3 Conclusions

3.1 More stories

 Now that we know what a tableau is and what a story is we can give following definitions: story consists of a sequence of 1 to n tableaux. A tableau can be in any amount of stories. Stories impose constraints (navigational paths) onto a hyperstructure of tableaux. A story or a sequence may contain repetitions or loop structures. Story lines may loop and then resolve, very often in narrative fiction a pattern may repeat - three times as in traditional fairy tales and folklore. Through index lists you can very easily construct and manage stories within stories and parallel stories.
 A good example of intertextual narrative in visual media is Louis Mallé's "Evening with Andre". You have probably seen the film. It is very good, sharp three hours about two long gone friends sitting in a restaurant. Some one of them is telling a story, they take turns but the other one talks most of the time. There is a multitude of interwoven, interrelated and intertwined stories in the film. After a surprisingly short introduction the narrative takes hold and the scarcity of visuals start supporting the narrative.

Picture 12: It is practical to implement stories as loops, but which loop tells a story?

 It's not such a big problem after all, but it's the kind of thing that you should be aware of. What Stories can be implemented as loops or sequences. When you are writing a story line in a hypermedia document, it is very handy to link the last tableau to the first. This can be done in every hypermedia environment with the help of index lists, after the last element you pager agent jumps to the first item and back from first to the last. When you browse through your story by yourself on a computer screen, you automatically come to face the design. The reader however, sees differently because the designer gets blinded by his own design. It is helpful to use outside help in evaluating the readability and clarity of your design.
 However, if you are designing on paper or on a blackboard or some other non computer media, you never get the feel how the user will react to the end product. Assosiative linking means that at once you are introducing circular structures to the narrative.
 Through the index you can always rotate the start of your story. If it feels better, you can start it from the second and end it to the first. It is useful if you want to rearrange the component tableaux at some point. I am thinking about technical documentation using story lines as the object of modification depending on the presentation platform and the target audience. Somebody tells how to service a bicycle. What comes out is a story with the level of detail that is tuned according to the storyteller's estimate of his audience.
 One can tell the story in a nutshell by just listing out the headers of each component part. That is a rough story line and it should give the team a sceletal idea of the narrative (a sequence of meanings over time). The whole document is a set of these lists that tell the team what the stories contain. One can organize these lists as lists of stories and give appropriate names to the containers of index lists (hidden text fields will do the trick for you).
 To give you an example why naming can get by a lot of trouble let me go back to Crusade; I developed a scheme where most of the programming was in fact done by very carefully naming all the items. In the end I had something like fifty lines of script coded, and the rest was just calling the objects by their proper names. It worked well with my companion, Jari Arffman, a photographer, who knows nothing about computers let alone programming. Yet we felt very comfortable when I needed to explain why things worked or worked not the way they did and allowed us to develop and concentrate on the content.
 In hypermedia programming there is a need to go towards natural language expressions in order to develop the user interface. User actions and desires are best expressed in layman terms, whereas in computer programs it is necessary to restrict expressions in natural language because of algorithmic presicion needed. In making comprehensible the functionalities that implement linking and management of multiformat data in hypermedia naming is all in all a very important thing. When one starts storyboarding or designing a title, one starts by keeping track of all the items that you need in a given tableau. There should be nothing called ID 3207, or something exactly as unique. Items should have a descriptive name, be they any type of object in your document or of any importance to your narrative.

3.2 Moving pictures and tableaux

 We can decide to use moving pictures ie. animation or video clips only when we move from one tableau to another. If we have only one story line, a film or a play, we can still use tableaux to describe its storyboard.
 The same applies to morphs. With morphs you define a transformation between two or more images. With sophisticated morphing tools you can also attach certain key points into the images to constrain the metamorphosis, usually the resulting end product is presented as a video(clip). In principle it would be possible to present morphs in terms of start and result bitmaps and transformation procedures, and leave the computing to the end user's environment - in a way this is what mandelbrot programs do. Some festivals have special series that show only morphs.
 An exception to this may be a commentary nonlinking use of moving pictures. Let us imagine a manual "How to repair your bicycle" in hypermedia form. There is a part on how to fix a flat tire, in it we have one video clip that does not carry the reader anywhere from this tableau, it only shows how to take the tire off the wheel without puncturing it more. There is another clip showing how to put it back without injuring it again. The clips do not take the reader along any narrative lines, instead they comment the one particular tableau. The way to keep your design primitives conceptually simple is to treat them as self referential links.
 Single tableau stories like maps, floor plans of offices, etc that appear as wholes - as tableaux - do not contain a narrative in a conventional sense, but in their detail are understood over time as a result of repeated explorations. The tendency towards narrative shows in the layout of these tableaux as I will discuss in the end. Indices, verbal (tables etc.) or visual (class photographs et al.) pose a scanning order for the reader.
 An easy way to start to sketch a hypermedia title is by building a dictionary with your group. You pick up all the terms that you know you are going to use in your product that you have to explain to the rest of the team. The harder they are to understand the better - visualisation gives the team a ready made set of building blocks that the they can excercise with. When you can start writing story lines using the terms in your dictionary that you have already made the explanations for (the hard parts) that you can use in an clarifying the message of your document. It is a good way of letting the task train you. Essentially indices are understood as single tableau stories, ordered sets of words and/or images, with the order calling forth investigation over time.

