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Storytelling with Google Maps

Publishing & Media

It seems a fair statement to say that the art of storytelling has not yet caught up with the internet’s capabilities, at least not in the mainstream. A new project from UK-based Penguin Books’ digital fiction group, however, is using the power of the internet to tell stories in new and surprising ways. In mid-March Penguin—along with alternative reality gaming firm Six to Start—launched the We Tell Stories initiative through which consumers can enjoy six digital novels by six different authors over the course of six weeks for free. The first story, which launched March 18, was “The 21 Steps” by renowned thriller author Charles Cumming. “He was the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time,” the story begins, and readers follow the protagonist’s adventures step by step across the world using Google Maps, with text presented in the technology’s information bubbles at each point along the way. The second story, “Slice” by Toby Litt, chronicles a teen’s fears about the old house she and her family just moved into. Told over the course of four days, the story invites readers to follow Slice’s story on her own blog as well as that of her parents. Those who want can even email the characters and follow them through text messages on Twitter. Week 3’s story was Kevin Brooks’ “Fairy Tales,” an interactive story in which readers name the characters, choose their qualities and make other decisions that shape the story’s direction. This week it’s “Your Place or Mine,” the story of a relationship told by the bestselling author duo who work under the name Nicci French. Each evening this week beginning at 6:30 pm London time, readers can witness the authors writing an episode of the story live and in real time. Still to come are two more weekly stories along with a mysterious seventh one that will reportedly emerge through clues online and in the real world. As Penguin notes on its site, “these stories could not have been written 200, 20 or even 2 years ago.” It’s a whole new world for storytellers—one to watch, whether you’re in media or not! Spotted by: Bjarke Svendsen



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