Chat Transcript: August 19, 2000

Keeping the stories alive on the web: Does the web invoke writing and creative responses? How do people share their stories online? How does tradition mutate in a electronic form? What makes a good web story? How is technology changing storytelling? Does interactivity distract from or add to the story experience? Seamless navigation: Just say no to "click here"? Graphical elements--yes, no, maybe?

Maggie Sokolik received a BA in anthropology from Reed College, MA in Romance Literature and Linguistics, and a PhD, both from UCLA. She has worked and taught in a variety of countries and states, including most recently Holland, Japan, and Morocco. She is a fulltime faculty member at UC Berkeley, where she teaches in the College Writing Programs and in Comparative Literature. She is interested in stories as forms of knowing, and in the role of story in education and language learning.

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-- Start log: Saturday, August 19, 2000 2:44:22 pm CDT

Deena says, "Hi Maggie"

Deena says, "I am working on a Japanese keyboard, so I am practicing for a bit before we start."

Scott Rettberg arrives.

Scott Rettberg says, "Hi Deena and Maggie"

Deena says, "Hi Scott"

Scott Rettberg says, "So is it like four in the morning there?"

Deena says, "Actually now it is five. I kept messing up the time"

Scott Rettberg says, "Good morning. Are you enjoying Japan?"

MazThing pops in.

Deena says, "Yes, I had 5 guys in here last night hooking this up."

MazThing smiles around vaguely

Deena says, "Hi MazThing, we are getting ready for our eliterature chat, feel free to lurk around. You can see the subject in the electronic lit chat links at the right hand side"

Maggie says, "Hey, I am here"

Scott Rettberg says, "Deena -- you have the log set up etc.?"

Deena says, "Yes, I have the archivist set up, but could you go under your express and log this just in case "

MazThing nods

Scott Rettberg says, "Hi Maggie -- ok Deena"

Maggie says, "Deena, what are you doing in Japan?"

Deena says, "Japan is a pretty cool place, I am still jet lagged though"

Deena says, " I am working with the Ministry of Construction on developing public involvement and environmental compliance for decision processes"

Carolyn quietly enters.

Maggie says, "Wow, when I was there, I taught writing :-)"

Deena says, "I taught English here a few years ago.."

Deena says, "Hi Carolyn, welcome."

Maggie waves at Carolyn

Carolyn says, "Hello all"

MazThing smiles

Deena hands everyone a cup of ocha

MazThing stirs in an m and drinks her mocha

Carolyn says, "Deena always serves the best refreshments"

Deena says, "We are talking with Maggie Sokolik about digital storytelling today"

Deena smiles and bows back in her yukata.

Maggie says, "Hi, all"

Deena says, "Maggie, we'll just start and keep reintroducing as people come along."

Maggie says, "Sounds good. I would like to hear where everyone is, why they're here, etc."

Deena says, "Yes, introductions are always good, I wanted to know a bit about your background. What got you interested in digital storytelling"

Carolyn says, "I have a long-standing interest in narrative, particularly in avant-garde forms of telling..."

Maggie says, "I started with a workshop with the Digital Storytelling Center folks here in the bay area."

Maggie says, "I did a weekend project, and got hooked. We now teach together (Joe Lambert, Nina Mullen & I) at Berkeley."

Scott Rettberg says, "Is that related to the DSC festival?"

Deena says, "Could you tell us more about the digital storytelling center? I went to the conference last year in Colorado, and it was wonderful"

Maggie says, "Yes, Joe & Nina are major contributors/organizers of the DSC Festival, though I have to admit I've never been."

Maggie says, "The Center was on the Berkeley campus for the past year, though they lost their space recently and had to move a few blocks away. They'll continue to be involved with Berkeley courses, however."

Deena says, "The conference brings together a great mix of academics, corporations, and storytellers. it is wonderful to see the variety of people involved. are there a similar range in the Berkeley courses"

Maggie says, "We're in our infancy. The Berkeley courses are actually for-credit courses, so they attract only Berkeley students. However, the students certainly come from a range of departments and backgrounds, undergrads, grads, engineers and anthropologists."

Deena says, "How do the courses work?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Is the focus of the courses more on production or analysis?"

Maggie says, "We are interested primarily in the *writing* aspect. It is taught in the Writing Programs. We look at effective ways of presenting stories on the web and in digital video format."

Carolyn mumbles about technical difficulties. She'll be back.

The housekeeper arrives to remove Carolyn.

Deena says, "Btw, Carolyn, Scott, MazThing, please feel free to introduce yourselves. This is kind of a braided conversation we weave around here... I am Deena Larsen, and I got interested in digital storytelling when I first saw that you could make all kinds of connections that you could not in print"

Maggie says, "To answer Scott's question, the focus is both production and analysis. It functions as sort of a survey + production course."

Carolyn arrives.

Maggie says, "Scott, where are you from, and what are you doing with storytelling?"

Carolyn says, "A buzzing to be sure."

MazThing says, "I write short fiction, don't really define myself as writing elit although I guess I'm on a mission (could turn out to be a 5 year one) to see if I ever might - used net/email to write collaboratively tho"

Deena says, "So students work primarily with the writing and the computer aspects?"

Scott Rettberg says, "I'm from Chicago, and I became interested in DS when I coauthored a web novel with some friends. I'm the exec. director of ELO."

Everdeen arrives.

MazThing smiles at Everdeen

Deena says, "Good point MazThing, Maggie, how have people used the net for collaborative digital storytelling?"

Maggie says, "Students do work primarily with the writing, computer aspects, but we're also interested in their visual literacy, so a large part of the course has to do with presenting visual information. For example, they read Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" and have to reinterpret a well known story through comics."

Carolyn says, "Is there an URL for that article?"

Deena says, "Hi Everdeen, we are talking about digital storytelling with Maggie Sokolik who works at the digital storytelling center in Berkeley

Maggie says, "As for collaborative digital storytelling, one of our students set up a sort of "Continue the story" site. It kind of fumbled, but was well intentioned."

Maggie says, "I know there are similar sites--"Add your story" "Continue the story" and so forth."

