An A-Z of The Ting : Theatre of Mistakes – A by Marie-Anne Mancio – the first part of a 16 eBook set collating Marie-Anne’s research into the radical 70s experimental performance art/theatre group The Ting. Created as part of a bookleteer residency in 2009, originally to accompany a show at West Bromwich’s the Public (cancelled as the venue closed).
Alex’s project is on a bigger scale than this, and suggests a very different approach to the problem of funding the time required to research and write the books, not just print them. This has some obvious and interesting implications for publishing as a whole, and for other creative endeavours as well. The concept seems so simple – the people who want to read his book also pay for the writing of it – but which has some other subtle implications. Usually we buy books (or other media) after the fact of writing – the burden of supporting the artist or writer is usually absorbed through some form of patronage (via public grants or private sponsorship), or through the personal dedication and effort of the individual themselves. But asking the readers to pay for more than the cost of the book, to support the very effort of making is to ask people to become part of the process. It establishes the possibility of creative work being seen in dialogue with others, as a craft, not just as something which appears magically from an aloof and remote genius. More and more the previously mysterious and detached processes of creative people are being acted out in ways that allow others to take part in some way or be witness. It is an empowering and transformational process that I believe gives hope to others that their own forms of expression may also have value. This is not about the distinction between amateur and professional or high/low art – tired debates now – but about that scope for the craft, skill and impact of creative people to be seen in relation to the work of others and valued in new and meaningful ways.
bookleteer is part of a toolset we have been building for more than a decade for public authoring and to enable cultures of listening. These tools are sometimes techniques which we develop to help people combine other media, to figure out how to create their own tools as much as use ones we may have introduced them too. What Alex is demonstrating with this project is not only how to use such tools, but how to create a community around the process of making too. With our new programme of projects, Public Goods, which we start next month too, we are hoping to engage people in similar processes of taking part in the construction and sharing of cultures and cultural artefacts that they value. Our new series of City As Material events in towns across the UK and abroad will be an important part of setting the frame for this kind of dialogue and collaboration, and perhaps a way for us to explore crowdfunding in direct collaboration with the people who want to contribute and participate.
Alex is aiming to reach his goal or raising $10,000 by Earth Day, Thurs April 14th – he’s more than 50% of thew way there (at time of writing). I do recommend supporting him as the results (judging from the wonderful 2nd edition of the Wordchanging book just published) are bound to be great.
Back in September Frederik posted a case study of Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination‘s use of bookleteer. They’ve continued using it as a creative and documentary resource, and in doing so have created a Library of Traces – a series of eBooks which enable both participants in their professional development workshops, and others, to follow the traces of their experiences and share reflections and observations.
To help CCI widen the audience for their work we’ve posted 7 eBooks on our diffusion.org.uk library and will be making others available there as they are created. All are welcome to download and share eBooks from the Library of Traces.
Hi, I’m Radhika, the Marketing Assistant at Proboscis. You’ll see me pop up weekly, as I’ll be writing posts on ideas and suggestions for using Bookleteer in new and inventive ways. Take a look at my first idea…
Going away this summer?? It’s a great feeling, once you’ve booked that holiday and start counting down the weeks to a get-a-way, somewhere beautiful, adventurous or even laid-back and relaxing.
Exploring the craziness of New York’s Time Square, the hustle and bustle of Abu Dhabi’s Souks, the calmness of Maldives serene beaches, the list goes on…
Coming back with all those memories and stories that you can’t wait to tell everybody! The only problem I have is remembering the name of that fantastic coffee shop I went to, or that busy vibrant market where I got my dazzling shawls from or even the restaurant where I tasted the delicious local food. So if someone asked me to recommend places to go and see or where to eat, sure I could get their mouth watering describing the succulent chicken and thirst quenching cocktails, but I couldn’t actually tell them the names of these places… because I had forgotten!
I’m always in need for a scrap piece of paper to jot things down. Having a book that can easily fit into a pocket or a handbag would be most ideal. Creating a book on Bookleteer gives me this exact opportunity, to easily print and assemble and take with me.
