This post is part of The Future of Digital Content series, which discusses six traits I believe will be at the heart what content will look like in the coming years. These traits form a roadmap that lies at the heart of my research and experiments. The traits also work together, mixing and meshing, to paint a picture of how our future selves may read, watch, learn, and listen.

Read the rest of the series.

Content is changing, spurred by the digital revolution and guided by content-users through tools like social media. Content is changing for the better and I am excited to be a part of what’s next.

To do that, I define what I think the “future of content” is. Well, that’s convenient — its the title of this series. In six posts, I am unveiling six traits I believe to be at the heart of what content is becoming, and therefore, at the core of everything I do. So far along this road I have discussed multi-access content and mixed-media content.

Content will also be interactive, but that’s so much more than just “choose your own adventure stories.”

What “Interactive” Could Mean

In my post (Seven) Interactive Story Ideas Aided by Technology, I list some possibilities:

1. Giant Madlib

What about a story that knows your reader? Not your target audience, but your specific reader. Before the story started, the reader input several details about their life: favorite color, vacation, fears, etc. And the story, like the world”™s best madlib, put these details in the right spot, making each experience different. Unique to the reader.

2. Bonus Features

Blue-ray discs have them, why not books? Deleted chapters, character interviews, behind the scenes commentary. You get the idea.

3. Choose Your Own Path

I”™ll admit, this isn”™t exactly a new idea. With technology, however, you can do a classic “choose your own adventure” story in really interesting ways. One example is the inklewriter.

4. Maze where reader solves puzzles

What if, like a video game, the reader could not progress until they”™ve solved the puzzle for your character? Lost in a labyrinth or on a clue hunt? Personally, I”™d love this.

5. Collaborative (wiki) Story

Wikis (as in wikipedia) are collaborative documents that many people can edit. Open wikis are open to everyone to edit. Most, like wikipedia, are semi-closed. You must have a reputation to edit important articles. Why not let a story evolve in this same way? Discuss, collaborate, and create something better than you may have imagined.

You can read the rest of his post here.

Endless Possibilities

These are just some of the ideas that allow the audience to take control of, engage with, and interact with content. Not just stories benefit from this idea, either. Picture new systems that allow you to curate each article or even co-author with endless other people. Or even a virtual reality system that gives the audience the ability to move around Middle Earth. Yes, games are interactive content, too!

A Few Basic Principles

Interestingly enough, many of the principles of mixed-media content apply to interactive content.

  • Not for Novelty -None of this is for novelty. None is “just because it”™s cool.” The interactivity carries the content.
  • Stimulate Multiple Senses -When possible, harness the power of multiple senses. Even if you can”™t actually do scratch-and-sniff, describe or symbolize that sense.
  • Guided (linear) or Free (non-linear) – Does the audience interact to get to the next piece or are they allowed to explore their own path?
  • Simplicity and Easy to Follow -no one wants to “work” through content. They want it to be fun, engaging, simple, and easy to follow.
  • High Quality – Whatever interactivity we choose, we should make sure it is of the highest quality for that craft.

Some Other Sources

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Chris Michaels

Storyteller. Researcher. Coder. Innovator. I seek to push the boundaries of storytelling and education.
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