What is “purpose” in an i-doc? Brett Gaylor, and Richard Jacobs, in the UX Series

Meaning of Life Comic

What is purpose in an i-doc, and how can we communicate it?

When you design a website you normally start by stating your goal and your product management strategy. You often have a core message, and you then make sure that the whole experience is smooth enough so that your user fulfills his needs (buy a train ticket, find the information he wanted) in a minimum amount of time, and leaves satisfied and clear about your mission statement.

Can we, and should we, do this when creating an interactive story?

I have noticed that most interactive documentary makers have a resistance in conceiving their pieces as “products”. There is a stigma in crossing the line between selling a good and telling a story. One is supposed to be commerce,  the other to be art. But is this true?

When the Desperados  beer did an YouTube campaign in 2011, using interactive and viral strategies to pass their message across, they demonstrated  that messages are most effectives when they engage people on a personal level. And when the Hidden Wounds song (by dEUS and Prospektor) was distributed on the Web this year as “an interactive music documentary on war post-traumatic stress disorder” it reminded us that songs are both sellable items, and carriers of important messages…

So back to square one: how do we make sure that we communicate what we wanted to through our interactive documentaries/stories?

My approach in the UX Series is always the same: start by interviewing someone who is a specialist in the question matter, and then extend the debate to people within the interactive storytelling industry.

This time I have interviewed Richard Jacobs, a culture change facilitator, and then asked documentary filmmaker, & Mozilla’s  Webmaker.org Sr. Director, Brett Gaylor to expand the debate.

What comes out from this exchange fascinates me:  first “purpose” is defined as a “shift” that needs to happen for the user, but then this makes us reflect on how to best use interactivity to facilitate this shift! Are we to create a telling environment or a dialogue environment?

Check out by yourself where this discussion is leading us by watching Brett Gaylor and Richard Jacobs in the UX Series!

Sandra Gaudenzi