January 14, 2009
Narrative and Database
More on narrative from Lev Manovich, circa 2001:
Regardless of whether new media objects present themselves as linear narratives, interactive narratives, databases, or something else, underneath, on the level of material organization, they are all databases. In new media, the database supports a range of cultural forms which range from direct translation (i.e., a database stays a database) to a form whose logic is the opposite of the logic of the material form itself — a narrative. More precisely, a database can support narrative, but there is nothing in the logic of the medium itself which would foster its generation. It is not surprising, then, that databases occupy a significant, if not the largest, territory of the new media landscape. What is more surprising is why the other end of the spectrum — narratives — still exist in new media.
That’s a better articulation of what (I think) I was trying to get at: You can map narratives onto our weird web-world, but it’s something fundamentally different underneath.