14 September 2012 | Comments (0)
1 May 2012 | Comments (0)
The best thing about ‘Inanimate Alice’ is how it continues to grow and expand around the world as a pedagogical title.
A couple of weeks ago, on twitter, a teacher from St. Joseph’s College, Echuca, Victoria, Australia, posted a great photo of four students with the line, ‘Boys preparing their Inanimate Alice digital stories (cool stuff)’. Years 5 and 6 at Redhills School in Exeter, Devon, UK, published a whole series of new episode 5s created using Photostory. As well as that, the American social network for kids, Everloop, which has just won a Parent’s Choice Award , has included ‘Inanimate Alice’ as one of its partners; the Alice team has created a whole set of assets for Everloop, that only Everloop kids can see.
In Australia, we are about to launch a series of digital photo-novellas, ‘Alice in Australia’. These stories, commissioned by Education Services Australia, will chart the lives of Alice and her family during a year they spend based in Melbourne. The stories are set in the time period between episodes one and two - so after Alice and her parents have left China, but before they move to Saudi Arabia. All the digital assets of these stories will be available for teachers and students for mash-up and remix. Here’s the url - but note that this will only work in Australia. Sorry about that, rest of world. ‘Alice in Australia’
And, finally, at last, we have now got a timetable for the production and release of our own ‘Inanimate Alice: Episode 5’; after a long delay, this all new episode will appear before the end of 2012. Hooray!
10 June 2011 | Comments (0)
Here’s a list of urls for what I’ll be discussing next week in Karlskrona Sweden. plus another chance to see the fab episode created by Primary 6V class in Carronshore PS Falkirk earlier this year. There are so many great new episodes of ‘Inanimate Alice’ out there now made by students and teachers, it’s fantastic to have so much to choose from.
Inanimate Alice: http://www.inanimatealice.com
Inanimate Alice on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/InanimateAlice
Laura Fleming’s blog: http://edtechinsight.blogspot.com/
Australian Grade 6 class: http://6cathie.com/
Alice and Friends – Digital Literacy wiki built around IA, created by two teachers in Australia: http://aliceandfriends.wikispaces.com/
Mr Woodz NZ class lesson plans etc: http://inanimatealice-aperspective.wikispaces.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-itUTAlahrw&feature=related Don’t know where these have come from
first ones I spotted: Aronow’s English 10: http://aronowsenglish10.blogspot.com/ - Epi 5 by 7th pd
The Daily Dose - radio chatshow podcast - Pittsburgh University - http://www.pitt.edu/~ksw15/AlicePodcast.html
4MD - audio critiques of the stories: http://www.dragons-eye.co.uk/blogs.htm
16 March 2011 | Comments (1)
I came across this yesterday and was amazed by it: it’s a fcitional podcast in the style of a radio interview. In it, Alice, the character we created for our online episodic multimedia digital novel (gasp) ‘Inanimate Alice’, is interviewed by the host of a show called ‘The Daily Dose’ about a ‘giga pet’ she’s created, ‘the Brad Bud’.
It’s just over three minutes long but I’m amazed by it on many levels, but mainly on the level of ‘wow’. These students have taken the Alice stories far beyond what exists online, developed Alice’s character into young adulthood, created a business for Alice that includes a piece of tech kit that Alice has designed herself, the Brad bud. Then they’ve gone one step further and created a talk show for Alice to appear in, with its own host, and they’ve recorded the talk show interview, and broadcast it, along with the transcript, online.
There’s very little information on the podcast webpage itself, but I can see from the url that it comes out of ‘pitt.edu’ which is the University of Pittsburgh in the US. A few tweets later, I’d figured out that these students are working with Jamie Skye Bianco, who is Professor of Digital Media at Pittsburgh (also known online as @spikenlilli). Jamie teaches both ‘Inanimate Alice’ and ‘Flight Paths’ to students on her ‘Narrative & Technology’ class; her students wrote a series of interesting blogposts about Alice and FP earlier this year.
It’s been nearly two years since new episodes of Inanimate Alice, created by readers, first started appearing online, and these new episodes continue to proliferate. The pedagogical community around the project continues to grow; if you are interested in it, a good place to start is the Facebook Inanimate Alice group page. Recent developments include a Scottish teacher, Hilery Williams, who has written a series of wonderful blog posts about using ‘Inanimate Alice’ with dyslexic teenaged readers; the post linked to here is number four in a series on Alice. As well as that, another Scottish teacher, Kenny Pieper, has been using Alice in his secondary school classroom and, again, blogging about it in a way that I’ve found both useful and inspiring. Both groups of students are working on their own episodes of Alice.
For writers who work in the genre of science fiction, this kind of reader-story interaction is fairly commonplace - ‘fanfic’, or fan fiction. But for a writer like me, working in both the genre of literary fiction, and with new forms of digital fiction, having readers talk back to my story in this way is an extraordinary experience. Every time I see a new episode, or a new blog post from people working with ‘Inanimate Alice’ I feel absolutely amazed. To me it seems a very meaningful form of interactivity and I’m thrilled that these stories are being used by students and teachers around the world to find new ways of talking and thinking about storytelling in the 21st Century.
