The Living Documentary: from representing reality to co-creating reality in digital interactive documentary

Gaudenzi, Sandra. 2013. The Living Documentary: from representing reality to co-creating reality in digital interactive documentary. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis concentrates on the emerging field of interactive documentaries. Digital interactive and networked media offer so many new possibilities to document reality that it is necessary to define what an interactive documentary is and whether there is any continuity with the linear documentary form. This research therefore proposes a definition of interactive documentaries and a taxonomy of the genre based on the idea of modes of interaction – where types of interactions are seen as the fundamental differentiator between interactive documentaries.

Interactivity gives an agency to the user – the power to physically “do something”, whether that be clicking on a link, sending a video or re-mixing content - and therefore creates a series of relations that form an ecosystem in which all parts are interdependent and dynamically linked. It is argued that this human-computer system has many of the characteristics associated with living entities. It is also argued that by looking at interactive documentaries as living entities (Living Documentaries) we can see the relations that they forge and better understand the transformations they afford – on themselves and on the reality they portray. How does an interactive documentary change while it is being explored/used/co-created? To what extent do such dynamic relationships also change the user, the author, the code and all the elements that are linked through the interactive documentary? Those questions are discussed through the use of case studies chosen to illustrate the main interactive modes currently used in interactive documentaries.

This thesis is a first step in exploring the multiple ways in which we participate, shape and are shaped by interactive documentaries. It argues that interactive documentaries are ways to construct and experience the real rather than to represent it.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Interactive documentary, interactive factual, interactive non-fiction, new media, online journalism, transmedia, web-doc, online documentary, new media documentary, i-doc, participatory documentary, collaborative documentary, games for change, open source documentary

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


1 January 2013

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 Apr 2013 11:26

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:35


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