The whole story, and then some: ‘digital storytelling’ in evolving museum practice
Amelia Wong, The George Washington University, USA
Abstract"What is digital storytelling?" This paper uses that question as a jumping-off point for discussing how museum practitioners can advance how they construct narrative experiences for visitors, both on and off site, in the digital age. I argue that pursuing “digital storytelling” is not productive, since it is an essentially technologically determinist concept that leads not to digital stories but to stories that happen to be digital. In contrast, the emergence of ubiquitous digital technology directs museums to consider storytelling as spatial; mobile; location, context, and audience aware; interactive; transmedial (occurring across media); and intermedial (dependent on the interaction of media). This perspective is used to begin to articulate a storycraft for practitioners and to argue that museums need to invest in developing staff as storytellers with fluency in the narrative capacities afforded by the interactions between people, space, content, and technology.
Keywords: storytelling, narrative, ubiquitous computing, covergence, mobile
We hear the term “digital storytelling” a lot these days in the museum field. It’s “sexy.” Sexy terms beguile in two ways. They appeal with their elegant simplicity:
“It’s storytelling. But, digital!”
They appeal because that simplicity hints at deep complexity.
“It’s storytelling. But, digital! … Wait. What?”
What is digital storytelling? Do we need to know?
While the museum field doesn’t need to settle on a definition, looking closely at the language we use can be a helpful exercise in approaching our work more thoughtfully and critically. This is especially so since language constrains how we understand and advance ideas. I want to examine what we mean when we talk about “digital storytelling” because this simple-seeming term is highly complex—and that complexity offers food for thought that can inspire creative museum practice for staff and experiences for visitors. My aim is not to define “digital storytelling,” but to explore definitions of that concept to consider what we might learn from those meanings and to encourage discussion about how museums construct narrative experiences today.
Looking at scholarship from literary criticism, media studies, and psychology, and “digital stories” from artists, journalists, and the many writers, designers, and programmers that work in the media industries, has led me to two key observations that I will explore and use to suggest considerations for how museums approach storytelling through digital media.
- “Digital storytelling” is not a specific method or genre of storytelling, like “oral storytelling” or dramatic theater, but encompasses diverse storytelling experiments that utilize various digital media and devices. These experiments show that the impact of digital on narrative practices has not been the creation of a medium-specific way of telling stories with new, unique motifs for making meaning. Instead, as digital media converge previous media types and their narrative capacities, they “[force] us to reconsider our models and theories of storytelling” (Sloane, 2000: 8). Conventional Western understanding of storytelling has tended to think of stories as defined by time, such as in the pages of a novel or the performance of a play. Stories told through digital media tend to highlight the spatial dimension of narrative as well.
- Storytellers experimenting with the narrative capacities of digital media are particularly interested in how interactivity, media convergence, and the expectations of audiences affect meaning making.
Before going further, I need to explain what I mean by “storytelling,” “story,” and “narrative.” While there are good reasons to differentiate between “story” and “narrative” (Bal, 2009), here they are used as synonyms. A “story” or “narrative” is a telling of an event or events.
“Storytelling” is the way that a narrative is told. This is not as tautological as it sounds: storytelling creates a “frame” that strives to dictate the experience of a story—it directs our attention. This frame is both temporal and spatial. We enter this frame when we open a book to page one, when the house lights dim and the curtains swing open, when the person across from you leans in and whispers, “Let me tell you a story.” Events unfold in time; stories have beginnings, middles, and ends (Bruner, 1990; Cohan & Shires, 1988). That sequence is the foundation for making meaning; story events “do not, as it were, have a life or meaning of their own. Their meaning is given by their place in the overall configuration of the sequence as a whole—its plot or fabula” (Bruner, 1990: 43). At the same time, telling a story builds a world. As we read or play a video game, we populate a storyspace with characters, events, background, etc. This frame can be bounded by a physical perimeter, but is more importantly bounded conceptually, such as by cultural (e.g., Downton Abbey) rules.
Museums have not always embraced these words. The idea of “narrative” is problematic precisely “because it tends to put forth an idea of a cohesive, linear story about a site, an event, or a community.” Making matters worse, “Stories also tend to offer the illusion that they present the events in their entirety (and if they leave out anything, the omitted portions are simply not relevant)” (Farman, 2014: 9). These words also suffer from a strong association with fiction and subjectivity.
