Traveling through a Digital Stories timeline.

Reading from Agrippa, a self scrolling poem, to Photopia, a choose your own digital adventure, and then through an AI generated story and even conversations with Siri, creates a sense of the kind of digital stories and the vastness of them that does exist. This poem explores a bunch of different pictures, through text, from the authors childhood and performs as an autoscroll that the text disappears on the screen. Continuing through Photopia, which reminds me a lot of a choose your own adventure style book, just through a website. You type your own commands and direction and can explore whatever story it gives you. Lastly, conversations with Siri about death and the AI generated story “The Weaver of Worlds”, both contain this aspect of technology having feelings, or at least being able to portray the same kinds of feelings and writing style as humans can also produce.

Exploring each of these stories provides the reader with a unique reading experience and the ability to understand how far we have come in the realm of digital storytelling. Beginning with Agrippa coming on a diskette that was buried in a book that features an eerie scrolling/disappearing of William Gibson’s poem. I originally thought was supposed to be like an oral YouTube video, turns out it is just a poem through a scroll. This disappearing or vanishing of the text incorporates these themes of life and death throughout photos of the writers childhood.

Photopia is an interactive fiction website, built much like a choose your own adventure book, but seemingly much more broad. You can type in various commands that will lead to various outcomes of whatever prompt you are playing. The more I go through Photopia, I notice that the colors match up to the next story. It feels as if they slowly start to interconnect the more you go through them. The story takes you through many narratives, one being about a young girl drowning, presumably your daughter and another includes a story about an astronauts mission. The further I go through each story, the more I notice that they connect and it makes me feel like this is less like a choose your own tale, but rather one that has been currated for these events to continuously overlap. Regardless, the interactive format of this story is very interesting and it’s cool to see and work out the actions you must take to move on.

Focusing on “A Conversation With Siri About Death” and also the AI written story “The Weaver of the Worlds”, both focus on this idea of a computer being able to generate a story and thoughts. “A Conversation With Siri About Death” is a kind of poem, but is clearly some kind of conversation with Siri. The way that the poem is written creates this AI Siri-esk conversation that one would have through their own phone. These kinds of straightforward answers are very realistic for Siri and I wouldn’t be sure if this was written by the author or if she truly asked Siri for these answers. Themes of racial justice exist throughout and are conveyed through these answers that Siri gives to the authors questions, like does death hurt and how long can a human live without food are very generic answers that actually answer the question. When the author asks how long a daughter can live without her father, the response of “there is a crisis in America” is where as a reader you realize this takes a turn. The author continues this deconstructed question and answer format and it emphasizes the theme of racial justice in this poem.

Lastly, “The Weaver of the Worlds”, an AI generated story also showcases this idea of technology showing emotions. Simone Garzia states that ChatGPT can “generate stories in different genres and styles, and it can create characters with a wide range of personalities and backgrounds”. I believe this statement may be true, but I feel as if you have to be very specific with limited constraints with ChatGPT. This story is very well written and has interesting details, like the doll being her mom and this idea that her mom was protecting her while she was lost in the forest the whole time. I also like how the author used AI to generate pictures to go along with the story that AI wrote, and these pictures capture the essence of the story, but with a very spooky edge.

Going through these various digital stories over time showcases the stretch that digital stories have come. From the scroll of Agrippa to AI’s ability to story-tell on it’s own, the use of technology creatively has come a long way from just a self scrolling/disappearing poem and the audiences of these stories have grown accustom to more detail and understanding of what they are reading. I like to see where we are headed with using tools like ChatGPT and AI in nuance with creativity, but I think a great point is made that these kinds of technology are going to have a hard time recreating human creativity.