Friday, May 31, 2013

FutureBook Workshop

Yesterday I went through what I now think of as Huguenot territory.  I swept past Fournier Street and glimpsed Christchurch as a tower between rooftops, but had no time to stop since I was only just in time for the FutureBook Innovation Workshop at the LBi Offices.

The workshop was one of the best I'd ever encountered - each presentation had something interesting to offer, but a couple of events left me especially optimistic for the future and chimed with what I am trying to do at the moment.

There was a presentation by Dan Franklin called Black Crown (written by Rob Sherman), which is a web-based book.  Entering it briefly, I am reminded of Jeff Van der Meer's Ambergris and also the classic shamanic wanderings from the underworld.  I became a worm.   I chose to have female gametes but I could have elected to have none at all, and I came upon a room in which there was a murdered pig.  Briefly, I wondered at what had caused its wounds and then found myself examining them at depth.  I didn't feel hooked as much as sucked in... by something with suckers on each of its six legs (maybe I have indeed been reading just a little too much about the arthropod infestations of silkworms).  So I came out, but already I am wondering what is going on in that dingy world while I am not in it.

That was just the start.  Looking through the programme I realise each speaker brought something unusual and exciting.  I liked Julian McCrea's description of Portal Entertainment's project which aimed to make customised movie recommendations based on the 'thrill factor' response of the client's face to a couple of sample movie clips.  This led on to The Craftsman, a five day thriller for iOS and Android. Jodie Mullish described Pan Macmillan's campaign on Faceook to include reader's stories to support the publication of Ken Follet's Winter of the World, while Cate Cannon gave an appealing presentation about Canongate's first foray into children's fiction and the Wildwood Story Map as an app.

The day finished with looking at a series of post-digital innovations with Tim Wright's experiment in literature and a box that told poetry in specific locations, Alyson Fielding demonstrated a book that talked back, and Lucy Heywood described an installation in Bristol that involved a book responding to the reader with sound and pictures.

Half way through Bobette Buster showing how successful movies use the art of storytelling.  It was a particular highlight of the afternoon.  Some of us had Bobette Buster's book Do/Story in our goody bags.  If it's anything as good as her lecture, I shall read carefully.

A recurring theme was the importance of good story telling - technology is nothing without this  - and, as Sophie Rochester pointed out in her closing summary, the recurring question was 'What do we call this stuff?'  It may seem a trivial detail but it is an important one to resolve for marketing because people want to know what they're buying and how to tell it to their friends.


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