But storytelling is a potent way for museums to present inclusive and nuanced history, to make big ideas less overwhelming and abstract, and to create frames of experience that encourage deep and satisfying engagement for visitors and online users. Storytelling is an additional method of interpretation to the traditional mode of direct information delivery—the stark presentation of “the facts.” Storytelling draws on people’s fluency with other media forms (film, television, poetry, etc.), which may be more inviting to non-traditional audiences. Storytelling may advance educational efforts, as it may support memory (Bruner, 1990; Sloane, 2000). Further, storytelling helps people direct their attention, provoke inquiry, and can motivate deep engagement with content and a desire to “find out what happens.” “Narrative” and “story” risk suggesting inevitability—they may carry the taint of totality—but every story is by nature made of fragments. Digital media excel at making diverse content available in diverse ways across time and space. They offer manifold ways to frame story experiences, while simultaneously suggesting all that lies outside the frame.
2. “Digital storytelling”
The myriad uses of “digital storytelling” refer to a lot of different things, but gesture at two main conceptualizations, one of them “specific,” the other “generic” (Hartley & McWilliam, 2009: 8). The specific definition refers to the media practices created and disseminated through the Berkeley-based Center for Digital Storytelling. The generic definition encompasses the variety of ways storytellers experiment with digital media to tell stories. Specific and generic digital storytelling are further differentiated on the basis that the latter explores the capacities of digital media to support narrative meaning making, while the former utilizes digital technology because it is an accessible mode of production. As Hartley and McWilliam observe, “despite the term ‘digital’ in digital storytelling, the emphasis is on the story and the telling” (2009: 3). Because of this, I concentrate my discussion on generic digital storytelling, but offer a short description of the specific type since it is the source of both the coining of the term and for spreading it globally, and because it has implications for the museum field that I will address in my conclusion.
Hartley and McWilliam explain: “‘Digital storytelling’ is a workshop-based practice in which people are taught to use digital media to create short audio-video stories, usually about their own lives” (2009: 3). These short (generally three to five minutes) videos (http://storycenter.org/stories/) float the recorded voice of each storyteller over a montage of photographs (sometimes video), usually with a musical soundtrack.
Rooted in the folk and activist cultures of the 1960s and in the community arts movement (Lambert, 2009; McWilliam, 2009), the founders of the non-profit Center for Digital Storytelling developed their model of digital storytelling in the early 1990s, when the hardware and software of digital media production became available to the consumer market. They wanted to extend digital means of self-expression to the public for empowerment and liberation. In this sense, digital storytelling is a “social movement” (Hartley & McWilliam, 2009: 4-5) that has spread throughout the world, especially across North America, Europe, and Australasia (McWilliam, 2009). In general, programs seek to empower people as storytellers, as well as to foster media literacy and technical skills (Rahim, 2012: 98). The process can vary, but workshops involve “story circles,” the production of a script, the creation of a completed video, and a screening. The model guides tellers in creating a story that will be coherent for an audience—it should have “a point” (Porter, n.d.: 15), and it should provide “closure” (Lambert, 2010: 21). This emphasis produces digital stories that often trace the effects of a significant change on the storyteller. Critics fear that this formula produces highly personal and linear stories that undercut the process’s democratizing potential (Burgess, 2006; Fulwiler & Middleton, 2012; Poletti, 2011), but Lambert defends it: “I am a traditionalist in this idea, having never fallen for what feels to me to be an experimental conceit of an ‘anything goes’ approach to narrative” (2010: 30).
3. “Digital storytelling” where anything goes
Lambert’s adherence to coherent narrative arcs indicates the power of sequence, which scholars believe endures because it is the structure upon which we can imagine what a story can mean. As Sobchack describes of science fiction, a story’s “style and structure … provokes the reader to think, to observe, to draw his own abstract conclusions” (quoted in McClean, 2007: 23).
In generic usage, “digital storytelling” refers to the use of digital media to play with or disrupt these norms. It is essentially an expression of people’s long-held interest in figuring out what makes digital media unique and different from previous media (Manovich, 2001). While those traits are not fully determined and likely never will be, it is possible to see that common perceptions of those traits inspire storytellers’ experiments with digital. One common trait is that these media allow for the convergence of many of the traits of previous media (e.g., placing images next to written text; animation) and their narrative motifs (e.g., metaphor; soundtracks). Digital stories juxtapose media and motifs to conjure new ways to convey narrative meaning. Another commonly perceived trait is “interactivity.” Finally, there is a significant concern with how the audience will experience stories via digital devices.
