Writer/Reader Mashup

Last night I was at the Writer/Reader Mashup in London. There were five speakers, each of which had ten minutes, and some time for discussion at the end. It was a great event.

Here are my brief notes. The audio was recorded and might be available from Creative Partnerships (in “two to three weeks”). I did record the audio from Guy‘s session, which I’ll share if he’s happy for me to do so.

Leon, Rose and Jacob Rose and Jacob Kate Pullinger Stories Guy

Anyway, my (woefully incomplete) notes…

Leon Cych – UK Director of Learn 4 Life

Leon demonstrated his Web 2.0 creds by delivering his presentation through SlideShare. In fact, here it is

  • Mashup as parody (Weird Al, Tom Lehrer, the Simpsons)
  • Mashup as Transmedia Storytelling – working across different forms of media
  • Second Life, Destroy Television (yay).
  • The Google of Things (see slide 9)
  • Copyright and fair use
  • Web 2.0 is not use to full effect in schools because access to the web is generally limited
  • Teachers need to keep up. Asking a group of teachers (under 30 years old) “what’s Emo” and nobody could tell him.


Rose Macharia – Student and avid reader

  • Reading creates community.
  • The youth of today have so many ways to express themselves, including drawing, poetry, short stories, writing journals…
  • [Rose coined a new word] ‘Expressivity’


Jacob Sam-La Rose – Poet

  • Web 2.0: democratization of production
  • It’s happening now with reading communities (Shelfari: bookshelf as social media)
  • Too much emphasis on the book as an artifact: interesting moves to increase digital access for free
  • “What did poets do before MySpace?”
  • The web allows communication with authors and poets (not just emerging writers, but established ones)
  • Increased dialogue between writers and their readers


Kate Pullinger – Author

  • Kate is unusual in that she works in both digital and print.
  • Good stories, well told, regardless of the medium
  • Participatory media. 1 million penguins.
  • The book is perfect technology: cheap, portable, disposable, long lasting…
  • Net native content is being largely ignored by both publishers and writers. (While there is a Japanese tradition of creating content for mobile phones, but we don’t have that yet in the West.)
  • Participatory media disrupts the authorial voice.
  • Kate’s interactive fiction project: inanimatealice.com


Guy Parsons – Game Designer

  • [Guy did not eschew PowerPoint, describing himself as] “Bill Gates’ bitch”.
  • Stories and Games
  • Conversation is not new. Broadcast and passive consumption is what’s new.
  • With participatory media we’re now experiencing a correction and reaching equilibrium.
  • Participation adds value.
  • Overview of Perplex City (1M words, 60,000 players. Websites, blogs, newspaper…)
  • Rather than thinking about Adds -> Content -> Spinoffs  think about the story.
  • “The territory no longer precedes the map”  (Baudrillard) (more background)
  • The wiki for Perplex City (and Lost) was part of the experience, not just about it.
  • Being part of the story is better than getting a choice in the direction of the story
  • When you is the hero, learning something means it’s you who gains that experience, not just your character.

I’ll add a link here to the podcast from the event once it becomes available.  I’m hoping Guy will share his slides too, because they were both funny and informative.


Five conclusions:

  1. Penguin have some very nice offices on the Strand. A great view over the city.
  2. Guy Parsons is an amazing speaker. His contact details are easy to find so book him now.
  3. The world is changing (as if we had not noticed).
  4. Education is missing out by blocking rather than embracing the web. We had examples of school kids unable to access reading groups on MySpace, and one student who couldn’t research “canals” at school because it blocked the mention of “anal”. Leon says acceptable use policies can help here. There is a huge and ongoing debate about how open corporations should be (here, here, here and here for some background) and for schools the debate is even more heated.
  5. Free events are great. Thanks to Creative Partnerships and The Reading Agency for running it.

But don’t take my word for it. Jeremy and Guy have blogged about it too.

Update: Guy has re-written his presentation for the web, making it really beautiful and readable.