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21 SEPTEMBER 2012

Free HTML5 App for writing 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Books

"Who hasn't, at least for a moment, thought a Choose Your Own Adventure book would be fun to write? It's like making a game out of words. Branching narratives are a surprisingly natural approach to make books interactive. But they're a logistical nightmare. Multiple storylines? Converging plots? How could you keep even a simple story straight? ...

Now, inkle is making their internal compositional software available to the public free as an HTML5 web app called inklewriter. So, without any coding expertise at all, and without much preplanned plot, either, you can simply start typing an interactive novel."

(Mark Wilson, Co.Design)

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appauthorshipbookbranching narrativechoose your own adventure • converging plots • design softwareHTML5inkle Ltd. • Inklewriter • interactive booksinteractive fiction • interactive literature • interactive narrativeinteractive novel • making a game out of words • multiple storylines • narrative • text interface • web app

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 MARCH 2012

The Future of the Book: design speculation

"The Future of the Book is a design exploration of digital reading that seeks to identify new opportunities for readers, publishers, and authors to discover, consume, and connect in different formats.

As more people consume pages in pixels, IDEO designers wondered why we continue to discover and consume the written word through the old analog, page–turning model. We asked: what happens when the reading experience catches up with new technologies?

The team looked at how digital and analog books currently are being read, shared and collected, as well as at trends, business models and consumer behavior within related fields. We identified three distinct opportunities – new narratives, social reading with richer context, and providing tools for critical thinking – and developed a design concept around each one.

The first concept, 'Alice,' turns storytelling on its head by making narratives non–linear and participatory. With Alice, the story world starts bleeding into the everyday life of the reader. Real–world challenges, like acting on a phone call from the lead character, or participating in photo based scavenger hunts, unlock new aspects of the story, and turn other readers into collaborators or competitors. Alice is a platform for authors to experiment with narratives, to allow their stories to transcend media, and to engage fans in the storytelling process.

The second concept, 'Coupland,' makes book discovery a social activity by allowing readers to build shared libraries and hear about additional texts through existing networks. Coupland makes it easy for busy professionals to stay on top of industry must–reads. Businesses can assign book budgets to their employees and build collective libraries through a group–licensing model. Personal recommendations, aggregation of reading patterns, and the ability to follow inspiring individuals and groups help ensure that Coupland users always are tapped into the latest essential content within and outside of the organization.

The third concept, 'Nelson,' connects books to commentary, critique, and contextual information, letting readers explore a topic from multiple perspectives. Nelson reinforces the role of books as carriers of knowledge and insight. Readers can explore polarizing material and see whose word currently has the greatest impact on popular opinion and debate. Layers of connected commentary, news, and fact–checking augment the core book content – providing greater context and encouraging debate and scrutiny.

Each concept features a simple, accessible storytelling format and a particular look and feel. We believe that digital technology creates possibilities, so our solutions truly adapt to the new environment, rather than emulate analog qualities onscreen. For example, we resisted any temptation to move books closer to the bite–sized character of other digital media, because longhand writing encourages immersion (deep reading) and reflection."

(IDEO, 2010)

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2010Alice in Wonderlandanalogue bookbooks • collective libraries • connected commentary • consumer behaviour • contextual information • convergence • deep reading • design concept • design exploration • different formats • digital booksdigital mediadigital readingdigital technology • Douglas Coupland • end of printenvisioningformatfuture of the bookgo digitalhybrid formIDEO • inspiring individuals • intertwingularity • longhand writing • look and feelmedia formsmultiple perspectives • must-reads • narrative • new narratives • new opportunitiesnew technologiesnon-linearoff the pagepage-turning model • pages in pixels • personal recommendation • pictures under glass • reader • readersreading experience • reading patterns • rich context • shared libraries • social activity • social readingspeculative designstorystorytellingstorytelling formattechnology convergenceTed Nelsonthe future of the booktrendswritten word

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 MARCH 2012

The importance of metaphor and narrative to our habits of mind

"Fiction – with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions – offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people's thoughts and feelings.

The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real–life social encounters."

