Monday, April 27, 2009 - Staying Single to be broadcast

I've decided to broadcast Staying Single as part of my PhD - but to broadcast it in a wider and more focussed way that I did for my MA.

I've created Sophie's channel on and have broadcast a basic intro to Sophie. However I am planning to broadcast an episodic tv version of Staying Single - in a similar way to Sofia's Diary was on Bebo - over the next few months.

I'm still in pre-production phase on this however, and would be willing to take on any advice or hands-on experience that might help shape or move this project on.

Please feel free to contact me on

Jeff Gomez' 8 defining characteristics of a transmedia produciton - 2007

The Producers Guild of America blog reports on Jeff Gomez’s insights at the ‘Creating Blockbuster Worlds’ event in 2007:

The 8 defining characteristics of a transmedia production:

  1. Content is originated by one or a very few visionaries
  2. Cross-media rollout is planned early in the life of the franchise
  3. Content is distributed to three or more media platforms
  4. Content is unique, adheres to platform-specific strengths, and is not repurposed from one platform to the next
  5. Content is based on a single vision for the story world
  6. Concerted effort is made to avoid fractures and schisms
  7. Effort is vertical across company, third parties and licensees
  8. Rollout features audience participatory elements, including:
    - Web portal
    - Social networking
    - Story-guided user-generated content

Examples of contemporary trans-media properties include: The Blair Witch Project, The Matrix, Hot Wheels: World Race / Acceleracers, Bionicle, Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering, James Cameron’s AVATAR, many Disney projects including High School Musical, Pirates of theCaribbean, Fairies, Hannah Montana.

Vid Lit

I just found a VidLit of the MyBad book - VidLit have made some great mini video (literature) adaptations of books which cross the line between a TV 'short' and yet give something to promote the book too.

Definitely worth thinking about...

The Rosetta Project

Fifty to ninety percent of the world's languages are predicted to disappear in the next century, many with little or no significant documentation.

The Rosetta Project is a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers working to build a publicly accessible digital library of human languages. Since becoming a National Science Digital Library collection in 2004, the Rosetta Archive has more than doubled its collection size, now serving nearly 100,000 pages of material documenting over 2,500 languages—the largest resource of its kind on the Net.

A major concern of our project is the drastic and accelerated loss of the world’s languages. Just as globalization threatens human cultural diversity, the languages of small, unique, localized human societies are at serious risk. In fact, linguists predict that we may lose as much as 90% of the world’s linguistic diversity within the next century. Language is both an embodiment of human culture, as well as the primary means of its maintenance and transmission. When languages are lost, the transmission of traditional culture is often abruptly severed meaning the loss of cultural diversity is tightly connected to loss of linguistic diversity. To stem the tide and help reverse this trend, we are working to promote human cultural and linguistic diversity, as well as to make sure that no language vanishes without a trace.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era

Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era



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ENG 371WR:
Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era

M-W-F: 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Instructor: Robert Lanham

Course Description

As print takes its place alongside smoke signals, cuneiform, and hollering, there has emerged a new literary age, one in which writers no longer need to feel encumbered by the paper cuts, reading, and excessive use of words traditionally associated with the writing trade. Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era focuses on the creation of short-form prose that is not intended to be reproduced on pulp fibers.

Instant messaging. Twittering. Facebook updates. These 21st-century literary genres are defining a new "Lost Generation" of minimalists who would much rather watch Lost on their iPhones than toil over long-winded articles and short stories. Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets glimmer with a complete lack of forethought, their Facebook updates ring with self-importance, and their blog entries shimmer with literary pithiness. All without the restraints of writing in complete sentences. w00t! w00t! Throughout the course, a further paring down of the Hemingway/Stein school of minimalism will be emphasized, limiting the superfluous use of nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, gerunds, and other literary pitfalls.


Students must have completed at least two of the following.

