Week in Links: Tchotchkes, Zombies, and Book Mazes

Tchotchkes Made Significant Through Stories – Marketplace.org

We had this hypothesis that you could actually add value to an object by completely making up a story about it—a completely fictitious story….The stories were good, but I think that there was something about the project that people wanted to participate in. They wanted to be part of the story, and they wanted to tell their friends about it…

This fascinating project proves that even a turd can be polished into a gemstone with the help of a good story.

Zombie Nouns – NY Times Opinonator

Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings.

Read the above article to learn why zombie nouns are not cool. And then make sure you beat those bastards with a cricket bat when you next encounter them.

London Maze Made From 250,000 Books – LitReactor

An enormous labyrinth made of at least 250,000 books is being created at Southbank Centre as part of the London 2012 Festival. The aptly titled aMAZEme project is spearheaded by Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pup…[who] hope visitors will “discover new textures, images and emotions while being immersed inside the world of books.”

I’m a sucker for things like gigantic mazes constructed from books, and I’m an even bigger sucker for interactive, community-based art projects. This project will not only be built by volunteers, it will also host live author readings and other events inside the maze, and visitors can take a book from the maze when they leave. So. Damn. Cool.

Write ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books Through This Clever HTML5 App – Fast Co.Design

Who hasn’t, at least for a moment, thought a Choose Your Own Adventure book would be fun to write? It’s like making a game out of words. Branching narratives are a surprisingly natural approach to make books interactive. But they’re a logistical nightmare. Multiple storylines? Converging plots? How could you keep even a simple story straight?

A company called inkle appears to have figured it out…[and] is making their internal compositional software available to the public free as an HTML5 web app called inklewriter. So, without any coding expertise at all, and without much preplanned plot, either, you can simply start typing an interactive novel.

Anyone who didn’t love Choose Your Own Adventures as a kid is a soulless, kitten hater. I tested the inklewriter app already, and it is very easy to dive right in and use. So get to it, people. We no longer have excuses to ignore this beloved art form.

I Hate This Book So Much: A Meditation – Time

I cannot stand this book I’m reading right now.

It’s a novel. It’s by a writer who is generally described as Great, but who I’ve always personally felt is Pretty Good When He’s Really On His Game, Which Was Like For One Book, But Generally Speaking He’s Really Not That Good At All. Like For Example Right Now.

The comments section for Lev Grossman’s article and his Twitter feed have turned into a guess-the-book game. But the point is that anyone with a brain and their own thoughts have “great” authors they absolutely hate. For me it’s everything ever written by Franzen.

Inside the Quest to Put the World’s Libraries Online – The Atlantic

The fascination with completeness is as timeless as it is ingrained. In the last decade, the Internet has made the ambition of universality appear closer to realization than ever before: What is the Web, if not a vast collection, and an accessible one? But as with any new frontier, formidable challenges attend exciting possibilities—and nowhere has this been more apparent than in the efforts of the Digital Public Library of America, a coalition spearheading the largest effort yet to curate and make publicly available the “cultural and scientific heritage of humanity,” with a focus on materials from the U.S., by harnessing the Internet’s capabilities. The DPLA hopes to create a platform that will orchestrate millions of materials—books from public and university libraries, records from local historical societies, museums, and archives—into a single, user-friendly interface accessible to every American with Internet access.

Long and thoughtful piece on the DPLA and all of the potential pitfalls and challenges they face with a project of this massive scale. Nothing really snarky I can add here, sorry.

Every Friday, I highlight links from the week—all related to writing, storytelling, and plain ol’ books. Some of the links I love, some of the links I don’t, but I believe all are worth reading and discussing. If you’re the type to eat dessert before dinner, you can get these and much, much more by following me on Twitter: @messemi.

Week in Links: The Swedes Augment Reality

Ikea Adds Augmented Reality to 2013 Catalog – Mashable:

Ikea has added augmented reality to its 2013 catalog with new features that let consumers access films, interactive experience and photo galleries with their smartphones.

Mashable has uncovered one more way that the Swedes are taking over the world. Ikea’s yearly catalog is already my grown-up version of the Sears Holiday Wish Book, and this is going to drain more of my time (and iPhone battery power).

Geeking About Storytelling with Joss Whedon – i09:

Joss Whedon is in the unique position of being both a cult icon and a huge mainstream creator, thanks to projects like Firefly and The Avengers. But both halves of his success spring from his ability to create addictive stories, that leave you desperate to know what happens next.

The Geek God, Joss Whedon, answers some interesting questions about transitioning stories between different mediums (film to TV to comics). But what I really wanted them to ask: Why is Dr. Horrible and Firefly so good while Dollhouse left me collapsed on the floor in a pool of vomit?

The Silent History: New Digital Story Project Inspired by “The Wire” – Melville House Books:

The former publisher of McSweeney’s, Eli Horowitz, along with Russell Quinn, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett have a new digital reading platform called The Silent History, which is designed with the circumambulatory nature of storytelling in mind, more so than a straight-forward linear format.

I haven’t been this excited about an interactive story since I first heard about Zombies, Run! a year ago. The fact that readers can add their own supplements to the story via “Field Reports” makes this project sound even more amazetrain.

Every Friday, I highlight links from the week—all related to writing, storytelling, and plain ol’ books. Some of the links I love, some of the links I don’t, but I believe all are worth reading and discussing. If you’re the type to eat dessert before dinner, you can get these and much, much more by following me on Twitter: @messemi.