what you should be reading:

Matt Adams Studies in Documentary Film June 2012 Volume 6 Issue 2

All throughout my student life it's been a constant annoyance that when I wanted an academic article sometimes I didn't have access to it for whatever reason: my school didn't have the rights to access an article or copyright laws prevent me from printing it.

I remember thinking, 'wouldn't it have been nice if the author would have put it on their blog or something for people to download, free?'

Well, I'm doing exactly that, now that I have an article published in an academic journal -- except, better! This is the unedited version with a transcript of the original interview (uncut, for your reading / academic pleasure).

And apologies it took me so long to do this -- I did the interview about 18months ago and then only heard that there were lots of delays publishing it.

Here is a link to the academic citation:

Danylkiw, A (2012) "A Conversation in Authorship, Engagement, and Interstitial Spaces: Matt Adams, Twenty Years of Blast Theory", Studies in Documentary Film, volume 6 issue 2 (June 2012), Intellect Ltd: London.

Download original, unedited article

Download original, unedit transcript


The interview was conducted on 25 November of 2012 at Café Brood just off London's Burough Market (inside, upstairs), sometime late afternoon or early evening. We spoke for about an hour.

If anyone's interested: it was cold and rainy and humid. The interview was supposed to have been conducted in Brighton, not London but at the last minute it turned out that Mr Adams was to be in London to inspect (if memory serves, and I expect it does) the Olympic grounds in Stratford because Blast Theory was going to run one of their programs during the Olympics (no idea if they did or not). (I used to be a journalist... mind for details) And this is probably more information than anyone needed.


Review: Zeega as an interactive storytelling webapp

I have just finished using Zeega to mockup a project for an interactive learning environment for service design based around the Global Service Jam.

What follows are a list of feature additions / UX fixes for what is a very useful tool.

While reading them, it's important to understand the visual capability of the tool, the kinds of projects it allows one to create, an how that extends to shape both features and the consequences for the end user.


1. Split the media and the layer side bar into opposite sides of the screen OR allow one pane to be completely minimised whilst working with the other.

2. The link layer is in an odd place. Recommend either moving it to side bar (e.g.  where pop-up is or move all of those features to the small bar where 'link layer' is) (which then opens up space for no 1)

3. rename "Link" layer to add "Nav"

4. and in the sidebar option to "Link" layer, add the ability to use your own media as navigation -- currently, to do this, I'm making boxes different sizes several times. This will clean up the workflow.

5. Ability to set default font and font size and font colour for whole of project. It's really really irritating that every time I type something I have to re-adjust this.

6. Please be careful, in future, with your drop down menus. Keep them small. They can quickly get out of control. For particular horrificness see hsbc.co.uk


1.Top of the list and really important!
Default video to request to play in HD (from YouTube) or highest def available. Or allow adding of video from YouTube using an embed code. As video plays almost in full screen -- the platform is well designed as a visual medium-- this is very important.

Click to read more ...


Stories are...

Possibly the best summary I've ever heard of the importance of story in the grand scheme of communication: begin the Emotive Web.



story as process

or, this is your brain on social media

Learning to read — textual literacy — alters the human brain. But going back to pre-literate society, we find that our capacity to relate to symbols is visceral.  In hyper connected digital culture, where we are constantly confronted with information overload, where curation is the latest mis-placed meme, what do we understand by the emergent need to design for the emotional brain? What’s it’s place in digital culture?


When we experience story and internalise it, we do so in a very visceral way, more so than even we are aware of.

Click to read more ...


analogue web3.0

"What I teach in my classes is that the evolution of media sees control of the story move away from the teller, and towards the reader or listener.... Although TV set things back a bit, deconstruction and post-modernism came to the rescue, giving us all the ability to take apart what we see, and dissemble the many messages being piped into our living rooms and brains....Of course, they were only foretelling the advent of the Internet, which turned the whole mediascape – the primary landscape of alternative media creation – over to us. Now, at least in theory, we are as capable of creating and disseminating a message as anyone else."    Douglas Rushkoff, Reality as Subversion *

Yes, but...

