Bookcamp: When users create their own stuff

by Suw on January 17, 2009

I’m here at Bookcamp today, a day of talking about publishing, books, paper and all sorts of related things. Notes are a bit all over the place, but hopefully they’ll be interesting.

Comic Life, kit who put together a comic for show and tell at school, ended up selling copies to his friends.

What if that came out of a game, where your journey through the game is different to someone else’s? Recording the experience and posting up online. What if it went into a different format? What about negotiating with kids to balance gaming and reading.

RPGs, Sherlock Holmes, where you chatted to people and some people wouldn’t talk to you unless you beat them at darts. Mini-games, dialogues. As you went along it was writing Dr Watson’s notebook, who you’d met, who you’d talked to, what you’d picked up. You in it where you’re controlling the story, but you in it when you’re in the story, named, or your photo etc. You then embellish it with your own details.

Big Planet is a bit like that. Requires quite a bit of digital literacy to make someone make the effort.

Simple way to do it would be a Facebook app, a “physical backup” of your year on Facebook.

Some chap who didn’t see the point of writing a blog when you could write a programme that just takes the feeds of stuff that you’ve done online and turns that into a blog. But you don’t want to included everything, so if you didn’t discriminate then you’d end up with the very boring bits included, three days trying to figure out how to open the door.

Watching Grand Prix and simulating the race on the computer. Computer game simulated TV coverage, but you need to disassociate between what the game thinks might be significant, and what is actually happening because you don’t want to see *only* crashes. You don’t want to get to the point instantly, you want some suspense.

Writing games is just writing a cheat manual, so it records what you’re doing rather than the interesting bits, the story, the reasoning.

Novelisations of story worlds in games help the gamer become better. Gamers progressing from just playing to reading the novelisation. Engagement – start with the idea that you’re trying to be a better player, but leads you to a different place as you get fully immersed.

Not just about a game, but also the stuff around it. Interactive fiction, people sitting round making up stories. Taking the idea of role playing games and turn it into group story-telling. Wrote notes throughout the session, but notes didn’t resemble the told story. Moving that to computer games, depends on the game. Something like WoW, there’s a huge backstory, and people in the game it’s all a story. Users add to the story.

UGC literature to come out of that? Collaboration online, it’s not completely personalised, but the group.

Any such book would have to have a human editor, because otherwise it would be a rambling mess.

Generating the content is more interesting than reading it afterwards.

Putting people’s name into a standard book. Kids names in the book.

Location data in the book too, so that it becomes based in your local neighbourhood.

Locative books that put you into a game or book whilst you’re out and about, via your mobile phone. Could do that with audio book so that it would key to GPS and get sections of the story related to your location and journey.

Are there two audiences? Stuff that is of interest to me, or my family, but which might not be of interest to the rest of the world. And stuff that’s of interest to the rest of the world.

Collaborative story-telling cards with text and images on from a blog. map on the back, to help you explore it, and each card has s small story on the other side. Everyone who contributed bought a pack of cards.

A Message to Obama – collaborative book making through Flickr.

Wedding book – story of a wedding, pulling together the photos, comments from guest book, etc. Creating the project makes it important, having it as an artefact is important.

In other contexts, there’s more collaboration, flatter social structure, it’s easier to pull people in.

Taking in content from Flickr, Twitter, blog, need a human editor, but can modularise it – you know that Twitters are less than 140 characters, pictures comes in standard orientations but can need cropping, blogs are more freeform. So would need to be easy to make something attractive.

Constraints as guidance rather than control. Much of that is about language, how ou communicate. But also about physical limits, such as you can only fit so much text on a card.

Whereas some sites that at totally freeform end up very ugly.

Wordle – lots of choice but hard to make an ugly one.

Design of books, not a popular hobby. Average person can recognise a nice looking book but don’t understand book design. Materials choice, layout, typography.

PoD is getting much better in terms of quality, better colour, better bindings. Technology is allowing higher quality.

Tactile qualities are important, they make a difference.

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