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Thoughts on Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media

After reading into Manovich’s book, I actually find myself agreeing with Manovich that database is just a continuous loop between the user input and the computer’s algorithms. The lack of a cause-and-effect trajectory does in fact makes the works look like just a collection of items where each item having the same level of importance as the other. When this happens, it does not matter whether or not additional information is added in as it does not have much of an effect on the work. This is when narratives comes in and provide some sort of flow and excitement to the data. In today’s day and age, everyone has really short attention span, which is why if the work is unable to catch the viewer’s attention within 10s, the viewer moves on. It is important to include the narrative as without it, it will be just a slide show of a bunch of boring information. Hence, I agree that the narrative engages the viewers and intrigues them to want to know how it starts and ends and at the same time able to communicate whatever data the database wish to communicate.

What intrigues me most is that in this digital age, where technologies assist instead of restrict, it is possible to create difference interfaces on the same material with new media. This creates something revolutionary in which the new media object consist of one or more interfaces to a database, hence creating a multidimensional immersive experience that is different from the traditional art with a single interface constructed. Hence, with this new formulation, as stated by Manovich, the user of a narrative is traversing a database, following links between its records as established by the database’s creator.

Another thing brought up is that the words “interactive” and “narrative” have been loosely coined and defined causing them to seem all-inclusive, many people then do not understand that there are criteria to meet in order to consider the work a narrative work. Theorised by Manovich, interactive narrative can then be understood as the sum of multiple trajectories through a database. However, apparently according to literary theorist Mieke Dal, merely trajectories are not enough. He states that narratives requires both an actor and a narrator, text, story and fable, and its content should not be a series of connected event caused by the user. However, I feel like that is little too specific and a narrative should just be a series of event with at least one climax. I feel like there is a possibility to have multiple actors and the content should be a collection of event experienced by the users which is what the use of interface is for and making the work interactive between the computer snd also potentially other players. However, that is just my own thought as I believe that a narrative can be multidimensional and does not have to be that restricted by these “rules”.

Lev Manovich’s “The Database” from The Language of New Media