My previous musings on the opposition between McLuhan and Aristotle imply a two-dimensional continuum for locating various forms of media. If we let the term “narrative” cover what Butcher translates as “plot” in Aristotle, and we classify the four kinds of media discussed by Manovich, then he have the following structural table:
This table is an example of the classic structuralist device, made famous by Lévi-Strauss, where all possible variations of an opposition are laid out in a kind of truth table. A plus sign (+) means that the category is present in the item, while a minus sign (–) indicates its absence. These tables are useful for generating ideas about how elements in a given field — in this case, media forms — are related to each other, generating further questions. For example, it emerges that databases are the strong opposite of films, while stories and games are weak opposites.
The table above can also be expressed as a two-dimensional field, where the named column headers become the X and Y axes of a discrete Cartesian plane, and the values in the first column become values in the field. This is the sort of device made famous by Bourdieu (see Distinction). The advantage of this device is that it allows us locate media forms with more precision. Here’s what I have in mind: