Interaction: Balance

How does your project balance acts of doing and not doing?

Multimedia stories often involve an audience in the creation of the story. A successful digital story uses integrative and immersive interactions to engage an audience. Here are two examples that literally involve the audience in the experience of the story:

General Electric’s Smart Grid website uses sound, moving and interactive infographics, and augmented reality to create a multimodal story that uses different media forms. The site explains the benefits and possibilities of using Smart Grid applications, while emphasizing the role of the user in making the Smart Grid possible. The site balances both high and low material interactions to engage—though not overwhelm—the user. While text, narration, and moving graphics help visualize and tell a narrative, small prompted interactions better allow the user to learn and engage complicated data.

One interaction in particular is highly effective. The user can use a “solar panel marker”—a print-out— and a webcam to create and actually hold a digital hologram of Smart Grid technology. They can alter the hologram by moving the “solar panel maker” from side to side and blow into their computer’s microphone to spin the blades of the virtual wind turbine.

Testing the hologram. Photograph by Aimée Knight.

Another example of interactive media is Arcade Fire's video Reflektor, which the audience can affect via a mobile phone. Go to to interact with the video.

Screenshots from Arcade Fire's video Reflektor, December 15, 2014.

It is good to keep in mind, however, that sometimes such active participation needs to be balanced with periods of little interaction or moments of passive undergoing (such as reading, viewing or listening). These moments can facilitate important periods of reflection and engagement that other more dynamic interactions do not afford.

↪ The balanced relationship between doing and undergoing creates meaning (Dewey, 1934, p.46).