January 10, 2004

What Do You Mean – Implementation?

by Nick Montfort · , 12:02 am

Find out.

7 Responses to “What Do You Mean – Implementation?”

  1. michael Says:

    Nice! I hope I see some stickers in Atlanta.

  2. andrew Says:

    I love it!

    My S.O. Tania suggests that the URL on the stickers be even easier to remember than nickm.com/implementation, to make it more likely that on-the-street readers will actually manage to make it to the website.

  3. michael Says:

    This work reminds me of Shelly Jackson’s Skin in which each paricipant has one word of the story tattooed upon his or her body. Shelley states:

    The text will be published nowhere else, and the author will not permit it to be summarized, quoted, described, set to music, or adapted for film, theater, television or any other medium. The full text will be known only to participants, who may, but need not choose to establish communication with one another.

    Is there a new genre being born, the physically diffused narrative?

  4. ian Says:

    I think we might call it “network narrative”

    Here’s another example of something that sorta ressembles network narrative, albeit the narrative is rather ineffectual:


    They’ve tried to create connections between keywords, but it just doesn’t work. Nevertheless, I will admit to being somewhat rapt by the project. I think it needs to be more networked to work well. This goes to show how computation doesn’t necessarily mean that the things it makes easier work; Nick’s Implementation project gains far more coherence with no automated connecting.

  5. scott Says:

    Andrew —

    I think that at present, we’re not planning on including the URL on the stickers themselves. The people who put up the stickers will know where they came from. Those who run across them will have to piece together where they came from. I agree that we could have a better URL, but I kind of like the idea that many people who run across the stickers will find them strange and inexplicable, until they start to run across more of them and, if they’re interested, google up their origin.


  6. michael Says:


    I see Implementation and Skin as being fundamentally different than work such as grouphug both because of their physicality and the notion of the diffusion of a unique, singular narrative. Where network narrative (riffing on the postmodern subjectivity of the “network self”) is a narrative with no central author, composed by multiple contributors, “physical diffusion narratives” (if such a thing can be said to exist) diffuse through the phyiscal world fragments of singular narrative with a strong authorial voice.

  7. Ian Says:

    Michael —

    You make a good point. However, I think multiple authorship is an optional property of networked narrative. The important part is the physical disparateness of nodes.

    Another difference Implementation and Skin foreground is the work required to move from node to node in the narrative, another reason these works are more like something other than like networks.

    Here’s another question: where do we draw the line between physically diffuse *narrative* and physically diffuse textual material? This may be too structural a question (really a formalist question), but it might be an interesting one.

    Does there have to be a synthesis, or a possible synthesis of the narrative elements? If so, what form does this synthesis need to take to construe the work as a singular narrative, diffused physically? Is an artist statement enough? Or does there need to be a kind of “Voltron moment” where the reader understands the text he reads to be a partial one, referring to a cosmos of other diffuse particles that comprise another, or a more complete narrative, but that nevertheless signify on their own …

    I think Implementation and Skin both have clear Voltron moments. If I’m a participant, I understand implicitly. If I’m a casual reader, I either have to ask a participant, or piece together the puzzle in a kind of investigative process, as Scott suggests.

    I suppose one might consider this to be a psychological or phenomenological question too: how do we author narratives that encourage the pursuit of assemblage…

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