"This was supposed to be a book"

Via yesterday’s  Very Short List email I discovered Welcome to Pine Point, a brilliant “interactive documentary” made by The Goggles, Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons, formerly of Adbusters Magazine, now making “story based media projects” like this one. The Flash piece consists of photos, video, audio and text, and documents the disappearance of a town in northern Canada.

I have found myself recently searching for nouns to describe these new forms of expression that are popping up–“this thing” hasn’t been cutting it. It was simpler once, when we said “book” or “film” or “photography collection” and we all knew what we were talking about. Today creators like the Goggles choose routes through projects to best tell their stories and find themselves coming out the other end with new names for what they’re doing.

“This was supposed to be a book”, the Goggles write on their About this Project page. “We were developing a concept for a book, about the death of photo albums as a way to house memory” when they discovered the emotional power of the Pine Point story and changed course. “It could have become a book but it probably makes more sense that it became this.”

Though I have no idea (actually, I have some half-ideas) what “this” means for the bookselling industry, I would say from the result that it absolutely made sense as a creative decision, and look forward to many more creations like “this”. As the same forces that transformed photo albums as a place to store memories sweep over what we used to call books, new creative forms sprout up on the web (and I hope there will be more on the web rather than walled off apps). As the VSL folks put it, “The Internet has a new heart now, and it’s as big as the whole (Canadian) outdoors.”

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