Friday, 30 November 2012

katharine norman on WINDOWS, winner of the new media writing prize 2012

"As a poetic mediation on place and experience, Window encourages you to explore the things at the edges. The ordinary moments—sounds, sights, memories, thoughts—that make an environment familiar, that make it ‘home’. My inspiration came, and continues to come so often, from John Cage—and I made this work in 2012, the centenary of his birth. His music, writing, and thinking—the way he lived his life—are a wondrous integration of art and ordinary experience. 

Interwoven with fragmentary texts, themselves hidden at the edges, and only available through exploration, are a separate series of short essays. Some are about John Cage and some are personal reflections as I looked, listened and collected the sounds and images that provide the material for this piece. I did this over a period of a year—listening, looking, snapping photos and recording sounds.

Arranged in ‘months’, there are various ways to interact with Window. The choice is yours—listening, reading, looking, and travelling from one time of year to another. For each month the images and sounds were actually recorded in the month concerned. So by moving the sounds around, louder or softer or from left to right, you may come to notice how subtly sound changes as time, and life, goes on.
More information on my work at"

- Katharine Norman, Winner of the 2012 New Media Writing Prize, supported by if:book UK, organised by Bournemouth University

if:book at the british library

Digital Conversations @ British Library 

Title: Digital Narratives

The new tools offered by digital technologies have been changing dramatically the way we communicate and interact with others.  The theme of our next Digital Conversations series, “Digital Narratives,” will discuss how traditional narratives forms have been affected by new Web technologies, especially by the combination of text with other digital media such as images, sounds and videos and the adoption of game platforms

Join us for the next thought-provoking talk as we hear from a wide range of speakers including researchers, authors and publishers who will approach this issue from a variety of angles. How are narratives constructed in the digital environment? How is the Web blurring the distinction between authors and readers by enabling users to interact more directly in the creation of digital narratives? How are authors and publishers using digital narrative to engage with new audiences? What is the role and challenges faced by libraries when dealing with digital narratives? These are some of the points that will be addressed by our speakers.
To reserve a place for this event, please email: Places will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis and you will only receive an email reply if places are not available, in which case your name will be placed on a waiting list.

When:            December 7 2012, 10:30-12:30

Where:           Foyle Suite Room, British Library Conference Centre



10:15:  Tea & Coffee

10:30:  Welcome by Aly Conteh, Collection Digitisation programme manager and Head of Digital Curator Team
Speaker introductions by Aquiles Alencar-Brayner, Digital Curator 
10:40:  Ten minute presentations each followed by brief questions
·      Alex Whitfield, English Online, British Library
·      Chris Meade, Writer and Director of If:books,
·      Max Whitby, Co-founder and CEO of Touchpress
·      Dr. Sandy Louchart, RIDERS Project, Heriot Watt University
·      Dr. Kenji Takeda, Rich Interactive Narratives , Microsoft Research Cambridge (MSRC), Digital Narratives Project
·      Simon Meek, Executive producer, The Thirty Nine Steps Digital Adaptation, The Story Mechanics
12:00: Open discussion & debate w/all panellists
12:25: Closing remarks and thanks

Thursday, 29 November 2012

And the winner is...

New Media Writing Prize 2012 winner announced

Bournemouth University and if:book UK are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2012 New Media Writing Prize is

Katharine Norman for Window

Dr James Pope said “It was tough picking a winner from such an accomplished shortlist. And whilst every shortlisted work met our judging criteria, in the end Katharine Norman’s Window stood out for the way the interactivity was entirely integral to the piece, for its meditative quality and for its impact on the audience’s perception.”

The winner was announced at an awards ceremony at Bournemouth University.

