Wednesday, 28 July 2010

who will buy?

Black Books - Who Will Buy My Books Today? (Bill Bailey)
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The personal approach to bookselling, providing a customised and creative recommendation delivery mechanism to nurture a rich environment for browsing and selection.

Friday, 23 July 2010

medium massage

Listening to Bob (Stein) speaking at the Hospital this week about the networked book and the conversation around an author's text, I was reminded of this scene in which author contributes to public debate about their ideas.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Future of the bookshop and the Unlibrarians

This interview with Dr Caroline Hamilton, Research Fellow at Malbourne University, talks about her research into independent publishing and our plans for a collaborative project on the Future of the Bookshop. Meanwhile in August social networker Anke Holst and I launch THE UNLIBRARY at Hornsey Library, Crouch End. There's a meeting on Tuesday 27th July at 127 Rathcoole Gardens N8 9PH at 6.30 to discuss. Let me know if you'd like to attend.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

I am Chris: Life on line

Are any Bookfutures readers old enough to remember Jackdaw folders? These were assemblages of facsimile historical documents published loose leaf and sold through bookshops to children and their educationally minded parents. I don't remember learning anything specific about history via this means, but I was dead jealous of my friends whose pushy parents had bought them such educational delights; just unfolding these olde documents made me feel thrillingly in touch with history.

I was reminded of Jackdaws by LIFELINES, the digital resources for schools made by the wonderful Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph, pioneers of digital literature and creators of the award winning Inanimate Alice and a fantastic 'litch bit' in their distinctive multimedia style for if:book's own futurewriting resource for school, HOTBOOK.

Lifelines consists of a CD ROM containing nine short first person narratives told in the voice of young people from different parts of the world and moments in history.

Text, sounds and images can be played on whiteboard or computer,story each story comes with a collection of video clips and and stills which can be plundered to create new media responses. This mini-archive gives schools, so scared to allow access to the great unruly free library of the Internet, with a controlled and vetted selection of bits to cut and paste and remix with.

Whereas once school kids thrilled to computer stuff at school they couldn't get at home, now it's hard to imagine any child being too blown way by this collection in comparison with the wonders and horrors most can download from home, but it does allow schools to help young people explore the fantastic possibilities for multimedia transliterature and reflect on the issues involved in making and remixing user generated content.

And by the power of cut and paste from the publisher's website I bring you the full list of stories:

. I am Thiago: Life on the Amazon
• I am Kima: Life in Tornado Alley
• I am Fallon: Life in the Hebrides
• I am Chena: Life on the ice
• I am Keiko: Life in techno Tokyo

Stories with link to history:
• I am Rose: Life in the Blitz
• I am Edward: Life as a chimney sweep
• I am Joe: Life as a powder monkey
• I am Ngumi: Life on a slave ship

the narratives are strong and well voiced, the personalities strong and the original material impressive. Not surprisingly for an educational resource, the whole package feels a bit old fashioned in a good, worthy way. These are the digital offspring of Ladybird books, not the siblings of fan fiction and avant garde cut ups. I can imagine teachers liking these a lot, finding them reassuringly familiar, and that's wonderful as schools still need coaxing to embrace new media means of telling stories, and more importantly to reflect with their students on how our culture is being transformed as it moves from printed page to networked screen.
I liked the story set in techno Tokyo for busting out of the safety zone, but the historic yarns of blitz and battles are dead good too. The teachers' notes which accompany the disc are as thorough as these things need to be to help teachers plan their lessons in relation to curriculum targets etc.

So teachers, buy LIFELINES but don't forget also to check out what if:book also does in this area by logging onto, then, when your LIFELINES disc and pack arrives, follow the easy to follow step on the Rising Stars website...

Step 1: Use as an attention-grabbing hook to immediately engage pupils as they enter the classroom and settle. 

Step 2: Play the whole story through, or alternatively view screen-by-screen, stopping between them for discussion. 

Step 3: Invite a wider range of responses using prompts in the teacher's support notes for speaking, drama, reading and writing.

Step 4: Encourage further research and use the pictures and sounds to encourage students to create their own versions on screen.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Laptops in landscape

Scattered like leaves, dead badgers,
fallen trees, droppings of poets and other
weird key tappers,
We rabbiting on about arranging our lives
In new clouds, clusters, burrows,
How to furnish the brains
With fresh licks and linen,
How to reboot and build
Stout worktops, soft wordware
In muscular metres.
In the crunch cold night
We sit up in bed
Warming our knees
On glowing computers.
In the morning we’re
Blogging again, and breathing
This chill but astounding outdoors,
Us showing you our sites and spaces,
You showing us yours.

- Chris

I just found this piece which I wrote a year or so ago during my week tutoring FutureWriters at the Arvon Foundation's Lumb Bank centre.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

if:book australia kicks off

From the new website of if:book Australia:

if:book Australia promotes new forms of digital literature and explores ways to boost connections between writers and audiences.
if:book Australia is a small think-and-do tank which is part of the Queensland Writers Centre. We are linked with an international fellowship of organisations exploring book futures with the Institute for the Future of the Book in New York, founded by Bob Stein, and if:book London led by Chris Meade.

Next Text
May-October 2010
A special event series presented by if:book Australia and the Australia Council for the Arts, exploring digital futures for Australian authors.

Next Text: Everything Australian authors should know about digital publishing but were afraid to Google

For years authors and publishers have been told “digital is coming”. Now it’s here! But what does this mean for authors? Next Text is a national seminar series in 2010 to help Australian writers explore how digital media is changing publishing and where the opportunities are for writers. Next Text will feature a variety of guest speakers, including international guests Chris MeadeRichard Nash and Hugh McGuire.


Digital Publishing Primer
A conversation on e-books, digital print, distribution, new kinds of writing and business models for writers and publishers. You may not care about e-books or gadgets, but you probably do care about how even the traditional publishing model is being altered by cultural and technological change. This session will explore these ideas.
Rights, licences and earning money
New publishing business models mean new ways for you to licence, distribute and sell your content. This means changes to your traditional publishing contracts, but it also means new ways to think about how you might earn income from your writing. Explore emerging issues and opportunities authors are facing when licencing their work to publishers and other companies, or selling direct to audiences.
Author Platforms 2.0 / Authors: Navigating Digital Spaces
So, you’re a writer and you’ve got a website. You might even have a blog and a bunch of Twitter followers. But how do you really drive your online platform from there? Explore the marketing and social media concepts that can help authors drive their relationship with readers.

Monday, 5 July 2010

'my nation is the world my religion to do good'

We were in Lewes last weekend and went to see Tony Benn unveil a statue of radical thinker Tom Paine outside Lewes library with these wise words. Then we went for a walk on a day that made the downs look like an illustration from a 1960s Ladybird book. Tim throws the ball on the hill in the sun. Dusty the dog chases the ball. Run, Dusty, run!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

invisible library

I recommend this exhibition of imaginary books currently at the Free Word centre in Farringdon Road, London (where if:book is an associate). See the whole of the library HERE