A recent photo from Haiti showing local people at a rural clinic holding out their personal cancer awareness notebooks as part of a cervical cancer screening programme.
I’ve just completed a personal project in collaboration with my daughter Clara – Phantom Tomes, a book of imaginary titles cunningly reworked onto Victorian book covers sourced from the British Library‘s wonderful digital collection of public domain images. The book invites its readers to elaborate on the book titles by imagining their own publisher’s “blurb” or writing a review of the imaginary book. Each book cover has a blank page beside it purposefully for this storymaking task. As ever, the project is intended to inspire others to build upon our work and create their own versions of the activity, devising their own titles, covers and use of bookleteer as a simple and convenient way to share their creativity.
The titles are much inspired by the fantastic works of Edward Gorey and by long and venerable tradition of fictional books imagined by some of literature’s greats: Laurence Sterne, Jorge Luis Borges, Ursula LeGuin, Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino, Georges Perec & Stanislav Lem among many others.
Over the past couple of years Grace Tillyard has been leading a groundbreaking project to enhance breast cancer awareness in Haitian women and their communities. The project has been hosted by NGO Innovating Health International and funded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and Pfizer.
As part of this project, Grace has co-developed with local people an information booklet and a Patient Notebook using bookleteer to help communicate more about the condition and the medical treatments available, as well as to allow people to record their own medical information in a dedicated book of their own. A second book covering cervical cancer has also been produced. Recently the United Nations Populations Fund have been instrumental in enabling IHI to print around 15,000 copies of each of the information books for distribution to communities across Haiti.
A Kreyol (Haitian Creole) version of the book folding instructions is also now available (see below).
A few months ago I met accessibility and sensory design consultant, Alastair Somerville, who was in town to demonstrate using simple and cheap visualisation tools such as the 3Doodler pen. Over coffee we chatted about 3D printing, data manifestation and some of the tools and techniques we’ve each developed. Alastair showed me a material he has been using in wayfinding for people with visual impairments: Zy.chem swell paper, a specially treated material where the black ink ‘swells’ up to create a textured surface. Alastair had been using it to make simple tactile maps and for braille. We both then became excited about the possibilities of using the Zy.chem paper with bookleteer to create simple and low-cost braille and textured publications.
Very soon afterwards Alastair experimented with a wayfunding guide for a project he was working on for the University of Sussex’s new library, The Keep. He sent me a copy printed on the Zy.chem paper which confirmed for me that this was a material with hugely exciting creative potential. I then asked Alastair if he would consider making something special for the Periodical so we could demonstrate this to others. The result is this beautiful guide to Dal Riata, an ancient Scottish kingdom in Kilmartin Glen, Argyll which has some of the most extensive neolithic earthworks and structures in the UK.
Alastair’s book uses the zy.chem paper to impart the texture of some of the neolithic stone features of Dal Riata as well as some maps of significant sites. In addition to the tactile paper, one sheet is also printed on tracing paper, overlaying the bigger map of Scotland and Northern Ireland onto a tactile map of the kingdom of Dal Riata itself, and then providing a ‘mist’ overlaying a section about the disappearance of the kingdom during the Viking raids of the early Middle Ages. At once informative and poetic, it holds its own sense of magic and mystery within its very textures.
Alastair has posted a Vine video:
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Get inspired to create and share your own publications on bookleteer to take part too – each month I select something delightful and inspiring from the publications which are made and shared on bookleteer.
Two more gems from the bookleteer library :
Travelling Through Layers by Alice Angus, Giles Lane and Orlagh Woods was inspired by the discussions that took place during and after Paralelo : Technology and Environment, a meeting point for artists, designers and researchers in Sao Paulo in March/April 2009. A version was included in the publication Paralelo – Unfolding Narratives: in Art, Technology & Environment published by MIS, British Council & Virtueel Platform (2010).
In the Shadow of Senate House by Henderson Downing, Owen Hatherley, Esther Leslie & Victoria Macneile is a StoryCube made for a “psychogeographical perambulation” hosted by Birkbeck College in Oct 2009.
Here are a couple of gems from the bookleteer library :
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).
An eccentric monthly publication for an era of eclectic exploration
More and more beautiful, thought-provoking and inspiring eBooks are being created with bookleteer all the time so, with a nod to such illustrious forebears as William Hogarth, Joseph Addison, Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne and Charles Dickens we’re creating the Periodical, a regular monthly publication to share some of the best examples – from the most beautifully designed, illustrated and written to the most experimental uses of bookleteer, its API and what can be done with the format.
Update : check out the new bookleteer Library page to browse what people have made.
