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Seven interactive essays on digital nonlinear storytelling
edited by Matt Soar & Monika Gagnon

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As discussed on the start page to our project, Raymond Williams struggled with determining the most effective means of the structuration of his book Keywords . In his discussion of the inherent drawbacks to the alphabetized presentation of terms he employs in the book, Williams briefly considers the possibilities of organizing the book thematically or by other criteria. He observes, however, that, “the difficulty is that any other kind of arrangement, for example by areas or themes, would establish one set of connections while often suppressing another”. Indeed, the act of arranging information into a particular configuration may facilitate access to individual elements (such as in a specialized dictionary arranged thematically or alphabetically), but it may also obfuscate connections between these collected individual elements. In a similar fashion, the linear presentation of information is a core mechanic of traditional scholarly composition; but while this rhetorical strategy facilitates the presentation of the author’s argument, it similarly imposes a rigid, regulated, and highly limiting sequencing of the information which the author presents.

The concepts, principles, and examples of transmedia scholarship which we present here demonstrate some of the many potentialities and challenges of such emergent forms of scholarship.  As nascent practices, many of these modes of scholarship demonstrate linearity and other restrictive tropes of traditional academic compositional strategies. While the organization of data into any structure will necessarily restrict the potentialities for the interconnection between individual data nodes , platforms such as Scalar allow authors to propose a suggested “path” through their arguments, but simultaneously allow the user agency in her own navigation of the project. This compositional flexibility provides for innovative modes of understanding concepts, the links between data points, and the generation of new associative trails of knowledge .

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