All expressions of digital storytelling explore media convergence, interactivity, and audience experience to varying degrees. I discuss this range through examples of “interactive,” “transmedia,” and “mobile storytelling,” the most commonly used umbrella terms that refer to digital narrative experiments. While any of these categories may be deemed “interactive,” “interactive storytelling” is used most often to describe stories that are contained within a digital screen (Miller, 2004). They focus on how a user will interact with content (and possibly other users) through a computer, tablet, etc. “Transmedia storytelling” broadens the idea of interactivity across platforms, while “mobile storytelling” focuses on interacting with digital media and devices in physical space.
The first noted experiments with digital media for storytelling were the “hypertext narratives” that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s (Sloane, 2000; Schneider, 2005). Like Choose Your Own Adventure books, which let a reader select various story paths leading to various endings, hypertext narratives allow a reader to navigate a story by clicking on words, images, or other elements that are hyperlinked to other elements. Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story (1987–91) is a seminal example. Postmodern ideas of “fragmentation, openness and instability” influence these stories, feeding the view that “non-linearity or nonsequentiality … is said to represent a new kind of textuality.” This new textuality was often construed as “[liberating the reader] from the constraints imposed by ‘traditional’ literature” because it involves interactivity through navigating via links or collaborative writing (Schneider, 2005: 198). As such, hypertext narrative can be understood as early examples of “interactive storytelling.” Because “interactivity” in digital media is best discussed in relation to what (user/document/system) is expected to interact (McMillan, 2006), I borrow Ryan’s (2011) “onion” metaphor for describing different “levels” of interactive storytelling.
The first level, “peripheral interactivity,” presents a story through “an interactive interface, but this interactivity affects neither the story itself, nor the order of its presentation” (Ryan, 2011: 37). The “interactive documentary” “Welcome to Pine Point” (Shoebridge & Simons, 2010), produced by the National Film Board of Canada, overlays text, photographs, video, animation, and sound to tell the stories of a mining town destroyed in the 1980s. It offers a nuanced meditation on the nature of nostalgia, memory, and the idea of “home,” its meanings relayed and reinforced through a sophisticated interface that plays music and simulates flipping through a scrapbook. Another example, Wilks’ “Fitting the Pattern” (2008), conveys the spatial dimension of storytelling; the reader explores the story of Wilks’ relationship with her mother by using dressmaking tools to “fit a pattern.”
On the second level, interactivity “[affects] narrative discourse and the presentation of the story”: “the materials that constitute the story are still fully predetermined, but thanks to the text’s interactive mechanisms, their presentation to the user is highly variable” (Ryan, 2011: 40). Hypertext literature operates on this level. The YouTube video series “Ronald Has a Spider on His Head: An Interactive Mis-Adventure” is a more simple example: it uses YouTube’s annotation tools to make hyperlinks for choosing story paths.
Interactivity on the next level is used to “[create] variations in a partly pre-defined story. On this level the user plays the role of a member of the storyworld, and the system grants him some freedom of action, but the purpose of the user’s agency is to progress along a fixed storyline, and the system remains in firm control of the narrative trajectory” (Ryan, 2011: 44). Video games in the “adventure,” “shooter,” or mystery” genres are examples, where a user has a vantage point on the storyworld via first-person view or an avatar. These games present linear narratives that are explored spatially: a user can wander around a forest, house, or other scene, but she has to find a hotspot or complete some sort of task to “enter” the next space, scene, or chapter. Such games afford users different experiences with each turn, but they do not give them power to affect a story’s outcome. For most games, the story is an addendum, but efforts like “Inkubus,” built with the 3D game engine Unity, which is described as a “first-person playable coming-of-age story” (Campbell & Wilks, 2014), attempt to foreground narrative.
