Friday, 31 July 2009

co lab orations

Feral Trade Cafe, London from RSA Arts & Ecology on Vimeo.

I've had an exciting few days putting out feelers in different directions re. the future of if:book and where it might live. I don't know why it's taken me so long to visit whose gallery and office space in Harringay contains a place for makers in residence to really reside. We'd love to hold an if:book salon there sometime soon. Then there's the Moors bar in Crouch End where we're planning some new media writing days and nights - more details soon. Then there's the new Free Word centre in what was the Guardian Newsroom in Farringdon and talks to Proboscis and about collaborative possibilities. And I'm going up to Sheffield soon with Joe, himself curating a festival of collaboration currently, to talk to Brian Lawson of Consilient about what we might try to get going in my ol' town.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Thanks again to Dave Pescod for finding this piece of book art at


pictures of the library in the trees


Photos from The Treehouse Gallery to be seen in Regents Park, a wonderful encampment of treehouses, swings and happenings, with a treetop library of books bound with cotton and treebark. Recommended.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

automatic writing

Wiggle Table Small from Tom Foulsham on Vimeo.

Tom Foulsham's Wiggle Table was brought to our attention by Pat and Trevor of THIS IS WHY WE MEET fame.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Try a Little TEDerness

Jonathan Zittrain on the generosity of the web and "the dark energy of kindness that keeps the internet rolling":

Monday, 20 July 2009

a (very(short) (web)post (on my (we)blog by Joe Michael L Davis, as recommended by Sarah Butler, creates a new form in need of a great poet or short story writer to make something wonderful in it. e e cummings and Raymond Carver might have been good at this.

big brother is reading you

3 generations of brainwashed 21st century citizens read on screen via iPhone, Sony Reader and laptop

The irony that it's Orwell's 1984 that gets deleted from people's Kindles by the mighty Amazon is unbelieveable, yet it's true.


Photos from a very enjoyable event in the Literary Salon at the Latitude Festival, a presentation and lively debate about the future of the book, with special guest Bill Thompson. It was a wonderful festival altogether. I enjoyed Regina Spektor, Doves, Thom Yorke, Blake Morrison, Aoife Mannix, Daljit Nagra, Grace Jones, Squeeze, Bishi, the Rumble Strips (a great name for a band), Airborn Toxic Event (lit cred but hard to remember)... and ended up catching Jarvis Cocker and beat boxer Shlomo doing an amazing version of Purple Haze at a presentation about the Cape Farewell project that takes artists and scientists to the Arctic.

The debate format for if:book worked really well. Toni sent files of recent work in varous formats, and they played just fine, but showing new media work in this setting is tricky. All the technology worked.. but it's hard to watch a plasma screen in bright sunshine. I brought along a suitcase full of books, laptop, itouch, eReader etc. and want to develop a box of tricks to carry about at such events in future involving more performance of work.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Today's blogpost is brought to you by the letter A

by Regina Pintor. You can enjoy more A things at her tumblr site

Meanwhile Edward Picot's piece Everybody I Can Think Of Who Has Died is a poignant mortality ritual.

I've always wanted to try writing hundreds of words from a dictionary on pebbles and then putting them in a pond so that those I've never heard of are deep under water, those I couldn't quite define are near the top, with those I use daily well above the water line. But that would take ages. Quicker just to write down the idea.

media futures

Here are the slides of my presentation at the Media Futures conference organised by Nico Macdonald and held at the Bloomberg building.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

quality without snobbery

"For better or worse, we all have our hard-wired associations--some of us capitulate to them and others rebel against them--but there they are. For a lot of people, the appearance of black & white film alone might signify sophistication. Something about the scratchy, silvery tint, its time-capsuled resistance to contemporary fashions, prompts an automatic sense of reverence, regardless of how many cinematic duds the studios churned out before Technicolor.

Do we do the same for the Written Word? Do we grant it Goldmember status out of respect for its breadth and longevity?

The truth is that, while all delivery systems have particular histories and particular limitations, they are equally capable of delivering meaningful content, just as all cuisine has its delicacies and its slop, its caviar and its gruel, each bound to their own range of flavors and textures. Snobbery, after all, is not measured by a "well-cultivated" palette or a table-pounding demand for "quality," but by a deliberate unwillingness to consider that quality takes many forms and often abides unfamiliar standards.

What kids actually need, what we all need, are higher standards across the board. Not more books but better books; not fewer movies or comics or pop songs, but fewer bad ones. This worthier goal won't be achieved by blandly extolling the virtues of one medium or lambasting another, but by developing a stronger, richer, more vibrant culture all around.

That I'll drink to."

