Diffusion Archive Highlight: New Worker’s Songbook

Continuing the theme of songs and music, I’m looking at the “New Worker’s Songbook – Song Writing Work Book for New Songs” (phew). In collaboration with the Worker’s Arts and Heritage centre in Hamilton, Ontario, Dodolab and Tiny Bill Cody (Tor Lukasik-Foss) created this eBook to inspire songs that reflect the current realities for workers in Hamilton. It asks the reader about their working experiences, both positive and negative, as well as their identity and responsibilities, to form verse and chorus for their own personal chant. The songbook also provides techniques to memorise lyrics, and how to sing with emotion and purpose, complete with iconic stick figure illustrations.


City As Material: Sonic Geographies

Our final Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, Sonic Geographies, was held last Friday. A shortage of participants (probably due to the icy weather and weekday timing) meant that myself and Giles were alone in our wander though London, resulting in a slightly different walk then usual. Equipped with Audioboo, we set off to record the different sound properties of the city, in a far more leisurely and exploratory mode then previous events.

We had decided that rather than strain to produce a typical eBook with original work and concepts, which would be limited under the circumstances, we would instead purely document the day’s trip and link to audio recordings made during it. After capturing some of the ambient and wildlife sounds in Hyde Park (mingled with the hum of construction work and a talking animatronic tree), we entered the bustle of Mayfair and Soho. Surprisingly, in this sprawl the sound landscape was remarkably similar, and sometimes indistinguishable, when we were in enclosed courtyards and winding alleys, the geography creating immersive sound bubbles. Lastly, we managed to record the faint notes of a church organ, in the undercroft of the chapel at Lincoln’s Inn.

Back at the studio we created the eBook, lifting the images and GPS located maps of the recordings from Audioboo, and using a QR code to easily link to the relevant page. For the last few pages, we used images from “The Cries Of London” and “The Beggar’s Opera” playing cards sets, then a page consisting purely of a visualisation of white noise, to illustrate the change of the sound landscape in recent years – the cries of market traders promoting their wares has given way to a homogenised hubbub of engines and vehicles.

You can listen to the recordings made on Audioboo, and download the Sonic Geographies eBook on Diffusion here. Keep track of the discussion online with the #cityasmaterial hash tag on Twitter.


Diffusion Archive Highlight: Bird Song By Melissa Bliss

I’ve just noticed a handful of eBooks and Storycubes in the Diffusion Archive that relate to songs and sound, particularly relevant with our last Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event – “Sonic Geographies”, being held this Friday (which you can book a place for here).

Bird Song was created to accompany a sound installation at the Chiswell Walled Garden in Dorset, for this years b-side festival in September. Each side of the Storycube portrays a silhouette of a different bird in its natural setting, with its particular call represented in onomatopoeic text. It must have been a great visual piece when paired with the sound, especially with the three dimensional form of the Storycube, as the silhouettes start to resemble the shadows of actual birds.

I’ll be looking at the other song themed items soon, and starting to pick up on other collective trends when delving through the archive.


Archive Highlight -Tales Of Things: Objects, Stories & Voices from the BME Communities in Greenwich

This Highlight isn’t actually in the Diffusion archive, as it was created via the bookleteer PPOD service, but I thought it’s a great example of another eBook accompanying an exhibition, similar to the one made for Cosmo China.

“Tales of Things: Objects, Stories & Voices from the BME Communities in Greenwich” was created alongside an exhibition celebrating Black History Month 2010, held at the Greenwich Heritage Centre. Cultural and personal objects were contributed from the Greenwich Black, Asian and minority Ethnic (BME) Forum, to tell stories of cultural identity and heritage.

Each page of the eBook has an image of a particular exhibit, and a QR code that is linked to a digital archive of stories and information for that object, allowing the reader to scan the codes with a phone or computer with a webcam, and access more information than is available in the eBook. This lends a sense of interaction and personal involvement with the object, as they have to physically seek out the tale behind it, not least the addition of  pages at the back of the book for the reader to add their own images, tales and QR codes.

View the tales for the exhibition online here.


Diffusion Archive Review: What Type Are You? – A Storycube game by Mandy Tang

This archive review comes courtesy of my fellow Future Jobs Fund employee here at Proboscis, Mandy Tang. The Storycube and accompanying eBook were actually the very first publications she created here – the ambitious concept speaks volumes about her work.

Picking a path, the player follows the line around the cube, until they reach one of six destinations, each with a different icon representing a personality type. The player then checks the eBook to read the corresponding description.

“What Type Are You?” really takes advantage of the cube form – the shape is integral to the game (as Mandy says: “When holding a cube you find yourself tempted to see whats on the other faces”). It’s also the first game in the archive – hopefully it will inspire fellow game-makers to create more. Download it here, and play it for yourself.


Diffusion Archive Review: The Collected Tweets Of Brandon Cummerbund

I’m going to be delving into the Diffusion archive to highlight my favourite eBooks and StoryCubes on a regular basis, in a bid to showcase how people have used them in exceptional and innovative ways.

First off is “Cummerbundery Volume 1: The Collected Tweets Of Brandon Cummerbund” by Russ Bravo, an eBook compiling various tweets from his Twitter comedy alter-ego, Brandon Cummerbund – a “Victorian wit, man about town and amateur taxidermist”. These hilarious, satirical and often surreal vignettes are presented very simply, (almost in the manner of a Twitter feed) and the contrast between Cummerbund’s ridiculous, outdated manner and activities, and the short functional format of Tweets, is genius. Some choice snippets:

“Fusty Montgomery borrowed putter. Twigs in the
marmalade. Mrs C went shopping. Staff nervous.
Eggs overcooked. Monkey of the day: gibbon. “

“Toast has its uses in hand to hand combat. Chum
of mine: Mangrove van Flagbutterer – well meaning
Dutch philanthropist. Breakfast: kedgeree.”

“Aged aunt coming to stay. Attempts to book
holiday in Folkestone have failed. Mongoose
acquired, named Wilf. Cheese: Red Leicester.”

This move from transitory digital messages, to a permanent print publication has an interesting by-product. When the Tweets are placed alongside each other in print form, they resemble diary entries, or, due to the lack of dates, verse; both forms befitting of a Victorian chap.

Brandon Cummerbund - A striking resemblance to Simon Callow?


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…