Scott Rettberg says, "Understanding Comics is a book, you can find info on it and McCloud @"

Deena says, "Have students worked independently to collaborate?"

Everdeen nods.

Carolyn says, "Thanks."

Maggie says, "Our students work both collaboratively and independently. We try to provide a variety of media and projects to allow them to do different things."

Maggie says, "BTW, I'm on a really fast connection and type about 130 wpm, so if you need me to slow down, I'll be happy to. Your logs are going to be mbytes at this rate!"

Deena waves Maggie ahead. "I am on a Japanese keyboard and have to re-remember the spaces so am very slow."

Scott Rettberg says, "I'm interested in how you balance introducing students to the field and get them creating projects -- how does an average semester progress for the students?"

Saryanja arrives.

Maggie says, "We begin with background reading about STORY. I think the concept of story and understanding how it functions in cultures and individuals is really important. "

Deena says, "Hi Saryanja, we are talking with Maggie Sokolik about digital storytelling, and discussing how story and vision relate"

Maggie says, "We proceed by talking about stories that "Save lives" -- looking at Shaharazad, for example. We interweave production based skills with reading, writing, and talking."

Etpublicist arrives.

Deena says, "Maggie, could you define production based skills?"

Deena says, "Hi Etpublicist, we are talking with Maggie Sokolik about how to weave digital stories on the web."

Maggie says, "Although many of our students already know a few basics, we want to introduce them to the aesthetics of web design, digital imaging and compositing, navigation, and so forth. So, we work in a lab and do tutorials, projects, etc., that give them those skills."

Carolyn says, "Do you have a syllabus online that we could peruse?"

Deena says, "How do you introduce the visual and aesthetic concepts into storytelling?"

Maggie says, "Yes."

Slattery arrives.

Jay Clayton arrives from Courtyard

Scott Rettberg says, "It sounds like a good balance. Sometimes people get so wrapped up in the technology that they forget there's a whole set of useful tools available from narrative traditions."

Maggie says, "We introduce visual elements into storytelling by starting with a simple exercise."

Deena says, "Hi Slattery and Jay, we are talking about the visual and aesthetic elements in digital storytelling"

Maggie says, "Draw a map of your childhood neighborhood, then locate a place on that map of an important story. "

Deena settles in to hear about the exercise, and can hardly wait to try it...

Carolyn likes the fact that the course readings are near Ben and Jerry's...

Maggie says, "Students enjoy the map making exercise, and it begins a journey of identifying images that are associated with that story, neighborhood, and so forth. Students can pull out the map at any point in the term, tell another story, and so forth."

Mday quietly enters and waves.

Deena hands out ice cream and ice cream truck sounds from her childhood neighborhood.

MazThing smiles at Mday.

Deena says, "Hi Mday, we are talking about an exercise used to help associate images with storytelling"

Mday says, "What's going on, a class meeting?"

Deena says, "Maggie, what kind of maps do people use"

Deena says, "This is our biweekly electronic lit chat"

Nick Monfort arrives.

Mday says, "Cool. Where are you all from?"

Deena says, "Feel free to join in, and you can find out more about it at"

Nick Monfort says, "Hi, sorry I'm late."

Deena says, "No problem Nick."

Deena greets Nick with a big hug and smiles.

Maggie says, "The maps are just hand drawn representations that they create from memory."

Jay Clayton says, "Maggie, do you use some kind of electronic technology, or are you talking about drawing on paper?"

Maggie says, "Drawing on paper with pencils. Revolutionary, no?"

Deena says, "Yes, what kind of production tools do you use?"

Maggie says, "But, of course the projects that evolve from those maps are done as websites. I'm trying to grab one of them now to show y'all. Give me a sec..."

Jay Clayton says, "Sorry to be late. I take it that Maggie is discussing a preliminary exercise before getting students to write hypertext."

Deena says, "Yes, we should all introduce ourselves as Maggie is looking for her work..."

Maggie says, "Exactly"

Deena says, "Right, the exercise is to "Students enjoy the map making exercise, and it begins a journey of identifying images that are associated with that story, neighborhood, and so forth. Students can pull out the map at any point in the term."

Maggie says, "Actually looking for a student's work, which keeps migrating :-)"

Jay Clayton says, "Jay Clayton, Vanderbilt University. I teach hypertext courses on undergraduate and graduate level, as well as 19C British lit."

MazThing says, "The idea of using maps seems very relevant...geography, topology & navigation being so important with a lot of digital work"

Carolyn says, "Hi, I'm Carolyn Guertin, a Canadian hypertext scholar. I think that I know most of you."

Mday is Michael Day, Northern Illinois U. I teach a grad class on writing for the web.

Jay Clayton says, "It's nice to meet Carolyn Guertin online. I've taught your work."

Deena says, "Students make a map of their neighborhood and hang stories from it basically, right?"

Saryanja says, "Hello. I'm Sarah. I attended the first chat and haven't back since, looking forward to listening in. I'm a Web design/content manager with a interest in narrative."

Carolyn says, "I think that maps are an excellent visual tool for understanding the principles of hypertext design."

Slattery says, "Diana Slattery here--make hypertexts, interested in visual language, make interactive learning modules (playspaces) as my day job at RPI in Troy, NY. Hello, all."

Maggie says, "Hey Michael, nice to see you here."

MazThing is Mazzy, member of trAce, short fiction writer

Nick Monfort says, "I write hypertext fiction and stranger things, such as interactive fiction (sometimes called "Text adventures") and constrained prose & poetry of the OuLiPo sort"

Carolyn says, "Nice to meet you too, Jay."

Mday just blundered into this.

Deena says, "I'm Deena Larsen and a hypertext fiction writer. We run these chats every two weeks and the schedule is up at we have archives as well of all the chats, Sarah, so you can catch up."

Saryanja says, "Ah Grazie :)"

Deena welcomes Mday with a special nostalgic ice cream cone

Mday thanks you!

Scott Rettberg says, "I'm Scott, I work with ELO and am a writer. Great to see such an active group here."

Deena welcomes everyone

Maggie thanks everyone for coming

Maggie is not having luck locating the web site, but oh well.

