Blog Post 1 – my body

I think the way that interactive narratives like “my body” challenge the norms of traditional narratives is interesting in a lot of ways, especially when it’s on a website. When I think about stories that engage the reader in a way that gives them some control over the way the story pans out, the first thing I think about are the “mad libs” I used to do when I was a kid, where you wrote down random nouns and adjectives and fit them into the story. I would always end up going back and changing the words until it turned out to be a story I was happy with.

That’s sort of what I did with “my body.” There are a million different possibilities when it comes to paths that the story can take, and I found myself clicking the back button quite frequently to see what would happen if I clicked on a different link, or even started the story with a different body part.

I’ve always been a little terrified at the thought of composing creative content on the web. Blog posts with a few external links is as far as I’ve gone, mostly because I don’t know much about web design and I’m not that great with technology. The biggest thing I took away from this piece was that creativity doesn’t need to be related to complexity in terms of he structure of a webpage. This one is pretty simple. You click on a link within the text and it takes you to another part of the narrative that corresponds with that body part, and so on. There are a few images and a lot of internal links, which is stuff I actually can do. The creative aspect comes from the way the narrative pans out and the fact that the reader has some control over it depending on which links they click. I also enjoyed it for the quality of the content, which I found really interesting, and that has nothing to do with HTML or CSS.

This was definitely my favorite assignment for the week, because it inspired me to think about my own website that I’ll make for the class and ways I can get more creative with it. When it comes down to it, I don’t think it matters how fancy or advanced a website is in terms of its design if the quality of the content itself isn’t engaging. I’d rather read an interesting story, like this one, than a really fancy and advanced website that has nothing to offer in terms of content. Let’s hope that my site for this class falls into the former category.

-Julie Howell

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~ by juliehowell on January 17, 2011.

One Response to “Blog Post 1 – my body”

  1. As a fellow newbie to the “e-literature” scene, I agree with your sentiments here about the uncertainties of the unknown. We are often used to literature as a physical thing with a beginning and end, in which the reader is little more than a receptive ear. But this story definitely challenges that, giving the reader greater agency and the story more fluidity. I like your reference to Mad Libs– I too thought of the choose-your-own-ending horror stories I read as a kid. And I also think you’re hitting on a key point of how the Internet is transforming story telling and information dispersal (i.e. journalism)–the reader has greater control, and the writer/publisher less. We see this with comments pages and the erosion of the pre-arranged physical newspaper into tweeted links from @NYTimes.

    In many ways, I’d say that my body: a wunderkammer contorts literature into the medium of the web without losing quality or depth. And since the author’s writing is so beautiful, there is little need for flashy yet superfluous web trimmings, as you noted. There are enough vapid websites out there; it’s nice to see something with substance.

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