In the light of the digital age, different kinds of scholars and practitioners increasingly test the potential of interactive media as a means of capturing the real. The emerging field of interactive documentaries, however, is a very heterogeneous one: various protagonists, approaches, aesthetics and dynamics are involved in constructing meaning within the framework of documentary knowledge production and dissemination. As open-source software that is used for creating “non-linear, interactive, rule-based narration”, Florian Thalhofer’s “Korsakow System” exemplifies these particular challenges to the documentary configuration on a micro level. But how does one study something like this as a system? Drawing on anthropological methodologies, one way is to look at key agents who form the “Korsakow community”, i.e. developers, academia, industry and the wider public, to see what this community makes the software do, and why. As a result, I hope to shed light on the question of what happens to the documentary genre in the digital age and which consequences arise from that observation in terms of documentary knoweldge production.
This blog aims at documenting my fieldwork process which I am currently undertaking in the context of my PhD research project on “Interactivity and Documentary Knowledge: A Case Study of the Korsakow System”. As I gradually identify the different actors responsible for constructing documentary meaning through, with and around the Korsakow system, I would like this blog to become my online diary in which I share my latest observations, audio-/visual material I have collected, reflections upon my approach and methodology as well as preliminary conclusions regarding my hypotheses. With this blog then, I hope to make my research transparent to the relevant protagonists, on the one hand, and facilitate discussions amongst Korsakow users as well as other experts and researchers interested in the wider field of interactive documentaries, on the other. Furthermore, this blog with its specifical digital affordances can be understood as an attempt to find an appropriate form for representing research on and in digital environments.