Evaluating a multimedia narrative

As part of our project group’s attempt to evaluate existing narrative frameworks and/ or multimedia narratives, I am evaluating a graduate student project called “A seed is forever“. This is a multimedia narrative on youth and agriculture in Sierra Leonne. I have chosen this work because I feel that it highlights several ideas that Ryan discussed, and specially those in relation to a hypertext narrative.

This narrative employs several types of media such as images, video, sound, textual narration, written essays and maps. The different pieces are connected by “chunking-linking” but are much more linearly presented than traditional hypertext. I see a good balance of controlled linearity and supported interactivity by this narrative. The author definitely provides direction and a path to the reader and controls, to an extent, the links that a reader can click on. At the same time, the reader can go over the different pieces (in that section of the narrative) in many orders.

Ryan mentioned that certain subjects lend themselves particularly well to the free browsing of hypertext and this one seems to fit well here. The narrative aims to shed light on different aspects of the youth farming movement in Sierra Leonne. This is not a dramatic story with a climax but rather an “episodic narrative” as Ryan describes, “made of many self-sufficient units that can be read in many orders”. Steiner describes a narrative as a representation of discrete events in a time sequence that are cohesively connected. While it is not clear in this narrative how the different units are connected temporally, there is a definite cohesion as they are all related by the same theme – of the farming movement in a very specific locality and at a specific time. As the reader has been made aware that the different media pieces are about roughly the same time period, it makes it easier to fill in the logical gaps between fragments (that Ryan mentions) and that seems to provide a sense of continuity in the narrative.

I am divided about the use of sound in this piece. It provided me with some sense of being in another place having been juxtaposed with an imageĀ – however, very soon, it acted as a distraction as I found it difficult to focus on reading the text. The sound does stop after a while in the narrative.