Story Beads: a wearable for distributed and mobile storytelling
by Barbara Barry

Master of Science in Media Arts & Sciences, September 6, 2000.


Stories take hundreds of different forms and serve many functions. They can be as energetic as an entire life story or as simple as a case of directions to a favorite beach. Storytelling processes are challenge and changed by technological developments in the worlds of text and image manipulation. The invention of writing changed the story from an orally recounted form which was mediated by the storyteller, to a recorded exact version, instead of a fleeting experience, a spoken weaving of the storyteller's tale. The story became an immutable object. In cinema stories are told with a sequence of juxtaposed still images moving at a speed fast enough to fool the eye into seeing a continually changing image instead of one image after another. Television eventually coerced storytelling into 30-minute segments linked together, week by week, over a season broadcast to a large audience. The invention of the computer allowed storytelling to become flexible within a smaller granularity of content. Using the computer capabilities for storage and manipulation of information, authors can design stories and present them to different viewing audiences in different ways. Mobile computing, like the technological developments that came before it, will demand its own storytelling processes and story forms.

This thesis defines a specific storytelling process, which I call "Transactional Storytelling." Transactional Storytelling is the construction of story through trade and repurposing of images and image sequences.

"StoryBeads" are wearable computers designed as a tool for constructing image-based stories by allowing users to sequence and trade story pieces of image and text. StoryBeads are modular, wearable computer necklaces made of tiny computer "beads" capable of storing or displaying images. Beads communicate by infrared light, allowing the trade of digital images by beaming from bead to bead or by trade of a physical bead containing images.

My thesis proposes a tool for mobile story creation that will produce a unique storytelling process for constructing image-based stories.

Thesis Supervisor: Glorianna Davenport

Get the entire thesis in PDF form (1.3 MB). or view the HTML version.