Friday, 27 August 2010

My Current Reading List

I seem to have developed a fairly long reading list of late. And I thought I should write it down somewhere. And why not blog it while I'm at it...

  • "Quicksilver" - Neal Stephenson. An epic work of fiction and part of his "Baroque Cycle" trilogy. It's about scientists (or "Natural Philosophers" as they were then called) in the late 17th century. Currently reading.

  • "1001 Rules for my Unborn Son" - Walker Lamond. A much lighter work, based on the blog of the same name, offering fatherly advice to young men. I probably wouldn't agree with all the advice; but it would serve as a good starter for discussions I ought to have with the boys.

  • "We Need to Talk About Kelvin" - Marcus Chown. Popular science, nothing revolutionary; but from a quick flick-through in the bookshop, it's really well written.

  • "1000 Years of Annoying the French" - Stephen Clarke. An irreverent look at the turbulent history and rivalry between Britons and the French.

  • "This History of Israel" - John Bright. This is a standard classic textbook that's been reprinted over and over. I'll probably pick up a 2nd hand copy for next-to-nothing.

  • "Surely You're Joking Mr Feynmann" - Richard Feynmann. A famous work, which I realised I'd never read. Let's sort that out.

  • "13 Things that Dont't Make Sense" - Michael Brooks. A book I bought for my dad. About those bits of the universe that science hasn't got a comfortable grip on yet.

  • "And Another Thing" - Eoin Colfer. Being a continuation of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker "Trilogy". I don't know what to expect, except the unexpected of course.
As you can see, there's a fair bit of history and science in there. And even some fiction for a change. I guess this is probably 2-years worth of reading really - unless I manage to increase my 15-minutes before bed habit (supplemented by odd half-hours snatched at other times when I can.)

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Twitter Experiment

It seems that nobody really *knows* what Twitter is for exactly. But, there is a strong tradition amongst geeks of looking at a thing and pondering "what can I use this for?" And in the spirit of that geeky tradition I decided upon an experiment using twitter as a vehicle for fiction. Now many people have tried writing #vss tweets (= Very short Story) - I've written a few myself. But I wondered whether it would be possible and indeed practical to write a short drama for several characters - using several different twitter accounts.

So, I've spent a little time thinking of a rudimentary story, and I've set up some accounts for the characters. But there are many questions which arise from the experiment already...

How many characters should I write for? At the moment I have 3 characters, but I may only really use 2.

Is it necessary or desirable to have a "Narrator" for those parts of the story which don't have a "voice"? To begin with I've opted not to use such a device.

How should the drama be "labelled" or grouped together? This is a more technical problem, and I initially tried to use a hashtag, so anyone could choose to tune-in to the drama using the hashtag. But surprisingly, it didn't seem to work very reliably. (And in my first few tweets I kept forgetting to append the hashtag too.) So now, I'm trying a List-based approach instead. I merely created a list to follow the characters and it seems to work very simply, although I'm surprised that the hashtag idea was so unreliable.

One of the other interesting aspects is the prospect of audience participation. It would be possible for anyone to reply to the characters and they could even influence the story. Who knows? We may find out soon.

The drama is not long or convoluted so it won't take long to run through the whole thing. I imagine I will probably write 10-or-so tweets per day for the story and it will probably finish within a week. While I have planned the story, it's not all planned in great detail, and it may be subject to some change.

Here's the link to the List: Twitter Play