Tropical Storm Irene and Social Media

Image from CBC News.

Recently Tropical Storm Irene has ripped it’s way through several areas causing massive destruction. It “began as a hurricane and was later reduced to a tropical storm and then downgraded again to a post-tropical cyclone, delivered enough rain to cause flooding in Lower Manhattan on Sunday.” Irene then moved on to Canada, leaving thousands without power in Quebec and the Atlantic Canada. During the raging storm, people kept abreast of news using Twitter and other social media tools. Some interesting examples include:

 

Twitter Reaction to Tropical Storm Irene: Relief by  on Mashable

The Live Time Square Webcam via EarthCam

Search Twitter for #Irene

A Crowdsourced Damage Map via Sarah Kessler on Versions.

 

 

Here’s a YouTube video by catdoodle documenting the storm in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. 

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New Media Writing Prize 2011

New Media Writing Prize 2011

Bournemouth University’s Media School is delighted to announce the second annual prize for new media writing.

The prize encourages writers working with new media to showcase their skills, provoke discussion and raise awareness of new media writing, the future of the 'written' word and storytelling. The prize is split into two categories: student and professional. The winners in each category will receive a valuable bundle of new media hardware and software. The judging panel are looking for good storytelling (fiction or non-fiction) written specifically for delivery and reading/viewing on a PC or Mac, the web, or a hand-held device such as an iPad or mobile phone. It could be a short story, novel, documentary or poem using words, images, film or animation with audience interaction.

Anyone can apply! Whether you’re a student, a professional, an artist, a writer, a Flash designer or an enthusiast, the competition is open to all. It's an international competition, open to all outside the UK. The deadline is midday on Monday 31 October 2011 and each entry should be submitted by email to submissions@newmediawritingprize.co.uk. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to the awards ceremony on the 23 November where the winner will be announced. There will be substantial media coverage for the Awards, and winners will be given full acknowledgement in all press releases and related material.

For further information please visit the New Media Writing Prize website.

A high profile Awards Ceremony will be staged at Bournemouth University on Wednesday 23 November. An esteemed panel of judges will select winning entries that will be published on high profile new media web-hub, The Literary Platform, the Bournemouth University website and will be showcased at the Awards Ceremony.

Swap, by Roman Ondak

Swap

 

I was recently lucky enough to get to go to the Manchester International Festival, which is a cross-art form biannual festival, with theatre, music, performance, and the visual arts at its heart.  One morning I took my kids to see 11 Rooms at the Manchester Art Gallery, which is a series of eleven commissioned works of live time-based art – eleven artists, given a room each.  This was a remarkable exhibition, not the least for the way in which almost all of the artists' rooms engaged both me and my kids.

The room that engaged us most completely was 'Swap' by the artist Roman Ondak.  This room had a small table in the centre, with a man sitting behind it.  On the table was a single item.  When we arrived, it was a pen.  The man sitting behind the table was encouraging the other people in the room – there was about ten in total – to swap something of their own for the pen.  Everyone held back, of course, but then, slowly, the swapping began.  The pen was replaced with a used post-it note.  The post-it note was exchanged for a single, wrapped, stick of gum.  My kids insisted I rummage through my handbag.  The eldest swapped a nearly full package of tissues for the stick of gum.  A young man on the other side of the room swapped the package of tissues – 'Ooh, Balsam!' he said - for a 50 pence coin.  My son got the 50 pence coin by handing back that stick of gum.  And on it went. 

It was a fascinating experience to watch the people in the room react to the swaps.  It made my kids and I think about not only the value of the things in our pockets, but also the nature of the swap as a transaction, mediated by the 'performer' sitting at his table.  For my kids the process was akin to a game, and they found watching the swaps take place exciting, in particular when new people entered the room and entered into the process.  It was tempting to do something outrageous – I thought briefly about putting my smartphone on the table, just to see what would happen.  I managedto resist that urge, but we were all beguiled by this highly evocative, very simple, work of art. In a digital age it was refreshing to focus on a work like this that relies completely upon bodies-in-the-room and lived experience to exist.     

The photo at the top is my son's hand and the things he came away with after his swap session.

New Media Narratives Course

NMN blog Just a reminder that the New Media Narratives Master's course at the University of Alberta, starting in January 2011, is filling up quickly. A few spots are left for any readers of the Transliteracy blog that might have an interest. You do not have to be a U of A student to take this course.

The course blog is here: http://newmedianarrativesonline.blogspot.com/

 

One of the key outcomes of the course is for students to think of transliteracy alongside their own writing and publishing.

 

Any questions can be directed to me in the first instance: jess AT jesslaccetti.com 

 

The electronic writer as trans[per]former

What’s the ideal skill set for a transliterate creative practitioner? I’m not sure. All I know is it’s very broad, encompassing a wide range of creative, multimedia, storytelling, problem-solving and technical skills – at least it is for an electronic writer/artist like myself, who tends to work alone. Here I’m thinking mainly about the skills and creative abilities you need to develop and create a work of digital storytelling or electronic literature. But what about once the work of e-lit is finished? How can you help it reach an audience? How do you promote it? That’s when another set of skills comes into play.

