David Carr's piece What Writers Are Worth Saving? Web Service Runs the Numbers (New York Times, 8.12.11) sheds interesting light on the relatively new phenomenon of marking articles to read at another time. Nat Weiner, founder of Read it Later, an app which allows you to save articles with one click and return to them at your leisure, regularly analyses the data his app collects. A year ago he noted that new technology, notably the iPad, is changing not just where we read, but also when.
When a reader is given a choice about how to consume their content, a major shift in behavior occurs. They no longer consume the majority of their content during the day, on their computer. Instead they shift that content to prime time and onto a device better suited for consumption. Initially, it appears that the devices users prefer for reading are mobile devices, most notably the iPad. It’s the iPad leading the jailbreak from consuming content in our desk chairs. As better mobile experiences become more accessible to more readers, this movement will continue to grow. Readers want to consume content in a comfortable place, on their own time and mobile devices are making it possible for readers to take control once more. 
Now Weiner has reported on the most-read writers, those most commonly saved in the Read it Later app. Unsurprisingly, since this is an early-adopter activity, Lifehacker comes out top. Carr reports
Nine out of 10 of the most saved worked there — Kevin Purdy, Adam Pash and Adam Dachis came in first, second and third — which indicates a strong Silicon Valley/West Coast bias and a very narrow one at that. That makes sense, given that clicking-to-save is a techie sort of thing to do. The other writers who round out the top 20 bear that out. They include MG Siegler of TechCrunch, Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing and Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo.
But it's early days, and I'm sure the habit will soon spread beyond the early adopters. It's yet another way in which the web facilitates an increase, not a reduction, in what and how we read.
Rememori is a degenerative memory game and playable poem that grapples with the effects of dementia on an intimate circle of characters.
Play-read or read-play, however you approach it and whoever you identify with, you’ll become entangled in a struggle for accurate recall, attention and the search for meaning. Inevitably, it’s a contrary game – there can be no winners.
Out of Touch
In our world of perpetual connectivity, touching interfaces that keep us out of reach, we form attachments whilst remaining detached, by turns kindling and dampening emotions. Out of Touch is a short multimedia e-poem created in Flash, with sound.
Conceived as the first in a series of musings on the paradoxical and often poignant nature of human relationships amid networked life, this episode was commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the Third Hand Plays series curated by Brian Stefans, published at SFMOMA's Open Space in August 2011.
In their very different ways, both works encourage the reader to consider transliterate effects and reflect upon how they cope with such effects as individuals and in their relationships with others. Read more about the background to these works in these crissxross blog posts: Rememori – a new work and Third Hand Plays: Out Of Touch.
Modified image of brain: source thanks to Wellcome Library, London.
Couldn't resist taking a photo of this interesting example of transliterate change in our lavatories. Sorry it's a bit indistinct – you may need to click to enlarge.
The writer on the left asks 'Why don't people write on toilet walls any more?'
And the commenter on the right replies: 'Because they are too busy Facebooking or texting instead'.
I think this is probably true. Any thoughts? Is the same change happening in mens' loos?
Thank you for welcoming me into the Transliteracy Research Group. As I have always maintained, I love to read games and to play books. No, I haven’t mixed up my verbs. I work on stories in videogames and like every other player, I play, read and (re)write the stories that I come across in videogames. It’s not something that just I do or am joined in doing by some random gamers from my nearby cybercafé. You do this too. I’m sure you too have picked up your favourite book for the umpteenth time and read it playfully, replayed the story as your own imagination wills and probably turned it into a different story from the one you had read ten years ago in the same book. That is pretty much what you do in a videogame – you replay a story. As one plays a story, so can one read a game.
Games, and I’m especially interested in videogames here, often demand a high level of transliterate engagement that becomes obvious when one reads a multiple ended narrative (how the story ends depends on how one plays it). I’ve often been asked, ‘so how do you read a nonlinear text such as Grand Theft Auto?’ My answer would be that such a reading involves different parameters from the traditional set definitions of reading : you re-read GTA every time you play it and you read it with a joystick or a gamepad. However, even the first time I played GTA: San Andreas, I was also immediately reading what I had read in books or watched in films like Training Day into my experience of the game’s story. The reading that I experience is deeply influenced by the technical specificities of the medium but this experience does not occur in a void. My experience of GTA’s story is deeply grounded in my experience of other narratives and other media. It is a transliterate experience and one that is hard to miss.
That is not to say that videogames do something terribly new in this regard or that they involve more of a transliterate engagement. Videogames certainly make the experience of transliteracy quite obvious though and together with the transliterate, they also involve another of my interests – the transludic (to coin a term). Within the experience of reading, writing and interacting across a range of platforms, one can also include the experience of playing across a range of platforms as well as that of the overlap of play and reading as we see in the videogame.
Transliteracy has always remained a complex process for me and that’s the fun of it. In a recent research study that I conducted with Professor Sue Thomas, we found that the ‘hidden hand of transliteracy’ was responsible for major positive impact on the improvement of small businesses and communities. Happily surprised as I was, this was another clear indicator of the complex and subtle ways in which transliteracy works. While videogames make the experience of transliteracy more obvious, they also hold out the promise of exploring the complex workings of the concept much further.
With this in mind, I shall be exploring transliteracy from a Game Studies perspective in my future posts and am very keen on engaging in a discussion that will hopefully spill over into larger contexts of transliteracy. Thank you once again for having me in TRG. I am thrilled to be here.
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:
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.