October 22, 2008 | 1 Comment

First off, I stumbledupon this article today. I know most of us are seniors and possibly interested in the job market, and although I don’t believe it’s possible to completely eradicate negative information about oneself, it’s good to take steps to control it. So give it a shot…it’s got good preventive and damage control advice.

I went to the talk about the Labyrinth Project last Thursday and didn’t enjoy it much, but it brought up some interesting questions about the different ways people interact with objects (and presentations).

The presentation featured the interactive possibilities of these multimedia databases…basically virtual museums and memoirs that serve the standard archival, historical, and cultural purpose in the hopes of presenting a more interactive, visual, and accessible form of historical scholarship. Virtual spaces are very cool and an interesting topic for me, but this presentation fell a little short.

The project’s virtual, interactive memoirs with transmedia options give the participant (very?) limited control over what they choose to watch or in what order…but is this sense of choice any different than a patron’s decision in a museum, a DVD menu, or my interaction with Encarta 97 (deluxe)?

Content is king for the Labyrinth Project, and I respect their strides in incorporating multiple mediums and encourage cooperative, interactive, and applied scholarship…but their presentation doesn’t seem particularly revolutionary to me. Sure…multiple videofeeds and relaxing music of The Danube Exodus are a great way to present that particular memoir…but is it really that interactive? You can’t even stop videos once they start playing.

Some features of the database narratives were fairly interesting-if you take a step back, some options randomize, resort, or are omitted. This feature speaks to the arbitrary nature of both scholarship and sensory perceptions/memory. Some applied universal/meta-narratives and allowed the user to speculate and even explore rumored murder alternatives in the case of a specific memoir. And the pictures that had sliders so you could overlay a modern day photograph over a historic one were interesting…but nothing to write home about.

Maybe I’m spoiled. Maybe I expect more when I hear the word “interactive,” but this is nowhere near the virtual space of video games. What is interesting is how different people- old, young, tech-savy, historians, would interact with these presentations…if you can imagine young people getting interested in something like this. I was pretty skeptical about how excited a middle-schooler would be about this project. My attention span has to be measured in tenths of seconds, so I cringe to think what the average is like now. However, it’s always good to ask questions like “how would my mom use this media?” Not mine, specifically (she can beat me at Soul Caliber IV), but in general.

Seigfried, my mom’s favorite Soul Caliber Character

On a related note, it’s always interesting to watch a presentation’s Tipping Point, in terms of how many people have to gingerly leave before a shameless mass exodus occurs. I feel like I’m coming across as mean, and maybe it was a Thursday night, but if a presentation can’t hold the interest of young people, it’s not innovative technology.

More paper ideas and comments to come.


1 Comment so far

  1. Brett’s Class Blog » Blog Archive » The Labyrinth Project on October 22, 2008 6:13 pm

    […] Andrew posted some interesting thoughts on the Labyrinth Project and Marsha Kinder’s presentation from last week.  I also went to the presentation, which I found to be interesting but not amazing. Andrew hits on an important point when he mentions that generational factors play a large role in how the project is received, in that its level of interactivity might be more impressive to older people who grew up in an environment less saturated with interactive media.  Though Kinder offered anecdotal evidence of how different demographics approached the “database documentaries,” I didn’t immediately make this connection.  Kinder did make an analogy between the project and a museum, so that gives you a sense of the degree of choice in terms of what material you experience when.  I think the what and when choice is actually pretty significant because there is a lot of stuff crammed on to those discs and a virtually infinite number of possible orders/combinations, but where I got bored was the lack of choice in how to experience the material.  That is, unlike a video game where the player has agency within the content, the Labyrinth project viewer just has a wealth of content. […]

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