Deena says, "Getting back, Maggie, how do you see the visual elements integrating into the digital storytelling"

Deena says, "How do maps and other visual elements redefine digital storytelling and how do you teach students how to do the production and the writing"

Maggie says, "I see it as part of a rich tradition in storytelling--the use of props. But, of course, visuals become much more than props. They become transitions, stories in themselves, and so forth."

Nick Monfort says, "Slattery, I know of your work from Tara R., who's now at the Media Lab and was at RPI. Good to be chatting with you"

Deena says, "Folks, please feel free to drop in with your own insights and comments"

Deena hands out mikes to all

MazThing shakes Mike's hand

Deena says, "How do these visual elements become stories in themselves"

Maggie says, "One of the first activities we do with compositing is to have students do a "Self portrait" -- a digital photo of themselves that they have re-interpreted using Photoshop."

Scott Rettberg says, "Glide is an amazing project, Diana"

Deena says, "I remember one great example at the digital storytelling festival, where the corporations logo formed and reformed to show the history of the company"

Deena says, "Do you have a url for Glide?"

Nick Monfort shares a URL...


Maggie says, "That's a good example. I remember in the NYT sometime ago, there was a photo of a kid standing next to Babe Ruth. A bunch of different people wrote in saying they were that kid, and giving the story behind the photo. It was a great example of memory, invention, and images colliding."

Jay Clayton says, "To associate an image with narrative is an interesting reversion to an earlier conception of the visual. Do you think hypertext has encouraged this move back to an earlier less abstract idea of the visual?"

Carolyn says, "Glide is one of the most mind-bending visual narrative experiences I've ever had. Where'd Diana go?"

Maggie says, "In some ways, it has taken us back to the narrative aspects of visuals. However, we warn our students a bit about being too literal with visuals. We want stories, not slide shows, after all."

Deena says, "She will probably be right back"

Saryanja says, "This notion of starting with a map is interesting. I wonder, hypertext/media, writers, do you often start with an image, a character, a story? And, are you conscious of the final form (navigation, structure, etc.) while creating, or do you let the paths invent themselves along the way?"

Slattery arrives.

Deena runs around trying to shore up the electronic innards of the moo

Deena says, "Yes, I usually start with a geometric figure as the story's backbone and use it as a map for the stories deeper inner structure."

Maggie says, "I think this is what works so well for Father Figures. "

Deena says, "I like the formal paths that this provides, but I have also let natural maps and connections develop."

Scott Rettberg says, "And you guys used Aristotle for the Ed Report, right Nick?"

Deena says, "Storyspace helps provide a limited visual map for links and nodes, but it would be good to get beyond that to something like Glide."

Nick Monfort says, "One commonality between interactive fiction and hypertext is that maps are usually a starting point for both, with 'rooms' being one sort of fundamental 'lexia' for the text adventure. "

Jay Clayton says, "I do that too. I hand out sample geometric patterns for story structure. But I like the idea of using other kind of pictures suggest the narrative geography."

Deena says, "The muds and moos are good introductions to storytelling, such as the now ancient hypertext hotel"

Nick Monfort says, "Some people also create map-like flowcharts to describe the progress of plot events in text adventures, independent from the spatial map of the setting"

Scott Rettberg says, "Using spatiality even as a trope can help you get around the problems of temporality."

Maggie says, "I think we're often hampered by sticking to linear traditions such as "Storyboards." While they can be useful, I worry they stem creative approaches to spatial aspects of stories."

Mday remembers HT hotel. Does it still exist?

Deena tries to remember the last time she saw hypertext hotel and can't recall if it still is on the web or not...

Editor's Note: I found a link to the Hypertext Hotel, but the telnet did not seem to work.

Carolyn says, "But a flowchart is a limiting form for a hypertext, don't you think?"

Jay Clayton says, "What problems of temporality in particular?"

Deena says, "Yes, how does the visual/spatial aspect help deal with time and events in storytelling?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Well, telling a story which has either no or multiple beginnings middles ends -- it seems like that's one of the biggest hangups conventional readers have."

Deena says, "Yes, Carolyn, how do we get beyond the flowchart aspects of structure into more dimensions?"

Deena says, "Maggie, how do you get students beyond storyboards?"

Slattery says, "What I crave is a 3d web space."

Scott Rettberg says, "But if your focus in on place where rather than when, you offer them another logical and familiar mode of navigating."

Deena says, "How do you see 3d aspects in digital storytelling, Diana?"

Carolyn says, "Diana's glide deals with the issues of temporality and multi-dimensionality beautifully. It's not a undertaking for the novice student though to be sure..."

Maggie says, "One way to get beyond the storyboard thing is to ask them to think of 3D objects they can use to "map" stories. It can be legos, tinkertoys, index cards, and so forth that can be moved in space."

Deena says, "Maggie, what tools do you use to get the 3d objects onto the web and into digital storytelling?"

Nick Monfort says, "Scott's right about familiar place-navigation being a good way to break out of beginning-middle-end reading, which is why Trip as well as the Unknown use this to good effect, with the U.S. as the 'map'"

Nick Monfort says, "I did this in Winchester's Nightmare, too"

Deena says, "And I did it in Marble Springs. The maps in all these works work differently though. they have their own feeling and identity"

Slattery says, ""World-making, game-spaces, interactive spaces that the person navigating the world can change, created story-branches, or carry on cross-talk with others in space. "

Deena says, "What is amazing is that all the different treatments of maps still seem intuitive"

Maggie says, "We allow students to choose the tools they want--we have Storyspace available, different web editing software, some students have expertise in more advanced software, such as modeling software. But, most revert to just starting a web page, making the links, and seeing where they go."

Nick Monfort says, "Right, but the familiar thing to grab onto is a big help, allowing you to play with the map in your own particular way."

Carolyn says, "Is creating art not an intuitive exercise?"

Deena nods at Carolyn and passes around intuitive drawing spaces.

Deena says, "Yes, maybe that is because we are used to using maps"

Nick Monfort says, "There's a big tradition in playing text adventures, that the interactor is usually *expected* to draw a map as part of the 'reading' experience."

Deena says, "Do we use any other visual image as much as maps,,, going back to the photograph of the students themselves. lf portrait. Maggie, do students use these portraits to create the stories and link them into time and space?"

