Starting with the list of "story webs" on the HOH Resource Page and with projects from previous classes, look around the web and spend at least 30 minutes with each of three different web-based stories. Create an html page and copy it to the Spring98/a1 directory of the course locker. The page should have links to the three stories you spent time with and links to at least 3 pages from one or more of these stories, with a short description of what was good or bad about the segmentation of the story.
So the first thing that I did upon going to this page was scroll down to find one of those selection boxes with the choices:
I checked out the 'reality check' page before even entering into the fantasy, and got some background on the site. It has gotten a lot of attention beacuse of the relatively graphic nature of the crimes on the page, and the fact that nowhere does it mention that the stories aren't real. In fact, the page has been targeted by 'America's Most Wanted' for their show, only not as a fictional page.
The brainchild of Tom Arriola, a 36-year-old experimental theater director from Mississippi, it's set in Yoknapatawpha County, made famous by William Faulkner. In this way, informed surfers can be drawn into the story from the outset. Once involved, it's a pretty interesting page.
From the list above, the 'Get Inside Information' link allows users to subscribe to an update email list to stay ahead of the 'public.' And obviously, the 'Official Merchandise' link is to help support Mr. Arriola.
The story is well suited for the web. Because of the investigative nature of a detective story, arranging the evidence in an amalgamous, rather than liner, way allows the reader to jump around information to try to piece together who is lying, who isn't, who was where, and what exactly happened. The most recent story, about the murder of a newspaper editor named Chase McFadden (awfully close to Gates McFadden of ST:TNG fame), gives an overview of the crime in the first lexia, and then links to other important pages. Although these other pages require scrolling, it works because each major chunk of information (such as each individual witness interview) is well defined, and allows groups of facts to be easily organized together. This wouldn't be the case if the information was divided by screenful.
The synthesis of multimedia elements is nice too, including photographs (that look like the cops took them) to define the characters, video evidence, and some audio clips as well. Photoshop did a nice job rendering press items as well. It makes for a very realistic story.
Overall, the story is interesting in the presentation. Although it has more of a game environment than prose style, it presents the contents of a police file nicely, and puts the user in the detective role successfully.
I found this page through Hyperizons, a list of hypertext fiction collected at Duke. Written by Shawn Aeria, it's his first attempt at hyperfiction. I started clicking through, and by the first page of actual story text, found this.
The story plays like Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, with each page generally having two hyperlinks you can follow. In this way, it is a fairly liner approach. What I thought was most interesting about this page was how on the introductory page he says he plans on writing at least twenty HTML pages a week. It seems obvious from page one that he has not kept true to this plan.
The reason this is interesting is that by taking the linear approach and then not delivering on even the possibilities linerally available, the medium is not only misued, but the story serves no point. With no real options, there's no real point to reading this prose, unless you appreciate the prose itself, which I did not.
I took this page as a lesson--either try to avoid the CYOA approach, or write enough different stories to make that approach worthwhile, which I think is easy to not do, as demonstrated here. On a brighter note, this site did limit the text to unscrolled lexia, which made for easy reading, and it is his first attempt, not nearly at the quality level of crimescene.com.
Here's a site that's magnificient. With an advertisement across the top, you know that someone realizes the value of Daniel Price's writing. Only, it's not like crimescene, and it's not like Where Am I? Instead, it's exactly what the subheading says: 'An Illustrated Novel.'
Having won lots of awards and accolades, as Price himself describes it,
Over a century ago, one of the most popular forms of entertainment was the serial novel, made great by such immortal writers as Charles Dickens. Thanks to the World Wide Web, it's starting to come back into style.
Dead Kelly is an original story published solely on the Internet. It is comprised of over 140 pages of text, posted in twelve bi-weekly installments. To make it more interesting, each page is graced by a custom illustration, a mix of computer-generated art and digital photography.
There are no Shockwave animations. No streamlined audio tracks. No embedded Java games. And the only interactivity lies in turning the page. Dead Kelly is simply designed to be a fun, fast-paced and addictive read for even those with the slowest of modem connections.
The story is fairly straightforward, about a beautiful woman named Kelly who saves a guy named Mark's life when he's held up at gunpoint. The twist is, she's a 'ghost,' and wants to get a spiritual divorce from her husband, whom she's destined to spend eternity with without Mark's help. From there, the plot unfolds. What's so compelling about the site, in addition to the well written story, are the beautiful pictures, the work-in-progress nature of the piece, and the audience interaction with the author during this process.
Of course, it's questionable that the story isn't written already, since he knows when it will conclude. But I suppose this is much like BBC series, which have definite runs. The feedback system at least gives Price the chance to make changes if he so desires. There is a nice page about how the graphics are made, which is a nice behind-the-scenes aspect.
Scrolling is used some of the time, although not really distractingly, since it's a linear story anyway. The graphics are a nice complement, although there's not much to do besides read and admire. Not necessarily bad, just not as investigatively engaging as, say, crimestory. The third person tells the story, so it doesn't even feel like the reader has much to do with anything, aside from 'tuning in next week to find out what happens.' Unlike The Spot, which had been a sort of online Real World, the spontanaity is missing from the story, even though it is one of the more successful web-based narratives thus far.