3.3 A space to explore?

 The computer screen frames out a two-dimensional image. It fills a certain area in our field of vision, its size and flatness depending on the display equipment available (money involved). In the age of virtual reality let us consider awhile 3-D tableaux. The display box on top of the computer is like a rostrum theatre. One looks into a world through a portal - a frame - to the eyes it looks a flat surface instead of space with real depth among other things because all of the image area is constantly in focus on the same distance from viewer's eyes.

Picture 13: Rostrum stage ( front view )

 To illustrate my point a bit: Did you play theatre when you were kids? When you could not find anything for props and sets, you had pieces of paper that read "tree", "stone", "rock" or "palace". This can be done with a very modest black-and-white computer provided that it has some sort of hypertexting possibility. One can get some idea of the depth qualities of one's tableaux by using text fields and buttons with varying sizes and other depth cues. A box of text stands out from its background far more than a picture element might and it keeps the designer aware of the depth and hopefully makes him/her avoid cluttering up the tableaux with elements.
 Let us take for instance the time axis, sometimes it is referred to as the 4th dimension - in hypermedia time, the narrative, is the tool to access the multitude of dimensions realised by the links. The narration extends itself into one of the possible dimensions offered by linking. Simulation is a special type of tableau because it streches over time and takes the reader back to the same tableau. The 4-D tableau is a tempting definition for simulation, because you can explore a simulation on a timeplane rather than a timeline. Simulations are, like single tableau stories, stretching the notion of tableau toward the narrative. Nevertheless they too tend to exemplify and represent some single instantly graspable whole.

3.4 Our world as we know it

 Edward T. Hall in his "Hidden Dimension" describes proxemics. He distinguishes four proxemic distances: intimate, personal, social and public (Hall). Examples of intimate proxemic distance are sexual experience and touch, telephone and internet sex might serve as examples of intimate proxemic contact over electronic media. Personal proxemic distance is the normal conversational distance where facial expressions and speech are dominant. Social proxemic extends to the group level, gestures and movements are recognised and spatial relations are of importance in determining our behavior. Finally the public sphere consists of laws, beliefs, opinions and media - the surroundings, where only movement is observed. Environmental psychologists claim that a person wants to maintain a relatively steady population of objects and items in all proxemic spheres, if any sphere gets too crowded or underpopulated, the person interacts with his environment to regain the balance.

Picture 14: Proxemic spheres

 I want to propose a similar set, but of only three spheres of interaction: intimate, personal and social. By way of example, picture me lecturing this to you walking and waving: I am desperately trying to explain to you all something that I have very carefully thought out. Upon writing or lecturing I am concentrating on something that forms a sort of cocoon around my persona, proxemic personal sphere that I wish to get in touch with your personal proxemic sphere long and good enough that you hear me out. When you are paying attention to me your cocoon is reaching towards my cocoon. When we are exchanging information, communicating, our cocoons blend and melt. Some one of you can lure me into detailed problematics enjoying every second of it putting rest of the audience to sleep - this could serve as an example of intimate intellectual interaction. All this depends on how well we understand each other and how effectively I, the author, can nail your attention to the frames (slides, video etc.) that I can use to deliver my messages. From a proxemic point of view one can design and set up a tableau as an organized collection of objects distributed in three spheres of interaction - intimate, personal and social - by and large these spheres are implemented by visual means that are up to the author. Depth cues as proxemic distinguishers are discussed in section 1.3 of Hidden Dimension (Hall).
 The objects and their proxemic arrangement gives the navigator cues to the narrative she/he is following - and it is the author's duty to keep the reader oriented in the web of tableaux. As a solution to this I propose proxemic rearrangement of a shared tableau's component objects according to the story line that was followed. The spheres of interaction are contextual concepts and help to clarify the design of user interface to individual objects and tableaux.
 However there is yet another force at play, namely the document must compete for reader's attention in his/her real world proximity.