Maggie says, "In the past, we've used this same activity, but using a MOO to reinterpret the map."

Scott Rettberg says, "Maggie do your students progress towards some kind of term-end project, and are many of those projects collaborative?"

Maggie says, "The self-portrait can be used in any way. For some, it's an activity in itself, others work it into a web story they create."

Deena says, "Yes, and getting back to Sarah's point on collaboration, scott and nick, have you found that maps help the collaborators when you are working together on a project"

Slattery says, ""Maggie, do you put students projects on web so we could see?"

Maggie says, "We don't tend to put projects up because of copyright issues with images and so forth. If students put theirs on their own web sites they are around, but we're not very good about keeping track :-("

Deena says, "MazThing and Saryana, have you found that maps help your writing and reading"

Nick Monfort says, "Deena, William & I were much more structuring our work together on the good old outline, rather than the map. But we put together a not very hypertext-y hypertext, from the post-structuralist theory standpoint."

Deena nods understandingly about copyright.

Scott Rettberg says, "Well, actually, the unknown map came kind of in the middle of the project -- but the idea of setting different scenes in different places (actually, in different independent bookstores) was a heuristic from the first page."

Deena says, "Do students let you know the outcomes of their projects with you"

MazThing says, "Sorry, Deena, I was daydreaming..."

Deena says, "Maggie, what other elements do you blend into digital storytelling in your courses? what do you want students to particularly think about?"

Maggie says, "Sometimes they do. But, like all of us, their attention spans are short..."

Deena hands around dreaming intuitive creators and smiles at Maz...

MazThing says, "Um, I've done a small MOO based project but that only has quite limited topology...I tend to grow things in an evolutionary way rather than according to plan"

Nick Monfort says, "Maggie, I'm interested to know what sorts of tinker-toy and other structures have turned out to be most useful in hypertext practice, for allowing the reader to move about in the work smoothly when the work is finished"

Deena says, "Yes, it sounds like the Winchester house--the maps evolve over time"

Nick Monfort says, "In terms of aids for constructing spatial hypertexts"

Maggie says, "We really want students to understand the impact of story on their own lives, their intelligence and perception of intelligence, and on others. It's an essential writing question as much as a navigational, design question. "

Deena says, "How have you guys found that creating digital works differs from creating off-line terms of how the work evolves, how you set it up, etc."

Deena says, "Maggie, do students see a different impact from digital storytelling than from other kinds of storytelling"

Maggie says, "Sorry if I'm not getting everyone's questions here, feel free to repeat them if I missed you. "

Nick Monfort says, "We're barraging you."

Deena hands out word catchers as things go by fast and furiously

Maggie says, "I do see a difference with digital storytelling, which is kind of an essential difference. "

Deena smiles. catch what you can.

Deena wants to hear about the essential difference

MazThing says, "Collaboration online certainly feels different than off-line"

Carolyn says, "And that difference in storytelling revolves around the visual? the spatial? the temporal?"

Maggie says, "Our students create digital videos--very linear, but really an involved process. The TELLING of a story, as opposed to the reading of a story really changes the way in which they approach editing, listening, illustrating, and so forth."

Deena says, "MazThing, how do you see collaboration differing online and off-line"

Deena says, "Maggie, is the telling of the story in terms of the interaction with the reader, or with the medium? how does the telling differ?"

Jay Clayton says, ""Collaborative telling challenges students' ideas about originality, ownership, and finally, identity."

MazThing says, "partly in time scales but also the issue of getting consensus between participants is entirely different"

Scott Rettberg says, "Have any of them experimented in nonlinear DV>"

Saryanja says, "I have found some non-linear/multiple story line pieces to be too disorienting, frustrating. any thoughts on the balance of traditional middle-begging-end vs. new forms?"

Deena has to throw copyright into Jay's list somehow

Nick Monfort says, "There's always the hopscotch format, neglected today."

Jay Clayton says, ""Challenging the notion that a student's ideas are his/her own is very helpful, both in digital and paper creative writing classes."

Maggie says, "The telling differs, I think, because the teller is also the listener. One could argue that the writer is also the reader, but I think the relationship changes it. To listen to oneself tell a story (through recording, obviously) makes one rethink it in ways that mere reading does not."

Jay Clayton nods to Maggie

Deena says, "Yes, Maggie, what do you mean by the students tell linear stories? are the videos seen in order?"

Carolyn thinks that's a great point

Maggie says, "Saryanja, your question is interesting, as we deal with it constantly. I am a bit of a traditionalist--that is, I do like beginning, middles and ends, though they don't have to be of the "Hollywood" sort. We all know the frustration of the pointless story. "

Deena says, "Yes, Saryana, I think we have to develop conventions to be able to follow multi-linear stories. maps are one good way of structuring so the reader knows where to go and what to see. "

Carolyn says, "Listening to one's self is a kind of Walter Ong's meta-orality..."

Scott Rettberg says, "Do most of your students' stories center on personal experience?"

Nick Monfort thinks about the herion section of the Unknown

Deena says, "Mday, have you seen any differences in your students reactions to linear and nonlinear pieces?"

Maggie says, "Most of their stories do focus on personal experience. They may have video or photos, or drawings etc. "

Nick Monfort misspells heroin

Deena passes Nick and Scott some discreet plastic baggies

Scott Rettberg says, "There is also the joy of the many pointed of stories. Funny, Nick, very funny."

Slattery says, ""Thoughts on non-linear v. 'traditional' : am trying to provide simultaneous structures, choice of structures. different gateways among."

Mday is teaching the course for the first time starting in a week or so. This is new territory for me.

Maggie says, "We talk a lot in the course about nonlinear structures. Most of my students' experience is with "Make your own adventure" stories--the books that let you follow different courses. Not a single student said they enjoyed these books, as they felt compelled to read every possible ending. "

Mday is enjoying Glide.

Maggie says, "They feel the same frustration w/ hypertext sometimes, fearing they'll "miss" something if they don't choose the best plan of action."

Jay Clayton says, ""Do you assign readings in the course?"

