There’s a phenomenon in the fantasy genre where a person can pick up an object and learn about what the object has “seen”. Sometimes, the person does this through a spell. Other times, the person does it through an inherent psychic ability often referred to as psychometry. You see it in stories where the main character has amnesia; they’re presented with objects and places that had great personal significance to them in the hopes something would trigger. The movie Anastasia has a great scene early on where Anya sneaks into a boarded up building that is really the palace she grew up in. As she wanders through, she touches or picks up various objects, and each one triggers a different memory.
This concept that an object can record and retain memories is completely fictional, but the idea that objects can tell stories about a time, a place, or the people who used it is part of what drives archaeologists and museum curators. Finding remnants of past lives in the form of architecture and objects helps archaeologists and curators construct stories of life within the culture they’re exploring. That said, if you’ve ever been in a museum and refused to walk into a given area because you just knew something dark and foreboding was waiting for you, you’ve experienced a little of this psychometric phenomenon.
We now live in a time where objects can become a player in, or at least assist, creating our stories. A cell phone can record where you go, who you talk to, what you do, what was important to you. Smart objects can learn about who you are and how you behave under certain circumstances to tailor their use and activity to your lifestyle. They craft a story about who you are in a place, in a time, and can in some cases track how you change over time.
Enchanted objects, as smart objects in an Internet of Things setting can be called, can tell us a story. They can be embued with a set of triggers that will reveal bits about a story as you interact with it and with other parts of the story. It opens up a world of storytelling and immersive fiction possibilities. I doubt this will be my last time exploring enchanted objects, and I’m looking forward to seeing how different storytellers incorporate them into their narrative designs.