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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Excellent Post - Reconciling The Tension Between Code and Story - Canalside View


Excerpt from a longer original post:

"The tension between story and code

The body of academic, popular, and practical literature on the nature and role of storytelling in culture is beyond fulsome. Nobody in their right mind would argue that storytelling as a cultural practice is dead.

But it is clear that we are all struggling with a bit of a problem. Namely the tension between code and story.

At last year’s CAT Conference, Iain Tait spoke about the conflict of working cultures and practices that exists between the storytellers and coders of our industry. Yet I think the issue may run even deeper.

Aristotle's ideas of narrative construction still dominate - consciously or not - much of our thinking. As he argued in his Poetics, a plot is constructed out of a fixed sequence of events; it has a definite beginning and end, is characterized by a sense of wholeness and unity, and a ‘certain definite magnitude’.

The problem is that code allows us to create a vast and ever-evolving wealth of experiences that simply do not play by any of these Aristotelean rules.

Code allows us to create stuff that’s non-linear, rather than having a fixed sequence of events. It allows us to create experiences that are open-ended, rather than finite. It allows us to create worlds in which we are actors and principles. And so on.

If we take the standard writer's definition of story as: 'An engaging character overcomes tremendous obstacles to reach a desired goal', then it’s clear that code allows us to make stuff that just isn’t story.

And so we find ‘coders’ and ‘storytellers’ at best unable to understand each other’s profoundly differing starting points. And worst, we find them glaring at each other over some invisible divide, muttering darkly that They “just don’t get it.”....

read the full post:

My comment below:

"nice post - this approach has been the foundation of my teaching and consultation for years- I trace it back (for me) to Lev Manovich pronouncing in Language of New Media that database & story are natural enemies. A flawed approach that fails to understand that we rarely access databases without some frame/algorithm/ question that doesn't already set in motion a narrative potential."

Posted via email from Siobhan O'Flynn's 1001 Tales

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