Ambient storytelling

April 3, 2014

Old-ish Content Warning!

You are viewing a post that’s more than three years old. There’s a good chance that a lot of the following is seriously out-of-date (or at least not reflective of my current thinking on this topic). Proceed with caution.

Eric Brockmeyer’s keynote has gotten me thinking a bit more about what net/digital/technology-native storytelling might look like. I don’t think we’ve yet figured out what that is. To a great extent, museums’ approach to storytelling in the digital domain has been a skeuomorphic one. We do blog posts that look like book excerpts, we do mobile apps that look like object labels.

But talking with Peter Samis (SFMOMA) after the keynote got me thinking about the person as a physical repository and aggregator of content. As in, when I go to visit New York City and walk around, I am in a sense engaging in a form of narrative–I have music on my headphones, I’m feeling the breeze, I’m angry about people stopping and standing at the top of subway escalators. I’m, in effect, assembling a narrative as I go, it’s just that the narrative is an organic, constantly evolving one.

I wonder if this is a sort of model for us–not trying to force a linear narrative on visitors (whether inside our museums or not), but providing “things” (I need a better word for this) as possible outputs–objects, interactions, sound, light, etc.–in an ambient way and letting the user assemble his or her own narrative. This is obviously a half-baked idea, but I think there’s more to think about here.

Of possible further interest: