The interactive documentary during the evolution of the Internet: giving examples of the different phases. Assumptions about the technological future.


In this post we will close the series called “The evolution of the Internet, key factor for the interactive documentary” including the third part, which will include the conclusion and some possible future scenarios.

It’s time to take the field theory to the focus, and see how technology enables a type of interfaces according to their degree of development and the existing supports. We will therefore analyze the technology and interactive documentary supports in its different phases.

On the Web 1.0 the off-line media were more used than online media to produce interactive documentaries, especially cultural diffusion projects for museums, institutions and artists (made with Macromedia Director or proprietary software, usually).

With the Web 2.0 appeared the basic principles that constitute a mature technology and social web. At this stage online projects are imposed on all others and nowadays there is a boom in relation to fiction and nonfiction formats/genres. A new business model and a new  “species” has consolidated, the WWW, a new media that make traditional genders be adapted in the new ecosystem to survive.

The possibilities and combinations of themes, supports, platforms and user experience variations that open are virtually endless in the next web generation. At the stadium 3.0, we will be able to combine a semantic search by abstract concepts – rather than syntactic chains – thanks to XML and other standards, with full power of geolocation added. Mixing just these few examples, we get a kind of documentary based on multiplatform that in the support of mobile devices can capture the reality – static or moving – and from our position, return multiple layers of information – augmented reality -, and then these new layers of information links with other related concepts and offers the user a full range of links and possible ways to navigate and interact with it.

This would be just a basic example that is already beginning to develop in other areas of interactive genres (fiction). Or, on the other hand, we can imagine how it could work the generative algorithmic images that we see in the case of the interactive music video “The Wilderness Downtown” (from the song “We Used to Wait” by Chris Milk 2010). All this is happening now. And we are just entering the third phase of the web!


And in all this equation I have not yet introduced the concept of interactive television, because it will also appear, and soon. Whe sufficient mass of people have fiber optics access, then they buy a TV that incorporate wireless connection to fiber optic terminal, and then truly interactive television definitely will make sense. This gender will become a solid and commercial sector. This may already exist because the technology is developed for years, but for commercial reasons has not been put on the market (according to a planne obsolescence scenario).

In phase 4.0, it is difficult to predict what can happen, but following and according to Raymond Kuyrzweil (the “Cyber ​​nostradamus”) and their predictions for 2019, things are going to be really interesting!






Some of his predictions for the 2019 – I  have selected those that best fit to the gender – affirms that a personal computer for $ 1000 will have as much capacity as the human brain; the sum of all the computing power of all computers on the planet will be comparable with the intelligence the whole human race; computers will be included everywhere (in furniture, jewelry, walls, clothes, etc.); people will enjoy 3D Virtual Reality contact lenses that we inject images directly to the retina; with the audio headphones we can also generate Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in 3 ways: (1) screens can project above the user’s field of view with images/screens/windows static position in the field of view; (2) they can project virtual images or virtual people on stage to view these in a fixed position and if the user moves the object will appear to continue in the same position as if it were a real living being or object; (3) Virtual Reality Fullscreen, where the user is immersed in a whole new world; people will communicate with their computers in two ways: voice (much like a lecture) and by gestures; no more keyboards; most of the interaction with a computer will be using wizards with different personalities that the user can choose or customize; there will be devices that can create feelings on the surface of the skin according to use; suits glued to the body and gloves are used in virtual reality experience for a better experience; interaction with virtual personalities will be the main interface.






Considering this, we can imagine a future documentary interactive where we are guided by an avatar created for ourselves, or ourselves touring the interactive documentary being inside it in the Virtual Reality Fullscreen mode, etc.

And if you want more, see the predictions for 2029 (in Kurzweil’s book “The singularity is near“, 2005)


Arnau Gifreu Castells

Researcher, Professor and Producer

Universitat Ramón Llull / Universitat de Vic



Kurzweil, R.(2005), The singularity is near. New York: Penguin Group.

Milk, C. (2010), “The Wilderness Downtown” (from the song “We Used to Wait” ).


Suggested Books

Introducing HTML5 by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp (lots of links!)

HTML5 Multimedia: Develop and Design by Ian Devlin


Bonus tracks:  (Adobe examples) (Demos examples)  (Links and
resources) (W3C)