For a small monthly or one-off annual subscription (see below), you can receive by post a different printed eBook each month crowdsourced from bookleteer. Our target is to launch the Periodical with at least 100 subscribers in October 2012, selecting and printing a new eBook each month for distribution. Whilst we build up the subscriptions we’ll be sending subscribers a choice eBook every month selected from among those we’ve previously printed for projects such as Professor Starling’s Expedition, Material Conditions, City As Material, As It Comes, Agencies of Engagement and others.
What Will Subscribers Receive?
The Periodical will be a monthly delight landing on your doorstep – you can expect consistent eccentricity and eclecticism in our choices. We will be seeking out the most extraordinary and unusual eBooks created and shared on bookleteer. Some will be selected by us at Proboscis, others will selected by invited curators and from time to time we’ll invite subscribers to vote for their favourite eBook to be printed and sent out as the monthly periodical. Anyone who wants to take part can contribute a book for consideration for the Periodical by signing up to bookleteer, then making and sharing an eBook. Each month we’ll post on the blog about what we’ve chosen and why – but only after we’ve sent it out, so the subscribers have the pleasure of an unexpected arrival landing on their doorstep.
Over the past 18 years Proboscis has built up a reputation for being eccentric and eclectic – for always choosing the oblique, less anticipated path. We have surprised and confounded people by building partnerships and collaborations that have taken us on a meandering journey of creativity, imagination and invention that spans a huge diversity of people, practices, places and situations. At any moment we might be found at the forefront of technology, citizen science or social media innovation (Urban Tapestries, Feral Robots, Snout, Private Reveries, Public Spaces); leading a landmark science-art collaboration (Mapping Perception); inventing new hybrid digital/physical publishing formats and platforms (Diffusion eBooks, StoryCubes, bookleteer); co-designing social innovation with grassroots communities, government and industry (Conversation & Connections, Pallion Ideas Exchange, Perception Peterborough, With Our Ears to the Ground, Sutton Grapevine); experimenting with new spaces, processes, materials and craft skills (Being In Common, As It Comes, Navigating History); working with schools (Experiencing Democracy, Everyday Archaeology) or taking a leading role in cross disciplinary research with academia (Sensory Threads, Agencies of Engagement). It will be this spirit of adventure, curiosity and exploration that will guide our curatorial choices – much as it drove the editorial policy I pursued with COIL journal of the moving image back in the 1990s.
To kickstart the Periodical we’re inviting a number of our friends, colleagues, fellow travellers and others whom we admire to explore using bookleteer themselves and to create some new publications with it that will seed the initial pool of publications from which we choose the first few issues. We’ll announce more about these soon.
To complement the crowdsourced eBooks, we are also seeking sponsors to help us commission new experimental and imaginative publications using bookleteer. These will be printed and distributed to subscribers as well as shared digitally on bookleteer for all. We’re looking for sponsors who see the opportunity that bookleteer and the Periodical offer for commissioning exciting new experiments in publishing – sharing new ideas, new knowledge and experiences in multiple ways to people all over the world. They might be themed series in themselves (following on from our previous series such as Material Conditions, City As Material, Transformations, Short Work, Liquid Geography, Species of Spaces, Performance Notations) or simply a one-off commission.
*** Please contact me for details of sponsorship opportunities.
Subscribing to the Periodical
You don’t need to use bookleteer or be signed up to subscribe and subscriptions from organisations and institutions are very welcome (email us with a purchase order to subscribe). The Periodical will be a great way to tap into the creativity generated with bookleteer, having some of its best creations delivered to your door.
Subscribers will also receive a 10% discount on any Short Run printing orders of their own (recouping their subscription by just ordering a minimum 25 copies each of 4 of their own eBooks).
UK – £3 monthly or £30 annual (Pay by Direct Debit, Barclays Pingit to 07711 069 569 or Email to Subscribe by Credit Card/Paypal etc)
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Rest of World – £15/US$24 a quarter or £50/US$80 annual (Email to Subscribe by Credit Card/Paypal etc)
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Being 18 in the past and today: using Bookleteer for a museum-based project with young people
by Katrina Siliprandi
Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service
Young people working on ‘Project 18’ carried out and recorded 39 interviews in people’s homes, at Norwich Castle museum and in residential care homes. They amalgamated quotes from these interviews with photographs of selected museum objects to produce both a printed booklet and an e-reader version using Bookleteer.
The project is a partnership between Norwich Castle Museum and the Mancroft Advice Project (MAP), a charity that provides help, education and training for young people through advisors, counsellors, youth workers and a drop-in centre. Project 18 helps young people to learn more about themselves, others and their community through the creation of an accessible small archive of oral history testimony about being 18 in the past and today, inspired by the museum’s collections.