Deena says, "To Mday, check out the archived chat on teaching ht lit at the electronic lit website."

Nick Monfort says, "Interesting, but they all had bought the books and read them (even if not in the intended way)?"

Saryanja says, "Has anyone here seen the film, Run Lola Run? The director did some interesting "Hypermedia" like things with that film, I think. yet, it followed 'traditions' in linear storytelling..."

Maggie says, "Yes, we assigning readings, both paper based and online. <>"

Scott Rettberg says, "I think that closure has become a naturalized reading process, but that it's not endemic to all forms of interesting storytelling."

Nick Monfort says, "Referring to Choose-Your-Own..."

MazThing says, "Sometimes just being asked to make a choice in hypertext is frustrating - particularly with poetry I find, it interrupts the reading."

Slattery says, ""I'm not sure if I want to develop conventions for non-linear travel or inspire the desire to explore..."

Maggie says, "Nor to all forms of reading. I find "Hypertextual" reading quite satisfying, if I'm involved with the topic. It also has to do with the design of the hypertext and how "natural" the navigation is."

Carolyn thinks of 'Run Lola Run' in the context of other multiform stories: Garden of Forking Paths, Hopscotch, Tristram Shandy...

Editor's note: Hopscotch refers to 1966: Julio CortŠzar's multi-sequenced novel Rayuela (later published in English as Hopscotch). See Stuart Moulthrop's Literary Chronology.

Nick Monfort says, "Wait, Carolyn, one of these things doesn't belong"

Nick Monfort says, "Hopscotch is a genuine cybertext (and a hypertext, to my mind) because it presented choices for the reader"

Carolyn thinks no?

Mday says, "It's an advanced Tech Comm class, so I'm not sure about how storytelling, esp. fictional will fit."

Nick Monfort says, "The others are linear stories, as is If on a winter's night..."

Slattery recalls Quibbling as a work that wouldn't make much sense linearly...

Maggie says, "We don't really focus on fiction much at all. It's really about *true* stories (whatever that means)"

Mday says, "Hey Maggie, you are at Berkeley?"

The housekeeper removes Deena

Maggie says, "Yup."

Mday got his doctorate in rhetoric there.

Mday misses that fun place.

Carolyn says, "True, but they all play with conventions of multiple timelines, plots, etc. "

Nick Monfort says, "True, yes"

Nick Monfort says, "I just wanted to point out the important formal different, since I think putting Hopscotch in that list is a bit like throwing Victory Garden in there"

Maggie says, "Mday, Yeah, I know. We met at Comp. & Writing in Hawaii a few years back. I'm a friend of Steve Thorne's."

Carolyn says, "I don't disagree, but Cortazar still defined for us a reading order that is more rigid that the average hyperfiction"

Mday says, "Oh hi again! Where did Steve end up?"

Maggie enjoys the lull and swigs a Diet Coke...

Carolyn says, "Reading orders, actually"

Maggie says, "Steve Thorne is at Penn now"

Saryanja says, "Delayed reaction -- I feel that too, about following every path or I'll miss something. as someone mentioned earlier (i think), I suppose it's as much about learning to read differently as learning to write/think differently..."

Nick Monfort says, "Carolyn, right - but I think his format is an interesting way to incorporate beginning-middle-end while allowing reader choice, and probably better suited to a print hypertext than the 'Choose-Your-Own-Adventure' format"

Mday says, "Penn. Wow. Sorry to intrude with personal-type gossip! You have an e-mail address for him, or can we all just use Socrates?"

Nick Monfort says, "His format = Cortazar's"

Maggie says, "I'll get you his address... I don't think I still have it."

Mday says, "Thanks!"

Scott Rettberg says, "Maggie, I'm curious about how the Digital Storytelling courses are playing in the academy. Is the course popular with students? Does the administration and department support it?"

Maggie says, "Scott, great question. It has met with some resistance, though it's diminishing."

Scott Rettberg says, "How do the people in the creative writing program like it?"

Maggie says, "For example, we can't get them to grant students any breadth requirements, though we've tried. It's seen as a "Skills" course. "

Nick Monfort says, "Eeagh."

Slattery eats goat cheese and pesto pizza while listening...

Maggie says, "Welcome back, Deena."

Deena shakes herself off and comes back in

Nick Monfort is now hungry, thanks to food references.

Mday says, "Steve is still logging into Thorne@Socrates"

Scott Rettberg says, "If only Nick could eat pixels"

MazThing smiles at hungry people jitterbugging in and out of the room

Saryanja says, "Yeah, I've found people in film depts. to be more accepting of the form, than lit depts."

Deena says, "Hi what were we talking about now"

Maggie says, "The Creative Writing folks haven't said much. There is another course that has come up in another that will be doing similar things, so we're all making inroads. The course is over-enrolled, almost always."

Mday applauds your teaching it as advanced comp, Maggie. Wonder if I could do that here?

Maggie says, "If it's like Berkeley, you do it first, then ask if you can later."

Jay Clayton says, "Our CW folks are very threatened by anything digital."

Mday grins

Deena says, "Yes, how did you manage to get the course into the curriculum"

Mday says, "Maybe I should pretend I don't need to ask!"

Maggie says, "Berkeley is a benevolent anarchy--I posed the course initially several years ago, as a digital literacy course. They bought that, then it has evolved into the storytelling course."

Deena says, "I think so. the students want it and will go for the course..."

Scott Rettberg says, "That's something that I see as a big and important challenge -- if there's a lot of emnity towards digital storytelling in creative writing departments, a lot of writers are never going to try it out."

Deena says, "Yes, how do we get digital storytelling accepted in the academic and writing communities"

Maggie says, "We have a showcase of student work at the end of the semester. The Silicon Valley and South of Market folks have started sending scouts! So, students definitely like it as they head off to Macromedia, etc."

Deena brings out the pizzas for the political volunteers

Carolyn thinks about enmity to digital period in academic depts

Deena says, "Carolyn, is there any way to combat that"

Saryanja says, "A friend of mine, a prof, introduced digital storytelling a creative writing class (graduate) and it was met with "outward hostility" by some students and "Indifference" by others..."

