Hello, are you reading in your head?

Introduction

Inthefifthcenturytherewerenogapsbetweenwordsbecausepeople(mainlyreligiouspeople)justreadaloudandlistenedtowhatwaswritten.Readinginyourheadwasweird. Then there were gaps between words. And then (if not before) there were

paragraph breaks.

At some point there were books and there was the invention of the printing press, a montage of significant historical events and finally the Internet. So now we read and write mainly on computers and we're constantly amazed by how this technology is changing everything. And it is. Changing everything. But even before the web, ways of reading and writing were always changing and we were finding them strange and new.

That’s what I’m interested in as a design researcher: new and strange ways of reading and writing.

That’s why my PhD was about writing games that help small groups tell stories together. What is more important in a writing game: the game - the writing bit - or the story it produces - the reading bit? Usually the value of writing is worked out by the reader, but adding a game into the process tended to change that.

I am also developing an app that helps you find good novels, and a tool that helps you borrow books you see on Amazon from your local library.

- David Jackson, Storyjacker

Huh?

Storyjacker and researching story-writing games

PhD research

For my PhD thesis submission to the Manchester School of Art, I developed two multiplayer games on my story-writing platform Storyjacker designed to encourage players to write meaningful stories in small groups. I followed an iterative design process, using playtesting with Manchester Metropolitan University students to inform development decisions along the way.

At the end of the research, a board of creative writing experts assessed the quality of stories produced to provide insight into how games could be used to create meaningful stories in future.

Read a summary of my PhD research findings

Play Bamboo on the Storyjacker website

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Go to labs

Showrooming Amazon: Borrow It extension

Storyjacker lab project

BorrowIt! is an idea that came about when I was asked to present at a workshop at University of Sheffield in July 2016. I came across research on the future of libraries produced by Arts Council England. It found that the general public now has very high expectation of online services provided by libraries, set by online media vendors, such as Amazon, iTunes and Google.


Amazon and other online vendors produce apps that encourage showrooming: review a book in a bricks-and-mortar shop then buy or subscribe for a lower price online.

But what about reviewing online then borrowing for nothing from a library?

The Borrow It extension finds the book title when you’re on Amazon.co.uk websites and turns it into a link to that book at a Manchester Metropolitan Uni library.

I'm now working with the Manchester Metropolitan University libraries to bring this to students and turn it into a piece of software that any library can use.

No cover to judge: DipIn reader app

Project 2014-2016

The DipIn mobile app is a story comparison tool currently in development due for closed beta testing in winter 2016. It offers the reader two short text samples from the beginning of two different novels. The user reads both and chooses the one he likes best to learn more about that story. As the reader makes choices, the app learns about his taste to offer more appropriate story selections. If a reader likes a book he is reading, he can download samples or buy the book.

DipIn won an IC Tomorrow Books on the Move Contest for funding and partnership with the Publishers Association. Richard Mollet of The PA described the challenge as a way to find a new service ‘to capture the imagination of people who perhaps don’t read a great deal or perhaps don’t read at all and… be encouraged to read books.’

DipIn offers specific features targeted at changing the habits of casual readers and their attitudes to reading:

Makes reading fun again

  1. Game-like features
  2. Analysis of reading habits
  3. Personalisation of book selections

Makes the process of starting to read easier

  1. Manageable samples
  2. Easy purchasing or borrowing stream

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