Archive for February, 2010

Digital Storytelling: The Evolution of Publishing Fiction on a Mobile Device (TOCCON 2010)

O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference 2010At O’Reilly Publishing Tools of Change (TOC) conference in New York was the session Digital Storytelling: The Evolution of Publishing Fiction on a Mobile Device by Geoffrey Young (StopWatch Media).

Mobile phones know where you are, what time it is, are communications devices and are fully programmable.
Starting question: Given these features, what story can you tell?

The Carrier is the first transmedia graphic novel as an iPhone app. In it’s “print” form, the novel would consist of 680 panels, 35 chapters — about 120 pages if printed out. Really it’s just images on a screen. But given the transmedia way it is told — in real time over 10 days — the story is a lot more.

Landscape mode of The Carrier iPhone appBecause mobile phones know what time it is, stories can be revealed over time. Depending on the time of day that reading begins, readers begin the story in a different way. This puts the storyteller in control. In real time the story pushes out messages.

The authors have created a lot of fictional sites — alternate reality game-like. They also created merchandise in Cafe Press that they linked to, which readers could buy. Messages were pushed to iPhone readers using Urban Airship (first 250,000 messages sent a free!) Geoff considered using SMS for messaging, but that option was too expensive (the author pays for the messages, not the reader).

This was an interesting presentation, given the transmedia features and story extras we built into Kontax.


Consumers in the Cloud: Google and Digital Books (TOCCON 2010)

O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference 2010At O’Reilly Publishing Tools of Change (TOC) conference: Consumers in the Cloud: Google and Digital Books presented by Abe Murray, Product Manager at Google Books.

There are millions (billions?) more browsers than ebook readers, so why not use the browser as an ereader? You can walk into a bookstore and buy any book. Not so with ebooks, e.g. Kindle locks you into ebooks from Amazon. Google no like … Google Books mantra: buy anywhere, read anywhere. So Google moves into the ereader market with Google Editions — it’s browser-based and in the cloud (of course)!

How it works: Users preview book on They can buy the book directly from or through retailer site. User then owns a Google Edition ebook. All users books will then be online and accessible anywhere, anytime in the cloud in their Google Books library. Further:

  • eBooks will be full colour (they were scanned in colour)
  • Social features / sharing margin notes
  • Seamless reading between devices
  • Using HTML5, users can also read offline
  • Simple ereader interface in the browser
  • Will support DRM and DRM-free content (depending on publisher requirements)
  • Will allow copy/paste/print or not (depending on publisher requirements)
  • Revenue split when buying directly from Google Books: 37% to Google, 63% to publisher
  • Territory rights of the publishers will be respected (not sure how they’re going to do this)
  • You’re not locked into Google if you buy their books.You can take the files with you if you leave. And devices should be able to access the open-standards data. Google Books is part of the Data Liberation Front at Google
  • Ideas: bundling ebook with print book
  • The Google eReader will launch in 2010, mostly likely in the early part of second half of the year.

Abe: “This is a great year for ebooks and Google’s gonna be part of that.”

OK, so this is all very interesting. Yes, Google will still be a
controlling party in the value chain (let’s not forget that they make
money … they don’t just love freeing information for the love of it).
But their control will be less restrictive than current publishers.
Definitely a space to watch.

Keynotes @ day one of TOCCON 2010 and what they mean for m4Lit

O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference 2010Day one at O’Reilly’s Publishing Tools of Change (TOC) conference in New York kicked off with a few great keynotes. Some snippets and thoughts:

Enhancing the ebook
Peter Collingridge, Enhanced Editions
One of his previous projects is — a book recommendation service.

  • How can digital innovation provide premium reading experiences?
  • The future of publishing can be summed up in one word: change.
  • Questions: What will the publishing value chain look like in 2013? What skills will be needed? What will you do about it today?

Law is not a business solution
William Patry, Google Inc.

  • People say that you can’t compete with free. Wrong way to think. Provide something of value to people and they will pay for it.

Are ebooks dead?
David Skip Prichard, CEO of Ingram Content Group

  • USA teens aged 8-18 spend 7.5 hours / day in front of an electronic device. How will publishers engage this generation?
  • Simplify: know what your business value add is and focus on it (differentiate). Limit the variables. (More options does not translate to increased sales.)

Publishing is dead: Long live publishing!
Ariana Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post

  • Books don’t end in print. They’re conversation starters. Reviews are conversation enders. What people want are conversation starters.
  • The medium is definitely not the message.
  • We have entered the golden age of engagement. Publishing needs to combine best of old and new worlds.

