Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Virtual Worlds Not Just for Gaming

An article at PhysOrg describes some university astrophysicists' presence on Second Life for research collaboration, the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA). Early participants include scientists from CIT, Drexel, MIT and Princeton and presently offer seminars and lectures, there, and have larger ambitions for collaborative research. While the social sciences may seem a better fit, MICA believes the improved mechanisms for visualization are a great advantage for physical scientists.

Speaking of the reluctance of the academic community to take virtual worlds seriously because of their association with gaming, Djorgovski said:

“This is incorrect; while these technologies got developed largely by the gaming industry, and there is certainly a lot of gaming going on, virtual worlds are something bigger: a general platform for all kinds of activities, ranging from entertainment to purely professional. Just like the Web itself.”

We've covered collaborative tools for writers and/or artists in the past, here at Flash News: Etherpad, Rate My Drawings, TiddlyWiki, and Whrrl. Virtual worlds seem like a potential for a roll-your-own collaborative tool for reading groups, writers and artists. (But don't forget to do some actual reading and writing.)

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Whrrl: Real-Time Storytelling

Jeff Holden, former V.P. of Consumer Websites for Amazon.com has started a new company, Pelago, whose first product, Whrrl, is a sort of real-time storytelling service in the social-networking arena. In this article, James Turner of O'Reilly Radar interviews Mr. Holden about Whrrl. (If you don't know about O'Reilly's Zoo, then you're not a computer geek.)

A story in Whrrl has a beginning and story structure with multiple contributors who can inject photos and text. Here are some examples of its use, according to Jeff Holden:

What we're seeing right now is a lot of the families are using the product to share stories....Alison Sweeney, she's the host of the Biggest Loser and she was on Days of Our Lives for years...she visited the set of Days of Our Lives with her family. And so it's actually entitled, "Family Visits Days."...Melissa Pierce, who's a really very successful video blogger and just general blogger; she's done a number of very, very funny stories. She did one called "Lonely Bear" about this gummy bear lost in the world.

When asked to differentiate Whrrl from other social networking products, Holden said:

But one of the things about our product in terms of this gated communities question is that we actually let people have complete control over the privacy level, the level at which they want to broadcast. And they can control that separately in real-time and after the fact.

For a more complete representation of the interview, go here.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Auto-Collaborative Tool?

Can you collaborate with yourself on fiction, or any other complicated project? If you have a defective memory like the present bloggist, yes. If you carry a mini-notebook in your pocket or pocketbook because you wouldn't have any short-term memory without it, yes. You can collaborate with the person whose memory state was different a few days ago than now, and that person is you.

Without impugning another's memory, I know of at least one anthology editor who is using TiddlyWiki to help organize his editorial notes. TiddlyWiki is a single-file wiki that you can carry with you on a flash memory stick or post on a web site. Since it is based on HTML and JavaScript, it works with most browsers and most operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

You can use it for entirely personal work or to collaborate with others. The main feature is that it is small and easy to use, yet has impressive capabilities, including plug-ins and themes...and is free, as in free beer and free speech (BSD license). The TiddlyWiki site has a number of examples (see left sidebar on the TiddlyWiki site) created by users. Some look like a traditional web site and others like a wiki. Several examples were writerly sites used to create hyperlinked fiction and poetry or to help organize a story.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

James Patterson's Chain Novel

Here is a claim for "the world's first chain novel," AirBorne, inspired by thriller writer James Patterson." Patterson will write the first and last chapter. Other selected writers will serially write the middle chapters.

However, I hereby call them on the carpet for their claim. A group of well-known Florida writers did this in 1996 in Naked Came the Manatee. The authors of this novel include Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen, Elmore Leonard, Les Standiford, Paul Levine, Edna Buchanan, James W. Hall, Carolina Hospital, Evelyn Mayerson, Tananarive Due, Brian Antoni, Vicki Hendricks and John Dufresne. This serial novel is a mystery parody, giving a nod to a delicious literary hoax, Naked Came the Stranger. (I happen to have a copy of Naked Came the Manatee, signed by all authors.)

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Collaborative Drawing on the Web

In December '08 I did a post on EtherPad, which can be used to collaborate with other writers over the web. Now, there is the Rate My Drawings site that has a similar "DrawChat" facility where you can collaboratively view and edit drawings while chatting. You can do this in a public or private web chat room.

This web site is primarily a critiquing site for artists and you have to be a member and have "contributed" at least one drawing to use the chat facility. You'll have to investigate the artist's rights issues before using it.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Collaborative Writing on the Web

Trying to find a better way to collaborate with your co-author on a novel, business proposal or career-ending angry letter to your boss? MAC users have had the unfortunately named SubEthaEdit for some time. But a web-based application, Etherpad, is now available. This allows open-platform collaboration. All you need is one of the several supported web browsers. Here is a comparison of the two applications, thanks to TidBITS.


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