Modes of Interactivity: Analysing the Webdoc

The webdocumentary positions itself as documentary re-mediated for the internet age. Not only does the name webdocumentary consciously reference film and television documentary but it is possible to trace continuities in representational strategies, purpose and production practices that situate the webdoc within the documentary tradition. In spite of this family resemblance, however, the webdoc challenges current thinking about documentary representation. Interactivity in particular has consequences for theorizing in relation to modes of representation and user engagement. This article considers interactivity as a representational strategy, suggesting three dimensions for assessing its contribution to documentary. Following on from this it is suggested that, like film and television documentary, webdocs exhibit patterns of textual organization. It is suggested that there are at least three interactive structures found in webdocs: the narrative, the categorical and the collaborative. Each can be further divided – indicating the diverse uses of interactive features. A challenge of researching interactive texts is that the whole text is never completely available for analysis. Each viewing has the potential to be different from the last. Although necessarily provisional, this article seeks to demonstrate what might be achieved through close reading of the interactive documentary text.

Nash, K. (2012) “Modes of Interactivity: Analysing the Webdoc”. In: Media, Culture & Society Vol 34 Issue 2, Pp. 195—210, DOI 10.1177/0163443711430758


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