events news

City As Material : River

Giles Lane City As Material River - 03
Last Friday we held our second Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event on the topic of River. We met at Hermitage Moorings in Wapping (where one of the participants is a founder member) and spent a short time introducing ourselves and our interests in the topic. Taking part were Anne Lydiat, Aleaxandra McGlynn, Aurelia McGlynn-Richon, Ben Eastop, Martin Fidler, Fred Garnett and myself. I had prepared a map with a possible route for us to take from our point of origin back to Proboscis’ studio and this served as a useful conversation point about the nature of the river as a channel for transportation, habitation, pleasure, boundary, margin and about the city’s push/pull relationship with it.

View City As Material Series 2010 in a larger map

Whilst sitting in the Hermitage Pier House, then on Anne’s boat in the river the conversation flowed across these issues of liminality and tension – about how the city has slowly encroached on the river, fixing artificial banks where it previously had a wide flood plain, such that we are now concerned about that flood plain being at risk with rising sea levels. Ben, who also lives on the river, spoke of how his home is different every day, changing position with the tide and weather; he also talked of the enormous variation that the sky, light and weather has on the character of the water and its constantly changing surface.

From Hermitage we then walked west along the Thames Path via St Katherine Dock, the Tower of London, Customs House, Old Billingsgate to Queenhithe, where we turned north and cut through the City, St Pauls, St Barts and Smithfield to arrive at the studio.
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We talked about how the city so often seems to turn its back on the river, to build buildings that look inward to the city, and how its is only recently, with the shift in the Port of London to Tilbury that Londoners have at last begun to reclaim access to the river from what were previously commercial wharves and stairs. As it was low tide at 12.30pm we were able to include some beachcombing/ mudlarking with our walk – finding the ubiquitous clay pipe stems and pottery shards from earlier centuries, as well as the ever present animal bones, tiles and chalk. we shared stories and bits of knowledge about these stairs, their uses, the hidden rivers flowing out into the Thames.

Arriving back at the studio we began collating the drawings, objects, ideas, writings and photographs that had been created along the way and started to sketch out the structure of the collaborative publication – Ebb and Flow – which is now available. There is also a City As Material group on Flickr, and a Twitter hashtags – #cityasmaterial – to continue the discussions.

The next City As Material event will be on Friday 12th November on the topic of “Skyline” with artist Simon Pope as our guest. Book a place here :

news updates & improvements

scheduled maintenance and new features

bookleteer will be offline for a few hours today as we do some scheduled maintenance and introduce some new features (the new image and content PDF gallery plus some other small tweaks). We’ll post more info about the changes when the site’s back online later today.

*** Update 18.30 : its taking us longer than anticipated mainly due to the production team working across several different timezones (UK, Australia, California!), but we hope be back in service around midnight BST.

*** Update 22.35 : we’re back – we hope you enjoy the new gallery feature and ability to add images to eBooks and StoryCube from URLs, new uploads and images already uploaded. We’re also introducing Facebook integration as the first stage of making bookleteer work better with other platforms.


Diffusion – 10 years old

Ten years ago this month, in September 2000, Proboscis published the first series of Diffusion eBooks – Performance Notations – initiating the start of the journey that has brought us to It was the culmination of ideas and designs about the future of publishing that themselves began back in early 1999 and were informed by 5 years of publishing traditional books and my experiences working in an interaction design research group (CRD Research) at the Royal College of Art.

I’ve written a post over on recapping on the past decade and looking forward to what we’re planning to start the next one, specifically a series of events called ‘Pitch In & Publish‘ which will be the vehicle for publishing new series of collaboratively-produced Diffusion eBooks & StoryCubes. Its a twist on our ‘Pitch Up & Publish‘ events which were designed to introduce people to using bookleteer itself, getting them familiar with using it for themselves and their own projects. Pitch In & Publish will be firmly focused on creating and publishing new collaborative publications around specific themes and topics.
Look out for more details in the coming days…


Crowdfunding bookleteer

As mentioned in a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, we’re hard at work building the ‘beta’ version of bookleteer to make it simpler to use, more robust and developing new features to make it even more useful. However, this does come at a cost and we’re low on funds to pay for the costs of programming and hosting the service.

Last Autumn we set up the Alpha Club as an experiment in asking friends and supporters to help us ‘crowdfund’ some of the costs associated with developing bookleteer. So far almost two thousand pounds has been donated to the project, but its a long way short of the £10,000+ in programming fees and costs we’re on course to spend in 2010 – do please make a donation if you enjoy using it and want to support us. As an added sweetener, we’ll send a special pack of the brand new, larger StoryCubes to anyone who donates £25 or more and joins the Alpha Club in September and October. Members also get discounts on any PPOD orders that they make for professionally printed eBooks & StoryCubes.

Please get in touch to join Alpha Club or make a secure donation via Paypal:

New Medium Size StoryCubes

bookleteer now has several hundred members signed up and using it, over 210 followers on twitter and around 115 followers on facebook. We’d love to see more people join this growing community of bookleteers creating and sharing their books and StoryCubes – please feel free to sign up for an account and get bookleteering.

news updates & improvements

A Glance Ahead

Recently we’ve been tweaking things under the hood of bookleteer and planning the transition to a public beta version (hopefully later this year). I thought I’d give a brief outline of some of the improvements we’re planning to introduce soon and a look ahead to how we’ll shape bookleteer in the future.

Forthcoming Updates & Tweaks
In the next couple of weeks we’ll be deploying an update that will provide an image and file gallery to allow users to better manage their images and source PDF files. Images used frequently on different publications (such as logos or Creative Commons graphics) will only need be uploaded once. It will also allow users to link directly to images on their own websites or services such as Flickr (via a URL). We think this will streamline how images are used and make using bookleteer more intuitive and personal at the same time.

Users will have noticed some smaller changes recently : links on the dashboard to our Facebook page and activity there; a gallery of images tagged with “bookleteer” on Flickr and a feed of the latest free-to-download eBooks & StoryCubes to be posted on We’re hoping more users will use the facebook page to share their experiences and use the “bookleteer” tag to post photos of their own eBooks and StoryCubes.

Public Beta
This will be a major upgrade to bookleteer and enable some very exciting new ways for users to create eBooks & StoryCubes, both individually and collaboratively. We’re planning to introduce a premium paid-for account with some exclusive services :
– creating groups of other bookleteers and sharing collaborative editing privileges for eBooks & StoryCubes
– access to a bookleteer API to allow eBooks & StoryCubes to be generated from their own applications and stored in their user accounts
– a ‘scrapbook’ app for mobiles (iPhone/iPad/Android) allowing users to send bookleteer text and images from their mobile devices to generate eBooks & StoryCubes

Free users will continue to be able to create eBooks & StoryCubes of their own (though limited to a smaller number of ‘active’ publications and server space than premium users) and to order PPOD versions.

We’re also looking into other features and greater integration with social media platforms like Facebook & Flickr, as well as improving the interface design (whilst striving to keep it simple and elegant).

Alpha Club PPOD Discounts
Lastly we’ve added some new discounts on PPOD orders for Alpha Club Members – we’d like to sign up more members to help us fund the development of bookleteer as we are way off our fundraising target : if you like using bookleteer, please contribute if you can.