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

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Interactive works that emphasise the perception or action image rely upon different types of spectacle to engender value. This spectacle ranges from the celebration of scale through to the digital equivalent of high end visual effects. 

For example spectacle can be expressed through the extent and depth of content available. This is what comes to be recognised as the value of these works, emphasising not only the amount of information included but also its ease of discovery – its ‘nearness to hand.’ CD-based reference works, for example Microsoft’s original Encarta encyclopedia, and of course Wikipedia, fall into this variety of spectacle. 

A related form of spectacle which is as pervasive as the first (and is often in concert with it) is the way in which new content is married to new technoaesthetic affordances. For example, in the early 1990s an electronic book (for instance those published by Voyager) was regarded as technologically spectacular because it allowed for global text search, had images that became full screen when clicked upon, and could even include sound annotations and effects. More recent works may utilise an ersatz three-dimensional navigational schema where, for example, you move through a museum or building to view exhibits, and even go so far as to allow you to experience surprise as, for instance, video or sound ‘automagically’ plays as your avatar or mouse passes by a doorway. 

This is the technoaesthetically spectacular, blending and at times confusing the novelty of these new effects with the affective quality of the experience of the work. The risk of such works is that spectacle becomes an end in its own right. This makes them not so very distant from contemporary popular action cinema where the digital apparatus of CGI brings film closer to the theme park than to narrated presence. 
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