Listing entries tagged with Microlit
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twittering from the past 08.11.2008, 12:18 PM
A couple of weeks ago, Sebastian Mary posted about experiments with sending out literature via Twitter. She found herself disappointed that DailyLit was neither "abridging the text savagely for hyper-truncated delivery, or else delivering the unabridged text 140 characters at a time"; instead, texts not built for Twitter were being shoehorned into the Twitter form. Twitter might be the electronic form du jour, but this is a problem as old as electronic writing: the presumption that texts are form-agnostic.
An interesting approach to the problem comes from an unexpected source: the New York Review of Books has begun serializing Félix Fénéon's Novels in Three Lines via Twitter in Luc Sante's translation. Fénéon was a fin-de-siècle French writer who's best known as the art critic who coined the term "pointillism". (Paul Signac's portrait of him, Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones and Tints, Portrait of Felix Feneon in 1890, is below.) Fénéon was a man of many talents; while publicly known as an anarchist and the first French publisher of James Joyce, he was secretly a master of miniaturized text. His anonymous feuilletonage in Le Matin in 1906 condensed the news of the day to masterpieces of phrasing:
In a café on Rue Fontaine, Vautour, Lenoir, and Atanis exchanged a few bullets regarding their wives, who were not present.
Fénéon's hypercompression lends itself to Twitter. In a book, these pieces don't quite have space to breathe; they're crowded by each other, and it's more difficult for the reader to savor them individually. As Twitter posts, they're perfectly self-contained, as they would have been when they appeared as feuilleton.
A quotation from Buckminster Fuller (from Synergetics 529.10) seems apropos for thinking about why Fénéon seems so suited to Twitter:
It is one of the strange facts of experience that when we try to think about the future, our thoughts jump backwards. It may well be that nature has some fundamental metaphysical law by which opening up what we call the future also opens up the past in equal degree.
bible transl8ed for mobile phones 10.13.2005, 7:40 AM
Luther translated the Bible into German so that revelation could be received in the language of the common folk. A similar spirit seems to have moved the Bible Society of Australia, which just translated all 31,173 verses of the of the new and old testaments (Contemporary English Version) into SMS-style english -- the abbreviated patois of mobile phone text messaging. The idea is to enable parents, parishioners and everyday people to send each other bite-sized inspirational verses by phone.
In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth. Da earth waz barren, wit no 4m of life; it waz unda a roaring ocean cuvred wit dRkness. (Genesis, chapter 1, verses 1-2)
Wrk hard at wateva u do. U will soon go 2 da wrld of da dead, where no 1 wrks or thinks or reasons or knws NEting. (Ecclesiastes, chapter nine, verse 10)
Posted by ben vershbow at 7:40 AM
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tags: Microlit , SMS , australia , bible , cell , cellular , christian , christianity , ebook , eliterature , gadget , luther , mobile , mobile_phone , phone , phoning , religion , revelation , sydney , testament , text_messaging , textmessage , txt
nyc2123: a graphic novel for psp 09.29.2005, 5:05 PM
NYC2123 is a graphic novel conceived for the 480 by 272-pixel screen of the Play Station Portable video game device. It's a post-apocalyptic tale set in a future, tsunami-ravaged New York in which the city's wealthy have walled off the island of Manhattan against a violent river society of junkies, thieves and outlaw barges.
There are several sequences that read like a flip book, taking advantage of the single-frame interface and the fact that the reader has literally got his finger on the button. Quickly flipping through the panels creates a filmic effect, as here:
(Once again via Infocult - thanks Bryan)
Update: Someone has just developed a .pdf reader for the PSP.
Posted by ben vershbow at 5:05 PM
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tags: Games , Microlit , comic , comics , digital_literature , ebook , gaming , graphicnovel , manhattan , microcontent , newyork , nyc2123 , psp , reading
marketing books on mobile phones 09.22.2005, 5:25 PM
Harper Collins Australia's new MobileReader service beams information about new titles and authors, and even book excerpts, to a cellphone. They're beginning with promotions of Dean Koontz, Paul Coelho and others.
