STEVEN Soderbergh’s latest project—an interactive smartphone app called Mosaic…contains a 7-plus-hour miniseries about a mysterious death, but…viewers have some agency over what order they watch it in and which characters’ stories they follow. READ MORE: Steven Soderbergh’s New App Will Change How You Watch TV | WIRED
OK, it’s not exactly Dickens. But how about a great story delivered to you by text message? That’s the idea hatched by Prerna Gupta and Parag Chordia. The two entrepreneurs launched their company, Telepathic, a year ago with an application called Hooked after raising $1.9 million from investors that included numerous venture capital firms and Lean Startup author Eric Rie… And the kids, they do love it. READ MORE: More than 1.8 million teens are reading books by text messages thanks to this start-up | The Washington Post
It’s 2 A.M. on March 20 in France and Ta-Nehisi Coates is not sleeping. “I’m up learning to make maps so I can make one of Wakanda, believe it or not.” The award-winning writer who’s steering the future of one of Marvel’s most important characters is taking his job very seriously. READ MORE: Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Trying To Do Right By Marvel Comics’ First Black Superhero | Kotaku
My adds are Olivia Benson from Law & Order: SVU and Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder. MacGyver is a classic! I need to binge-watch…
We’re rooting for the smartest, most rational characters in the room. The best part of The Martian isn’t the breathtaking rescue, nor the awe-inspiring dust storm. It’s watching Mark Watney grow potatoes. Instead of freaking out over his imminent doom, Mark calmly figures how to grow plants in the Martian regolith by fertilizing them with his own poop, and watering them with a DIY device that makes water by heating hydrogen from his leftover rocket fuel, and combining it with oxygen from the Hab environment.
Mark makes The Martian a classic of competence porn by always coming up with a hackerish solution to every problem, just like James Bond or Ellen Ripley with her exoskeleton in Aliens. And he’s not the only competence porn star burning up our monitors right now. From Sherlock to The Americans, competence porn is filling us with the satisfaction that comes from watching people attack problems with brains and cunning rather than fists. Well, OK, there are some fists, too. READ MORE: The Martian, Sherlock Holmes, and why we love competence porn | Ars Technica
It began as an audacious side project. Three dads and an uncle got together to make a personalized book for children. The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name, in which any child’s name, thanks to some nifty algorithms, dictates the plot turns, became a surprise hit. It was the bestselling picture book in the U.K. last year. This week, it topped a million copies sold worldwide (to actual customers, mind you, not retailers).
How do you follow up that sort of debut? Lost My Name, the London startup that grew out of the project—part tech company, part book publisher, and backed by Google Ventures and others—just launched its second personalized tale, The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home. READ MORE: Is This The Most Technologically Advanced Book Ever Published? | FastCompany
Taking the form of a local radio show, Welcome to Night Vale is a 30-minute, twice-monthly dispatch full of nightmarish community news conveyed in a tranquil manner. Imagine a municipality that features a sinister, five-headed dragon and occasional rifts in space-time, but whose citizens are often more concerned about, say, the dry scones at the last PTA meeting, and you’ll understand why Night Vale has been described as something akin to “if Stephen King and Neil Gaiman started a game of SIMS and then just left it running forever.”
Since its launch in 2012, Welcome to Night Vale has expanded into a sprawling, frightening universe with a lot of charm. In its three-year existence, the podcast has produced 79 episodes (and counting). It’s also spawned a successful live show and, as of October, a novel that debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times best-seller list. Along the way, its creators have demonstrated their ability to comfortably shift mediums while building one of the most immense and compelling fictional “worlds” in recent memory. READ MORE: The Welcome to Night Vale novel is as weird, existential, and addictive as the podcast that inspired it | Vox
THE PICKLE INDEX tells the tale of an incompetent circus troupe that sets out to rescue its ringmaster, Zloty Kornblatt, from a dystopian, brine-obsessed government. If that doesn’t pique your interest, maybe this will: The Pickle Index is a paperback. But it’s also a beautifully illustrated, hardcover set of two volumes that tell the story in tandem. Oh, and it’s also an app. Not an e-book, mind you—an app, where a user’s “Citizenship Quotient” points are allocated based on how often you upload actual pickle recipes. Confused? Good. That’s kind of the point.
The fact is, The Pickle Index is not a traditional novel, nor is it a conventional app. When Eli Horowitz and Russell Quinn set out to create the multimedia storytelling experience, they made a conscious decision to eschew hallmarks of design like accessibility and ease of use. Instead, they provide multiple entry-points into an intricate and immersive world. In doing so, they’ve reimagined what a digital literary experience can be.
Back in the 1950s and 60s, General Electric created a comic book series to help spark interest and excitement in science and engineering. Now the brand has teamed up with Wattpad to bring “Adventures in Science” back to life for a new generation, but with a bit of a twist.
The comic covers still look straight out of the ’60s, but the brand invited six of the writing social app’s most popular writers to create new science-fiction inspired by the old school comic series. The new fiction…is based on the real work of GE scientists and tackles topics from GE’s digital industrial portfolio like transportation, power and water, health care, and energy. READ MORE: General Electric And Wattpad Combine Modern Science With Old School Sci-Fi Comics | FastCompany
Samim Winiger, whose work we’ve covered recently–sent along his latest experiment. He used an open-source neural network that was trained on 14 million passages of romance novels by Ryan Kiros, a University of Toronto PhD student specializing in machine learning. Called the Neural-Storyteller, the network was trained to analyze images and retrieve appropriate captions from its vast store of sexy knowledge, creating “little stories about images,” says Kiros.
And what stories! Winiger fed the network a series of images, and it’s hard to even decide where to begin…Not all of the stories (or any of them, really) make perfect sense: What we’re seeing is an artificial neural network struggle to identify objects in a photo, and make links between images and the passages that it’s trained on. READ MORE: It Was Inevitable: Someone Taught a Neural Network To Talk With Romance Novels | Gizmodo
In the French city of Grenoble, there are unusual vending machines that don’t dispense soda or snacks — they print out short stories that look like paper receipts instead. These machines were built by a publishing company called Short Édition, which placed eight of them in public locations (such as the city hall and libraries) as part of a pilot project. Each dispenser has 1-minute, 3-minute and 5-minute buttons, so readers can choose how long their stories are, all of which were written by members of the Short Édition community. SOURCE: Short story vending machine promises old-school distractions | Engadget