Same shit, different scoop

People love binary divisions.

Information vs. Experience splits things into Structuralists vs. Presentationalists, and then proceeds to say that most web designers fit in between these extremes. So what does this say about the divisions thus related? Perhaps it might suggest that they are inadequate to describe the real problems at hand. But no, that can’t be it. We must have reduction at all costs. This stuff gets on my nerves, particularly when they posit that the web is somehow a unique content form. Piffle. It’s information on a screen. The character of stuff on paper, or in words, hasn’t fundamentally been changed. The questions they ponder could be applied to any text. Web designers are so myopic when it comes to the question of constructed methods and meanings.

There are also cultural barriers to conveying experience on the web. We’ve been serializing narratives for millennia now: novels, movies, and television all rely on the user experiencing their narratives sequentially. The buildup of tension, suspense, grief, and other emotions takes time. Novelists and filmmakers have honed their skills in sequential media to a fine art, and users have become sophisticated consumers of sequential narrative.

Oh yeah? Following this line of reasoning, one might assume that all movies or books proceed neatly from beginning to end, and the meaning is somehow circumscribed by the sequence. Bull. Things start when they start, usually in the middle, and often working both directions simultaneously. Uh, sort of like a web experience? Meaning is constructed in the unique way that everyone responds, based on their cultural position, to the information presented. Conclusions aren’t always pat, or uniform. Like the web. It’s hardly unique.

On the web, narrative has become a collaboration between the author and the user.

Narrative has always been a collaboration between the author and the reader. This is news? But the idea that presentation forces choices is at the heart of anyone who wishes to convey, or rather, construct meaning. It isn’t solely a web issue— it’s a communication issue. Presentation can be shaped, but experience can’t be controlled. I would say that the web puts a new spin on things, but they are the same old things.