Nature Mage #2 – a little more detail on context and goals


I am currently doing a PhD collaborating with the UNESCO Chair project ‘New Media Forms of the Book’, by looking at how books and stories can make the most of new media and the digital sphere, to develop models for audience involvement, cross-platform adaptation and transmedia storytelling. Or at least one of these things!

Supervisor: Prof Alexis Weedon, Research Institute for Media Art and Design, Founder and Editor of Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, published by Sage.

I’ve been interviewing and working with authors, publishers, digital developers, industry leaders, thinkers, innovators, anyone I can learn and think with! To get a picture of what’s happening at the convergence of books, stories, digital and transmedia storytelling! It’s a long and exciting journey, a bit like the quest for the Holy Grail. I hope I’ll get there, and back again… for another journey! As part of this, there is a ‘map’ of ‘new media forms of the book’ being produced as we speak – for a next post, soon.

The PhD involves a strong practical component: in short, I am working with Duncan Pile, a self-published YA fantasy author, to spread his story across digital media, harnessing fan and audience involvement.

We’re creating an online community where readers can send ideas (fan fiction, back stories, parallel stories, artwork, video enactements, etc.) based on the Nature’s Mage third book (to be soon launched, serialised digitally). I will then work with the author to manage the online community, where people can read/see each other’s works and rate / comment, and select the best material for an ‘enhanced’ version of the story mixing the original text with images, parallel stories, author interviews in video, etc. – probably on iBook. The digital experiment will also count with the collaboration of visual arts students that will create illustrations, animations, etc., and creative writing students, who will contribute to the expanding story.

There is finally the intention to produce a printed version of the book, linked to AR, so that the multimedia content present on the community site, or a selection of it, can also be seen on mobile devices when reading a print copy.

Both Duncan and I have bigger ambitions for the story, and would love to explore the production of games and TV / film adaptation. The online community of readers / fans will have special sections to start discussing / informing such adaptations. We have also approached a screenwriter who is interested in attempting to write a film script.

Audience involvement is at heart of project, as well as potentially providing showcasing opportunities for students of creative writing, design and visual arts (illustrators, animators, programmers, etc.).