Digital storytelling 2019-20






... DI CHI






"non-sequential writing -- text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen . As popularly conceived, this is a series of text chunks connected by links which offer the reader different pathways" (0/2).





A text composed of BLOCKS OF WORDS (or images) linked electronically according to MULTIPLE PATHS, chains or trails

in an OPEN and always INCOMPLETE TESTUALITY described by the terms "link", "node", "web" and "path".

In this ideal text, the networks are many and interact, without any one of them being able to surpass the rest; this text is a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can reach, they are indeterminable . . . ; the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language (S/Z 5).



Reader > W-reader



Ted Nelson writes:

A [digital] document is not necessarily a simulation of paper. In the most general
sense, a document is a package of ideas
created by human minds and addressed to human minds, intended
for the furtherance of those ideas and those minds. Human ideas manifest as text, connections,
diagrams and more: thus how to store them and present them is a crucial issue for
. (italics mine; Xanadu Project)


  • huge quantity of information > Vannevar Bush MEMEX (1945)


"The owner of the memex, let us say, is interested in the origin and properties of the bow and arrow. Specifically he is studying why the short Turkish bow was apparently superior to the English long bow in the skirmishes of the Crusades. He has dozens of possibly pertinent books and articles in his memex. First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds an interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together. Thus he goes, building a trail of many items. Occasionally he inserts a comment of his own, either linking it into the main trail or joining it by a side trail to a particular item. When it becomes evident that the elastic properties of available materials had a great deal to do with the bow, he branches off on a side trail which takes him through textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical constants. He inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own. Thus he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him.

And his trails do not fade. Several years later, his talk with a friend turns to the queer ways in which a people resist innovations, even of vital interest. He has an example, in the fact that the outraged Europeans still failed to adopt the Turkish bow. In fact he has a trail on it. A touch brings up the code book. Tapping a few keys projects the head of the trail. A lever runs through it at will, stopping at interesting items, going off on side excursions. It is an interesting trail, pertinent to the discussion. So he sets a reproducer in action, photographs the whole trail out, and passes it to his friend for insertion in his own memex, there to be linked into the more general trail."


"Il proprietario del memex, per esempio, è interessato alle origini e alle proprietà dell'arco. In particolare, sta ricercando il motivo, nelle battaglie delle Crociate, per cui l'arco corto turco fosse superiore all'arco lungo inglese. Ha a disposizione dozzine di libri e articoli pertinenti nel suo memex. Dapprima sfoglia un'enciclopedia, trova un articolo interessante ma non approfondito, lo lascia proiettato. Poi, in un resoconto storico, trova un altro argomento pertinente, e lo congiunge al precedente. Procede in questo modo, costruendo un percorso di molti elementi. Di quando in quando inserisce un proprio commento, sia congiungendolo alla pista principale sia connettendolo come pista laterale a un elemento particolare. Quando diventa evidente che le proprietà elastiche dei materiali disponibili erano fondamentali per il rendimento dell'arco, egli devia su una pista laterale che lo porta attraverso libri di testo sull'elasticità e tavole di costanti fisiche. Inserisce una pagina di analisi scritta di suo pugno. In questo modo egli costruisce una pista della sua ricerca attraverso il labirinto del materiale che ha a disposizione." [V. Bush, "As We May Think" ]


  • augment human efficiency > Douglas Engelbart AUGMENT + NLS-online System
  • access to information > Ted Nelson HYPERTEXT 1965 + XANADU PROJECT (docuverse OR a universe of documents)




    • paradigm of interaction
    • a way to organize information
    • a way to create contexts for information
    • a mechanism to implement a structure



    Hypertext presents itself as a multi-dimensional cognitive environment where linguistic, graphic, visual and audio elements intersect in a network structure.


digital writing is transitory, changeable, open, infinitely reproducible, and mostly online



    .M.C. Escher












Michael Joyce, Of two Minds, states:

“Electronic writing is both a visual and verbal description”, says Bolter, “not the writing of a place, but rather a writing with places, spatially realized topics […] signs and structures on the computer screen that have not easy equivalent in speech.” For Bolter, hypertext’s “electronic symbols […] seem to be an extension of a network of ideas in the mind itself.”









Heavy Industries,




Kate Pullinger, Inanimate Alice

Arthur's Teacher Trouble

Marisha Pessl, Night Film

Amaranth Bursuk and Brad Bouse, Beetween Page and Screen








1923 -TristanTzara’s advised To Make a Dadaist Poem as follows:

Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article the length you want
to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up
this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are—an original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.