Level four includes stories that “are not pre-determined, but rather, generated on the fly out of data that comes in part from the system, and in part from the user” (Ryan, 2011: 48). In theory—no one has yet achieved it—the user is a co-creator with the system in generating new stories. To achieve collaborative storytelling, the system uses some semblance of artificial intelligence to generate comprehensible story scenarios in response to user input. Ryan cites Façade as the most sophisticated example. This “one-act play” elapses over fifteen minutes, casting the user as a friend of married couple Grace and Trip (Stern & Mateas, 2005). As they engage in an increasingly heated fight about their relationship, the user converses with them (in natural language) and may convince them to stay together or help drive them apart. Despite affording the user a “natural” way to interact with the system, the system is limited as a story-generating engine as it can only reply to user input with preprogrammed responses. The user’s impact on the story “is a matter of interpretation, rather than a matter of generating significantly different sequences of events” (Ryan, 2011: 54).
Transmedia and mobile storytelling
Transmedia and mobile storytelling use the capacities of digital media to present stories through multiple contexts that intersect and interact. For each, the spatial aspects of storytelling are as evident as time.
Jenkins (2007) defines “transmedia storytelling,” a term he popularized, as “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.” Transmedia storytelling is a process of world building: “Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories.” Because weaving together various narrative threads to convey a sense of a storyworld requires Herculean coordination, the most successful examples tend to be created by a single artist or team or through the collaboration enabled by media conglomerates that own film studios, publishing imprints, etc. (Jenkins, 2007). A mainstream franchise like The Matrix, which uses feature films, animated shorts, comic books, and various other media, is a well-known example, but more modest efforts, like Jay Kenworthy and Rob Allmand’s “Howard Glitch” (2013), exist. The benefits these endeavors offer storytellers are that multiple platforms provide ways to explore various stories and characters and create many entrypoints for attracting different audiences. The benefit for audiences is the intrigue of digging into the worlds of stories that traditionally remain inaccessible; transmedia storytelling allows them to discover the backstory and fates of subcharacters, or to find out more about a plotline that takes place mostly off-screen.
Some transmedia stories involve audiences physically: Lance Weiler’s “Pandemic 1.0” embedded media elements in Park City, Utah, during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Such stories also exemplify “mobile storytelling,” an overarching term for stories experienced by traversing a physical space. Mobile stories are digital when a digital device and application, like a podcast audio tour, drive the experience. Mobile storytelling draws equally on the narrative power of time and space. It is influenced by the sense that mobility itself is a narrative experience (Nack & Waern, 2012): for example, people’s morning commutes routinely provide stories to share around the water cooler. Its power also lies in “standing at the site where an event took place; far more than simply reading about an event, being in the place where that event happened offers experiential value that gives us a deeper sense of the story and the ways that story affects the meaning of the place” (Farman, 2014: 7). Proponents of mobile storytelling argue our laptops, smartphones, and tablets help us reconnect, rather than disconnect, to places (Farman, 2014).
Mobile storytelling often tells site-specific stories, guiding a person to places where parts of a story actually took place. For example, Walking Cinema’s “Murder on Beacon Hill” (2009) recounts the 1849 murder of Dr. George Parkman through an app that directs the user to specific places in one of Boston’s toniest neighborhoods.
Mobile storytelling thus capitalizes on the portability of digital devices and their ability to be “location-aware and context-specific in ways other media are not” (Farman, 2014: 8). Thanks to sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes, mobile devices are aware of users’ physical contexts and can track activities to anticipate what users might do (Oppegaard & Griger, 2014). Storytellers are intrigued by the potential of mobile to encourage highly personal encounters with narrative.
For all of its variety, storytelling with digital media brings the spatial dimension of stories to the foreground alongside the traditional dimension of time. It is characterized by concerns with interactivity, media convergence, and the habits and expectations of modern audiences. These issues introduce new levels of complexity for framing a satisfying story experience. Addressing that complexity starts not with questions about technology, but about story, audience, and the interplay of media. I offer preliminary and brief thoughts on these issues here, as full exploration requires multiple papers.
