Tuesday, 19 July 2011

What Next? - Karen King

Do you remember typing on a machine that looked like this?

It was so annoying having to feed through two sheets of paper with carbon paper between so that you could save a copy for yourself. I often put the carbon paper the wrong way round which meant that the carbon copy was printed on the back of the top copy so I had to start all over again. Every mistake I made had to be carefully tip-pexed out then typed over, every revision meant at least a whole page of retyping. So frustrating!
I was so excited when I bought my very first computer.


The screen was green, the dot matrix printout wasn't great and if I hit the wrong key I got alarming messages that I'd committed a fatal operation and would be closed down. Scary! But the delight of being able to delete errors and save copies of my work onto floppy disks was worth it. Computers have improved a lot since then as technology advances at an alarming speed. Not that long ago mobile phones were like this:

Now they are tiny, all-singing, all-dancing devices that allow you to read and write emails, surf the net, talk to your friends the other side of the world, take photos and play music.

And then along comes the Kindle, the electronic device that holds hundreds of books.


So what next? What do you think will be the next electronic marvel?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just as CGI in films is replacing real actors, I'm a little worried that computers might replace real writers ...
Karen (still unable to make the comments box work!)

Katherine Roberts said...

Colour Kindle?

madwippitt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan Lennon said...

Yes! Colour Kindle!

Susan Price said...

A colour kindle you can read in the bath!
And computers replace writers? Not for a very long time yet.

Dan Holloway said...

I think several ereaders come with colour already, and there are some quite exciting things that you can do content-wise.

I have to say as a writer I'm still fascinated to see if textnovels will take off outside Japan, because they seem like a really interesting challenge to the writer. Most of all, though, I'm excited by the use of geolocationary tech so that the reading experience can be tailored to where you are and the people around you. For reference andthe like it's already there (ish) but I love the idea fo it being applied to thrillers in particular so the chase will always be happening just around the corner from you. An intermediate phase would be the suggestion of short stories and poems from Amazon or other databases based on your location.

On a totally low tech note I just love flipbooks and miniatures in general - poetry vending is really cool (http://eightcuts.com/2010/12/03/toronto-poetry-vendors/) and something we're looking to do in Oxford.

madwippitt said...

Dan, you have completely lost me! I think I may be in the wrong classroom ... certainly bottom of the class ... :-(

Katherine Roberts said...

Having just changed the comment form again, I though I'd better check it still works...

Dan, the unicorn is lost too. What are textnovels? And novels where the location is just around the corner... sounds great, but how does that work? (Can you do a blog post about these amazing things?)

Debbie said...

I'm here now! And I have no idea what Dan is talking about either - but I'm easily confused.

I'd like to see the ability to add music to the kindle - on my next scheduled post, I'm talking about associating music with books.

Joan Lennon said...

This comment form works perfectly - well done, Katherine!

Dan Holloway said...

Textnovels are novels that are written specifically for cell phones, and are hugely popular in Japan. There's a great site - http://textnovel.com - that has thousands. You subscribe on your phone and get a chapter at a time. The ones that really use the form to its full potential have tiny chapters, often 100 words or less (this is a really good example: http://www.textnovel.com/story/Once-Upon-A-Christmas-Wish.../2395/ ) It's like flash fiction, only with a whole novel.

There isn't (quite) I don't think a gadget that will do the fully location-specific stories (which is why I mentioned it here!) but the technology would be based on a gps rather like Foursquare, and the location thing that tells you where someone is tweeting from. To combine it with a story, you would have to break your story down into "universal" parts that contained dialogue and plot points and descriptive/action parts, for which you would write several/many versions that could be selected by software but would be story-specific not just like having google earth.

What I love about both of these as a writer which isn't really there on Kindle (except for the fact it is rehabilitating novellas) is that they make you re-examine the basic elements and form of storytelling. Rather than simply writing a book and putting it out on a different platform, you are creating storytelling that's specific to a platform. The restrictions make you *more* creative - in the case of textnovels, the ultra-concentrated episode length, and in the case of location-specific novels, the whole way you structure the composition, and relate the universal to the specific. One of my heroes is the musician Jack White, whose most famous band for many years was The White Stripes. The band had just two members, and their stage sets, costumes, and album design only ever used 3 colours - black, white, and red. Jack maintains that forcing himself to work within such narrow limits made him explore his art to the very edges of its potential in a way he never would have doen if he'd been able to get the effect he was looking for by adding another instrument/laid down sample, or another colour. I'm sure the same applies with writing - the traditional form of the novel rather than giving us freedom to push literature in all kinds of directions has actually made literature over the last 100 years or so rather lazy and uncerative.

Katherine Roberts said...

Ah, creating storytelling that's platform specific... that I do get! (I was thinking along those lines for my Genghis Khan novel, which refuses to "settle" into a conventional structure but might work quite well on Kindle with a simple choose-your-own viewpoint, using hyperlinks to skip chapters.)

I suspect this kind of thing is not something a mainstream publisher would go for, since they obviously want to maximise sales across all platforms. But perhaps it is something we can do with our independent projects? Interesting...

Debbie said...

Gosh, yes - kindle would be great for those role-playing type stories where you choose a character and the plot depends on your selections on each page. Half novel, half computer game, though ypu'd need better graphics for the kid market that type of interactive story would appeal to.