It’s also useful to jot down other little things you come across on holiday such as the local language. Maybe how to say ‘hello’ in Mandarin or ‘thank you’ in Greek.
Have a look at the mock up book I made, to give you an idea of what can be done…
A handy book that can easily fit into your back pocket or your handbag and taken with you everywhere on your holiday! Now you don’t have to struggle to remember everywhere you went, just scribble it down in your own Bookleteer book!
September was a busy month here at Proboscis and on bookleteer: we sent seven books to be printed via the PPOD service as well as 10 different StoryCubes. The range of publications was very broad, from books about exhibitions and art projects to a book in Arabic about a major archaeological excavation in Sudan and a special notebook for a symposium on digital engagement and another full of QR codes. The StoryCubes included an 8 cube ‘cube of cubes’ set by artists Joyce Majiski and Alice Angus on their Topographies & Tales project, a promotional cube about bookleteer itself and a cube by artist Melissa Bliss to promote her installation, Bird Song, at the b-side media festival in the Isle of Portland.
The photo above shows the various StoryCube and printed eBooks :
As with every previous case study I’ve posted up to now, this week’s case is an example of a very distinctive context for the design and use for the eBooks. Today’s post is the first of two cases that involve the British Museum which means we’re dealing with a far larger institution than in previous cases. Nevertheless, as I hope you will see, this case has quite a few similarities with other approaches we’ve explored to date.
I had the chance to pay a visit to Julie Anderson, Assistant Keeper for Ancient Sudan and Egyptian Nubia at the BM on the 14 September to talk about her work with the eBooks. Julie is the project leader for what is known as the Berber-Abidiya archaeological project in Sudan. She and her collaborator Dr Salah eldin Mohamed Ahmed in Sudan have been working with Proboscis to develop a version of the eBook as part of this project. This was my chance to find out a bit more about the project.
Sample project: Excavations in the Temple Precinct of Dangeil
In our interview, Niharika told me that she first used the eBooks on part of the Perception Peterborough project. She and Alice used the eBooks to document a cab ride around Peterborough using illustrations as a way to explore the different kinds of communities and systems that were embedded in the city. For Niharika, this early way of using the eBooks functioned more as a support for personal reflection. Although she would show the results to others, the eBooks she created felt more personal:
“It is shareable, but that is not the intent in which I created it. It was more like a personal log.”
Although she continues to be interested in this kind of approach, she has also used the eBooks as part of a more extensive project which I want to examine in greater detail:
Sample project: Articulating Futures
As I wrote last week, I have been co-organising the Inspiring Digital Engagement Festival in Sheffield and I wanted to make an eBook for it to try to capture participants feelings and views around digital technologies, digital inclusion, engagement and the festival itself. Thanks to Giles, these eBooks were printed through bookleteer’s PPOD service and ready for me to take to Sheffield on Tuesday.
The eBook was imaginatively titled ‘Inspiring Digital Engagement Festival‘ and consisted of 14 pages with the first page being an introduction and the last page providing space for comments and observations. Pages 3 and 4 were a double-page showing the programme for the day and this was so useful! It helped people anticipate the order in which things would happen and figure out who they were listening to at that moment.
The rest of the eBook was filled with a selection of open-ended questions. Questions included ‘How do you spend your time?‘, ‘Who owns digital space? What are the limitations, restrictions or edges?‘ and ‘What unexpected pleasures did today bring?‘ If you’re a member of bookleteer you can download the eBook here if you’re interested in seeing all of the questions we used.. (If you’re not a member you can sign up here!)
Example of a page from the IDEF eBook
The eBooks were handed out as people arrived at the event – you can see them on our registration ‘desk’ in the photo above… We had designed a selection of micro-activities to take place throughout the day which would have led people into filling in the eBooks individually and collaboratively. Of course, we ran late and some of these activities were cut, however, in the closing minutes of the festival we asked people to turn to their neighbour and to fill in their eBook together.