Some people might expect paper copies to be of low importance and relevance to young people who are already comfortably immersed and swimming in the cyber ocean. Conversely, paper copies could be seen as important tools to present to those people who have travelled to positions of influence and governance where a more traditional background might place greater value on well-trodden methods of communication.
We found the reality to be that the young participants placed great store in the tangible form of the printed items. They valued something they could actually hold, see, feel and smell. This multiply dimensioned tangibility was something they could experience wherever and whenever they chose, rather than only when in contact with a screen. Just having something physical to keep, share and treasure was hugely important. In addition young people expressed their gratification about something that was a token, a signifier of their achievement and enhanced status. Of course this enhanced status works both in the way in which others see the young person and in the way in which they see and value themselves.
This effect was re-enforced by the good physical standard of the booklets themselves. The cost of short-run printing was impressive. We were not forced to order a huge bulk run to achieve economy (with concomitant waste), nor did we have to be miserly in distributing the booklets to the young people and their friends, museum and MAP staff, stakeholders and supporters.
At the same time, having the e-booklet available has given an easy flavour of the project and its purpose to outsiders such as funders and government agencies, both national and local. We feel this kind of attention-catching and information giving is much more likely to lead to interaction and positive responses and outcomes than just a paper communication in the general wasteful paper blizzard. In this way, perhaps counter-intuitively, the e-booklet has provided us with a more permanent resource than traditional paper copies for those that we wish to inspire and involve in financially supporting future projects.
Maybe, too, by putting the booklet on the internet we will benefit from some degree of good fortune as people anywhere in the world stumble on the project. One person’s happy discovery could be promulgated world-wide with astonishing rapidity.
More about the project on the MAP site here.
At a digital agency’s briefing last week, focusing on ‘New Tools’ for publishing, part of the talk was centered around the current use of QR Codes and their implications. Whilst studies seem to show they are largely unknown and underused (and often when they are, employed for gimmicky or lazy motives) there’s certainly some interesting potential for wonder and mischief.
It’s true that the ignorant consumption of QR Codes, hastily scanned without any accompanying information and without ensuring the source is safe, could lead to malware or undesired material. However, I think the mystery of these codes – strange, enigmatic symbols, able to instantly transport the user to a digital realm which bears no relation to its signage – is their appeal. The word ‘Talisman’ can be interpreted as “to initiate into the mysteries”. In this way, QR Codes might be deemed their modern-day versions.
After the test run for Storycube Cairn, where we used QR Coded Storycubes and mobile phones as wayfinding devices, I was inspired by ideas on how these codes might be embedded into the urban fabric of a city. The notion of encountering one of these cubes by accident in an odd location, which, when scanned, leads you on a winding quest to discover more, or reveals a short story or video piece relevant to its found location, is undeniably alluring. Perhaps even, a cube or code is partially glimpsed in a seemingly unreachable place, rewarding the explorer when they have found a means to get there – parkour and geolocation intertwined. I’ll try not to gush over the possibilities for sculpting codes into walls and pillars. Digital hieroglyphs for the modern city.
Of course, they have more traditional, functional benefits. They could be a great help for those with sight or motor skills problems when placed alongside small print, summoning an enlarged text version on whatever device is being used, as well as enabling access to links without entering complex URLs. Our recent changes to bookleteer lets readers access a digital version of a book by scanning a QR Code on the back cover; instant, free distribution of content.
I would hazard a guess that developing their capability, whilst finding innovative ways in which they might be used, will be essential for QR Codes to stick around throughout the coming years, becoming a technology that can evolve beyond novelty uses or simple shortcuts.
Beyond being quickly scanned over.
Project 18, a collaboration between Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service and MAP, looked at what it’s like to be 18 now, and what it was like to be 18 in the past. This eBook, uploaded earlier this week to Diffusion, is a collection of stories gathered by young people from some of the older participants involved, alongside images of relevant objects from the Museum’s collection, as well as feedback from those who took part in the workshops and other activities.
Designed with comic book style panels for each story and vivid colours throughout (which look great contrasted with the monochrome photographs and historic objects), Project 18 provides snapshots of lives from what must seem to be another world for most younger people these days, in a format they’ll most likely be familiar with and enjoy. No doubt they’ll also find many similarities in the sentiments expressed and antics undertaken by their elders, proving how core human experiences persist through generations.
Download, print and make for yourself on Diffusion here.
(You can read a bit more about the project here.)