How does this apply to the m4Lit project?

  • We want reading to be social (community) and engaging (interactivity) (see our m-novel Kontax). Enhanced Editions has affirmed this approach.
  • We’re reaching teens where they are — on their mobile phones.
  • m4Lit should focus on one thing: bringing books to teens in developing countries through mobile phones (NOT including iPhones). Our differentiator is a user experience that is low-end device specific and cognisant of price (keeping data traffic to a minimum).

Coverage of Kontax (part V)

Coverage of Kontax continues as follows:


  • Steve Vosloo was interviewed on Yfm (12 Feb)


Interesting stats about the Kontax winners

The winners of the Kontax Sequel Ideas Competition have been announced. Of the 6 winners (3 for the English category  and 3 for isiXhosa):

  • all are prepaid mobile users (not contract subscribers);
  • ages range from 15 to 17 years.
  • 5 are girls;
  • 5 have isiXhosa as a home language, 1 has isiZulu as a home language;
  • 4 come from Khayelitsha, a township with a low socio-economic status; and
  • 5 are from the Western Cape, 1 is from Gauteng;

An interesting turn out of events!

Winning entries for the Kontax Sequel Ideas Competition

The winners of the Kontax Sequel Ideas Competition have been announced. We asked readers for ideas for what should happen in future Kontax stories. These are the three best entries for English as well as isiXhosa.

English winners
1st Place: Zindles (R2,000)

Kontax will still be fully functional and the friends still united as works after school and on weekends so she can help out her sick mother. Airtime realises that his feelings for song r getting stronger by the day. K8 has been distant for a couple of weeks but nobody knows why or where she is,they just asume she’s busy. Sbu and Airtime try to help Song in everyway they can-they even acompany her to go get ARV’s at the community clinic. Airtime,for once in his life,came up with a brilliant idea:to take Song’s mother’s situation and turn it into a learning opportunity for others. Sbu suggests that they do a kontax project on HIV/Aids and how it is not a death sentence. But mostly they wanted to stress the fact that the community should come together to help people infected and affected by HIV and Aids. Sbu also suggests that they take Song’s mother’s employer to the CCMA for unfair dismissal. We watch how the trial develops and eventualy they win the case.

2nd Place: Amila (R1,000)

Sbu starts hanging out with the wrong crowd.Luvo and Thando had always had a bad reputation around the township but that didnt stop Sbu from wanting to be accepted by them.Songz,K8 and Airtym tried speaking to him but they just couldnt get through to him.Sbu finds himself in a rather uncomfortable situation when Luvo and Thando hijack a car while he was driving with him.Sbu had no choice but to continue driving as he would also be thought to be part of the hijackers.Sbu is furious with Luvo and Thando but there is nothing he can do about it because they start threatinig him and his friends.He turns back to his friends and reveal all.They encourage him to go to the police and report.They get arrested and are convicted for otherr things they had done in the past.Sbu becomes friends with K8 and them again.Sbu is punished to do commumity work.

3rd Place: Lisa (R500)

Sbu tells s0ng about the job interview 0n the m0nday,s0ng is very excited and gets the job,airtime starts realisng that he has developed feelingz for song and he c0nfeses them 2her..k8 and sbu get offerd a pr0fesi0nal job at an art studi0 2 showcase their grafitti and this is a dream c0me true for both of them..sbu keepz c0ntct with adele and they bec0me very cl0se friends ,adelles direct0rs bec0me interestd in sbu.s st0ry and decide 2 make a m0vie out of it nd it goes platinum …s0ng and airtime start dating nd with tha m0ney she earnd she managd 2get her m0ther treatment and healthy again..the m0vie recieves a grammy nd goes big nd sbu gets an award for his role…

isiXhosa winners
1st Place: Sbuja (R2,000)

USbu owayehlala ezilalini waze waza edolophini.USbu wayenamaphupha angawaziyo, into eyenza ukuba agoduke ayokubona igqirha.Igqirha lamxelela ukuba ufuna ukusetyenziswa zizinyanya ukulwa ububi obuzathi buvuke, izinyanya zaye zaxabana(kukho icala elingcolileyo nelilungileyo). Izinyanya ezingcolileyo zazifuna uku-controller ilizwe lonke.USbu waye wabuyela edolophini enikwe i-powers, kodwa kwakufuneka ukuba afunde ukuzisebenzisa.Wayene-powers zokwenza imvula, ezokwenza umoya, ezokwenza umlilo, ezemilingo(uyakwazi ukunyamalala).Waye waqala umsenzi wakhe wokulwa umoya ombi, ngokuthi ahambe esilwa nabantu abasetyenziswa zizinyanya ezingcolileyo(wayethi akumoyisa umntu amncede ngokuthi akhuphe umoya omdaka).Ekugqibeleni uyaphumelela kwaye izinyanya ezingcolileyo ziyagwetywa kwilizwe lezinya.