MazThing says, "I'm in the UK and recently attended a continuing education evening class that had an online collaborative component"

Carolyn says, "If I find a road, I'll let you know."

Maggie says, "One thing we've found at Berkeley is an objection to the name "Storytelling." Several folks have encouraged me to change it to "Digital narrative" -- maybe I will, but my stubbornness has prevented me so far."

Jay Clayton says, "Yes, but our Ph.Ds who have digital training get jobs; others don't."

Nick Monfort says, "Not to hammer once again on my favorite form of e-lit, but don't you all find it curious that in works like Adventure, Zork, Trinity, Mindwheel, writers have been using spatial organization and maps to do electronic writing since the mid-1970s, and no one in the hypertext community has ever considered this?"

Deena thinks about Brown and its introduction to digital hypertext

Deena says, "Jay there is the answer. and Maggie's showcase as well. show that it is a practical response to the realities out there"

Jay Clayton says, ""Maggie, calling it digital narrative will attract academic theorists"

Scott Rettberg says, "The skill component really should be a big selling point for cw programs -- I remember when I was applying to MA/MFA programs -- a lot of the programs said right in the catalog that most of their grads ended up working as housepainters, etc."

Carolyn says, "I think lots of people are influenced by game narratives and structures. Look at Natalie Bookchin's The Intruder, for example."

Mday wonders if you have read _Nostalgic Angels_?

Slattery recalls recent enmity experience with old writer friend who broke off correspondence when he found out I was "Into hypertext." serial murder of books or some such.

Deena says, "Nick, what do you mean by no one in the hypertext communities considered these"

Maggie says, "My fear! We want to tell stories, and so I point to scholars such as Schachter and Mark Turner, who use the word storytelling with pride, right along with cognitive and other buzzwords."

Saryanja says, "How would a course where student collaborate go mentioned above. more like a production...the writer, the designer, the director, etc. ???"

Deena tosses out bags of the appropriate academic buzzwords

Mday thinks Johndan comes close to considering all kinds of HT forms in that book.

Nick Monfort says, "Deena, correct me if I'm wrong about the map element as a compositional tool being ignored - I know some of the works have been written about, a bit"

Deena says, "Nick Monfort, I think it is an important compositional tool being used, but I am not sure about what the lit crit folks have been saying."

Deena says, "Sarayana, that would be really useful, considering that so much of the digital work and storytelling is now a team with visual, programming, and writing"

Nick Monfort says, "I don't know how the maps made by the Zork team and by Robert Pinsky in creating Mindwheel are like or unlike hypertext maps, exactly, but I imagine there's some useful comparisons to be made there"

Carolyn thinks about algorithms and data structures

Scott Rettberg says, "It would be a blast to teach a course in collaborative new media writing. You would think more universities would be interested, even given the practical (or commercial) value of that kind of team experience."

Mday guesses you are not familiar with _ Nostalgic Angels: Rearticulating Hypertext Writing_ by Johndan Johnson-Eilola. I recommend it.

Maggie says, "I am a great fan of Dante, and have always wanted to do/find/create a hypertext Divine Comedy, gruesome graphics and all. It seems the perfect story for such a treatment."

Saryanja says, "Yes, Scott! academia can be so brutal."

Carolyn says, "Mday you talking to me?"

Nick Monfort says, "Mday, is you me? Were you addressing me?"

Deena says, "Mday, I have not read nostalgic angels, and have put that at the top of my reading list. thanks"

Jay Clayton says, ""Scott, we're interested in that kind of course. Come teach for us."

Mday was asking if anyone here had read it.

Nick Monfort says, "I haven't"

MazThing shakes head

Saryanja says, "Maybe the master of liberal arts programs popping up all over would be a place to introduce such a course..."

Jay Clayton says, "Nope"

Deena says, "Yes, it would be great to have that as an interdisciplinary course with graphics art and programming and video and..."

Scott Rettberg says, "Sometime, Jay"

Maggie finds it on Amazon

Mday is going to have the grad class read it first. Johndan is pretty brilliant about synthesizing, and using theory well.

Deena says, "Mark Amerika is now at cu and may try to teach something similar there. But he is in the visual arts dept, which seems to be more open about these kinds of things"

Deena says, "Maggie, please share the amazon url"

Saryanja says, "Right. I think it gets overwhelming for writers to start thinking visual, technically, etc. and can be intimidating."

Slattery says, ""Teaching hyperfiction, doing collab projects goes down easy at rpi --so many engineers, and lit dept. v. weak. plus and minus."

Mday saw mark at the last Computers and Writing. I like his stuff.

Maggie says, "Here it is:    Nostalgic Angels: Rearticulating Hypertext Writing

Carolyn says, "Universities produce weird structures, even when they do include digital work. I'm designing a course right now on hypertext for distance delivery...via course book, not the web (although there will be a website as a supplement)."

Scott Rettberg says, "Actually, one thing that I think would be useful to ELO to do is gather information on these kinds of courses, and the different approaches people are taking with them"

Deena says, "Slattery, what is rpi"

Maggie says, "It would be good to have a clearinghouse of these courses.. just so people don't reinvent the wheel all the time."

Deena says, "Yes, eastgate has a start on a list of courses, but it is not updated often... the w\question is how to find out about these courses"

Saryanja says, "Yes, Scott. and maybe grad students stuck in tradition programs could take them online. :)"

Scott Rettberg says, "I meant for"

Deena says, "And the syllabi as well... s"

Slattery says, "RPI = Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Troy, NY"

Carolyn says, "The resource centre for cyberculture studies at the university of maryland does have such a directory of courses."

Carolyn says, "It is updating continually."

Scott Rettberg says, "Could you pass along the URL on that, Carolyn/"

Carolyn says, "Um..."

Maggie says, "Thanks, I'll check that out..."

Deena [to Slattery,]: does rpi have a website as well

MazThing tries to thank everyone discreetly for an interesting discussion and slips out

Deena says, "Thanks for coming maz"

Carolyn says, ""

Nick Monfort is disconnected.

Nick Monfort arrives.

Nick Monfort says, "Eeagh."

Saryanja says, "I wonder what Bob Dylan would say about all this?"

Maggie says, "Ie d jioeww jdijiewej ?"

