Planning the course: Hybrid ecology of narratives

April 6, 2008

Last week we had several meetings in Tallinn and Helsinki among our core group to prepare the Hybrid ecology book: Anatole Pierre Fuksas, Mauri Kaipainen, Pia Tikka and myself. We plan entwined research activities and course with master students to give the ideas a better go.

We met in Helsinki at Pia’s and Mauri’s place to discuss the planned course in fall 2008 at the Tallinn University about Hybrid ecology of narratives. The planned master level course will be one of the testing grounds of the book ideas.

The main interest is to see how hybrid ecology evolves on the basis of traced clues in the virtual and real places. We plan the course activities partly as a field experiment, where students participate in planning, acting and analyzing data.

The initial story will be hidden locatively using new media based clues, and remains unknown to the students until the end of the experiment. The story may be either fictional narrative, commonly known to some extent to the participants, a film-based narrative, a social narrative based on the emotional perspectives of some real events, or even a crime story.

An interesting article about Literary places:

David Herbert 2001
Literary places, tourism and the heritage experience, in «Annals of Tourism Research», 28, pp. 312-333

The group of students, investigating this story with mobile technology and preferred reflection tools (eg. micro-blogging in Twitter, blogging or wiki tools), will be given the common starting point of the story from where they can continue guessing the storyline and building up their own reflections. They are supposed to continue the story with the necessary artifacts left into the virtual overlay of real places.

Such an activity is based on enaction: finding action and meaning-related clues in the real places, taking action or being emotionally involved by these clues, and contributing to the environment accordingly.

The initial story is embodied and enacted differently by each participant. Thus it would be possible to see how the enacted emotions and actions dynamically shape the hybrid ecology.

In the process of enaction the involved people get traces of each others’ actions and emotions, and their interpretations of the story. Such enaction based locative awareness calls for more involvement, and may lead to the interaction between participants and the formation of the enactive clusters around the locative story.

Such hybrid places, where stories can be embodied and enacted, have many dimensions depending of the users. These dimensions will appear and can be made visible if different content was locatively tagged by the users with soft ontology means either embodied knowledge based, that involves clues to the accompanied emotions and actions, or knowledge based, which involves our systems of activated concepts.

If participants have access to such soft ontological dimensions of the hybrid ecology, they can interact more. Also, besides the locatively situated artifacts, triggering their action and emotions, the ontological dimensions as whole will be perceived and enacted accordingly.

The tools that can be used at this course are locative maps (eg. Googlemaps), social software (Flickr, Youtube, blogs, wikis, microblogs) and analytical tools what enable to locatively tag embodied knowledge and select meaning or action perspectives withing the hybrid ecology (Montagemaker, Soft ontology tool etc.).

What is interesting in this experiment from the research point of view:
– due to embodied cognition and person-specific enaction different stories would emerge from the clues of the one initial story
– monitoring the hybrid ecology as an evolving system
– the rise of different meaning and activity spaces within the hybrid ecology that call for the formation of the communities of enaction
– persons as hybrid and distributed selves within hybrid ecology: interrelations between persons, their action traces, meaning-making traces, and various parallel dimensions of the hybrid ecology.

Some interesting ideas:
– not linear narratives with start and end but branched stories with many ends
– searching for someone, while also making side trips
– narrative as a quest game
– storylines and crossing path with characters



  1. […] PC Free Zone placed an observative post today on Planning the course: Hybrid ecology of narrativesHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  2. >how hybrid ecology evolves on the basis of traced clues in the virtual and real places.

    what about: «how hybrid ecologies emerge from people’s sensory-motor interaction with environmental clues in natural ecosystems enriched by textual, audio, video or multimedia contents»?

  3. […] to the social nature of language is generalizing many studies. If to think how it is useful in our experimental ideas, we can think that not only texts, but also acustic or visual artifacts (eg. in Youtube) may […]

  4. Interesting reading. I have not myself met the concept of hybrid ecology before. I send you an invitation to the Nordic Network for Environmental Education today. Hope you might be interested in taking part and maybe share some of your expertise and engagement in this. 🙂

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