Producers of stories told with digital media agonize over the problem of narrative coherence (Schneider, 2005; Ryan, 2011). Our ability to make meaning through stories is greatly influenced by a story’s structure, or the sequence in which events, character thoughts, etc. are revealed. Stories that offer multiple ways to encounter those elements often use web- or tree-like structures, which can undermine the ability to make out a coherent narrative—to understand “the point,” or even “a point.” Sometimes, of course, that is the point. But this experimentation comes with costs. First, it’s not clear that disrupting narrative conventions enriches a story experience. For all of its revolutionary claims, the effects of interactive storytelling on users are not well understood. Discussing hypertext narrative, Schneider (2005) notes the process of making meaning through reading narrative is dynamic and complex as it draws on our emotions, previous understandings of literary texts, and other factors; hypertext introduces new variables to this process, but it is not known to what effect. He also broaches the concern that, given the opportunity to explore a narrative without any direction, our brains may still strive to make linear connections. Second, a lack of readily understandable and meaningful connections between links can quickly lead to user frustration, a risk perhaps amplified for users well acquainted with modern best practices for interface design who expect links to convey logical and ideally transparent connections. Finally, the expectation of narrative coherence provides a strong motivation for finishing a story. Linear stories reassure audiences that there will be an end. Users may abandon the experience if their explorations aren’t discovering satisfying coherent narrative paths.
Transmedia or mobile storytelling makes the issue of coherence even more difficult. A transmedia story must create a sense of a coherent storyworld in which various characters interact or events happen, but these multiple stories must work logically with all of the other stories. Mobile stories, which demand significant labor on the part of users as they require audiences to navigate both digital and physical spaces, “must offer a reward perceived to be greater than the effort required of the audience” (Ritchie, 2014: 57–58). Storytellers must provide effective but not terribly distracting wayfinding and “narrative bridges,” which “delineate the spaces significant to the narrative, to change or direct audience perspective, to inform audience movement, and to draw the audience’s attention to important narrative elements in the built environment” (Ritchie, 2014: 63).
For museums, these questions must be weighed in practice relative to audience desires and institutional goals; they also provide some directions for visitor research. In seeking to not champion grand narratives of human experience, museum practitioners have shown a lot of interest in “nonlinear narratives” and in seeing if creating dissonance or discomfort in museum space prompts learning. Introducing interactive options into narrative experiences must be considered thoughtfully in relation to all of the standard concerns with interactivity and participation, but also with careful attention to how these aspects affect narrative coherence. Does a narrative need to be coherent in the sense of time and/or in the sense of fitting into a storyworld? Is our sense of coherent narrative based on content and/or experience of the content? Does the audience need autonomy or direction? Is the visitor or user cast as an audience member, or as an author discovering aspects of a predetermined story or contributing to the content or experience of the narrative? If the audience plays a co-creative role, museums must carefully scaffold contributions (Simon, 2010); participation only at external levels would involve participants contributing some color to one aspect of a story, while contributions at internal levels would affect storylines and require significant coordination to keep stories from veering off into incoherence (Rettberg, 2011).
This concern with narrative coherence also suggests the need to evaluate the impact of story experiences on audiences. There are studies about the narratives that people tell about their museum visits (Schorch, 2013), but we need studies about how narrative coherence aids learning generally, as well as how visitors experience museums as sites of narrative. Do story experiences motivate visitors to engage more attentively with content and encourage them to see online or physical exhibitions or programs to the end? Does a linear structure support some learning objectives, or types of stories, better than others? Do museum visitors understand exhibition entrances, thresholds, or other aspects as narrative “cues”? Do visitors see museums as storytellers?
As much as satisfying story experiences tend to involve coherent storylines or storyworlds, they are not achieved by overwhelming audiences with information. Storytellers and scholars commonly recognize meaning making in narrative is supported by what a storyteller leaves out as much as what she puts in. Narrative gaps are aspects of a story that are not immediately or fully explained. They may be told, but not shown, allowing the audience to imagine what characters or locations look like; they also may be shown and not told, as when a character in a film shares a meaningful look with another character before cutting to another scene. Regardless, gaps support making meaning because they happen within a structure that prompts the audience to fill in missing information. As stated earlier, that structure has to do with sequence, but it also depends on shared cultural understanding (Bruner, 2009), which is why metaphor is an effective way of creating such gaps (Bruner, 2009; Cohan & Shires, 1988): a story that begins with Jane bringing a red rose to school to give to Caroline suggests to the Western mind that Jane may be a gardener, that she has a crush on Caroline, etc.