(Annie Murphy Paul, 17 March 2012, NYTimes.com)

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affirming experience • booksbrainbrain networksbrain science • cause and effect • cognitive mapcomplex problemscomputer simulationdepictiondescription • emotional life • empathetic individuals • empathyexperiencefictional charactersfrustration • great literature • habits of mind • hidden motives • imaginative metaphors • intentions • interacting instances • languageliterature • longings • mental image • mental state • metaphornarrativenarrative fiction • navigate interactions • neurosciencenovelsoff the page • people and their actions • psychologyreaders • reading novels • real thingreal-life • redolent details • rich replica • simulating reality • simulationsmell • social encounters • social interactionsocial interactionssocial lifesocial worldtexture • the complexities of social life • theory of mindthoughts and feelingswatching television • your brain

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 FEBRUARY 2012

Social networking sites: devoid of cohesive narratives

Baroness Susan Greenfield "told the House of Lords that children's experiences on social networking sites 'are devoid of cohesive narrative and long–term significance. As a consequence, the mid–21st century mind might almost be infantilised, characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity'.

Arguing that social network sites are putting attention span in jeopardy, she said: 'If the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention–deficit disorder. ...

She also warned against 'a much more marked preference for the here–and–now, where the immediacy of an experience trumps any regard for the consequences. After all, whenever you play a computer game, you can always just play it again; everything you do is reversible. The emphasis is on the thrill of the moment, the buzz of rescuing the princess in the game. No care is given for the princess herself, for the content or for any long–term significance, because there is none."

(Patrick Wintour, political editor guardian.co.uk, 24 February 2009)

2) Leading neuroscientist Lady Greenfield on the impact of spending hours in front of the computer and what makes a friend.

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21st centuryattention spanattention-deficit disorderBebobrain • buzz • cohesive narrativescomputer game • consequence • consequencesexperienceFacebookfast actiongames • here-and-now • House of Lords • human mind • hypermediacyimmediacyimmediacy of experience • inability to empathise • infantilised • information in context • jeopardy • knowledge construction • long-term significance • narrative • new screen images • no care • play • play it again • press of a key • princess • rapid interchange • reaction • responses • reversible • screen culture • screen life • screen world • sensationalism • sense of identity • short attention span • social construction of knowledgesocial networking servicesocial networking sitessound biteSusan Greenfield • thrill of the moment • young brains

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 JANUARY 2012

Adorno's ambitions for the constellation

"17. But I am eliciting these implications of Adorno's reservations about Gestalt because what they imply is what Adorno leaves unsaid here, namely the contrast with his ambitions for the constellation. I should caution here that Adorno sometimes uses the word 'constellation' to designate historically given, that is, already familiarized, ideological arrays or Gestalts [for example, Critical Models 138, 260]; my usage henceforth will connote 'constellation' in the sense Adorno valorizes, as a device with the potential to be turned, in somewhat the manner of the Brechtian V–effect, against such familiarizations (though just this dissident potential, of course, is what mid–century avant–gardists were seizing on in Gestalt). And as we'll see, the word's 'antithetical' reversals of meaning are themselves indices of the 'dialectical'–ness of Adorno's immanent critique. We might say that these 'antithetical' meanings––'constellation' as unconscious ideological synthesis versus 'constellation' as consciousness–raising estrangement; 'constellation' as object of critique, or as subject of it––are themselves a kind of constellation implying or encoding, concealing or de–familiarizing a narrative, that of the classic Enlightenment project summarized by Freud in the formula, 'making the unconscious conscious.' Adorno may 'repeat' an over–familiar constellation and then reliquify (or, Medusa–like, petrify) its 'congelations'; or he may present an unfamiliar and even shocking juxtaposition, whose estrangement is to provoke a new and heightened consciousness of the ideological condition in which we are entrapped. The historical image that results, ideological and critical all at once, appropriates the critical force we saw Adorno ascribing to the Benjaminian dialectical image, turning it, immanently, to estranging or defamiliarizing, sc. critical or (Hegel) 'negative' purposes."

(Steven Helmling, 2003)

Steven Helmling (2003). "Constellation and Critique: Adorno's Constellation, Benjamin's Dialectical Image", Postmodern Culture, Volume 14, Number 1, September 2003 | 10.1353/pmc.2003.0030

TAGS

antithetical • avant-garde • avant-gardists • Benjaminian • Bertolt Brecht • Brechtian V-effect • concealing • congelations • consciousconsciousness • consciousness-raising estrangement • constellations • critical force • critical models • critique • de-familiarising • defamiliarising • dialectical • dialectical image • encodingEnlightenment project • estrangement • estranging • familiarisations • Georg Hegelgestalt • gestalts • historical image • historically given • ideological arrays • ideological condition • juxtaposition • making the unconscious • Medusanarrative • object of critique • Sigmund Freud • subject of critique • Theodor Adorno • unconscious ideological synthesis • Walter Benjamin

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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