The Digital Incunabula: The Future of Storytelling in the Digital Age

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Published in: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International, 2018.


The term "incunabula" refers to the transition period that took place 50 years after Johannes Gutenberg introduced his printing press to the publishing world (1455 to 1505). In this thesis, I compare the first incunabula to the current "Digital Incunabula," which I believe is the 50-year transition underway as we assimilate traditional storytelling practices to a digital platform (1996 to 2046). To illustrate this, I review the histories of the literal age, the secondary orality and the digital orality before making some observations about our transition into multimedia storytelling. The paper reviews several key experiments in multimedia storytelling produced by The New York Times, The Rocky Mountain News and The Guardian among others. The paper reviews the influences of consumer electronic devices including tablet computers, augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. It also reflects upon nonfiction narrative forms for written and oral communication media. The paper also considers aspects of copyright policy, public media policy and the influences of the "digital disruption." The paper concludes with some observations about the future of long-form, nonfiction storytelling as we move through the 21st century.