the energy invested.
  43. 43. Where the X of browsing allows for easy Y plunges without sucking us into long-form text, and yet delivers a Z of depth… with economy.
  44. 44. A worthy goal. Let’s try it.
  45. 45. Thank you.

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