Listening to The Story

On Friday I had the distinct pleasure of taking a short break from JISC-world and attending The Story, an event organised and curated by Matt Locke from Channel 4 although this was very much a personal project rather than anything work related.

This was a very different kind of event – almost a spoken word concert/festival (is there such a thing?) that consisted of a mix of amazing people telling stories or giving presentations about creating stories. I did feel a little bit like I had crashed the ‘cool kids’ party as it was a bit London media centric in the audience – a good chunk of the BBC had obviously decided to come along to support one of their alumni!

I won’t go into a great deal of details about what I saw and heard – I’m pretty sure I heard someone say that the talks were recorded and will be released as podcasts and I’m sure Flickr will fill up with pics soon enough as many a camera was flashing so you won’t miss out entirely.

Highlights for me included..(well the whole morning session really)..hearing Cory Doctorow read one of this short stories aloud (called The Story So Far it was a clever mediation about bookselling and publishing in the future – something I’ve been interested in for a while..).

Aleks Krotoski then basically pressed play on a wonderful, incredibly honest little video mashup of her experiences making the Virtual Revolution for BBC2. I really enjoyed this – especially how different it was from Doctorow’s very old school reading before her (confession time – I haven’t watched Virtual Revolution – these shows tend to irritate me so I avoid them but I might catch up on iPlayer after seeing Dr Krotoski in person).

I have no idea what Jon Spooner was talking about but if there is a more entertaining public speaker doing the rounds I haven’t encountered then and the three stories Tim Etchells read led to me ordering his novel ‘The Broken World‘ there and then on Amazon!

Maybe not surprisingly my favourite talk of the day was by the ‘graphic storyteller’ (well comic book artist/writer to those of us more old school..). Amongst other cool stuff Sydney Padua writes and draws a web comic called Lovelace and Babbage, something I wish was available in print I have to admit, and she gave what she claimed was her first presentation (amazing if this was true as she was brilliant) about her process and gave an insight into just how much thought she puts in to every panel of her work. It was an interesting, insightful and funny talk and I doubt I was the only guy in the audience a little bit infatuated with Ms Padua by the end of it 🙂

I only stayed for the first session of the afternoon and was extremely interested in the talk about Echo Bazaar and how they go about making sense of the chaos that surround such a complex interactive story. It was the most ‘digital’ talk of the day and I think it was an important one as it showed how complex it can be to try and build a new kind of storytelling using the digital tools at our disposal these days. Fail Better Games also display a poetic streak in their process that fitted well with the day.

The ‘Harrison Fraud’ reading by Tim Wright was extremely amusing and I imagine the radio play that has been spun out of this (I guess) true story is likely to be very funny. That said it was interesting how the humor almost totally disguised the ‘sub-plot'(?) that covered the failure of his marriage. Very clever story telling.

All in all it was a pretty inspiring day (though there was also an element on the train ride home of wondering what the hell am I doing with my life and why can’t I be involved with anything clever and creative like this!) and I came away with a head full of ideas and a beautifully designed newspaper! It was even good enough to keep me down to only a couple of tweets during the day – pretty much unheard of for my at an event.

On a practical, events-minded topic the use of an MC between the sessions and having pretty tightly timed 20 minute presentations worked really well and was the kind of format that kept everyone interested – it wasn’t really the sort of event where there are questions from the audience but I was thinking that breaking the day into 30 minute slots with 20 minutes talks and 10 minute Q and As would make for an interesting day…

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