Two Examples of Narrative Time

by Venkat on May 10, 2014

In the last week, I came across two interesting examples of what I called narrative time (as opposed to clock time) in Tempo. The first is this interesting analysis of the creative potential of tempo in the pacing of episode-releases in television shows, now that they have been decoupled from clock time by on-demand technology (HT Kartik Agaram).

Let’s quickly survey the Cambrian explosion of season-shapes. House of Cards falls from the sky like a crate of emergency rations. Sherlock delivers a tight burst of movie-caliber episodes, then disappears for two years. True Detective and American Horror Story remake themselves every season with a new cast and story. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. braids itself into the Marvel movie machine. (As I’m writing this, the show has just pivoted in mid-season to reflect the revelations of the Captain America movie that premiered the week prior.) This year, Louie marches double-time, airing not one but two new episodes every Monday. No season of TV has yet pulled a Beyoncé and arrived entirely without warning, but surely, it’s coming.

Complete article over at Medium: The Art of Anticipation.

The business story behind the artistic evolution is also interesting: check out this Wired story on how Netflix and other companies are fighting over narrative time.

The other example is this hilarious set of clock-time estimates for the narrative time vocabulary of the modern workplace (HT Alan Martin):

“Just a sec” = 5 minutes

“Just a minute” = 10 minutes

“Pick your brain” = 17 minutes or, in rare cases, 90 seconds

“Quick chat” = 48 minutes

Complete article over at McSweeney’s: Corporate Time Equivalents

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