Digital scholarship blog

Enabling innovative research with British Library digital collections

05 July 2017

It Must Have Been Dark By Then

Recently I posted about the Ambient Literature project, which is investigating how situated storytelling is changing through pervasive and ubiquitous computing. As this week, at the British Library, we are hosting the first Ambient Literature work to be made available; this is "It Must Have Been Dark By Then" by Duncan Speakman.

The work is an audio walk, delivered via an app and a printed book. 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’s drift through a landscape both familiar and foreign. 

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"It Must Have Been Dark By Then" by Duncan Speakman

Today (05/07/2017) we have slots starting at: 12:00, 13:30, 15:00, 16:30, 18:00.  It is too late to book in advance, but places are available, so please just drop in. Our stand is in the Library's entrance foyer; underneath the Shakespeare sculpture and next to the shop. For the following three days, please book, details are:

Tomorrow (06/07/2017) there are five slots, starting at: 12:00, 13:30, 15:00, 16:30, 18:00.  To book, go to

On 07/07/2017 (Friday) there are four slots, starting at: 12:00, 13:30, 15:00, 16:30. To book, go to

On 08/07/2017 (Saturday) there are four slots, starting at: 11:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30 To book, go to

Participants need to bring their own smartphones (iOS or Android), but headphones and instructions will be provided. 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, the app is available on 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!

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Duncan Speakman and Tom Abba from Ambient Literature standing next to the pop-up stall in the British Library

Furthermore, this evening,  on 5 July 2017, we are holding 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 who will be 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. We do have a few places left, so if you want to come along, book a free place from

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