THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Digital scholarship blog

3 posts from June 2017

28 June 2017

Ambient Literature

Does where you read affect how you read?

How can digital media create a bridge between story and place?

Ambient Literature is a project seeking to answer these questions.  This is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the University of West England, Bath Spa University and the University of Birmingham, investigating how situated storytelling is changing through pervasive and ubiquitous computing. Drawing on literary studies, creative writing, design, human-computer interaction, performance and new media studies it is examining emergent forms of literature; challenging the locational and technological future of the book.

Forming the heart of the project, three authors; Kate Pullinger, James Attlee and Duncan Speakman are each creating new experimental works that respond to the presence of a reader, and aim to show how we can redefine the rules of the reading experience through the use of technology.

The first of these works to be made available is "It Must Have Been Dark By Then" by Duncan Speakman, this is an audio walk, within which each reader is invited to reflect on their fragile relationship with the world around us. Field recordings and stories from the edge of the Sahara, abandoned Latvian villages, and the disappearing swamplands of Louisiana weave into the audience‚Äôs drift through a landscape both familiar and foreign. 

Here at the British Library we are delighted to be hosting sessions for members of the public to experience this work. These will be taking place 4-8 July 2017; to book a free place go to http://www.bl.uk/events/it-must-have-been-dark-by-then. Participants will need to bring their own smartphones (iOS or Android), but headphones and instructions will be provided. If you book a place, to get started quickly once you arrive, it would really help if you can download the app on your smartphone before coming to the library: iOS and Android. Also please open the app, and download the additional content once prompted. These are the audio files that accompany the app itself, and are about 200MB. We also advise to make sure your phone is well charged and if you have a portable power bank it is a good idea to bring it with you!

Furthermore, on 5 July 2017, we are hosting an evening panel discussion about the relationships between digital technology, location and literature. Join Ambient Literature project leader Tom Abba and writers Kate Pullinger, James Attlee and Duncan Speakman for a fascinating event talking about location-based reading experiences using pervasive technology, which respond to the reader and use digital media as a bridge between story and place. To book your place, go to https://www.bl.uk/events/ambient-literature-panel-discussion. Hope to see you there.

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Ambient Literature writers: Kate Pullinger, Duncan Speakman and James Attlee

This post is by Digital Curator Stella Wisdom, on twitter as @miss_wisdom and member of the Ambient Literature Advisory Board.

12 June 2017

Odyssey Jam Games

This post is by Digital Curator Stella Wisdom, on twitter as @miss_wisdom & BL Labs collaborator Gary Green  from Surrey Libraries, on twitter as @ggnewed. Gary and Stella are interested in many things including games and interactive fiction.

Earlier this year we blogged about the game jam Odyssey Jam, which Gary organised, as part of Read Watch Play. The idea behind it was to encourage people to create a text based game or piece of interactive fiction based on Homer's The Odyssey over a 2 week period. The purpose of the game jam was to support literacy and the development of readers and writers.

After the two week game making period entrants were encouraged to upload their entries to itch.io so that others could play them. Anyone around the world was able to enter, and at the end of the game jam there were 10 entries, including from people who had never made a game or written a piece of interactive fiction before, and who had never previously been involved in a game jam.

It was great to see a variety of style and content in the entries and how each developer had interpreted the theme - no two were the same. Some chose to create pure text games (The Long Ing Blink; Islands and Witches), others focused on creating entries that were more visual but still included text (TaithA flower from Hermes). There were humorous games (108 suitors; The Perils of Penelope), games set in their original setting, and others which re-set the Odyssey in a new context (Come Back Home; Hyperions Wake).

Game developers were also encouraged to share their work in progress on Twitter, and a few did just that. It was great to see how their games were taking shape and how enthusiastic they were about their involvement in the jam. A college in Milan encouraged students on their creative writing course to participate and a couple of their entries were submitted to the jam. 

As part of Odyssey Jam we also encouraged entrants to make use of the digitised images on Flickr that The British Library had released under a creative commons license. We identified a number of ancient Greece themed images from the Flickr collection. A couple of entries used these images, e.g. No One and 108 suitors.

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Scene from 108 Suitors by Lynda Clark

The games are available to play online or download, so please try them out and share. You can also watch short play-throughs of the entries thanks to video game blogger Jupiter Hadley and Emily Short wrote about the game jam on her excellent blog. Thanks to all the game developers involved in Odyssey Jam; it was fun playing your entries, and thanks to all who helped promote the jam.

If Odyssey jam has whetted your appetite and you are interested in writing interactive fiction,  we are pleased to share news that the British Library is running a new course:  The Infinite Library: Interactive Fiction Summer School 17-21 July 2017. This is led by multi-award-winner Dr Abigail Parry and will be taught by specialists in fiction, interactive fiction and games writing, including:

Dr Greg Buchanan, Writer of Paper Drumpf and No Man's Sky
Jerry Jenkins, Curator for Emerging Media, British Library
Rob Sherman, Writer and Games Designer
Richard Skinner, Director of the Fiction Programme at the Faber Academy
Jon Stone, Writer and Games Researcher
Olivia Wood, Narrative Editor, Writer and Content Manager at Failbetter Games

With their expert guidance attendees will tackle dialogue chains, reader choice and multiple endings. Plus given technical support to explore the possibilities offered by Twine, a simple open-source programme for managing branching text. More details on the summer school can be found at https://www.bl.uk/events/the-infinite-library-interactive-fiction-summer-school

06 June 2017

Digital Conversations @BL - Web Archives: truth, lies and politics

Next week we are spoiled for choice here at the British Library with two topical and fascinating evening events about data and digital technology. On Monday 12 June there is the first  public Data Debate delivered in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute about the complex issue of data in healthcare, for more details check out this blog post.  Then on Wednesday 14 June there is a Digital Conversation event on Web Archives: truth, lies and politics in the 21st century. Where a panel of scholars and experts in the field of web archiving and digital studies, will discuss the role of web and social media archives in helping us, as digital citizens, to navigate through a complex and changing information landscape.

Web archiving began in 1996 with the Internet Archive and these days many university and national libraries around the world have web archiving initiatives. The British Library started web archiving in 2004, and from 2013 we have collected an annual snapshot of all UK web sites. As such, there are rich web archive collections documenting political and social movements at international and local levels; including the Library of Congress collections on the Arab Spring, and the UK Web Archive collections on past General Elections.

The Digital Conversation will be chaired by Eliane Glaser, author of Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life, the panel includes Jane Winters, Chair of Digital Humanities, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Val√©rie Schafer, Historian at the French National Center for Scientific Research (Institute for Communication Sciences, CNRS), Jefferson Bailey, Director of Web Archiving Programs at the Internet Archive and Andrew Jackson, Web Archiving Technical Lead at the British Library.

For more information and to book tickets go here. Hope to see you there!

Grow the real economy ijclark
Image credit: Grow the real economy by ijclark, depicting the Occupy London protest camp in 2011, CC BY 2.0

This Digital Conversations event is part of the Web Archiving Week 12-16 June co-hosted by the British Library and the School of Advanced Study, University of London. This is a week of conferences, hackathons and talks in London to discuss recent advances in web archiving and research on the archived web. You can follow tweets from the conferences and the Digital Conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag #WAweek2017.

This post is by Digital Curator Stella Wisdom, on twitter as @miss_wisdom.