Taxonomies and design within the interactive documentary genre: A practitioner’s research project
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The evolution of technology has enabled the creation of many alternative modes of interaction. This has allowed the scope of interactive documentaries (i-docs) to extend far beyond simply altering the narrative structure of a linear story. I-docs are like many other emerging fields, where the lack of definitions and taxonomies not only confuse our understanding but also makes a systematic mapping of the field difficult. Sandra Gaudenzi, a theoretical scholar of the i-docs genre, proposed four modes of interactivity to categorise i-docs which could expand to encompass both existing and future interactive platforms. To review her proposition from a practical and evidential perspective, this research has been undertaken based on a practitioner based research model, and aims to test the four modes model based on practice-based data from the actual creation of interactive documentaries. The creation and viewing of the final work allowed for a practical response to the interactive work allowing for a critique of the presupposition at the heart of the whole theory: the role of author and the function of the user in each interactivity mode, and the technical potential for applying this model to new technologies. The final result shows Gaudenzi’s four modes model is valid. However, it lacks precision and contains the possibility of a need for a reframing of its categories. A final objective of the research project is to provide a practical and participant-orientated contribution to future studies on i-doc taxonomies.