ENG: 232WR—Advanced Tweeting: The Elements of Droll
LIT: 223—Early-21st-Century Literature: 140 Characters or Less
ENG: 102—Staring Blankly at Handheld Devices While Others Are Talking
ENG: 301—Advanced Blog and Book Skimming
ENG: 231WR—Facebook Wall Alliteration and Assonance
LIT: 202—The Literary Merits of Lolcats
LIT: 209—Internet-Age Surrealistic Narcissism and Self-Absorption

Required Reading Materials

Literary works, including the online table of contents of the Huffington Post's Complete Guide to Blogging, will serve as models to be skimmed for thorough analysis. Also, Perez Hilton's Twitter feed.


The Writing Is on the Wall:
Why Print/Reading Will Go the Way
of the Pictograph

Four weeks will be devoted to discussing the publishing industry and why―with the exception of wordless celebrity glossies―the print medium is, um, boring and, furthermore, totally dull.

Week 1:
Reading is stoopid

This fundamental truth may seem obvious to today's youth, but this wasn't always the case. Students will examine why former generations carried around heavy clumps of bound paper and why they chose to read instead of watching TV or playing Guitar Hero.

Week 2:
Printing words isn't good
for the environment

Students will evaluate why, as BuzzMachine founder Jeff Jarvis articulates, "Paper is where words go to die." Paper is also where rainforests go to die, which, needless to say, isn't good for the Hyla rhodopeplatree frog. Thus, while older generations wax nostalgic about curling up by the fireplace with a good book or the Sunday paper, students will be encouraged to remember The Lorax (the animated anti-logging-industry television special, not the book).

Week 3:
Curling up with
a good book/newspaper
is dangerous

Students will explore the dangers of curling up by fires with books and newspapers. That paper could catch fire should an ember unexpectedly pop out. And all that curling is not good for people's backs. Especially since most readers of books, magazines, and newspapers are elderly and are thus already more likely to suffer from back ailments.

Week 4:
The Kindle Question

Is Amazon's wireless reading device the Segway of handheld gadgets? Should it be smaller, come with headphones, and play MP3s instead of display book text? Students will discuss.


I Can Haz Writin Skillz?

This section of the course is a workshop where students will work to perfect their tweeting, blogging, and short-form writing skills.

Week 5:
Grammar and Technique

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of Internet slang and chatspeak is essential to creating effective tweets, instant messages, and text messages. Students will practice using emoticons to create powerful dialogue and to establish dramatic irony. They'll learn to gracefully integrate complex expressions into their IM writing, substituting the trite LOL ("laughing out loud") and "meh" (the written equivalent of a shrug) with more-advanced expressions like BOSMKL ("bending over smacking my knee laughing") and HFACTDEWARIUCSMNUWKIASLAMB ("holy flipping animal crackers, that doesn't even warrant a response; if you could see me now, you would know that I am shrugging like a mofu, biotch"). Students will be encouraged to nurture their craft, free of the restraints of punctuation, syntax, and grammar.

Week 6:
140 Characters or Less

Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets come alive with shallow wit. They'll learn how to construct Facebook status updates that glitter with irony, absurdity, and dramatic glibness. When tweeting, for instance, that "John is enjoying a buttery English muffin," why not add a link to an image of a muffin with butter oozing from its nooks and crannies? Or why not exaggerate a tad and say that there's bacon on that muffin, even if there's not? It's called poetic license when writers do it! Students will be encouraged to show honesty and vulnerability in their tweets: "Lydia is lounging about in her underwear at 401 Park Street apartment #2, feeling guilty about telling her boss that her uncle died but enjoying the day off." There's no such thing as oversharing when you're a writer.