Deena says, "The answers are blowing in the electrons?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Why you always sayin that Nick? eeagh"

Deena says, "Maggie, could you repeat that"

Maggie mumbles a la Dylan

Deena says, "Well, we have covered integrating visual aspects and other mediums to show spatial aspects of hypertext, and have started to plot to take over the academic world for more courses."

Nick Monfort says, "Scott, it's an utterance of despair, appropriate for when I have to re-login because of some computer mess-up."

Slattery says, " my bailiwick is"

Deena says, "Are there other points that you wanted to make on digital storytelling Maggie?"

Nick Monfort says, "Or when I hear bad news about hypertext composition courses being labeled 'skills classes'"

Maggie says, "Well, one of the issues that I'm also curious about is how people deal with and react to navigation."

Maggie says, "I'm an avid opponent of "Click here" kinds of navigational tricks, but always wonder, what makes for good, seamless story navigation?"

Mday says, "Does anyone know the URL for Mark Amerika's big webbed HT? Forgot the name again."

Deena says, "Right. as I am in Japan, this chat won't be logged until Sept 1 when I come back. usually, I have the archive up way before that."Carolyn bows to Deena

Deena says, "but I can try to put this up on this page if people want"

Mday says, "Where in Japan, Deena?"

Mday lived there for 5 years.

Deena says, "Grammatron? or Phoneme"

Carolyn thinks grammatron?

Scott Rettberg says, ""

Deena says, "I am in Tokyo, arrived yesterday. "

Mday says, "Yeah, grammatron! Thanks!"

Mday lived in Osaka and Kyoto. what are you doing there?

Scott Rettberg says, "Make sure you take a nap Deena."

Deena says, "Maggie, good question. have you found that flash helps or hinders from the seamless navigation"

Mday oopses. Kobe, not Kyoto. I was married in Kyoto though.

Deena says, "I don't like click here, I usually try to get underlined links and a navigation image going for a map"

Slattery says, "Good, seamless story-telling--where the world is the interface (a la Myst) with no external arrows, click here, and other things that HCI folk (over 40) insist must be present."

Editor's Note: HCI = Human Computer Interaction

Deena says, "I am working with the Ministry of Construction to develop facilitation techniques for public involvement and environmental compliance issues."

Jay Clayton says, "HCI?"

Jay Clayton says, "And what's wrong with over 40?"

Scott Rettberg says, "over 40, come on now, we'll all get there someday."

Maggie says, "I like to really think about the text that is linked, and how it links to its destination. Or, using images as part of story navigation--image maps, hidden links, I'm always flailing a bit."

Mday wows Deena. Public involvement is rather new there.

Deena says, "Slattery, do you see links as the seams in a hypertext"

Mday already is. Sigh.

Saryanja says, "navigation. I think more and more of navigation in terms of cognitive processes (sorry for the buzz, but a good deal of my job involves designing user interfaces)... "

Maggie says, "We'll all GET THERE? Hmmmm..... "

Nick Monfort enjoys seamy hypertext.

Saryanja says, "Like a window that opens and displays a series of images, then closes again, like the mind often goes on tangents, then returns to it's original mode of thought..."

Deena says, "Yeah, they just passed the law requiring public involvement last year. this should be a lot of fun. I meet with the high representatives of the agency on Monday and Tuesday... "

Deena passes out some seamy nylons

Maggie says, "I agree with Saryanja, and use the word cognitive myself. Navigation is so key, and really overlooked, I think. The web pages that present every navigational possibility on every page, so you never ever get lost... yuck."

Slattery says, "HCI = human computer interface -- it's a whole subject unto itself."

Deena says, "Yes, can we integrate visual navigation and textual navigation to create a seamless environment"

Mday says, "In the past they had lots of trouble letting other countries' companies bid, much less let the public be involved."

Deena says, "Wait a minute. Someone here needs to define seamless for me..."

Scott Rettberg says, "With stitch markings"

Scott Rettberg says, "out"

Scott Rettberg says, "Without"

Deena says, "Yeah, they tend to just say, the road goes here. period. no history of court suits, etc to have them be careful."

Maggie says, "If I'm reading, I want to be lost in the reading, not the clicking. "

Mday says, "But what about for technical communication? Straightforward easy to use sites? Are navbars not useful navigation devices?"

Deena says, "So clicking takes you out of the reading experience automatically?"

Maggie says, "Just as I don't have to really THINK about page turning, I don't want to think about where I have to go next."

Nick Monfort says, "But you can't get away from the context of reading, right? You're not hung up on turning pages when you're reading a print book"

Slattery says, "my over-forty reference is only to those who didn't grow up with the computer stuff AND resist such mightily. nothing wrong with over forty per se**. although 40 was so long ago, I can hardly..."

Carolyn says, "This sense of wandering, of being lost, is a part of the new literacy. I get buggy when people yell for navigation of the whole as the be all and the end all."

Deena says, "This is sort of like the compulsion to read every part of the choose your own adventure, isn't it? how can we have a work that doesn't compel you to step out of the work and yet still offer choices in the reading"

Deena says, "Nick, only when you are in an airplane and the pages are too big to turn without hitting your neighbor. Then that is taking you out of the book..."

Nick Monfort says, "Right, or when you have a poorly designed book with a bunch of slightly-longer-than-one-page chapters, for instance"

Scott Rettberg says, "I think it's just a matter of there being more than one kind of reading. People come back to the same comic strip week after week even the whole story has never come to an end."

Maggie says, "Like the one I'm reading now, where you turn a page and it falls out--a kind of interesting experience in a way."

Deena says, "Slattery, that may be the problem with the academic resistance to digital. all the decisionmakers didn't grow up with computers. man, it used to be over 30 who didn't have computers. now I feel old."

Deena says, "Maggie, what are you reading? Was it designed that way?"

Nick Monfort says, "But we've had centuries to get book design right"

Jay Clayton says, "How are hypertexts going to become compatible with the new electronic books, with their very rudimentary navigation buttons?"

