One of the first serious pieces of ‘hypertext literature’ , as this type of story is more formally known, was Michel Joyce’s Afternoon, a story, which is the story of a man who may or may not have witnessed the fatal car crash of his ex-wife and son. This lead to an explosion of this type of story: some can be purchased here; many more can be found for free on various sites and blogs, and there are lots of studies of the implications of this kind of writing.
This story is quite interesting, as instead of having many paths through a story, it enables you to jump back and forth in the timeline of the main character’s day. The author’s thoughts on it are here . I find his thoughts about the ending interesting: he’s basically saying that the story belongs to the author: to change it close to the ending is taking away from the story. I don’t really agree with this – personally, I want the user to take whatever route they like, and make their own ending – even if it is not a good one.
The problem with this is the limits of my time – obviously I can’t create an infinite number of stories in the time I have. I’m not sure how to overcome this. Certainly some stories will lead to dead ends, and some stories will link back into other story streams, so that could reduce the number of possible endings.
One thing I find curious about this kind of story, that is unlike the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books is that you can put the hypertext links from words, as opposed to giving the audience a choice – an example is here. I find this idea interesting, because I hadn’t considered it before – it could probably aid the science communication by allowing users to look at explanations. I’m not sure I want to make the science completely optional though!
Another idea would be to let the community add to, and build the story, like on the wiki mentioned previously. However, as sites like this one show, this can lead to complete nonsense (seriously, just follow the story through a bit). I do want the site to be interactive, but this may be just too interactive to handle. I worry the science content would be lost.