William Burroughs, “Cut-ups”

Burroughs’ essay "The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin" acknowledges this in its first sentence:


At a surrealist rally in the1920s TristanTzara the man from nowhere proposed to create a poem on the spot by pulling words out of a hat. A riot ensued wrecked the theater. [. . . ] In the summer of 1959 Brion Gysin painter and writer cut newspaper articles into sections and rearranged the sections at random.


"The cut-up is actually closer to the facts of perception than representational painting. Take a walk down a city street and put down what you have just seen on canvas. You have seen a person cut in two by a car, bits and pieces of street signs and advertisements, reflections from shop windows - a montage of fragments. Writing is still confined to the representational straitjacket of the novel ... consciousness is a cut up. Every time you walk down the street or look out of the window, your stream of consciousness is cut by random factors."






Marc Saporta, Composition N.1 (1964)


Sulla confezione: “TANTI ROMANZI QUANTI SONO I LETTORI. L’ordine delle pagine è casuale: mescolandole, a ciascuno il “suo” romanzo”. Nella prefazione all’edizione originale, Saporta avverte: “Il lettore è pregato di mescolare queste pagine come un mazzo di carte. Di tagliare, se lo desidera, con la mano sinistra, come si fa da una cartomante. L’ordine con il quale le pagine usciranno dal mazzo orienterà il destino di X. Infatti il tempo e l’ordine degli avvenimenti regolano la vita più che la natura degli avvenimenti stessi”.

On the packaging: 'AS MANY NOVELS AS THERE ARE READERS. The order of the pages is random: by shuffling them, each one "his" novel". In the preface to the original edition, Saporta warns: "The reader is asked to shuffle these pages like a pack of cards. To cut, if he so wishes, with his left hand, like a fortune-teller. The order in which the pages come out of the deck will direct X's destiny. In fact, time and the order of events govern life more than the nature of the events themselves'.
Translated with (free version)

for i pad :


Plot generator:

Greg Borenstein, Generated Detective: A NaNoGenmo comic #701



Shelley Jackson, My Body - a Wunderkammer
Shelley Jackson, Snow
Greg Borenstein, Debate Camp: A Romantic Horror Story 

Così scrive Micheal Joyce:

Our program, Storyspace, originated as an attempt to develop a text-processing tool to enable writers of interactive
presentations to exploit multiplicities. Storyspace depends on a decisional order rather than a fixed order of presenting material.
(…) A decisional order, however, may be thought of as a series of locales, some of which are linked by linear progression or argument, but with others that are determined by allusiveness, resemblance, evocation, or unexplained or “intuitive” parallels determined as often by the author as by the reader. (…) Not long after I first met Stuart Moulthrop, I remember asking him, in all seriousness, “Do you ever find yourself wanting to press the words on a page of a book you’re reading to see what’s behind them?
” [M. Joyce, Of Two Minds. Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor (Michigan) 1998,
p. 95.]



“Electronic writing is both a visual and verbal description”, says Bolter, “not the writing of a place, but rather a writing with places, spatially realized topics […] signs and structures on the computer screen that have not easy equivalent in speech.” For Bolter, hypertext’s “electronic symbols […] seem to be an extension of a network of ideas in the mind itself.” Storyspace, the hypertext system Bolter and I developed with John B. Smith, embodies Bolter’s view that the “topographical” writing of hypertext” reflects the mind as a web of verbal and visual elements in conceptual space.








Italo Calvino:

"Lezioni americane" [1]


- luogo "d'infiniti universi contemporanei in cui tutte le possibilità vengono realizzate in tutte le combinazioni possibili";

-dove può valere "un'idea di tempo puntuale, quasi un assoluto presente soggettivo" (Jorge Luis Borges:
Il giardino dei sentieri che si biforcano
; racconto della raccolta Finzioni);

- dove le sue parti "sviluppano nei modi più diversi un nucleo comune, e che agiscono su una cornice che li determina e ne è determinata";

- che funziona come "macchina per moltiplicare le narrazioni" (Italo Calvino: Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore, e
Il castello dei destini incrociati



