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IPL 2: We Are All Programmed

As I said last time, I went to this really interesting conference at the Interactive Performance Lab at UCF.

Right now, the Lab is developing something called a Storybox as a place to experiment - or, since the scientists in the room were so enraged by the implications of accuracy and specificity - let's say "explore" the subject of interaction.

Even more fascinating, perhaps, than what occurred in the Box, was what happened around the Box. Here's what I mean.

First workshop at the conference, we were given a quick summary of the Storybox's function, and a little commentary on its purpose by Jeff Wirth and Ken Ingraham. We were then tasked with developing a "script" for a story in the Box.

This is what my table came up with [and keep in mind that these are highly intelligent, highly accomplished brains in the gaming, interactivity and electronically mediated performance industries]:
1. Let's tell the Spectactor [the uninitiated person whose story is created in the Box] that they are dead. [Lots of opportunity for interaction there!]

2. Let's tell the Spectactor that they are on another planet! [Uhhh...]

3. Let's tell them they are dead AND on another planet! [...]

4. First, establish a subject or an object around which the story will form. Second, establish a temporal and spatial reality in the Box. Third, provide a physical or vocal cue to the Interactor [the initiated actors who create the story around the Spectactor].

The criticisms abound:
- It's unscientific. [True.]
- How is it different from improv? [What if it's not? And what if that doesn't matter?]
- The Interactors are making all the decisions. [That's your perception...]
- It's only about creating a good story. [If that's all you get out of it...]

The Storybox may NOT be a very scientific way to experiment with interaction, but here's what it does offer:
1. It breaks down interaction into three main parts - interaction within the self, interaction with others, interaction with technology.

2. If we "make sense" by creating narratives around events, whether we uncover scientific or unscientific observations from what occurs there, it can provide us with a vehicle for conscious storytelling. Conscious meaning that YOU must be conscious of how the story is created - and because we have been culturally trained to accept certain conventions, the Storybox is a place to deconstruct those assumptions and conventions.

3. We are all programmed to interact. Just because you run your interactivity program through a computer (or any other electronically mediated tool) does not mean it is scientific, creative or particularly good story. [Just saying...]

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