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Distributed Narratives

Extracting Design Methods from Nonlinear Narrative Formations

F. N. van der Vlist

This thesis proposes a concept of distributed narratives as a narrative form which is specific to the new-media ecology. As such, it advocates a multilayered approach to thinking about narrative structure as a dynamic formation. First, it proposes a theoretical framework, subdivided into layers, for understanding narrative as an encoded distributed formation. The first layer will identify the role of raw data, and examine how the formation of narrative is influenced by the way this data is stored in databases. The second layer, grounded in Russian formalism, will examine the literary concept of fabula, showing how the data is used and made accessible through narrative techniques. The third layer will then identify the notion of syuzhet, which entails exploring the dynamic role of the user, particularly in the processes of personalisation and accessing narratives. Second, by examining a fourth layer, the thesis shows how the principles of distributed narratives relate to the way these narratives are decoded. Because the decoding of distributed narratives is determined by the way in which these are encoded, the concepts developed in this thesis not only allow for narrative analysis, but also offer an array of proposals for designers to consider while developing appropriate design methods.

distributed narratives; design methods; new media; media theory; narrative; network; hypertext

Kind Bachelor's Thesis
Author F. N. van der Vlist
Supervisor J. L. Nordeman
Publication Date 2012, May 25
Institution Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)
Description Submitted to the Department of Graphic Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy, School of Media & Design at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Design (BDes).

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