Sunday, February 20, 2011

WEEKEND ROUND-UP: "GOOGLE LIT-TRIPS," "3 GENERATIONS," "CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE"

A few things I've taken note of the past week.


GLT Animation Demo from GoogleLitTrips on Vimeo.

GOOGLE LIT-TRIPS: This is a website that uses Google maps and Google Earth to create and host "virtual tours" of the settings for books. In the video above, the site's creator, Jerome Burg, uses "The Kite Runner" as an example of how Google Lit-Trips can complement your enjoyment of a book by virtually "flying" you to the novel's actual locales, and providing historical information pertaining to the plot. Google Lit-Trips is used primarily as an educational tool for schools, but anyone can dig it! People can also use the site to share "Google Lit-Trips" they create themselves.

3 GENERATIONS: Here's an organization I just heard about -- and they're having a Brooklyn, New York fundraiser on February 28, 2011. "3 Generations works to end injustice and fulfill humanity's potential through storytelling," says their website. "We partner with the organizations doing the most effective direct service or advocacy work on a given issue -- we tell their stories and our content and campaigns compel people to support their work." Their latest campaign is against child sex slavery in the United States. "Slavery" is a word they use advisedly -- rather than "prostitution" -- on the logic that a minor cannot choose to be a prostitute, and that any sex-for-pay by a minor is necessarily coercive.

A LOOK BACK AT "CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE" BOOKS: On Slate.com this week, Grady Hendrix has a smart, fun article and slide show that takes a look back at the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series, and how they "taught us to love interactive entertainment." Makes sense, right? These books were a precursor to interactive digital storytelling. Hendrix writes that the idea for interactive fiction was laid out by Jorge Luís Borges in his 1941 story, "The Garden of Forking Paths," in which is described a labyrinthine book whose plot is determined by the reader's choices. Though not modeled on that story, the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series does that very thing. At the end of each chapter, the reader is presented with different choices -- like whether or not to investigate a haunted house -- and each choice points to a different chapter to read next. At the end of that chapter, more choices, and so on. Each book has 20, 30, even 40 possible endings. The series' creators (who had, um, artistic differences and split off years ago), are each pursuing their own updates on the series. I don't know that they're planning anything like this, but an online version of the series could invite anyone to contribute new chapters and choices to a given story -- thereby presenting a nearly limitless "garden of forking paths."

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