Window – an interactive sound essay in memory of John Cage – is a beautiful meditation made by a composer with a love of coding and an imagination that naturally expresses itself in digital, multimedia productions. The term ‘poetic’ in this field can be code for impenetrable, but this really is a multimedia poem of depth and substance, inspired by the work and philosophy of John Cage. The viewer/listener/reader looks out of a window, hears ambient sound, evocative text, using a slider which makes it possible and pleasurable to move from day to night, to remix the balance of text to sound.
Katharine Norman is at times a teacher, writer, sound artist and composer – in no particular order. She has an especial interest in listening, sound and place, and what’s sometimes called ‘acoustic ecology’, and her creative work traverses several disciplines, with an emphasis on sound and text.
She has a PhD from Princeton and has held academic posts in music and sonic art at Dartington College of Arts, Sheffield University, Goldsmiths and City University London. She has also taught in the Communications and Contemporary Arts Departments of Simon Fraser University, Canada, and has taught creative writing at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. She currently continues her creative practice and research as an independent scholar and artist, and is honorary Research Fellow at De Montfort University’s department of Music, Technology and Innovation.
Her music and sound works are available on several CDs and by download. Her writings include Sounding Art (Eight Literary Excursions through Electronic Music), an unconventional monograph on listening and digital music (Ashgate, 2004), and several commissioned essays on sound. Most of these can be downloaded at her site,
For more information contact Chris Meade or Lisa Gee of if:book


Notes for editors
1. The shortlist
Kristi Barnet: Hurst (aka @Karen Barley)
JR Carpenter: Cityfish
Daniel M Goodbrey: A Duck Has an Adventure
Katharine Norman: Window
Stevan Zivadinovic: Hobo Lobo of Hamelin
2. Judging criteria
  • Innovative use of new media to create an engaging, satisfying narrative or poem
  • Ease of accessibility for the reader/viewer
  • Effective use of interactive elements
  • An example of how new media can do things traditional media can't
  • The potential to reach out to an wide audience, i.e. not just specialist interest groups
3. judging panel

Dr James Pope (chair)
Sarah Butler
Lisa Gee
Louise Rice

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

global hamlet

if:book UK is involved in an exciting and innovative project: The Global Hamlet – and asking for your help, Dear Reader, in promoting this project to people who would love to be involved with it.

The Global Hamlet is the first, major attempt to produce a people’s translation, annotation and illustration of a great, internationally-renowned literary work.

Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world will contribute to translating and annotating Hamlet in many languages. Participants will also be invited to produce drawings representing scenes from the play in the great tradition of Hamlet’s illustrated editions, and to contribute video/audio content.

Everyone can participate, anyone can try translating and annotating a verse, under the guidance of leading editors, as, from the ground up, we create the highest quality editions of Hamlet.

The Feltrinelli Group in Italy, Editorial Anagrama in Spain and South America, Athenaeum Uitgeverij in the Netherlands will publish the Italian, Spanish and Dutch editions in autumn 2014. Publishing deals are currently being finalised in the UK for the English language edition, and elsewhere.

Originating in Italy, The Global Hamlet is the brainchild of essayist, writer and publisher Simone Barillari. It has already been shortlisted for a major Italian innovation prize – Che Fare

The Global Hamlet website will be launched in October 2013: there’s currently a holding page at

In the meantime, we’re building a community through Facebook – – and Twitter - @TheGlobalHamlet.

And here’s how we’d like you to help. Please would you…

1. “like” our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter (commenting, liking and RTing as often as you feel able!)
2. share this information with those of your friends, followers, students, colleagues and/or acquaintances who are interested in English Literature, Shakespeare, digital innovation, theatre and, in general, having fun with words/language
3. Vote for The Global Hamlet to win the €100k Che Fare Prize (see
4. contribute comments, content or links to Hamlet or Shakespeare-related resources online to our Facebook page.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

nearlywriter midlands tour

Loughborough Literary Salon: Digital Survival from if:book Australia on Vimeo.
This is the wonderful video that Simon Groth of if:book Australia made for our salon in collaboration with Melanie Ramdarshan-Bold and Loughborough University. We only managed to show a segment on the night but here's the whole thing - excellent on the potential for Brisbane and Loughborough both to seize the time and prove you don't need to be the capital to be brilliant at making and selling stories.

Loughborough with Ben Galley, David Varela, Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, Kerry Featherstone

...and Birmingham my session with Mez Packer & BitJam - and went to this session with George Ttoouli, Mandy Ross, Greg Leadbetter, Jonathan Davidson on Writing Outdoors

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Meade as Nearlywriter in Residence in North London

• 05 November 2012
From today, 5 November, author, "bookfuturist" and former Director of Booktrust Chris Meade is Nearlywriter in Residence at Hornsey Library, North London.
Meade will work on a digital fiction about the importance of recording and celebrating things that nearly happen in our lives. Its development can be followed here.

