Monday, 7 December 2009

1W13 Janet Murray and the Incunabula Days of the Narrative Computer

In Janet Murray's words, 'it would be a mistake to compare the first fruits of a new medium too directly with the accustomed yield of older media'. As an example, she uses Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1405 and the 50 years of experimentation after this event that led to more established conventions, legible typefaces, proof sheet corrections, page numbering and paragraphing, title pages, prefaces and chapter divisions. What Gutenberg invented was the 'incunabula', a Latin word for swaddling clothes and that is used to indicate that these so called books are the work of a technology that is still in its infancy. The 50 years of experimentation lead to the published book as a coherent means of communication. Murray concludes that we are now living in the incunabula days of the narrative computer, we can see how the 20th century novels, films and plays have been steadily pushing against the boundaries of linear storytelling. Looking at the narrative in the VJing playground, being considered an eye candy so far, I find peace reading Murray's words, an assurance that pushes me in the direction of exploring the narrative and the technology that will contain it.

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