Tagged / interactive digital narrative

2023-4 New Media Writing Prize and Unconference Success

The 2023-24 New Media Writing Prize, directed by BU’s Lyle Skains and judged by BU practitioners and researchers Dalia Elsheikh, Jim Pope, and Brad Gyori has drawn to a close after a bright and exciting two days of creative “Unconferencing”, a brilliant and thought-provoking keynote on generative AI and electronic literature from Professor Anastasia Salter, and the announcement of all winners for this year’s prizes. The keynote and awards ceremony are available on YouTube for anyone who missed them.

This year the events were moved to May from January to fit better with semester timetables and activities around the Bournemouth Writing Prize. This move proved fortunate as we saw our entries nearly double this year over previous years, with 194 eligible works submitted from 45 different countries. Our judges certainly needed the extra time to review and debate the wealth of high quality submissions of interactive digital narrative and journalism.

world map showing pins in 45 different countries

Geographical origins for 194 entries to the 2023-24 New Media Writing Prize

The Awards

All works are accessible on the 2023 NMWP website.

Chris Meade Memorial Main Prize

Our judges shortlisted eight works for the main prize; Florence Walker’s I Dreamt of Something Lost topped the category:

  • WINNER – I Dreamt of Something Lost by Florence Walker
  • A Condensed History of Australian Camels by David Thomas Henry Wright, Louis Pratt, Karen Lowry, Chris Arnold
  • Congee by Rebecca Chui
  • Infinite Eddies by Siobhan O’Flynn
  • L and the Empress of Sand by Jon Stone
  • Musselled Out by Dolly Church, Elinor Kirchwey, Eamon Foreman, Niall Tessier-Lavigne
  • The Hotline by Kasey Gambling
  • Voices by Christine Wilks

Writers Online Student Prize

  • WINNER – Polterkicks by Emma Husa
  • An Undecided Fate by Drew Ott
  • I Dreamt of Something Lost by Florence Walker
  • Meow Memoir by Brynna Hosszu
  • What Remains? by Vegard Fotland
  • Words So Much Like Ivy by Chris Pang

Social Good Prize

2023-24 marks the very first year this prize has been awarded; it is supported entirely by the associated NMWP Unconference. The focus on interactive digital narrative for the purposes of social good or addressing global challenges (such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals) is drawn from Lyle Skains’ research into the creation and efficacy of interactive narrative to inspire attitude and behaviour change on topics of socio-cultural, medical, and ecological importance.

  • WINNER – Musselled Out by Dolly Church, Elinor Kirchwey, Eamon Foreman, Niall Tessier-Lavigne
  • A Condensed History of Australian Camels by David Thomas Henry Wright, Louis Pratt, Karen Lowry, Chris Arnold
  • The Hotline by Kasey Gambling
  • Tree-Person by Talita Bedinelli
  • Voices by Christine Wilks

Opening Up Prize

  • WINNER – all the borders I crossed without you by Rosalind Fielding
  • Crowbar by Dylan Spicer
  • Infinite Eddies by Siobhan O’Flynn
  • Memory Eternal (Вічная Пам’ять) (2023) by the Decameron Collective
  • The Hotline by Kasey Gambling
  • Voices by Christine Wilks

FIPP Media Journalism Prize

  • WINNER – SOS – SAVE OUR SOILS by Marius Münstermann
  • Choking Kurdistan by Tom Brown
  • Terraforming Singapore: Is the future made of sand? by Zafirah Zein
  • The illusion of prosperity by Katerina Afanasyeva

Unconference Report

Anastasia Salter’s keynote (viewable on YouTube) capped off the Unconference and transitioned us to the awards ceremony. Their insights on generative AI and how it is already influencing electronic literature (another wave of software reproducing social bias and inequality) even while offering the next step in the evolution of creative tools were both concerning and exhilarating—perhaps a perfect note to strike in an Unconference themed around inclusivity.

Our second annual Unconference unfolded over two days leading up to the NMWP Award Ceremony. 40 creatives, academics, and students attended from across the world, including the UK, USA, Canada, India, Norway, and Mexico.

As a more creatively-focused event, the Unconference focuses on workshops and performances, with relevant academic talks dispersed throughout. We learned fundamentals of programming, how to create a GitHub website, and considerations for creating interactive digital narratives with purpose (such as wellbeing).

We were also treated to electronic poetry, a preview of the very first Indian anthology of electronic literature, Instagram storytelling, and discussions of art and health.

We played together in netprov (improvisational, collaborative online storytelling), spitballed approaches to teaching electronic literature and making it more accessible, and became Wikipedia editors as we seek to grow elit’s representation on this foundational site of knowledge.

New Book on Using Interactive Digital Narrative for Health & Science Communication

Book coverNew publication: Using Interactive Digital Narrative for Health & Science Communication

I’m delighted to announce that my new book publishes this week, as it provides an excellent example of the kinds of things we’re trying to do here at Bournemouth through the Sustainable Storytelling Lab and the Science, Health, and Data Communications Research Group: harness the power of narrative storytelling to effect positive behaviour change related to the UN SDGs. It also offers an overview of how two very interdisciplinary teams formed (thanks to a Crucible program) and established successful patterns of working, despite our vastly different spheres of expertise.

Book description:

Both the United Nations and the World Health Organization stress the need to address numerous increasingly urgent ‘global challenges’, including climate change and ineffectiveness of medication for communicable diseases.

