Carr Thesis 3: The Optimal Medium for Nonlinear Narratives

Nick Carr has a thesis on the best medium for non-linear narratives. I have an opinion about that thesis.

Nick Carr's third thesis of 20 is as follows:

The best medium for the nonlinear narrative is the linear page.

This only makes sense if he is talking about experiencing the nonlinear narrative. So I would revise this thesis for clarity:

The best medium for experiencing the nonlinear narrative is the linear page.

Human beings progress linearly through time. We experience life on a moment-by-moment basis.

Because we experience time linearly, we encounter narratives linearly. Even nonlinear narratives.

On the linear page, the author gently cajoles the reader into following the nonlinear narrative in exactly one way. The author thus exerts control over the reader, presenting but one narrative.

In hypertext, the author fractures his narrative into multiple narratives, relinquishing control of choosing which narrative to follow over to the reader. If the number of narratives presented is high enough, it may not have been possible for the author to consciously consider all of the possible narratives he is presenting. The author deliberately loses control over those narratives he cannot oversee, and is thus unable to fully mold the experience of them for the reader.


I agree with Carr on this thesis. The limitation of telling one narrative over many that the linear page provides results in a more polished experience of the singular nonlinear narrative.