3.5 Span of attention and degree of immersion

 A tableau in an interactive document is very much a self contained system and it is relatively easy to neglect interface issues in its design. This is partly because they often involve technical solutions and demand innovative yet spesific programming skills to compensate for the irrationality of the human user-interactor.
 Our span of attention defines a circumference that separates background and foreground. In the foreground objects are visually separated and cognitively identified from the background, which is both visually and auditively homogenous, texturelike or patterned. You can imagine it as something resembling the canvaslike quality of the portions in your field of vision that you do not focus on. I have often though of it as a negative event horizon, that contains the only and remaining image of what is beyond.
 A tableau like any sphere of awareness has its own negative event horizon that encloses a collection of objects. The frame of interface must offer a naturally scaled and proportioned window to every individual tableau. This acts at the same time as an individualized window and mirror, depending on the motivation and concentration of the navigator, ie. the size of his/her personal spheres of awareness. The sphere of attention can be penetrated by increasing the degree of immersion by introducing and enhancing peripheral and stereo vision as is done in virtual reality displays. Increasing the image size and/or shape alone may lead to disproportionate tableaux, since with larger frames - projected images etc. - one would naturally expect to see more of the world behind.

Picture 15: characters with overlapping spheres of concentration.

 You can decide from the end cause of your tableau finally which object goes into the sphere of concentration and which is background graphics only. Foreground items are true program objects: visualisations of models, 3-D, icons, objects, agents, guides or the like.
 There are several individual systems of spheres of attention and spheres of interaction involved: the reader and the author, a tableau and its components: agents or a guides driving your story someplace in the document have their own (perhaps competing) spheres of interaction. With an agent it is easy to understand that the sphere of concentration equals to its spheres of interaction.

3.6 Insights from literary genres

 We can apply poetical analysis on the level of tableaux. Poems differ from prose in that everything is present in present. A poem is a tableau in that it has a circular time span. Semiotics would require an entire new course or series of lectures, so I will just point to the relevance of it as a tool in analysing, synthesizing and hopefully in the future producing hypermedia. I feel that semiotic approach applies in all levels and all component types of hypermedia - especially since it is relatively easy implement expert systems acting on layouts and narrative outlines according to semiotic formalisms.
 The theory of montage, film, theory and criticism of epic form are all applicable on the level of stories, offering models for story lines. Photomontage and poster art pave the way for visual indices and mindmaps.
 Will Eisner has written a very thorough treatise on comic strips in his "Comics & Sequential Art". He has published numerous magazines, albums and novels, educational material and technical manuals for the U.S. Army in comic book format. The book is based on his teaching comic strips in School of Visual Arts in New York. The book covers main techniques, tools and cosiderations in the art of comics. The visual narration in comic strips offers a good starting point on understanding how hypermedia works. (Eisner)
 Brenda Laurel proposes an interesting view to interactive applications: she compares drama to user interfaces in that user performs essentially dramatic events in interacting with the application software and hardware (Laurel 91). Computer user acts out a role in a play that carries out a predefined task or series of actions, which is easily understood in simulations and virtual reality applications design. Especially if we consider the navigator/reader as one character among others in our hypermedia document. Laurel came up with the idea that when one is dealing with hypermedia, or interactive media, one should in fact consider the navigator, the reader as a role, a character in a play. And the play that the authors are directing and writing is the whole document plus the navigator role.
 Agents and objects can lead or tell or present or represent or act or create a navigational path. You can start thinking your documents as having some sense of their own. And very often, especially when the question is about educational material, there may be some sort of agent involved who checks out how the document is browsed and how it is approached. If there are parts that seem too difficult and produce too many errors, the agent may start alleviating this problem by rearranging the story line.

3.7 Finally

 You can implement and apply the strategy of tableaux composing stories on any environment you like: Hypercard, ToolBook, or an SGI workstation with a Showcase presentation system, the actual implementation naturally varies in each and every one of these environments. The nice part of it is that even if your team has a heterogenous set of tools you can still use a uniform set of storyboarding tools, because you have to move text in defining the content and finally the desired data is developed to suit the target platform. The designer is able to refine platform specific portions in defining the formal cause and all the time the team members are facing the same little rostrum that the end user will.
 You can keep your designs free of fancy ideas about how beautiful it is to have this or that, video and all. It is important to engage the user into interaction with the material, in fact I believe that interaction is the most efficient way of driving home your point. Using hyperboarding as method offers you an upscalability from hypertext to virtual environment: because in the end the efficient cause (tools and techniques available) realises your document. Your work refines itself into a compromise between the target audience and your skills.

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