“The computer is not the enemy of the book. It is the child of print culture…” (Murray 8)
I find http://nanikistory.org/story.html to be very interesting for displaying in its digital iteration a constellation of influences, and while the site seems to center around one version of the story, in fact there are a number of stories, including not only the art (which ranges from sketches to abstract paintings), but also alternative simultaneous versions of the story (in pdf format, as a streaming audio file, a “characters” pdf (which provides symbolic meanings to the characters) and a “detailed characters” pdf which adds details which literally flesh out the characters—“Muscle segments separate and dissolve, instantly re-appearing as iridescent scale-covered, fluid segments. The pieces flow back together into a human-like figure with beautiful long fins instead of hands and feet.”). There is something about this text which is meant for the digital. This doesn’t mean, however, that it fully realizes all aspects of digital storytelling (a fluid and seamless hypertext which operates in small, perhaps rearrangable parts (the Facebook feed, the tweet, the instagram). The sort of approach which Manovich (as quoted by Page and Thomas) proposes as operating like a database or algorithm rather than narrative (8)). Rather Naniki displays something about narrative which it shares with the digital, but also with older versions of the book.
Many of the authors we read make reference to historical forms of texts which challenge linearity, such as the multiple cross referentiality of the codex, or the ways in which “Joyce’s Ulysses is almost impossible to understand without accompanying pointers to other works, including a map of Dublin” (Murray 56). If we were to consider Naniki as a text consisting solely of pdf and audio forms we mistakenly consider it as a linear uni-directional text. Really, though, we must also consider the website itself as integral to the text. One listens as they peruse the site, looking at photos, clicking on various links. The central story organizes and gives weight to the site, but it’s just one aspect of a “text” which is itself a palimpsest of different media forms, some of which even operate against each other. For instance the “Forums” seems to be an obvious extension of the pedagogical intentions of the website’s author (as represented through “Aims” stated on the site and “Post-story questions” on the pdf version of the story), however the paucity of its use points to ways in which this site is not a blog, or a space for user generated content (however positive the intentions of including the forum may have been). So I think the site is to be taken as a larger text, but not one which prompts reader response the same way Facebook might (though I “like” the site). Rather I think Naniki is to be understood more like Ulysses— The additional materials (I initially wrote supplemental, but that’s incorrect) beyond the pdf and audio texts are important for understanding and contextualizing the broader project.
Page and Thomas claim that “No longer are words so prominent, but graphics and animation are just as likely to communicate story content or be used as part of the interactive interface” (2) and Naniki proves this. It also blurs the distinction between story and discourse, between the rhetorical project and its enactment. It doesn’t embody the multiple cross reference of a codex, like one might find at the back of a textbook, though. Rather, its an example of digital storytelling which invents new models while also drawing on older ones. Some aspects of it are not fully successful, but evolution is always fitful. I think also there is also something of the pdf/audio story itself which partakes of this digital constellation occurring across the site. In other words form and content (site and story) reflect each other. In this way the pdf/audio story itself might be considered digital— because it’s situated within, and reflecting the characteristics of, the broader site.