He will host a weekly meet-up at which local readers and writers can explore new ways to tell stories in the age of blogs, twitter and new media - and contribute their own stories to a Nearlyology of N8. He will also work with local schools and book groups on collaborative writing projects involving top authors as well as students and emerging writers.

"We're all nearlywriters in the digital age - we don't need publishers to decide if we're 'proper', but we do have to take responsibility for how we improve our skills and when to share our words with others," observed Meade, a published author, playright and Arvon tutor who has recently been a participant in Tino Sehgal's piece at Tate Modern, telling true stories to strangers in the Turbine Hall. “I love writing in Hornsey Library. The community gains so much from this shared public space. Now we want to develop it as a hub for collaborative writing and reading."

Users can call in at the if:book cafe in Hornsey Library to find out more about Nearlywriting, come to the free meet-up there, Tuesdays from 11-12, join the if:book community at, and, where they can read the work in progress and add their own nearlyincidents. 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

one for sorrow

if:book is gathering work for our ifsobooks digital poetry happening, Set Poetry Free which we aim to pilot with Year 8 pupils in several secondary schools in January 2012.
We're looking for schools interested in participating by the way.

One of the pieces we'll use is this poem, winner of a competition run by in collaboration with if:book UK and the Poetry Society's Young Poets Network.
Here's the winning poem with an afterword by its author, Megan Forbes.

Megan is nineteen, lives in Edinburgh, and is currently studying Medicine at the University of St Andrews


I suspect what they say
about magpies –
that one means sorrow
two means joy
- may not be true

Liar, liar, pants on fire

Nor are they any
any of those old nursery rhymes

There was once an old woman
who swallowed a fly

Because now I'm grown up
old enough to know that in real life –
the thing they call "the real world"
- old women don't swallow flies.
But there was this
old woman
who caught a bug

Perhaps she'll die

And so the clock ticked down

1, 2, 3-4-5
once I caught a fish alive
5, 4, 3-2-1

And so the clock ticked down.
And the children
and the children's children

the so many children
that the old woman
(who lived in a shoe)
didn't know what to do with

they grew hot and cold
and they drew together –
tight, like a bundled knot of thread
- and then pulled back
taut, strained, split, frayed
when it got too much
and they wanted to be

like the one little one
left in the bed

They rolled over and over
and couldn't stop
as still the clock ticked down

5, 4, 3-2-1

There are no nursery rhymes for this feeling

as atish-oo, atish-oo
they all fall

Because I knew an old woman
who caught a bug.

Perhaps she'll die

And she did.
So I suspect what they say
about magpies
may not be true.
For I'm certain I saw
two black and white birds
up above...
And there is no abundance of joy to be found here.


"I wrote this poem not long after my grandmother (or Gratty, as we all called her) passed away. I was eighteen, it was the first time I'd experienced the death of someone close to me, and it felt like a bizarre, painful, coming-of-age experience - part of me managed to grow up and accept what had happened, and another part remained young and superficial, not letting the reality of it all sink in. The idea for the poem first came to me on a car ride I went on with my family (I've forgotten where it was we were going). The topic of Gratty's passing was still in everybody's thoughts, and as I looked out of the car window I saw two magpies by the side of the road. I remember thinking 'I guess that stupid nursery rhyme was wrong, then, 'cause none of us are feeling all that joyful right now'. The line 'there is no abundance of joy to be found here' rang in my head until we reached home and I was able to write it down. Things kind of kicked off from there, and I realised that I had a lot I wanted to get out on paper about how the death in my family had made me feel. The use of nursery rhymes grew from the single thought about 'one for sorrow, two for joy' into a theme that ran throughout the poem. In my mind the use of the two different voices highlighted the emotional conflict I felt; a number of times I consciously tried to tell myself that it was real, it had happened, but there was always this sense of resistance or denial (something like 'I don't want to have to deal with this, so I'm going to block it all out by singing trivial songs'). As I said before, this was a coming-of-age experience, and at the end of the poem the 'grown up' voice gets the last word, signifying the final acceptance of what's happened; the voice is still grieving, but at least now things can start to move on."