Translation: Sbu who lived in the rural areas came to the city. Sbu had dreams he did not understand so he went back home to see a Sangoma. The Sangoma told him that the ancestors wanted to use him to fight the bad that were going to spring up. The ancestors fought amongst themselves (there was a good side and bad side) The bad ancestors wanted to control the whole land. Sbu went back to the city after being given powers but he had to learn how to use them. He had rain making powers; wind making powers; fire making powers, and magic making ones (he could disappear into thin air). He set out to do his work of fighting the bad spirits by going to fight the people who were being used by the bad ancestors ( when he had defeated the person he would help him by taking out the bad spirits). Finally he succeeded and the bad ancestors were banished to the land of the dogs.

2nd Place: Sugar (R1,000)

Abalinganiswa bethu bendingathanda ukuba bacacisele abanye abantu malungana negrafitti yabo ukuze abantu bezakubona elicala lilungileyo elibonwa ngabo, hayi into yokuba bayangcolisa apho bahlala khona. Ukuba kungathandwa ukuvezwa kakhulu icala lasesikolweni, sibone ukuba ngubani ungqa phambili apha phakathi kwabo. Ingasinika umdla into yokuba kubekho lo ushiyekelayo kwimisebenzi yakhe yesikolo ukuze abahlobo bakhe bazame ukunceda, ukubonakali izihlobo zokwenyani, kodwa kungabilula ukwenza oko kuba engafuni ukuyamkela into yokuba uyashiyekela kwimisebenzi yesikolo. Isizathu sokuba ashiyekele kwimisebenzi, yinto yokuba akalali ebusuku obu, kukho lento ayenzayo yonke imihla le, efana nento yokuba uyasebenza ukuze kutyiwe kokwabo. Mhlawumbi umama wakhe uhlukene notata wakhe umntu ebezisa kutya apha endlini ukuze batye, mhlawumbi uthengisa iziyobisi okanye ucinga nento yokuba athengise nangomzimba wakhe, kodwa ekugqibeleni abahlobo bakhe ngabona bantu abazakuzama ukumbonisa ezinye indlela.

Translation: I would like our peers to explain to others about their graffiti so that people can see the good that they see in it and not only the part where they are regarded as making the places they live in dirty. If possible I would like to be shown quite a bit on the school side so we can see who is best amongst them. It would be more interesting if one of them was lagging behind in their school work so that the friends could try and help and we can see true friendship but it should not be easy to do that because he/she refuses to accept that he/she is lagging behind in his or her school work. The reason for lagging behind is due to not sleeping at night because he or she is busy with something everyday like maybe work, so the family can eat. Maybe the mother is separated from the father, who was the bread winner. Maybe he or she is selling drugs or is even thinking of selling his or her body but in the end the friends should be the ones who try to show her or him other ways.

3rd place: Mayongi (R500)

Kubali elilandela okungenze usong angathatha ispani esi asinikwa nguAdelle ngenxa ka sbu ukwenzla anakakele ioledi lakhe.kwelinye icala isbu angamane ebhelela uAdelle nje ukuqhuba incoko,ngokwnza njlo kulapho bangasndelalna kakhulu lnto ingth ide ifike exsheni lokub bathandane.kwelicala lokupaynta igraffiti bangath bafunde bade bagqiba apho bazakuth baspane bathole inyuku yokuth bathnge indawo bazokth bapeynte kuyo apho izokuba njengeofisi lapho apho bayakuth xa bepeyntle babize abntu abasezmalni ukuze babone imisbenz emihle abynzayo pha.

Translation: In the next story what could happen is that Song takes the job that Adelle gives her because of Sbu so that she can look after her mother. On the other side Sbu could keep writing to Adelle just to drive the talk, by so doing it would bring them closer together so much that they end up in love. On the graffiti painting side they could study until they finish so that they can get work and money and buy a place where they could paint in, like an office, where they could mount exhibitions for people with money and show off the good works they are doing there.

Well done to all of the winners! And thank you to all who submitted entries. Keep trying in Kontax 2.