Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

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Strategies for the Interactive Narrative

TitleStrategies for the Interactive Narrative
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsO'Dowd, A., Goldblum J., & Sym T.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2007. Proceedings
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedToronto, Canada
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordscomplex story, interactive narrative, narrative challenges, storytelling

The Web offers many opportunities for telling complex narratives in a novel, engaging and interactive format. Traditionally, some of the most captivating and educational Web sites were created by museums to accompany brick and mortar exhibitions. Often the content that was laboriously collected for these exhibitions would be repurposed for the Web. In this session, we present three projects created specifically for a Web delivery: Ripples of Genocide, Life After the Holocaust, and Yearbook 2006. Two of these projects, Ripples of Genocide and Life After the Holocaust, created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in conjunction with bluecadet interactive, were nominees for best Narrative Web site at this year's Flashforward conference. Yearbook 2006 is a not-for-profit interactive documentary on a senior class displaced by Hurricane Katrina; it was hailed by CNN's Technology correspondent Regina Lewis as "one of the best of the best." These sites employ cutting edge approaches to non-linear storytelling, borrowing techniques and best practices from print and exhibition design as well as video and audio production. This paper will present both the technical and narrative challenges in telling a complex story on the Web and how these challenges can be met. We will discuss the history of the interactive narrative as well as a vision for the future of the medium.