We’re used to seeing print writers give readings on the literary festival circuit. Electronic writers need to do this kind of thing too. Self-publishing and submitting work for online publications and exhibitions is fine, but you can’t just rely on an audience finding your work on the web – like musicians and print writers, it helps to go out on the promotional trail, make a live appearance, give a performance.

Underbelly-18
Uploaded with Skitch!

Later this month my transliterate abilities as an e-lit performer are going to be tested – at Ilkley Literature Fringe Festival, with a great group of poets and fiction writers, and at Inspace in Edinburgh, with a fabulous line-up of digital writers and artists, as part of the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2010).

In Ilkley, I’m performing with a group of creative print writers who came out of the Yorkshire Art Circus writer development programme some years ago. It’s a kind of reunion and to give ourselves an angle, we’re staging it as The Writers’ Group Exposed!!! We’ll be simulating a typical meeting – well, maybe not so typical because there will be an electronic writer in the group. It’ll be interesting to see how my e-lit (Fitting the Pattern) is received in this context.

For any writer, it’s seldom as simple as giving a reading, as the Ilkley gig demonstrates, but for the electronic writer, inevitably, there’s even more to consider. You’ve got to sort out the tech (computer software/hardware, digital displays/projection, sound, etc.) and more than likely you’ve got to be able to operate your tech and read/perform at the same time. Those are the practicalities, but there are also aesthetic and dramaturgical considerations too. How will your live self, your bodily presence, affect or interact with the virtual presence/s, visually, sonically and kinetically? Should work designed for the web be repurposed for live performance?

Canadian electronic writer Jim Andrews has an interesting take on this. Here’s his plan for a work he intends to perform at e-Poetry 2011:

Basically, the idea of the project is to scream my fool head off while playing Jig-Sound and dbCinema as instruments.

You’ve seen musicians play an instrument while they sing. Well, this is similar. Only I’ll be telling a story between (or perhaps during) screaming bouts. And the instruments I’ll be playing are Jig-Sound, which is sonic, and dbCinema, which is visual.

If live gigs are part of the process of reaching an audience, then should one build that potential into the design of the work from the outset (or at least somewhere along the way during the process of creation)? Should one consider it an opportunity for transmedia storytelling rather than promotion and networking?

In Edinburgh I’m performing Underbelly – playing it like an instrument – in an evening dedicated to Language in Digital Performance and, as such, the occasion will give me scope to explore these potentialities. For the most part, Underbelly presents a diegetic story-world that explores a psychic landscape where the predominance of spoken word exploits the intimate relationship between voice and the body, voice and interiority. I designed the piece as a work of playable media but not particularly for live performance so I’ll be adapting it for the Inspace show, mixing my live voice with the multiple voices on the digital soundtrack.

Underbelly-9-1
Uploaded with Skitch!

The ICIDS Language in Digital Performance event is billed as Inspace no one can hear you scream and, since it’s taking place on Halloween, we’ve been invited ‘to engage the spirit of this festival’… so, who knows, I might end up screaming too.

New Media Narratives: Master’s Module at the University of Alberta

Disclosure: I am designing and teaching this module and there is a deep focus on the *theory* of transliteracy.



This graduate level module will be of interest to new media practitioners/writers/artists as well as those hoping to leverage aspects of new media technology and thinking in their creative practise. 


Note: You don't need to be a U of A student in order to take this course. See the information on Open Studies at the end of this module outline.


Online Graduate Course – Winter 2011

New Media Narratives: Writing and Publishing in a Developing Field

 (COMM 597)

An elective course offered by the Graduate Program in

 Communications and Technology, University of Alberta

Course Description and Objectives


This course will provide students and practitioners with insights into the role of new media in the practises and processes of writing and experimenting with new narrative formats and platforms. The course will focus on the very nature of narrative and how new media affects story; its creation and dissemination.  A key aspect centres on a critical assessment of current developments in new media narrative alongside interpretations, transformations and challenges of traditional concepts and functions of publishing.  As such, a main aim of the course is to promote and transform the thinking of narrative in light of new media.  An element necessary to this transformative thinking revolves around the developing concept of transliteracy. As noted by Thomas, Joseph, Laccetti et al., transliteracy may be seen as a unifying perspective for literacy today: it is the “ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.”

This video of Kate Pullinger can give prospective students an idea of how writers might interact with new media in a transliterate way:

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Transliteracy: some thoughts on themes and common ground

Transliteracy_conference wordle  At the recent transliteracy conference, one conversation touched upon the question of whether it was appropriate to have a definition for transliteracy. Although the presentations covered a rich mix of story-telling, digital and transdisciplinary art, anthropology and critical literacies, each presenter was, nonetheless, able to describe what they consider the relevance of the concept of transliteracy to their own research and discipline. This would seem to indicate that the working definition is fit-for-purpose, at least in initiating debate, engagement, if not always common ground. continue reading

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