fbc50477-d529-4435-8188-8b5c355114e2The Literary Platform has a piece by Andy Campbell of One to One Productions, the company behind multimedia fiction journal Dreaming Methods, looking back at the project’s ten-year history.

Although it is fiction meant to be experienced on a screen, Dreaming Methods is does not have too much in common with “e-books”. Call it a distant cousin, born of the same march of technology but taking a much different path.

Campbell writes that Dreaming Methods was created out of experimentation to find a better way of viewing fiction through a computer screen than just reading text off the monitor, “an awful prospect to most people.” (E-books, on the other hand, came from trying to make reading text off a screen a better experience.)

The stories on Dreaming Methods are experienced in multimedia: background music, still photos that can be navigated around, video clips, and snippets of text that float on the screen. Sometimes one has to hunt through a picture for where to click to make the next bit of story appear, or something else happen. As Campbell notes, the stories tend to have an abstract, dreamlike quality.

It kind of reminds me in part of the computer game Myst, which being in the form of a Hypercard stack was more a story that one experienced by clicking through it than an actual “game”. (Campbell doesn’t mention Myst in his article, but I wonder whether it might not have had some influence.)

Campbell writes that many viewers of the early works were initially nonplused, and there are still a number of nonplused reactions. He suspects that the writing and reading experience is still tied to paper or a paper analogue in most people’s minds—even “enhanced” e-books are just regular e-books with some multimedia attached.

We believe readers – as well as writers – are evolving and that the type of work we’ve been creating for a decade now may potentially have a serious future. Ebooks are becoming acceptable and reading from screens – of any shape or size – is much less painful than it used to be. Our biggest challenge is no longer captivating an audience or knowing how to write digitally but rather adapting to the increasingly difficult restrictions being imposed by changes in web technologies, such as Apple’s banning of Flash and the inconsistencies of HTML5.

He notes that Dreaming Methods has just released a virtual magazine called “Impossible Journal”, through issuu.com, to look back at ten years of Dreaming Methods development.

It’s interesting to look back at a form of e-media that diverged from e-books so far back. Thanks to the development of color tablets, they might well end up coming back together, or at least being available on the same platform—though Flash and HTML5 matters do present obstacles at the moment.

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