The Dawn Of New Media Storytelling

Besides varying artwork and font selections as well as hardcover or soft cover choices, I would argue little has changed in the publishing world during the past century when it comes to books (at least presentation-wise). But now, Penguin, one of the biggest publishers in the world, has started, what we might call, a web 2.0 project that changes the way storytelling is done in the new age. “We Tell Stories” features six authors, composing 6 stories over 6 weeks. How they tell the story is what makes all the difference.

In week one, author Charles Cummings wrote The 21 Steps, a story that unfolded across a map of the world, using Google Maps. In week two, Toby Litt used blogs and twitter updates to tell the story titled “Slice”, where readers can even email the “characters”. Week three, featured Kevin Brooks’ “Fairy Tales”, that depended on user inputs to complete the story. Week four, saw Nicci Gerrard and Sean French writing the story “Your Place & Mine” live on the Internet for one hour every day, for four days. Week five featured “Hard Times” penned by Matt Mason (author) and Nicholas Felton (designer) is a graphic look at teens in the new media era.

This week, on April 22nd, Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), should be doing something similarly interesting, so watch out for it.

It’s amazing how new media has had such a tangible impact on the real world, and is in fact shaping the new world. Traditional modes of media are searching for new and innovative ways to survive online in this interconnected universe. A project like this makes Amazon’s e-book device, Kindle, seem like an industry cop out.


  • This is really fascinating… but I can’t help but think there is a reason the publishing world hasn’t changed that much over the centuries; I mean after a long tiresome day staring at my computer, there is a certain timeless romanticism to sitting in bed with a paper novel…
    but on the other hand, this might mean books becoming much cheaper, and that would be a welcome compromise! hehe

  • Deena: it’s really not just books. innovation itself tends to slow down after the first breakthrough. look at planes for example. even cell phones haven’t changed all that much except the various improvements such as more memory and smaller sizes etc, etc. It’s a human thing. We invent and we stick with the formula, only reworking a few variables. The Internet perhaps revolutionized a few things by opening greater doors of opportunities and possibilities.

  • moshin hamid caught my eye…i actually read that book..i haven’t visited your site in a long time..suprising randomness!

  • This storytelling project is really cool. Thanks for this!

    On innovation, when was the wheel invented? And how many thousands of years did it take us to put wheels on our suitcases?

  • I’ve already started reading/ browsing Charles Cummnings “The 21 Steps,” but quit after reaching chapter 10 (i was almost there). To tell you the truth, the technique and narrative device used is, perhaps, creative and unique, but it totally ruptures the narrative. This disruption is actually caused by the physical movement of the actions on the map, the fragmented bubbles that appear and disappear containing statements and parts of the narrative, the rough switch from one chapter to the other, all of which factor in disrupting the story, destroying the plot, and killing the suspense that is an essential aspect of such triller stories! and sara7a, this all made the story go off as lame and disintegrated!
    ahhhh, if only they knew/remember the power of Shahrazade and her mesmerizing, yet effective storytelling techniques and narrative skills, they would have maybe added an audio element as to keep it all intricate, integrated, and quite exciting! Oh, but who’d wanna admit to the genius of this Eastern (perhaps Arab, Muslim) women’s skill in telling stories despite the lack of all these alternatives this high-tech era offers… šŸ˜€

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