Mission Statement

It is crucial to explore how social illusions are often narratively constructed both cognitively and culturally. We engage social empowerment by inventing new forms of digital narrative deeply informed by accounts of meaning and narrative from cognitive science and techniques for representing meaning and narrative from computer science.

Narrative is often a unifying theme in our work. Narrative is central to human communication, and structures much of our creative imaginations, shared bodies of knowledge, and even our senses of self. (Harrell & Goguen, 2007) The stories we tell using computational media, however, often fail to capture our needs, dreams, and aspirations.

We seek to develop to assist people in achieving our imaginative potentials. We seek to support social empowerment using gaming and related technologies such as interactive narratives, collaborative digital worlds, interactive and generative video, and, most importantly, new forms unanticipated by any of the above.

Empowering the disempowered is not merely a matter technological support. It is not merely a matter of providing a platform for speaking out. We need imaginative visions, meaningful experiences, and expressive statements that lead to real world action. We want to build computational support for local ontologies for narrative expression and socially transformative pedagogy.

Our approach to inventing new expressive computational forms is based upon understanding the cognitive underpinnings of social constructions. Cognitive science no longer explores only what is "inside the head" or how computers can model the mind. Recent cognitive science theories address our capacity for creative and imaginative thought as it is dynamically constructed, distributed among our selves and our artifacts, situated in social contexts, and embodied in our physical experiences. (Fauconnier & Turner, 2002; Hutchins, 2000; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Varela, Thomson, & Rosch, 1991) We develop and apply such theories to the understanding of (often disempowering) social constructions and narrative imagination.

D. Fox Harrell, Director

Associate Professor of Digital Media

CMS | CSAIL | MIT