• Bookfuturists (2009)

    Event series exploring the intersection of books and technology, focused around experiments in storytelling and publishing. Here is coverage onNeimanLab Storyboard of an event that was held at Microsoft's New England R & D Center in Cambridge:

    Continuing the “future of narrative” theme for this week, today we look at some of the experimental stories discussed at the first-ever Boston Bookfuturists Meetup on January 29, hosted by Joanne McNeil of Tomorrow Museum. Nieman Lab director Josh Benton attended and brought back some links to interesting new approaches to narrative.

    The discussion touched on “Mr. Plimpton’s Revenge,” created by veteran creative nonfiction writer Dinty W. Moore. Moore uses Google Maps to pinpoint the locations of a series of meetings with George Plimpton, including a short description for each encounter. The account straddles the line between being a series of funny anecdotes and a true narrative, with the visual component of the map creating a sense of time and distance between each encounter. Moore’s piece recalls “Hard Times” from The Washington Post’s Travis Fox, who crossed the country before the 2008 presidential elections to record how economic challenges were or weren’t affecting people’s political sensibilities. “Hard Times” uses also uses Google Maps and provides brief text at each mapped point, along with short, semi-narrative articles and video or still images. Fox, who is now teaching a Multimedia Storytelling class at Columbia University, made frequent use of interactive maps for many of his Post projects, including “Crisis in Darfur Expands” and “Mexico at War.” (At present, the latter doesn’t seem to be working quite right in Explorer or Chrome.)

    Bookfuturists also mentioned David Nygren’s spreadsheet narrative “Under the Table.” Nygren’s short story breaks down each element in a traditional piece of fiction, organizing it into columns of action, spoken dialogue, and internal thoughts for each character. In a post on The Urban Elitist, Nygren explains his strategy and links to the story, which is available as an Excel or Google spreadsheet, or as a table in Word. One of Nygren’s readers has dubbed this version of storytelling “novexcel.”