I have been teaching interactive narrative and new media theory at the London College of Communication since 1999, I am finishing writing a PhD at Goldsmiths University of London about interactive documentaries and I am one of the conveners of the i-Docs symposium in Bristol.
I come from a background in television production. I have worked ten years producing content for cultural television shows… but I rapidly got frustrated about the whole process of “ordering” stories, and “cutting down” people. I struggled with the selective tyranny of the editing process. When computers started to appear into the edit suites I understood that it was the beginning of a whole new way of conceiving the narrative experience… hence my switch to interactive television, and then teaching. I now plan to go slowly go back to the production world – but this time of interactive documentaries!
Session Title: Which definitions and taxonomies of i-docs?
As I have been researching the i-doc field for a while I know that “interactive documentary” is a fuzzy concept that means different things to different people. This comes as no surprise, as it is a growing field, and the abundance of terminology around us makes it even more confusing. What is the difference between a web-doc, a docu-game, a locative doc, a trans-media doc, an immersive doc, a collab-doc, a web-native doc or an alternate reality doc (to state only a few)? My own answer would be that they are all interactive documentaries, but they use different platforms, different interactive logics and different narrative structures to achieve very different results.
In my research (I am finishing a PhD on interactive documentaries) I have proposed to takes modes of interactivity as a methodology to differentiate between types of interactive documentaries. My argument is that it is the way we interact with an interactive documentary (rather than the platform, the topic, the user experience or the narrative style) that creates its specificity.
I am also aware that other people have followed other routes to differentiate between genres of interactive documentaries and this is what interests me in this session. I would like to give the opportunity to each of the Lab speakers to express their own point of view on the following two questions:
1. can we agree on a common definition of i-docs?
2. should we have taxonomies? when is one taxonomy more relevant than another? Which are their underlying assumptions? Which are their strengths and limitations?
I would be particularly thrilled if we could propose a common answer to those questions at the end of the session but, anyhow, I am sure that the debate that they will generate will enrich our knowledge of interactive documentaries – and probably give us new keys of analysis for the future.