Coherent Labyrinths



This essay compares the presentation of evidence in classic detective fiction and in the author's forthcoming interactive digital ethnography. The basis of comparison is the graph, a concept familiar in the study of topology and artificial intelligence that can be used to model explorations of labyrinths and mazes of linked ideas. In the present study of a Perry Mason novel, the essay distinguishes three kinds of research explorations. These have close parallels to the way that users can conduct virtual fieldwork as they investigate audiovisual evidence in the multimedia ethnography, Maasai Interactive. In addition to discussing patterns in the ethnographic data, that application is designed in a way that facilitates users' discoveries of new and unanticipated ideas. [detective fiction, experimental ethnography, hypermedia, interactive media, Maasai, research methodology]