Week 7:

No postprint writing class would be complete without a comprehensive overview of blog writing. Students will work to make their blogging more vivid using the fundamentals of the craft, such as imagery, foreshadowing, symbolism, and viral paparazzi photos of celebrity nip slips. Students will practice posting viral YouTube videos with eye-catching headlines like "Check this out," "BOSMKL," and "Doesn't this CRAZY cat look like she's giving that ferret a high-five?" Students will learn time-saving tricks, like how to construct an 800-word blog entry in 30 seconds using a simple news article and copy-and-paste. And, as an exercise in the first-person narrative form, students will blog intimate details about their lives, their studies, and their sexual histories (with pictures), with the intent of being linked to by gossip sites and/or discovered by future employers.


The Industry—Getting Published

Students will learn inside knowledge about the industry—getting published, getting paid, dealing with agents and editors—and assess why all the aforementioned are no longer applicable in the postprint, post-reading age.

Week 8:
New Rules

Students will analyze the publishing industry and learn how to be more innovative than the bards of yesteryear. They'll be asked to consider, for instance, Thomas Pynchon. How much more successful wouldGravity's Rainbow have been if it were two paragraphs long and posted on a blog beneath a picture of scantily clad coeds? And why not add a Google search box? Or what if Susan Sontag had friended 10 million people on Facebook and then published a shorter version of The Volcano Lover as a status update: "Susan thinks a volcano is a great metaphor for primal passion. Also, streak of my hair turning white—d'oh!"

Attendance: Unnecessary, but students should be signed onto IM and/or have their phones turned on.

Evaluation: Students will be graded on the RBBEAW* system, developed to assess and score students based on their own relative merit.

A+ = 100–90
A = 89–80
A- = 79–70
A-- = 69–60
A--- = 59–50
A---- = 49–0

Instructor: Robert Lanham, star of the vblog seriesWriter's Block: Embrace It—Stop Wasting Time and Live!

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* Raised by Boomers, Everyone's a Winner

Sunday, April 12, 2009

MIPTV - Disney Interactive's Cindy Rose delivers eye-opening keynote

Thought provoking facts from Disney Interactive, which makes me realise that one of the keys to the 'success' of writing for new platforms is to know HOW consumers will react to your work.

Multi-tasking teenagers, (as quoted by Cindy Rose) who are watching TV whilst on 5 websites and IM, are partially attentive to these 7 tasks simultaneously (aided by the 'clickability' factor) - but if they were playing an online role in a game or caught up by an 'experience' such as reading a traditional book they would be far
more immersed and probably less likely to click away and multi-task... I am working on a piece now that will test which types of interactive entertainment consumers WANT to be immersed in, and which types they like to receive in 'bite-size-chunks'....

Television is just the tip of the entertainment iceberg for today’s consumers, Cindy Rose, senior vice-president and managing director of Disney Interactive Media Group, EMEA, said in her keynote on cross-platform gaming

With a sequence of 10 slides and a battery of statistics, she depicted vividly a new world where multi-tasking and interactivity are essential for all ages. A survey of consumers aged 13 to 75 posted the question: Is your computer becoming more of an entertainment device than your TV? Among the millennials (ages 13-24) 80% answered yes; Gen Xers (25-41) 74%; baby boomers (42-60) 64%; and even among seniors it was 51%.

A poll of Disney consumers aged seven to 14 showed “they are typically on five websites at the same time while watching TV and instant messaging, all at the same time”.

On average, 80% own and use multiple gaming devices - for example 84% have a DS and a Wii. The typical day of a European child consists of gaming for breakfast, mobile phone before and after school, PC before dinner and family TV after. Rose said those trends caused her to look closely at her own children’s entertainment schedules.

Rose provided a quick tour of Disney’s 23 interactive sites, ranging from Tinkerbell through Pirates Of The Caribbean to the forthcoming World Of Cars.

At Club Penguin “an ad-free online playground”, boys’ favourite activities were games and parties, while girls opt to decorate their igloos and customise their penguins. That brand was already on multiple platforms and in merchandising, with the potential for theme parks and other earners. While the “Disney difference” was that her company had the scope and resources to do that, she told broadcasters: “You can no longer be satisfied serving up traditional linear TV shows.”