From the discipline of Digital Storytelling we know that the relating of a story is a process of creation, regardless of whether or not the person telling the story is actually filming it themselves and that the telling of the story is often more purposeful for the teller more so than for the audience (Lambert, 2002).

This possibility for web3.0 everyone keeps going on about -- the reflexivity that participatory web2.0 offers us in terms of the evolution of apps and computing via the internet, isn't terribly new. we're just noticing it again, that's all.**

Click to read more ...


iDocs 2012 day 1 PM : thoughts

I spent Day 1 afternoon in the Feedback session for '18 days in Egypt' led for Jigar Mehta, whose frustration was palpable. It's clear that he feels a great sense of responsibility regarding achieving a completeness of the story-- gathering as many as possible and putting them together but also frustration of wanting to do something/ being expected to do something really cool with the material.

'18 days' represents every truly journalistic challenge and promise of a more traditionally journalistic idoc*: temporal to archival possibilities and aspects of following an issue over the arc of one's career, utilising on the ground resources to tummel the situation as it emerges, to relational aspects of the broader world.

I don't envy Mr Mehta his task. Indeed his frustration with trying to figure out what to do next -- even if it completes (what's the exit strategy-- represents the challenge of entrepreneurial journalism less in monetisation but more in 'entrepreneurial' planning. Mehta himself commented that His project is more of a lean startup than an idoc at times.

Several things struck me, these might be inaccurate or ridiculous but I'm going to throw them out there:

First, there seemed to be an odd consensus that '18 days' need to be "cleaned up" into some kin of consolidated narrative organisation. The opposite occurs to me for the simple fact that the nature of revolutions are messy and cobbled together -- why are we looking for something that's 'neat' in nature? To say nothing of the fact that anyone who has ever lived in an Arabic culture for even a little while quickly learns 'what is, is not' (this was told to me in Jordan, the phrase phonetically 'mish-mush-key-la').

Mehta feels a pressure to tie people's stories together, to make a beautifully complexity of the events. He is thinking of all the rich possibilities we are presented with but I wonder-- and frequently so in my plans for my own project-- if just because we have the capability to link data together in all these really cool ways if perhaps we should at all?

Earlier in the day Brian Winston's presentation of interactivity in analogue interactive documentary** struck me in its simplicity, in the simplicity of the human connection that without the flashy media and digital data augmentation I felt so much more emotion in the experience! And indeed, one of Mehta's 3 challenges as he presented to us is how to make more of an emotional connection with the material; he thinks this will be done in 'cleaning up' the site but I'm not certain this will be achieved if it's done by features. We face the danger as an idoc community of getting lost in features and flashy media.


Mehta wants to be able to 'complete' the story of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, to make links between people's stories so that we have a 'complete' view. This sounds great, on its face, and in theory all the data out there and all the data that the '18 days' site is collecting should make this possible? But are we complicating the story in making it 'complete'? And by complicating, I mean making it so complete that we work the emotional connection out of it by not allowing room for imagination -- the point at which our own narrative entry and thus connection is made.

I might be completely off base but I think it's worth thinking about. It's that construction that happens with blank space in a story that allows us to connect sometimes. Can it be over-done, even in the interests of journalistic accuracy?

The wisest words ever spoken to me about storytelling were from my college freshman english professor, herself a former journalist: 'show, don't tell the story.'



Further reading:

Turner, M. (1998)

Wright, A. (2007)

Schwartz, P. (1991)

Wolf, M. (2010)


*I'm not entirely certain what I mean by this, but probably something along the lines of the spectrum of interactive documentary which includes art-docs and docutheatre.

**Winston presented old material of mining strikes in the US and talked about how those films made their way to Wales, where both communities began dialoguing with each other and the topic, to emerge a more complete understanding of their places within the larger story of the evolution of the mining industry.


iDocs 2012 Day1 AM


identity, digitised; fractured

“Now I existed solely thanks to the quantum paradox, my brain a collection of qubits in quantum superposition, encoding truths and memories, imagination and irrationality in opposing, contradictory states that existed and didn't exist, all at the same time.
Robin Wasserman, Crashed

(emphasis mine)