Posted by ben vershbow at 5:25 PM
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tags: Microlit , Publishing, Broadcast, and the Press , advertising , book , books , cellphone , culture , ebook , gadget , harpercollins , literature , marketing , media , mobile , mobilecomputing , phone , publishing , reading , smartmobs , wireless
"bringing karaoke to literature" 09.15.2005, 3:47 PM
Shanghai Daily reports on a Chinese "mini novel" contest where writers submit bite-sized narratives (350 words or less) by text message.
Commenting on the contest, well-known writer Yu Hua says: "To hold the competition is like bringing 'karaoke' to literature. Before the invention of karaoke, there were only few people who could or would sing in public. Thanks to karaoke, anyone and everyone can sing in public whenever they feel like it. Now, thanks to the mobile phone, the same is true with writing.
The karaoke analogy is apt, and a bit scary.
in japan: comics via mobile phone 08.23.2005, 3:53 PM
Another mobile lit item. Sony is increasing its mobile comics publishing service, offering around 300 popular "manga" titles to Japanese subscribers in the coming year.
Cell-phone comics use a technology called Comic Surfing, developed by Tokyo-based venture firm Celsys, which takes viewers through manga stories at a carefully calculated speed and sequence.
The manga frames are specially formatted to fit on tiny mobile phone screens. Pop-up frames and vibration during action scenes add to the drama. Cell-phone comics with preprogrammed sound effects are also coming soon...
"How Mobile Phones Conquered Japan" in Wired - discussing the new book "Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life"
"novels on your phone" in if:book - about Japanese cell phone fiction
schiller's poetry for mobile phones 08.23.2005, 3:27 PM
This year, Germany celebrates the bicentennial of the death of Freidrich Schiller. As part of the commemoration, you can download a java application to your mobile phone containing 20 of his best known poems. (via textually)
how the web changes your reading habits 06.24.2005, 2:17 PM
An article in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor looks at two research projects currently underway in Palo Alto, California - one at Xerox PARC, the other at Stanford. Both are building tools and devising methods to improve online reading, albeit by different approaches. The PARC project is developing ScentHighlights, an "enhanced skimming" function based on keywords and the associative processes of the human brain. On paper, we highlight important passages, or attach sticky notes, to make them more readily retrievable later on when we're re-reading, studying, or compiling notes. The PARC researchers are taking this a few steps further, exploiting the unique properties (and addressing the unique challenges) of the online reading environment. With ScentHighlights, the computer observes what the reader is highlighting and selects other passages that it thinks might be relevant or useful:
We perform the conceptual highlighting by computing what conceptual keywords are related to each other via word co-occurrence and spreading activation. Spreading activation is a cognitive model developed in psychology to simulate how memory chunks and conceptual items are retrieved in our brain.
While the PARC team is focused on deepening the often fractured experience of reading online, where the amount of text is overwhelming, the Stanford project is experimenting with a method for sustained reading in an environment that can barely handle text at all: the tiny screens of cell phones and mobile devices. Using a technique called RSVP (Rapid Serial Visual Presentation), BuddyBuzz flashes words on the screen one at a time. It takes some getting used to, but apparently, readers can absorb up to 1,000 words per minute. Speed is adjustable, and the program is already set to make the tiny, natural pauses that come at commas and periods. The initial release of BuddyBuzz will syndicate stories from Reuters, CNET and a handful of popular blogs.
harlequin romances to hit cell phones 06.21.2005, 1:40 PM
Missed this item from last month.. This fall, Harlequin, the leading publisher of "women's fiction," will release a series of titles for cell phones through distributor Vocel (who signed a deal with Random House earlier this year).