From an excellent article by Alex Rose on the US Institute for the Future of the Book's if:book blog

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


JOHN HEGLEY / LET'S COLLABORATE from Pat And Trevor on Vimeo.

Proud dad says: go see THIS IS WHY WE MEET to find out more about a fascinating Festival of Collaboration masterminded by Pat & Trevor who recorded this contribution from the wonderful John Hegley

Saturday, 4 July 2009

manhood for amateurs

Here's an extract from a brilliant article in the New York Review of Books by Michael Chabon, found by Tim Kidmapped Wright..

What is the impact of the closing down of the Wilderness on the development of children's imaginations? This is what I worry about the most. I grew up with a freedom, a liberty that now seems breathtaking and almost impossible. Recently, my younger daughter, after the usual struggle and exhilaration, learned to ride her bicycle. Her joy at her achievement was rapidly followed by a creeping sense of puzzlement and disappointment as it became clear to both of us that there was nowhere for her to ride it—nowhere that I was willing to let her go. Should I send my children out to play?

There is a small grocery store around the corner, not over two hundred yards from our front door. Can I let her ride there alone to experience the singular pleasure of buying herself an ice cream on a hot summer day and eating it on the sidewalk, alone with her thoughts? Soon after she learned to ride, we went out together after dinner, she on her bike, with me following along at a safe distance behind. What struck me at once on that lovely summer evening, as we wandered the streets of our lovely residential neighborhood at that after-dinner hour that had once represented the peak moment, the magic hour of my own childhood, was that we didn't encounter a single other child.

Even if I do send them out, will there be anyone to play with?

Art is a form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map. If children are not permitted—not taught—to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?

Friday, 3 July 2009

as translated by google - thanks alain pierrot for the link

Here are the results of the Workshop with Spanish students in Albarracín.
Nous devions travailler sur des livres « à lecture combinatoire » et/ou interactifs. We had to work on books, reading combinatorial and / or interactive. L'idée étant de trouver une forme originale + une histoire faisant sens. The idea is to find an original + a meaningful story. Nous avons pu travailler pendant trois jours (de 16h30 à 20h30, juste après la sieste, et oui ce n'est pas une légende les espagnols font la sieste;-) We have been able to work for three days (from 16.30 to 20.30, just after a nap, and yes this is not a legend make the Spanish siesta ;-)
Voici donc quelques vidéos faites avec un petit appareil photo. Here are some videos made with a small camera.

Un livre qui se tresse. A book that braid.
d'Irati Fernández et Mariona Rodríguez, suivant la position des bandelettes l'histoire change totalement. Irati Mariona Rodríguez Fernández and, depending on the position of strips completely change history.

sixth sensation

Pattie Maes talks at TED - as recommended by traderseries at Media Futures Conference

Thursday, 2 July 2009

publishing laid bare

I spoke at the Publishing Laid Bare conference on independent publishing last week and there's a report of it in the Bookseller HERE.

I'm about to go walking in Cumbria for a week or so, and may be out of blog, tweet and facebook range for a while - which will be a relief to many of you I'm sure, but to leave you, Dear Reader, with something to chew on...

We've been thinking for a while now about setting up an if:bookshop or an unlibrary, a place on the highstreet where we could experiment with different ways of promoting the word. A local place for people to bring their laptops and books to share them, get help using them most effectively and imaginatively, a venue for workshops, performance, exhibitions all about the word in the digital era. As a charity we could take over a closed down shop and experiment with new approaches. It's an idea we discussed at the Bookcamp some time ago at a session inspired by Dave Eggars' amazing bookplaces in the USA.

The problem is such a project involves a team of volunteers,lots of logistics and rotas and, of course, fundraising. It could be done with interns from an educational institution, or possibly in partnernship with a commercial company. We could do a trial residency in an existing venue or start from scratch.

Anyway I asked delegates at the conference last week if anyone wanted to collaborate, and I'm doing so again here now. If you do, leave details here.

stuff and things

This is a photo of Chimney Park in Dublin Docklands, designed by Snug & Outdoor and incorporating text I edited from the words of local schoolchildren. It was one of the slides that I didn't manage to show at the talk on monday held by Sarah Butler and Urban Words - I enjoyed the evening a lot.

Articles in the Guardian about the Open Library project, authors revenge via Twitter , and thanks to Sasha for spotting this on authors at the Brave New World blog.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

from our postbag - bookukefutures

Dear Chris,
Just learned of your organization.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this subject. I have given many lectures on the subject and have written several essays about my thoughts, which are on my web site. If you find any interesting let me know. I would like to be included in the dialogue.

Also I have written a song about this.