East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The rule of cool is not enough

I did not want to write this post.
No, really!
I have better things to do and barely the energy to do them, why then…?
Let me get this from the start…

I have watched Army of the Dead.
It’s currently on Netflix, and the whole world and their sister watched it – Zack Snyder’s own take on the zombie apocalypse, featuring David Bautista, and poised to become the start of a new cinematic universe.
An action-adventure movie, more than a horror – that’s what I was expecting, and I was cool with that.
I like action-adventure movies.
And believe me, my expectations were really low.

It was a joyless experience, as somebody already said.
One that made me re-evaluate a lot of other movies – compared to this, the silly fluff of Monster Hunter feels like John Milius working on a script from Karl Edward Wagner.

And I am sure you’ve read the reviews – both those that praise Snyder as god’s gift to the filmic arts, and those that say this is a load of rubbish wrapped in an out-of-focus aesthetic and spiked with dubious morality.
And I stand firmly in the second camp, and yet…

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Characters at Large into the Media Landscape

452719337_640I’m taking part in a strange experiment.
As part of my online course on The Future of Storytelling, the 50.000-odd students were asked last week to create a character, give him/her/it a web presence, and let them interact with each other.

So, during this week, some 50.000 imaginary web citizens entered or will enter the net – as Facebook profiles, as blogs, as G+ identities, as tumblrs, as e-mail addresses, as podcasts.
They are out there, or will be soon, interacting with each other, and with… you.
With us.

There will be stories born.
There will be stories, I think, developed across the media landscape – a weird, heady mix of storytelling, multimedia and roleplaying game.

Now, admittedly – setting up a character with a virtual life is no laughing matter.
It takes time, imagination, effort.
Outlining the character was simple and fun – I picked an old character from some stories I wrote 30 years ago.
But then translating it to the web in a believable way… ouch!
It’s a chore – I got bogged down in passwords, nicknames, whistles and bells.
But the results… ah, the results will be fun.
Of that I’m almost certain.


Back to School

Despite my free time becoming more and more scarce as a lot of deadlines loom closer, I went and I enrolled myself in an online university course.
The course is interdisciplinary in nature, and is called The Future of Storytelling.
It was designed by the University of Applied Sciences of Potsdam, and is hosted on the Iversity platform.
This is a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), and I am one of the 50.000 students worldwide taking part in the course.

The reasons why I am sacrificing my precious free time for this course are many, but basically I am intrigued by the idea of the Future of storytelling, by the interaction of stories and media,  and also, with each passing day, I feel storytelling might after all be my future.
Also, the idea of taking part in an interdisciplinary course with a student population the size of a small town was quite exciting.
So, I went and signed up.
It will not be a painful sacrifice at all.

As part of the course, participants are given weekly creative tasks, to put the contents of each set of lecture into focus.
We are also invited to share these tasks with other students.

I’ll be posting my tasks here on Karavansara – both because it’s a valid option offered by the course designers, and because I believe in the value of growing up in public.

The first work I’ll be doing for the course, goes up tomorrow.

Just wanted to warn you guys out there.