« Quando le carte affiancate a caso mi davano una storia in cui riconoscevo un senso, mi mettevo a scriverla; accumulai così parecchio materiale; posso dire che gran parte della Taverna dei destini incrociati è stata scritta in questa fase; ma non riuscivo a disporre le carte in un ordine che contenesse e comandasse la pluralità dei racconti; cambiavo continuamente le regole del gioco, la struttura generale, le soluzioni narrative. Stavo per arrendermi, quando l'editore Franco Maria Ricci m'invitò a scrivere un testo per il volume sui tarocchi viscontei. Dapprincipio pensavo d'utilizzare le pagine che avevo già scritto, ma mi resi conto subito che il mondo delle miniature quattrocentesche era completamente diverso da quello delle stampe popolari marsigliesi. [...] Provai subito a comporre con i tarocchi viscontei sequenze ispirate all'Orlando Furioso; mi fu facile così costruire l'incrocio centrale dei racconti del mio "quadrato magico". Intorno, bastava lasciare che prendessero forma altre storie che s'incrociavano tra loro, e ottenni così una specie di cruciverba fatto di figure anziché di lettere, in cui per di più ogni sequenza si può leggere nei due sensi. »


"When the cards placed side by side at random gave me a story in which I recognised a meaning, I began to write it down. I accumulated a great deal of material; I can say that a large part of the Tavern of Crossed Fates was written in this phase, but I was unable to arrange the cards in an order that would contain and command the plurality of stories; I was constantly changing the rules of the game, the general structure, the narrative solutions. I was about to give up when the publisher Franco Maria Ricci invited me to write a text for the volume on the Visconti tarot. At first I thought I would use the pages I had already written, but I immediately realised that the world of fifteenth-century miniatures was completely different from that of the popular prints from Marseilles. [...] I immediately tried to use the Visconti tarot cards to compose sequences inspired by Orlando Furioso; it was easy for me to construct the central intersection of the stories in my "magic square". All I had to do was let other stories take shape around it, and I obtained a sort of crossword puzzle made of figures rather than letters, in which, moreover, each sequence can be read in both directions. "
Translated with (free version)


Georges Perec, Vie Mode d'emploi (1978) (La vita, istruzioni per l'uso)

- built from many intersecting stories'

- machine to inspire stories

- a few minutes before eight o'clock in the evening" of 23 June 1975

- 1875 -1975




Georges Perec - Interview


OULIPO >> Op.Le.Po Opificio di letteratura potenziale






The Incipit






Norman Klein, Bleeding Through the Layers of Los Angeles

Deena Larsen, Marble Springs 3.0 Home

Amira Hanafi, A Dictionary of the Revolution

Amira Hanafi, We are fragmented



Shooter games






Hidden stories


[imgs from M.-L. Ryan, Narrative as Virtual Reality 2, Johns Hopkins U.P. 2015]






Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths ---------------- pdf



1. link as a possible world in the temporal sense

2. alternative version of the text > point of view

3. shift perspective > follow another plot line

4. control the reader's progress

5. analogical relations between segments

6. closer look >> expand decription

7. interrupt the flow of the narration, puzzlel undermine

8. provide background info, explanation

9. let the machine going





Temporal immersion





Spatial immersion






What is the story about ?
What is the technology used ?
Who is the author ?
What is the reader supposed to do ?
How do you read the story ?
What can we say about the interactivity ?
What about the interface ?
Can we read all the story ?




Wheel of emotions

- saddens is the opposite of joy
– trust is the opposite of disgust
– fear is the opposite of anger
– surprise is the opposite of anticipation



primary emotions and secondary emotions

1. Love

. Affection, lust, longing, adoration, fondness, liking, attraction, caring, tenderness, compassion, sentimentality, arousal, desire, lust, passion, infatuation



2. Joy


. Cheerfulness, amusement, bliss, gaiety, glee, jolliness, joviality, joy, delight, enjoyment, gladness, happiness, jubilation, elation, satisfaction, ecstasy, euphoria, zest contentment, pride, triumph, optimism, enthrallment, relief
3. Anger


. Irritation, exasperation, rage, disgust, envy, jealousy, torment, outrage, fury, wrath, hostility, ferocity, bitterness, hate, scorn, spite, vengefulness, dislike, resentment, revulsion, contempt, loathing, agitation, annoyance, grouchiness, grumpiness
4. Surprise


. Amazement, astonishment, bewilderment
5. Sadness


. Agony, suffering, hurt, anguish, depression, despair, hopelessness, gloom, glumness, unhappiness, grief, sorrow, woe, misery, melancholy, dismay, disappointment, displeasure, alienation, isolation, neglect, loneliness, rejection, homesickness, defeat, dejection, insecurity, embarrassment, humiliation, insult, pity, sympathy, mortification



. Alarm, shock, fear, fright, horror, terror, panic, hysteria, anxiety, nervousness, tenseness, uneasiness, apprehension, worry, distress, dread