Whose bits are they, anyway?
Glorianna Davenport

IEEE Multimedia, vol. 4 issue 3, pg. 8 - 10.
July - Sept., 1997.


Interactivity, machine intelligence and networked community participation are substantially redefining the traditional roles of "author" and "audience". Many authors feel particularly uncomfortable with the notion that the machine or the audience should play an important role in the co-construction of narrative. Why do we trust any particular storyteller or software agent working on our behalf? Co-construction is a cultural technique by which an established community can arrive at a consensus. While the religious advocate can become fanatic and argue with or walk away from the Darwinian without changing position, adaptation is the essence of co-construction. The architect must offer to build something that I am happy with or it will not get built. As we waver on the cusp of highly distributed, emergent stories, both storyteller and audience require a clear articulation of themselves in relation to each other and to the cybermechanics of a tangible feedback loop. Interactive distributed works are defined by the connectivity of the audience as much as by the relationship between the artist and the representation. Unlike traditional art objects, these works rely on co-contribution-the dynamic generation of essential content by the audience. The question at hand is whether or not we believe that the future of the artistic work is as evolutionary as we ourselves are. Will the artist ever be convinced to provide a shell that can act as a mirror to each voyager? As I try to approach this ideal, I increasingly discover how rigid the link between creator and content really is...

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