Saryanja says, "For storytelling, I like to think of navigation more as orienting, rather than directing or guiding, though it does some of that too (still thinking)"

Deena says, "Do you think that we are still in the incunabula of the hypertext and that we will get the design so seamless that we won't think about it"

Maggie says, "No, it's just a cheap paperback mystery--I think it got too close to the sun."

Carolyn says, "It took 50 years to map the conventions of book publishing post-gutenberg. how long does that translate in digital years?"

Saryanja says, "1 year"

Deena wonders if the monks in the 14th century thought about the book more than the content itself. then remembers the illustrations...

Scott Rettberg says, "Jay -- I think the new electronic books are likely to become less rudimentary fast,"

Jay Clayton says, "Ironic, isn't it, that h-text might be unsuited for the latest reading technology, at least for a while."

Slattery says, "Forms freeze. books. scrolls. "

Deena says, "I think digital years go much faster for hardware and software than for conventions"

Maggie says, "Absolutely, Deena, we ain't seen nothing yet, as it were. The tools are still clunky, and the future probably holds storytelling possibilities we can't yet grasp."

Carolyn nods vigorously at Diana

Nick Monfort says, "Deena, I definitely think we're still in the incubator stage, and with technology advancing faster than most people can learn it, we'll say incubator for longer than was the case with books (50 years)"

Deena says, "Right, this keeps circling around the issues of archiving, tools, reading, and conventions. seems like every chat we hit these. but you can't separate the issues at all from reading"

Carolyn oops, meant Deena

Slattery says, "new tools invite/incite new forms. "

Deena says, "Yes, we keep updating the conventions faster than they can be made"

Deena shakes her head at the paradox

Deena says, "Well, I can't wait to see what the future holds"

Scott Rettberg says, "I think it's alright to work without conventions for a while. Let a few decades work that out for itself."

Nick Monfort says, "Witness the books/scrolls confusion in our current browser! Scroll down a bit, then click the link for the next page in a sequential document ... the worst of both worlds."

Mday would like to see the computer sitting in the shadows taking the spoken words of the story and holographically projecting images in the firelight.

Maggie says, "The medieval/renaissance book is a great parallel to hypertext. The notion of illumination of text, lack of portability (for the most part), the sort of 3D nature of written language--concentration on font, and so forth. I began my interest in art many years ago with an interest in calligraphy and paleography--it's come full circle."

Nick Monfort says, "Scott, you're right, we have to work without conventions, and help to figure out what the right ones are"

Deena says, "Mday, you need to here Dana Atcheley read his next exit for a real digital fire. "

Slattery says, "Tech moving fast makes forms obsolete quickly. reference: Bruce Sterling's "Dead media project". Solution: rethink form as dynamic and fluid? opposite of establishing conventions."

Carolyn thinks did it ever really leave?

Deena says, "Maggie, could you share the url for the next digital storytelling conference"

Carolyn thinks about granger books, commonplace books, scrapbooks, comic books...

Deena says, "Slattery, what is Bruce Sterling's project and do you have a url"

Maggie says, "Yes--the book as a black on white artifact was a fluke in history, I think. But you're right, there are other forms."

Saryanja says, "nevermind me, I'm still a bit of a traditionalist, but love to follow the experimentation and hear about it."

Mday says, "Deena, any URL for Dana Atcheley?"

Editor's note: I could not find a specific home page for Dana Atcheley, but try the Digital Storytelling Festival.

Mday giggles at us clamoring for URLs.

Saryanja says, "Gots to go. Interesting. thanks for the chat...can you send a link to the chat archives to the elit mailing list, please? Gracias."

Deena says, "I am away from my bookmarks, so will have to rely on Maggie to catch this one"

Saryanja says, "Y cias"

Nick Monfort says, "Slattery, and Bruce's Viridian Movement. But I don't think he suggests we should forget about ever having conventions"

Maggie says, "I'm getting that URL right now... thanks all."

Deena says, "Yep, we should wrap up, though we could talk about these things forever."

Jay Clayton says, "It's been very illuminating. And fun."

Slattery says, "Don't have sterling url. was keynote address at ISEA '95. (Intersociety of Electronic Arts) should be in ISEA archives online but probably elsewhere as well."

Editor's note : Bruce Sterling's keynote was "Life and Death of the Media" at ISEA 95.

Mday is glad I bumbled into this chat. Very interesting!

Nick Monfort shares a URL...(for the Viridian mailing list)

Deena says, "Maggie, any last thoughts..."

Maggie says, "Take a look at "

Jay Clayton says, "Sterling also offers the rationale for that project in his novel _Holy Fire_"

Slattery says, "Thanks for viridian"

Maggie says, "This has been great, and we've barely scratched the surface. I hope you'll check in with us and what you're doing, and get those classes started!"

Slattery says, "I'll take responsibility for the un-conventional suggestions."

Carolyn thinks ooo la!

Scott Rettberg says, "Thanks everybody, have a great weekend everyone. Make sure you catch some winks before your meeting Deena. and thanks very much for your insights, Maggie."

Jay Clayton says, "Bye"

Deena says, "Right, Maggie, please send me updates so we can keep checking on your stuff... and if anyone wants to be on the mailing list, please email me at"

Nick Monfort says, "Bye all."

Slattery says, "Thanks all, this was much fun."

Deena says, "Right. I have the day here to rest and see Tokyo,."

Mday will be checking in. Lingua is a main hangout for me, so say hi if you log in.

Maggie says, "Thanks, it's been great. Have fun in Tokyo, Deena. I was just there--miss it already."

Carolyn says, "Thanks for the great talk, Maggie, Deena and all."

Deena says, "Thanks for coming, all of you."

Deena says, "I'll say hi to the emperor's's palace for you"

The housekeeper arrives to remove Carolyn.

The housekeeper arrives to remove Jay Clayton.

Maggie says, "Eat some unagi for me."

Slattery says, "Tokyo v. hot and humid?"

The housekeeper arrives to remove Nick Monfort.

Mday bets it is

Deena says, "I WILL AND some sashimi."

Deena says, "Yep, it is about 90- degrees and 100 percent humidity"

Slattery says, "Ta"

Maggie waves goodbye and leaves for the grocery store

-- End log: Saturday, August 19, 2000 4:26:22 pm CDT


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