Simply Digital – Week 12 Critique of xkcd: Click and Drag

*I HAVE BEEN READING AND CRITIQUING DIGITAL COMICS, FOR MY MASTER LEVEL STUDIES, IN A CONTINUING SERIES TO DEVELOP MY EXPOSURE TO AND UNDERSTANDING OF THIS NEW LITERACY

I found a surprising digital story this week. I was surprised because I found it as a single installment of the continuing xkcd web comic.  xkcd is a well known comic strip that is housed online. The drawing are usually simple – stick figures and line drawings, but they provide a strong delivery of the witty and poignant dialogue from writer Randall Munroe. I love this strip but do not see digital features that transform xkcd episodes from traditional comic strips into digital stories. The digital environment provides a great format to deliver this excellent comic strip to a wide audience, but the narrative and way the story is told is the same as if xkcd were published in a newspaper. What surprised me was the exception, an installment titled Click and Drag. This strip  uses an element of the infinite canvas to turn a single panel of the strip into a window that shows a portion of a large and sprawling drawn world. Viewers click and drag the image within the panel to change their view and explore Munroe’s world.  For a critique of Click and Drag I will look at Munroe’s story, media application and project planning

Story

The simple message of Click and Drag is shared with the text and then brilliantly illustrated with hundreds of static images on an (almost) infinite canvas. The technology, text and images all work flawlessly work together to share a simple but universal message. The simple story supports the exploration of the Munroe’s huge digital world, because if the story were complex and the digital world vast the combination would have been overwhelming. With a simple message the exploration is carefree and facilitates all the narrative features working together.

Media application

Looking at the sprawling world thought the panel/window make the images you find surprising, because you stumble upon them without any warning. This enables Munroe to spring jokes and poignant thoughts on the unsuspecting viewer. I even found myself laughing out loud on a few occasions. The panel as a window also enables the viewer to have a unique experience when using the click and drag features, because that viewer is in control of how they explore the digital world, and gives the viewer an interactive reading experience.

Project Planning

I would be interested in seeing what Munroe’s Click and Drag world would look like fully zoomed out. The picture must be massive. While I was playing the digital world seemed to go on (at least left and right) forever. I thought eventually the world would complete a circle and I would be back where I started but it never happened nor did I find an end.  This world must have taken considerable planning to create, not only is it a massive world but in every nook and cranny of the ever changing landscape are figures interacting, philosophizing or cracking jokes.

 

This is a really simple comic strip that is both fun to play with and has a useful as a message about the world we live in. I also see it as a metaphor for interacting with the digital world. Through our computer screens we view the constantly changing landscape of the sprawling digital world and just like the figures that populate the world in Click and Drag, the citizens of the digital world have engaging and surprising stories to tell. The more we explore the more stories we will be exposed to.

Afterword

I decided that there must be a way to see the whole massive drawing from Drag and Click so I searched the web some more and found a zoomable picture. I have only one word: impressive.  

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Simply Digital – Week 12 Critique of xkcd: Click and Drag

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