Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Interfilm, movie with forking paths, and Web links

Recently I read a story about Interfilm, a pioneer explorer that tried the concept of interactive movies in the middle of 90s. Nevertheless did the attempt fail, what Interfilm had experienced made me think of several things, which I share in this post.

Why did the concept of interactive movies failed in theater? The typical critics, such as Frank Rose in his 2011 new book The art of Immersion, concluded movie was not the type of media that is for storytelling with many forking paths. I, on the other hand, believe that the failure of Interfilm was due to the hardness of producing a compound story with many meaningful forking paths. In the other words, it is not due to that people do not like to interact with movies or movies cannot deliver the format of interactiveness; it is because few writers and movie directors have the capability of writing a story and producing a movie with many meaningful forking paths.

The adjective "meaningful" is crucial when we discuss the concept interactiveness. When interacting to a system, human beings expect to get a meaningful alternative (in contrast to simply an alternative) after each interaction. It is very hard to fulfill this request though generally we are eager to it. In the middle of the 90s, Interfilm was not able to deliver the audience a concept-rich interactive movie equipped with meaningful forking paths. Therefore, it was unsurprising about the failure of the experiments.

Now let's switch the attention to the Web links. A question is risen: is a purpose of the Web links for the nonlinear storytelling as some critics distinguish the media format of the Web from the media format of the movies? Cautiously, however, I do not think so; or at least it has not been so yet.

There is a core intent of either the nonlinear storytelling or the interactive storytelling. Through the enabled interaction to the story, the audience are sent to another version of the same story in contrast to be sent to totally another story or an explanation of the original story. Until now, however, the Web links are served as either the directions to a related but totally different and independent another story or the auxiliary explanations of the main story. Few authors have really made it be an interactive tool for the nonlinear storytelling. Again, it is not due to that the Web links cannot serve this function. It is because few authors have the ability of creating such a compound story with varied meaningful forking paths.

Now there comes the most interesting part of this brainstorming. It is indeed true that we have little ability of creating a content-rich nonlinear fiction. But how about a nonfiction? If an event in reality owns the property of being nonlinear by nature, should we embrace the power of the new technology and grant it the new way of exploration? The answer must be yes, and healthcare is a typical example of the nonlinear storytelling. The typical forking paths are: what will happen if I choose that instead of this doctor in the selected day? Many of us know that the consequence could be dramatically different due to the varied personality pairs and many other reasons between the doctor and the patient. Should Accountable Care Organizations include this point into their consideration?

1 comment:

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