Books You Dress Up For: Novel Augmentation Through Sensory Fiction

As someone who studied literature in university and works in the creative arts, I probably should be a purist. Maybe even a snob.

But since I’m also into gaming, technology, and all sorts of absurdly “low” culture, I am actually very interested in anything that pushes the edges of where formal literature is going – or, at least, shows us how far it can go.

This past week I stumbled across an article about a vest that is to be worn when reading the award-winning novella, The Girl Who Was Plugged In, by James Tiptree, Jr. (pen name of Alice Sheldon). The vest works as a technological peripheral that stimulates certain physical sensations for the reader, triggered by events in the book.

The kids these days are calling this Sensory Fiction. And man, I’m so down for it.

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RSF Social Finance: Relationships Matter | A Photofilm by Dan Seguin

Finance is one of those industries that, because of how negatively it has impacted so many people, it gets a pretty bad rap. Perhaps deservedly so.

But there are institutions out there that are leveraging the principles of finance and taking them to a grassroots and more human level.

My friend & colleague Dan Seguin is (among other things) a photojournalist who has put together a photofilm on RSF Social Finance – an organization that is looking at communal needs rather than personal gain, and puts finance into a different context.

Check it out.

RSF Social Finance – Relationship Matters from Daniel Séguin on Vimeo.

You can check out some of Dan’s other work on his site.

Informing and Entertaining Despite Shortened Attention Spans: The Guardian’s NSA Files Decoded

People’s attention spans have shortened. Wait – are you still with me?

I said, people’s attention spans have shortened. For instance, I am no longer able to recite Sophocles from memory. And if I could, who would listen?

A few years ago, when I was writing more frequently about the “future of journalism”, the struggles and growing pains of traditional news outlets were mostly based around a) funding and b) competing for audiences believed to be no longer able to concentrate for long periods thanks to technological changes.

Well, journalism funding models are still primarily stuck in a pay-wall / subscription paradigm, but an interesting shift has happened around content. And you can see it in pieces like the Guardian’s NSA Files Decoded.
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What Netflix Can Teach Us About Personalized Data, or, How to Enjoy Werewolf Gambling Mistaken-Identity Satires From the 1940s

Cutting my marketing teeth in the nefarious and multiply-A/B-tested world of direct mail, I have a fondness for data-driven targeting.

Now, I realize a data-first worldview makes some marketing useless at best and creepy at worst, and this kind of tracking also seems to spell disaster for geopolitics as recent NSA revelations have shown.

But tracking, aggregating choices, and serving up suggestions is also what makes services like Last.FM and Pandora (sadly, still not available in Canada) so helpful. So how does it work? Or, more importantly, how does it work when it works well?

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"I am absolutely consumed with narcissism. I think this stuff about Twitter and Facebook is very odd…."

“"I am absolutely consumed with narcissism. I think this stuff about Twitter and Facebook is very odd. I don’t think it is about communication. I don’t think it’s about communication when you say, ‘I just bought a grape’. Who cares if you bought a grape."”

- Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) discussing Social Media.