In simple terms, seeing a picture of a beautiful car, for example, is a completely different experience to that of seeing one in real life. Within what Losowsky calls 'the likely space', our reaction and experience is tied to the context of when you see the image of the car. In a picture this could be in a car magazine, where, within the likely space, it is pretty likely that you are going to see an image of a car that you like the look of. However to see it in real life, seeing this car may more likely belong in the possibility space than the likely space. You may see the car in a shopping mall, or an airport for example – where you may consider it relatively unlikely to see a car. Your brain engages with the story differently. The boundaries of what you are expecting to see are pushed, and your emotional response to that narrative is ultimately different.
"Everyone and everything is a story from the moment that it is perceived. To put it another way, your brain is a machine which turns atoms into stories."
Seeing this other type of car, something you haven't seen in the flesh before, breaks the likely space. It is like someone pulling a gun out of their pocket while talking to them (albeit less extreme). It is going to have an emotional effect. Losowsky puts this down to the breaking of barriers of what is expected in the world, which causes dopamine to make us pay attention, take in this new 'reality', pay more attention to what is happening, and learn from it. Our brains create the story, digest the narrative – and that narrative is unique to us at that exact moment, in that exact place, at that exact time. The context, the medium of the story, and the narrative created all create a dopamine buzz, and the further the boundaries of the likely space are being pushed, the greater the buzz will be, and the more attention we will pay to the story that our brain is telling us.
Now perhaps the example of a car, in this context, is slightly out of keeping. It may even push the boundaries of what is in your likely space, and has perhaps made you think differently about it. You came to a blog from a publishing company, expecting to read something about the 'expressive potential of media', and thus probably thought my discussion would be limited to books. And now that I have acknowledged this, we are much more likely to move back into the likely space, where I will discuss books, briefly.
Of course, the narrative provided by an eBook is completely different to that provided by a physical book. One simple example people often cite as a reason for not liking eBooks is not having a real sense of how far they are through a chapter, or indeed through the whole book. With a physical book you can flip through the pages to find the end of the chapter, and keep your place with a finger. The weight of the book, the thickness of the pages, the number of pages left, all contribute to your sense of how much of the book is left.
The look, the feel, the presence of a book, the location in which you read the book, what has happened on the day that you are reading the book. All of these things contribute to the context of the story. They provide a different narrative, a different experience. A different level of engagement, and many opportunities to challenge what is within your likely space.
"Everything gives a story. Everything contains stories. The medium isn't the message, content isn't King, both of them are true, and both of them are not true. Everything makes up the stories that we understand. The medium is a part of it, the audience is a part of it, the space, the context. Everything that you can control, some things that you can't control."