There are moments in my life when I go off on tangents and let my mind wander. I'm in one such moment now. Interestingly, at this particular moment I haven't wandered much. I got a short burst of creativity and made a half dozen comics and then I crashed back to practicality.
One of the reasons I think this way, and write this way can be attributed to a brief and friendly encounter with Kevin Brooks from MIT. At that particular moment in my life, circa 1993, I was deeply considering multimedia possibilities. I was a bit fed up with the poetry performance scene and looked to digitize the kinds of narratives that I found lacking in what we now call derisively the 'mainstream media'.
Kevin Brooks was all over that and I knew it within 20 minutes of meeting him:
My academic research evolved over the years into the area new media. I wanted to synthesize a dream out of fragments of memory, pieces of beliefs, sections of personal mythology and theology, and parts of me which I delight in discovering anew. It represents a period of my life during which I irreversibly changed, evolved, improved and deteriorated - all at the same time. But such is the life of a storyteller.
As an undergraduate and masters student I studied traditional linear written and cinematic narrative. The bulk of my doctoral work focused on non-linear narrative and evolved into what I eventually referred to as metalinear story systems. My major research project, entitled Agent Stories, is a story design and presentation environment for metalinear, multiple point-of-view cinematic stories. A metalinear narrative is a collection of small related story pieces designed to be arranged in many different ways, to tell many different linear stories from different points of view, with the aid of a story engine which sequences the story pieces. Thus, a metalinear story is not one story, but a a collection – a community of stories designed to be recombined from different points of view. The Agent Stories research endeavored to find new ways in which computational processes can assist in the development and presentation of stories and how user input can feed into these processes. Designed for the writer interested in building stories of multi-variant cinematic playout, the Agent Stories tool promoted the structuring and rewriting of metalinear narratives before and as they are realized in video and audio. My dissertation entitled Metalinear Cinematic Narrative: Theory, Process, and Tool, was completed in May of 1999.
I wrote a paper on the project called Do Agent Stories Use Rocking Chairs: The Theory and Implementation of One Model for Computational Narrative (pdf). It is published in the proceedings for ACM Multimedia '96 and won best student paper.
I have applied to a gig at Google, trying at last to get my ultimate systems built by some sort of collaborative (and I may end up open sourcing some of it) and I found myself in my retrospective speaking about Kevin. I had no idea that I would mention him directly when I began recording this longish video, but he came up in the story.
Check out his site. He has an enormous amount of reference material to the uses of narrative. Very impressive.