Despite climate change resulting from human activity, most humans feel their contribution is minimal; thus any effort made toward reducing individual carbon footprint is futile. Likewise, individual patients feel their health is their own problem; current increases in outbreaks of formerly controllable diseases like measles and tuberculosis show that this is not the case. There is a dire need to instil a stronger sense of personal responsibility, to act as individuals to resolve global issues, and the pilot studies presented in Using Interactive Digital Narrative in Science and Health Education offer an entertainment-as-education approach: interactive digital narrative.

The researchers on these teams cross diverse disciplinary boundaries, with backgrounds in chemical engineering, microbiology, romantic studies, film studies, digital design, pedagogy, and psychology. Their approach in Using Interactive Digital Narrative in Science and Health Education to interdisciplinary research is discussed herein, as is the practice-based approach to crafting the interactive narratives for health and science communication and for specific audiences and contexts.

ATRS Scheme Update: Health & Science Communication

It’s only been a few months since I published my first research blog post introducing myself and my research project to all of you at Bournemouth University. And while I still haven’t met any of you in person (thanks, COVID!), the last seven months have been jam-packed with activities, collaborations, grant proposals, research talks, escape rooms, and other general shenanigans.

logo - science, health, and data communications research groupI joined colleagues in FMC in launching the Science, Health, and Data Communications Research Group, a growing centre of cross-faculty BU researchers creating and researching public communications and education on pivotal topics such as climate change, dementia, mental health, COVID, sustainability, ecology, and more. We are hosting our first public research talk series this semester, with excellent turnout and talks from prominent science and communications researchers from around the world.

I also led a university-wide “mini-Crucible“, designed to foster new collaborations across faculty leading to innovative interdisciplinary research projects (and, of course, funding applications). Not only was this event a trial of a virtual version of Nesta’s “Crucible-in-a-Box” program, but it was also rather successful, as it has led to a forthcoming AHRC Research Grant proposal for a Sustainable Storytelling Lab. The SSL will be exploring popular narrative across a variety of media and genres to educate, counter disinformation, and prompt positive behaviour change toward the UN-Sustainable Development Goals.

Related to this, I am currently leading an Expression of Interest for the SIA Game-Changing Concepts call, proposing to place Sustainable Storytelling for Health and Science as a key endeavour for BU moving forward.

I’m also excited to have Using Interactive Digital Narrative for Health and Science Communication publishing next month; this is a jointly-authored monograph using two of my projects (You & CO2 and Infectious Storytelling) as case studies for demonstrating how IDNs can be effectively used to change attitudes and behaviours on science and health topics.

As any researcher always does, I have a ton of projects on the go, including a games for mental health project PI’d by Charlie Hargood, and a social media for NHS careworker project PI’d by Mona Esfahani. Many great things are on the horizon for Science and Health Communication at Bournemouth University, and I can’t wait to see what more evolves!

If you’re interested in collaborating, including the Sustainable Storytelling Lab, the SIA Game-Changing Concept EoI, my Playable Comms work, or something of your own, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at lskains@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Academic Targeted Research Scheme (Health & Science Communication): Interactive Digital Narratives for Health and Science Education

Portrait - Lyle SkainsI’m the last of the Academic Targeted Research Scheme appointments; I took up my post last month (September) in Health & Science Communication. My home base is in the Faculty of Media & Communication, though my project will span numerous departments across arts and science disciplines.

My research is centred in an interdisciplinary and ubiquitous communication method that can be employed for multiple UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: interactive digital narrative (IDN). IDNs can be used in schools, GP waiting rooms, on tablets and smartphones; interactivity significantly increases retention, particularly when incorporated into media that audiences voluntarily and eagerly devote attention to. As a practice-based practitioner/researcher composing IDNs and evaluating their efficacy on multiple projects, I aim to develop a model for health and science communication through reading and writing IDNs that can be implemented in a wide array of scenarios and topic areas.

I came to this work through a serendipitous process, as I earned an undergraduate degree in science and did some postgrad study in evolutionary biology. I quickly discovered, however, that I’m more interested in reading and writing about science than I am in doing it (it was a lot of pipetting DNA!), so I changed tack. Amongst various professional endeavours, I started over, culminating in a PhD in Creative Writing and Digital Media.

You and CO2

My research is largely practice-based, as I compose various creative writing experiments in order to explore how new technologies such as hypertext, scripting, and multimodality affect the creative act and artefact. More recently, I have engaged in two Welsh Crucible-supported projects that brought me back to my science roots, combining interactive storytelling and science communication. You and CO2 examines using interactive digital narratives as bibliotherapy and expressive writing to effect positive attitude and behaviour change regarding the current climate crisis.

Likewise, the Infectious Storytelling project explores the efficacy of interactive digital narratives as persuasive media for educating the public about behaviours that lead to antibiotic microbial resistance. This project incorporates practice-based research, medical humanities, archive research, media analysis, ethnographic research in focus groups, and literary and art criticism, and is based on the historical treatment of tuberculosis in art, media, and literature, using insights Cover image from IDN "Only Always Never"gained from archival research and textual analysis to inform approaches to communicating the importance of proper antibiotic use to patients, farmers, and the general public.

Here at Bournemouth, I’m excited to expand these experiences into a wider “IDNs for SciComm” project. I’m going to be reaching out to colleagues across arts and sciences disciplines at BU, fostering collaborations and new avenues to explore the use of interactive narratives for health and science communication. The aim of this research is to identify and address a number of science and health communication needs through the increasingly ubiquitous digital technology in our lives, including the possibility of ongoing communication about the current COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re interested in collaborating with me or with others on interdisciplinary arts-science health and science communication, please get in touch!