I was interviewed recently for an article called ‘Are Midlist Authors An Endangered Species?’ that appeared in the Globe & Mail newspaper yesterday - somehow I’ve become one of the go-to-girls for journalists who want to talk about the future of the book and the future of stories. My conversation with the journalist was, of course, vastly reduced in the context of the article, and I ended up being quoted in the final paragraph, given this as a not-very-bright-sounding last word: “Writers will make a living in a lot of different ways, only some of which are writing,” Uh-huh. I was described in the article as a writer who “publishes both conventionally and online, where she posts fiction for free.” While, strictly speaking, when it comes to ‘Inanimate Alice’ and ‘Flight Paths’, this is true - these works are available online for free - to see the vast interactive community project that Alice in particular has become reduced to ‘fiction for free’ is infuriating. This is not to fault the journalist; my point here is that at the moment the argument about the future of publishing seems to be focussing on self-publishers vs real publishers, on ‘free’ versus ‘paid’ content. To me this feels like I’m watching a couple of mice argue over a tiny piece of cheese while around the corner a big fat cat (representing the vast potential for multimedia, interactivity, mobile delivery, etc etc etc that digital platforms offer to writers) sits calmly licking her paw.
This post is getting long and I need a cup of tea. We live in interesting times.
9 February 2011 | Comments (0)
This post is a replica of today’s post over at OpenBook Toronto.
Today marks the launch date of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2: http://collection.eliterature.org/2/ This is an elegantly curated collection of eliterature, a great starting point for anyone interested in the way the new technologies can be used to tell stories.
Over the past decade, I’ve effectively had my feet in two quite separate camps when it comes to writing and reading. As well as writing, publishing, and editing novels and short stories, I’ve also been involved with creating and publishing works of digital fiction online. By ‘digital fiction’ I mean works of fiction that depend upon the computer to exist, works that blend text with other media, including images, sounds, music, animation, video, and games; by ‘digital fiction’ I don’t mean ebooks, or enhanced ebooks, or books-as-apps. While works of digital fiction are increasingly high profile and popular, the two worlds – traditional publishing and digital fiction – remain remarkably immune to each other’s charms.
Two of the most high profile works of digital fiction I’m involved with – both of which are ongoing projects, and both of which are included in ELC2 – are Inanimate Alice and Flight Paths: A Networked Novel. ‘Inanimate Alice’ is the story of Alice, a girl who wants to be a games designer when she grows up; in the existing four episodes (six more are planned), the level of interactivity in the story increases as Alice’s own skills as a game designer increase. ‘Flight Paths’ is the story of what happens when two lives – a Pakistani man who has stowed away on an airplane, and a London woman – collide rather dramatically in the parking lot of a supermarket.
‘Inanimate Alice’ is used in schools and universities around the world as a tool for teaching both digital literacy and new ways of telling stories using the new technologies. There’s a very active international pedagogical community around the stories; if you are interested in this, the best way to find out what’s going on is to join the ‘Inanimate Alice’ Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/InanimateAlice or to follow @inanimatealice on twitter.
I’m passionate about the possiblities for literature in the digital age. We live in a time of great change – the way we read is changing, the way we write is changing, literature itself is changing. But our deep need for stories will never go away.
1 October 2010 | Comments (0)
For a long time now the international pedagogical community around ‘Inanimate Alice’ has been growing, but recent days have seen a fresh outburst of activity.
Julie Call, a middle school reading specialist from Minneapolis USA, recently published a case study based on using ‘Inanimate Alice’ with teenagers.
And Mr Woods, a teacher in New Zealand, has just published a wiki that tracks the progress of his class through reading ‘Inanimate Alice’ and creating their own version of episode 5. You will find this episode at the end of the wiki resource.
As well as this, John Warren of the Rand thinktank recently hosted a TeacherTalk webinar for iNACOL - the International Association for K-12 Online Learning ; you have to be a member of iNACOL to view the archive of this discussion.
A few months ago here in the UK Gavin Stewart published a paper in the academic journal ‘Convergence’, ‘The Paratexts of Inanimate Alice: Thresholds, Genre Expectation, and Status’.
So, once again, Alice is appealing to educators and academics throughout the primary, secondary, and higher education sectors.
The Facebook group for ‘Inanimate Alice’ is also seeing a far amount of activity at the moment, and ‘Inanimate Alice’ is mentioned with steady frequency on Twitter - follow @InanimateAlice.
The readership for ‘Inanimate Alice’ is enormous now. Here’s hoping the producer can find a way to finance more episodes.
4 September 2009 | Comments (0)
12 May 2009 | Comments (3)
I’ve just sent out a survey to the folks on the ‘Inanimate Alice’ mailing lists. If you like surveys, and if you like ‘Inanimate Alice’, I’d love to hear from you! I am thinking about attempting to write a novel based on the Alice stories, for the young adult market (13+) and I’m attempting to collect some basic information about the audience for ‘Inanimate Alice’. We have three fairly substantial mailing lists, so I’ve written to them all and asked everyone to complete the survey.
If you are interested, you can find the survey at Inanimate Alice Survey.
I promise not to sell you answers or use them in any way other than to get a small snapshot of our audience!
1 May 2009 | Comments (0)
I’ve written a new blog post for the folks at Internet Evolution > Thinker Net, which they’ve called ‘Coping with Book Censorship in the Digital Age’ Last time I wrote a post for these people, it attracted a lot of interesting comment and discussion, so hopefully this time it will as well, though there’s a comment up already from, ahem, M. Hulot, which isn’t all that… well… serious, it seems to me. Anyway, have a read. Feel free to comment here, or over there, although to comment on Internet Evolution you need to register and open an account with them.
31 March 2009 | Comments (3)
Chris and I have started working on ‘Inanimate Alice, Episode 5’ at long last, so, hopefully, it should appear some time this year! It’s good to revisit the story, and to think about how to ramp up the interactivity in episode 5 another notch from episode 4.
As well as this, I’ve got a proposal out for a new ‘Inanimate Alice’ development - fingers crossed on that. More when I have it; a writer’s life is mostly composed of waiting for other people to say ‘yes’ or, more often ‘no thanks’.
Australian educator and digital fiction enthusiast, Angela Thomas, has been blogging about Alice lately…