In provoking imagination and inquiry, narrative gaps clearly serve the interests of modern museum practice. (They also convey the usefulness of seriality: breaking stories into “episodes” may motivate long-term audience engagement.) Gaps are useful because they may help audiences identify with the subject of a story (Bedford, 2001). But they may be tricky for museums given their inclination to err on the side of more is more, exemplified when digital media is approached as the dumping ground for everything that didn’t fit in a physical exhibition. Yet, museums are already experienced with distributing content across websites, apps, and podcasts for specific audiences. These practices offer opportunities to play with the meaning-making potential of narrative gaps. Could approaching such projects as transmedia storytelling—as world building—help practitioners decide what information is best presented on what platform?
Finally, storytelling with digital media also requires particular attention to how media interact to affect the narrative experience and to hold attention. Storytellers must carefully consider how content and media are layered and connected within platforms and, for transmedia or mobile experiences, across them. Oppegaard and Grigar (2014) offer a starting point for such considerations in the idea of “intermediality,” which is concerned with the interplay of media within the context of physical environments. They note four interrelationships that affect mobile-story experiences: content and medium; people with space and time; people with people; and people with information. Attending to these interactions means being sensitive to everything from the use of QR codes as narrative bridges to the ethical implications of involving people in the story experience who are unaware that they are playing a part.
Storytelling in the digital age is a challenge to explore ways to integrate media across digital and physical environments to further our ability to attend deeply to narratives and make meaning from them. It is helpful to remember that, as much as digital media have complicated storytelling, they have not reinvented it. While digital media facilitate storytelling that highlights interactivity, media convergence, and audience experience, they didn’t introduce these concerns. Neither have they broken the power of linear narrative structure, even if they emphasize storytelling as spatial as much as chronological, and even if they offer new ways to experience those spaces.
What storytelling in the digital age most definitely does is offer incentive to explore the creative potential of narrative for enriching museum experiences. As experiments in framing satisfying narrative experiences require thinking beyond “digital storytelling” to thinking more specifically about enduring questions about storytelling, including narrative coherence and gaps, and about new opportunities to play with the spatial, interactive, and intermedial aspects of storytelling, I conclude with a couple thoughts on how to support this exploration.
Museums that want to craft engaging storytelling experiences must invest in the creative development of staff. Norris and Tisdale (2013) recently cautioned that museums seeking to nurture creativity should not cut professional development funds in the face of budget problems, which are simply endemic to our field. Staff needs to cultivate fluency in the narrative devices of media generally, which can be gained through training in writing, photography, video, Web, and user experience design. They must also see themselves as storytellers. Workshops like those offered by the Center for Digital Storytelling support such growth and offer a model that can be brought back to institutions to train other staff.
The field should also reconsider the value of linear narrative to fuel new approaches. Order clearly matters in narrative because it is the difference between presenting happenings as a story or as stuff that happened. The capacities of digital media are such that they can simultaneously highlight multiple narratives, meaning linear narrative can be used without letting it wholly dictate a story experience.
Let me end with an example. Inskeep et al.’s “Borderland” (2014) repurposes media from NPR’s reporting series on life along the United States–Mexico border in an experiential application. A user opening this project confronts a clear threshold: the first page is not a homepage with menus: it’s a first page. A full-screen photograph taken from the vantage point of being on a street in the borderland immerses the user in a particular place. Users have one option (other than leaving): to click “Go.” The next page offers some choice by featuring a link to view “All Stories” or to proceed “forward” or “backward” in the “stories.” Regardless if the user chooses “All Stories” or the “forward” arrow, she sees the stories are numbered. The numbers suggest a linear path through each linear story, though users may click to other stories or move back and forth within one. This presentation of the stories somewhat as “chapters” suggests narrative coherence as a whole, while also conveying narrative gaps. Clicking through one story implies all the stories are relatively brief, subtly indicating how much time a user must commit to the experience. Clicking through a couple quickly establishes some narrative conventions. The stories focus on people or things, or people and things, but they all suggest the tension of presence and absence, of comings and goings, of hard lines and blurred ones, of hybrid and mestizo culture. The formats of stories vary, but all make use of full-screen photography and chunked text. These conventions unify the stories into a larger story, while also conforming to the standard user expectations for the Web and mobile. Working within a storytelling frame that brings users into a storyspace, all of these aspects make “Borderland” a narrative experience that offers stories with multiple paths, which are coherent, but diverse. Through both its content and style of presentation, it suggests there is much, much more to the story…
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