For example, documentary films must often conform to a rigid structure imposed by the conditions of their presentation. A program might need to be a specific length or be structured in a particular way to facilitate television scheduling. At the same time, filmmakers generally gather much more content than they can fit into their allotted time slots.
The inherent necessity to produce one specific "cut" of a story places a limitation on the use of content. Structuring a story around a particular theme might prevent the full incorporation of available material about another. Furthermore, presenting only a single structure limits a story from potentially taking on a variety of meanings through alternative tellings. The variability of the interactive narrative's form enables a multiplicity of story meaning.
Even without constraints imposed by the presentation, additional constraints relating to the audience exist. Lacking knowledge about each specific viewer, the author is instead asked to gauge the range of their audience and, in the interest of broadest possible appeal, structure the narrative to please the lowest common denominator.
For instance, lacking knowledge of the amount of time a specific viewer has available or is willing to spend, the author is obliged to conform to some "practical" time limit given their content.
Lacking information about a specific viewer's interest or knowledge, the author is similarly asked to tailor story content to a vague notion of "broad interest" or appeal. The result is an absence of any significant depth on issues not believed to be of general interest.
In sum, lowest common denominator programming places depth of content in inverse relation to breadth of audience; the result is shallow and disjoint "sound bite" programming.
The converse of the above is that relinquishing certain aspects of authorial control enables viewers to form a more personal and meaningful connection to the story. In this way, interactivity may function to increase viewer engagement with the narrative by facilitating a specific viewer's knowledge and viewing situation. As a form that supports multiple meanings, the interactive narrative has the potential to tell more complex and personally meaningful stories than those delivered to a mass audience.
In this model, content is embedded in containers (documents, card, screens) that are explicitly linked to other containers.
Another inherent limitation of hypermedia is the fact that the resulting structure is static and lacks "state," or capacity to store knowledge. The structure itself captures no sense of the history of the experience nor does it have any built-in competency for presenting itself short of the viewers direct use of links or branch points.
Furthermore, such systems place the author in the position of effectively pre-thinking all possible viewer pathways through the content. Every "hard-coded" link between two pieces of content in effect freezes the function or intention of the linkage into the structure of the navigation. Thus, the organization of the story is difficult to scale as any change in "retrieval" functionality necessitates large-scale changes to the pre-coded link structure.
Davenport, G. "Seeking Dynamic Adaptive Story Environments" IEEE Multimedia, Fall 1994, pp. 9-13
Automatism is a word used to describe a branch of the surrealist movement; it represents the process of creating art based on a kind of "automatic" or unconscious free association. The intention is a "truer" experience as meaning emerges from the interactions of individual expressions rather than from a structure imposed from an "exterior consciousness."
The model presented in the Automatist Storytelling System is similarly content-driven and decentralized. Structure and meaning are considered emergent properties of the storytelling process. Rather than there being a central "conducting" process, sequencing decisions result from the interacting effects of individual material presentations.
The Automatist Storytelling System edits by association. Specifically, the approach uses keywords as a means of indirectly defining potential links between materials. During the presentation process, keywords function in parallel, pushing and pulling the narrative toward and away from specific pieces of content.
Part 1, Interactive Narrative, presents a theoretical framework for discussing interactive narrative, provides a critique of "branch-structure" narrative, and establishes a set of five Fundamental Properties of Interactive Narrative.
Part 2, Approach, describes the approach of the Automatist Storytelling System by discussing related and influential research. This section also introduces the keyword-based knowledge representation scheme common to both the ConTour and Dexter systems.
Part 3, ConTour, describes the design and implementation of ConTour, a graphical demonstration of a simple Automatist Storytelling System. The system represents a potential "back-end" or "narrative engine" for an end-user storytelling system. In addition, the application is a kind of "digital editing assistant" capable of producing "steerable" presentations of keyword-annotated materials.
Part 3, Dexter, describes the design and implementation of Dexter, a generalized system for browsing collections of documents on the World Wide Web. Dexter represents an application of the principles of the Automatist Storytelling System to the problem of supporting "true browsing" on the web.
Part 5, Extensions, concludes the thesis by discussing possible extensions of the Automatist Storytelling System. This section also presents scenarios for future applications.