Granted there is a wall, what’s going on behind it?

In one of our ShiftSpace meetings I was recommended to read the book La Vie: Mode D’emploi (Life: A User’s Manual) by Georges Perec. The book centers on a Parisian apartment block seen as if the entire facade were removed, exposing every room. Perec exhaustively describes each detail  of the objects and characters inhabiting the spaces, frozen in a period of time. “While the book can be read linearly, from start to finish, it can be just as enjoyable to dip in and out of: for this purpose, an appendix section contains a chronology of events starting at 1833, a 70-page index, a list of the 100 or so main stories, and a plan of the elevation of the block as the 10×10 grid.” (see here)

Perec’s novel as it is frozen in time and weighty in details flattens the apartment building, like looking into a dollhouse –  the world he describes becomes a 2D rendering where the 3rd dimension is added by the viewers gaze into that missing 4th wall, the reader’s interaction with the text.

It is a tremendous exercise in imagination and as an extension to ergodic litrature, I started to look at cybertext, game theory, the narratives of MUDs and MOOs and of course hypertext itself.  All in a sense playing with the idea that the interaction itself changes the outcome and that the user shapes the narrative.

Which brought me to look at liquid information and this old WIRED article about Frode Hengland: ” ‘I love the web, but it’s a shitty toy,’ ” he says, ” ‘(It’s) a first movie of a train coming into a station.’ Hegland’s idea is simple — he plans to move beyond the basic hypertext linking of the web, and change every word into a “hyperword.” Instead of one or two links in a document, every single word becomes a link. Further, every link can point to more than one place, pulling up all kinds of background context from the web as a whole. (…) Liquid Information takes Berners-Lee’s ideas and runs with them. Hegland’s experimental system is geared toward allowing users — not just writers and editors — to make connections. Instead of just viewing websites, readers can change the way information is presented, or relate it to other information elsewhere on the web.” ( Such as a web reflection of Perec’s book where each object and each scene encapsulates a story unto itself.)

Anyway, it seemed to me that ShiftSpace incorporates all of these ideas and more and I am curious to see more innovative uses of ShiftSpace as a narrative platform, or as it may be, a non-traditional narrative platform.



One response to “Granted there is a wall, what’s going on behind it?

  1. You should also look into Ted Nelson’s ideas, especially “intertwingularity”. Not enough people have exploited the narrative potential of ShiftSpace, one of the Trails users, phantom_lady, did a really nice one.

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