Monday, February 4, 2008

Nelson and DVDs/CDs

The section I found most intriguing was the philosophy section of Nelson’s “A File Structure for The Complex, The Changing and the Indeterminate.” He describes the limitations of books describing how the same passage can leave “one reader is bored” and “another confused”. He goes on to tell of a file structure in which the user decides the content of the medium he or she is handling. The user picks which scenes of a movie to keep and which will be cut, which chapters of a story will stay and which ones are unnecessary. This puts creative control as much in the hands of the reader as the people involved in creating the work, whether it be the author of a book or the cast and crew of a film. While this idea may seem beneficial I feel it rather undermines the creative control of the people whose work went into making the piece. In spite of my objections to this imagined power struggle for creativity I feel certain medias already apply a similar approach. For instance the structure of CDs and DVDs is called to mind. They allow the choice of which scene to start at, whether to have subtitles and director commentary. They allow you to fast forward and rewind scenes, to only watch one scene at a time and who could forget their endless options of deleted scenes and bonus materials. It was as if Nelson’s ideas were taken straight off the page and applied to real life. The precision of his prediction at least in the field of video and audio is truly uncanny.

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