Harlequin will develop various applications, including daily-serialized novels by bestselling authors, romance-writing seminars and interactive pursuits such as helping to choose male cover models for upcoming novels or even using their camera phones to submit pictures of their own boyfriends as possible cover models.
got a minute? 05.25.2005, 1:06 AM
Submit 1-minute low bandwidth narrative films to the 60 Second Story Competition, adminstered and judged by an interesting gathering of electronic writers, bloggers and publishers (including some of the folks at Grand Text Auto and Spineless Books). Stories must be submitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License. It's also worth mentioning that the contest is itself an entrant in another contest: the Contagious Media Showdown. The most contagious site (i.e. the one with the most hits in a three week period) wins. As of this writing, 60 Second Stories ranks 18th.
"Many digital cameras and webcams allow you to take one minute of video and audio at resolutions suitable for the web. With all the mindless fluff, commercial hoohah, and charlatanism on the web, we deserve a few minutes of story, do we not? Why haven't you done this already? Tell us a story."
Could prove to be a pretty contagious little concept - stories small enough to sneeze. I hereby infect you with it..
"ubiquitous social encyclopedia" 05.20.2005, 11:36 AM
Cellphedia, a thesis project at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, is a user-generated encyclopedia composed of text message Q&A from cell phones - a kind of mobile, hyper-abbreviated Wikipedia. But unlike Wikipedia, Cellphedia entries are not open to editing by the community, at least not yet. Inspired by Dodgeball, a popular friend-tracking service, Cellphedia suggests something more along the lines of a massive, multi-user trivia game than a serious knowledge resource. It's the kind of street research that is becoming more common. Answers on impulse. The web overlayed on the physical world.
mobile web initiative 05.19.2005, 5:13 PM
"Many of today's mobile devices already feature Web browsers and the demand for mobile devices continues to grow. Despite these trends, browsing the Web from a mobile device -- for example, to find product information, consult timetables, check email, transfer money -- has not become as convenient as expected. Users often find that their favorite Web sites are not accessible or not as easy to use on their mobile phone as on their desktop computer. Content providers have difficulties building Web sites that work well on all types and configurations of mobile phones offering Web access."
The web is moving further and further from being exclusively a desktop system. What began essentially as a set of interlinked brochures, to be read sitting down, has evolved into a dynamic, social multimedia space, increasingly connected to the world around us. I often think of the history of industrialization as a story of estrangement from the physical world. Cities swell, smog billows and the haze of electric light washes out the stars. Mass media forms naturally emerge from the concentration of industry - economies of scale that favor homogeneity, the sweeping gesture. At first, the new media seem to take this estrangement further, confining us to "virtual" spaces. But quite to the contrary, the web is taking us back into the world, not out of it. Even something as simple as Google Maps suggests this return. But to become fully unmoored from our desks, standards have to be set in place to ensure that the web is readable in smaller formats, and that we have faster, more reliable access when we're on the move. Plus, the devices need to emerge that offer the convenience of a cell phone with the power of a notebook computer. The future of personal computing lies more with cell phones (see the new Sidekick II), iPods and Play Station Portable than with the latest desktop from Dell or Apple.
wireless fairy tales 04.11.2005, 8:03 AM
Kids in Denmark may soon be reading Hans Christian Anderson on their cell phones. To celebrate the writer's bicentennial, a Danish company is releasing an interactive comic book series designed specially for the tiny screen.
viral video lit 04.06.2005, 11:05 AM
Faced with declining coverage of books in newspapers and magazines, writers are constantly looking for new ways to promote their work on the web. Literary blogs have done a lot to fill in the gaps left by print, covering lesser-known authors and titles translated from foreign languages, and even revisiting older works. And since many lit bloggers are writers themselves, the blogs serve as a virtual salon where writers and intellectuals come to spar about literature, recommend books, and share their own work. Cory Doctorow offers free, cc-licensed downloads of his novels, attracting readers, generating buzz, and bolstering sales of his books in print. Others are sneakier, deploying anonymous 5-star reviews under their own titles to boost sales on Amazon.
The latest, and probably most expensive, trick is video lit, or book shorts - brief little films (like movie trailers or music videos, but for books) designed to be spread virally through email, blog shout outs, and links, just like the digital tidbits - video clips, images, sites, articles - we stumble upon and circulate daily among friends and family. If people like what they see, they can buy the book (a convenient link to Amazon or Barnes & Noble is provided).