While the eBooks seemed too seductive for people to want to give them back to us the few that we have show such thoughtful answers and leading questions that I would love to see the rest and I feel that using the eBook for reflection and evaluation was successful and certainly something I would use again – though hopefully with more time to give to it throughout the event.
A few days ago we published a ScrapBook made at the Vintage Festival for a project Proboscis is participating in called Graffito – a collaborative iPhone/iPad app that lets people draw on a shared canvas. It was used in the Warehouse tent (which had a 1980s theme) as a collaborative VJ system displayed on a giant LED screen. A number of iPhones were lent out to people to draw with, as well as remote users playing from all over the world (the App is free to download from the AppStore).
For part of the 3 day festival, Jennifer Sheridan (Graffito’s project lead) sat in the control booth capturing snapshots of the screen and printing them off using a Polaroid PoGo printer (a very small portable printer that uses USB & Bluetooth to print ‘zero ink’ pictures from mobiles or digital cameras). She then stuck them into a blank eNoteBook I had designed especially for Graffito. Once back from the festival we disassembled the ‘ScrapBook’, scanned it in and republished it so anyone (whether at the festival, a remote participant or just someone interested) could have a hand made tangible souvenir of the project and the event. The process was very simple (though not helped by Apple’s blocking of Bluetooth connection to the PoGo printer on the iPhone) and points the way to similar uses for lots of other projects. In fact the whole process could easily be copied by anyone with an iPhone : simply download the Graffito app, start drawing and use the ‘snapshot’ feature to capture pictures of your favourite screens. Then download the blank version of the Graffito ScrapBook from diffusion.org.uk, print out and stick in the screen shots to make your own personal Graffito ScrapBook. You don’t need a PoGo printer (though they’re now very cheap to buy, around £20) – you could just print out the pictures on normal paper and glue them in.
As we develop Graffito further, part of our thinking will focus around how to personalise the creation of tangible souvenirs from the project even further. It could be possible, for instance, to request a series of screen shots to be taken from a particular time sequence and made into an eBook or StoryCube. This could be particularly fun for a group of people using it to draw collaboratively and could be combined with maps of where users are located in the world (there’s a short movie demonstrating this on the Graffito website).
I think this ScrapBook is a great example of just how simple it can be to design and make custom eNoteBooks or ScrapBooks for projects and events with bookleteer. Using simple and cheap tools like the PoGo printer, its possible to capture and print images using mobile phones (or cameras via USB) which can be stuck in and notes written around them. Whether its for festivals, art events, schools projects, field research or sports events, its possible to create beautiful and engaging ScrapBooks ‘in the field’ – as they are happening – that can be shared with anyone afterwards.
Get in touch if you’d like us to design a way of creating tangible souvenirs like this for your project or event.
This recently published eBook by Julie Anderson and Salah Mohamed Ahmed describes the progress of the Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project in Dangeil, Sudan. Julie is Assistant Keeper of Sudanese and Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum and Salah works for the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan and the eBook was written for a conference Julie attended. It was then printed at A5 size using the bookleteer Publish and Print on Demand. Download the A3 / Ledger PDFs here.
The eBook is full of rich details about the site in Dangeil (which sounds huge – 300x400m) and the remarkable and beautiful statues and buildings they’ve uncovered there. Intriguingly the site consists of several mounds covered with fragments of red bricks, sandstone, pot shards and plaster and each mound represents a well-preserved ancient building. It’s even possible to see traces of colour left on the stones.
As well as describing the buildings there are also fascinating insights into the rituals, food, rulers and everyday life of the temple, including the information that the Kushite language, Meoitic Meroitic, is one of the few remaining languages in the world which has not yet been translated. And running all through the book are casual glimpses into the detective work of the archeologist.
The idea is that Salah will now translate the eBook into Arabic so it can be distributed to schools around the archeological site to help them understand what’s going on and what has been uncovered. Which would be very exciting for bookleteer because that would allow us to produce our first eBook using the Arabic font and right-to-left reading that we worked so hard to include!