This is the third blog post about the “Future of Story-telling is Interactive? Or is it?” panel in SxSW. You can find my initial thoughts about this panel my first blog post and the second blog post. I ended up including this event in the conclusion chapter of my dissertation. Today, in my dissertation group, where I meet bi-monthly with friends/colleagues who are going through the same ordeal, we had some interesting insights about the incident. I decided to post these insights on my blog.
Set aside my frustration, this incident raised interesting questions in my mind about the circulation of knowledge and appropriation of theory outside of academia. As I noted previously, after I sat down, one of the audience members tapped my shoulder and said “I think you are looking from an academic perspective, they are looking at it from a marketing perspective.” As I asked myself whether or not the two were totally unrelated, I realized that the marketing initiatives of the industry did not require companies to be fluent with the current theories that were circulating within academia. I had a personal stake in being careful in using controversial terminology such as “interactive” that had decades of baggage to the point that the term had become useless in many ways. But I realized that day that the entertainment companies also had a stake in insisting on using the term regardless of it having lost its effectiveness. The word “interactive,” in and of itself, was a branding strategy, or rather, a selling point. That is why it was important for them to distinguish their works from the ones that emerged in (what they perceived to be) more traditional forms of media such as print and film. In other words, as a narratologist who had initially specialized in the novel, I had a stake in dissipating the aura around the “newness” of new media while acknowledging the brand new opportunities these media afford, they had a stake in keeping it because of the economic opportunities it gave.