It sounds a bit cock-eyed to advertise books as though they were movies, but proponents of the form say it can get results. There's a piece in Wired that profiles some of the writers who have experimented with the form, and the little production houses that help them do it. The most frequently cited example is a Flash-animated encapsulation of "Yiddish With Dick and Jane," a borscht-belt-infused pastiche of the iconic 1950s children's reading primers. Not too long ago, the 2:45-minute film, produced by a company called Vidlit, was getting passed around incessantly on the web, while at the same time, the physical book flew like hot cakes off the shelves, going on to sell over 150,000 copies. Whether the two are related is hard to say. The book was pretty heavily promoted in stores as a no-brain-required gift item. But Vidlit touts this as a coup of viral advertising.
BookShorts, a Canadian company, produces full live action films for its titles. I watched the book short for Susan Swan's novel "What Casanova Told Me" and was not terribly impressed. It comes off like a preview for a TV movie adaption of a trashy book. But the Dick and Jane example, silly as it is, suggests how clever design and a quick one-two punch can get you a lot of mileage on the web. If people like the idea (and clearly they did), and if the film possesses a kind of must-see quality (the visual equivalent of a good one-liner, a zinger), then people might feel compelled to shuffle it voluntarily through the web. I could see this perhaps working for a political tract or manifesto, or for a religious text - something that is compulsive and seems to contain the seeds of larger truths or revelations. Imagine if this piece were connected to a book (click "Knife Party," then again in new window, then watch "What Barry Says" by hitting "click here" at the bottom). Breathtaking visuals and a compelling political premise combine to whet the appetite for further reading.
reading on your PSP 03.28.2005, 2:46 PM
Not surprisingly, folks have already figured out how to read books on the new Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable). The hack is pretty basic - you just turn pages into jpeg images and dump them into the picture folder. The snapshots stack up as a book. Packet Switched Press has even published a short story - a sci-fi piece called "Moving Pictures" - formatted specially for the device (you're supposed to rotate it 90 degrees to view vertically) (thanks, Boing Boing).
The PSP marks another step toward an ideal portable media device (see the ideal pod), the ebook hack being only one of many tricks to cram in more content options (Wired article for more). The Packet Switch Press story suggests that on the tiny screen, 90 degrees can be all that separates a widescreen movie from an electronic paperback - there's no "this side up." The big problem with the PSP is its proprietary file format, laughably named Universal Media Disc (UMD). To watch a movie on your PSP, you have to buy the UMD-formatted edition, even if you already own the DVD. This will ultimately inhibit the development of interesting new works for the tiny screen, clever hacks notwithstanding.
the ideal pod 03.24.2005, 5:42 PM
If Apple is to stay at the head of the pack, then the answer is to combine the wireless iPod, the vPod, and the iPhone into one ideal pod. In addition to having access to all your music, video and photos, you can surf the web, take movies and pictures, play video games, talk on the phone, watch films in letterbox format, and read various kinds of books - anything from novels, to newspapers, to websites, to manga or comics. IPod's signature scroll wheel would work wonderfully with text, paging through horizontally and preserving some semblance of a coherent page or panel, like the International Herald Tribune does on its elegant website. It could have a little stylus tucked away like tweezers in a Swiss Army knife, and a virtual keyboard that projects on surfaces. A month ago, I wrote about the need for a "paperback ebook" - a pan-media everything-pod, something that does for portable media what paperbacks did for books. Perhaps Apple will be the first to venture such a device.
Laptops are on a collision course with cell phones. Eventually they will converge in a single ideal device. Specialized devices like snapshot digital cameras, iPods, Game Boys, and ebook readers are exciting while they are relatively new, but they are ultimately impractical. Nobody wants a device that just does one thing. Everyday, you have to pack your pockets with various gadgets - you begin to feel like a slave to the so-called convenience of these things. Phones and computers, on the other hand, are indispensable, and can theoretically encompass all of these specialized devices. So it seems like just a matter of time until everything is packed into one ideal pod.