How can concepts from literature and technology design combine to create new forms of storytelling on mobile devices? This paper examines the theory and practice of bringing literary techniques into mobile technology design. First I present a model of media technology evolution which is not progressive, but atemporal-grounded in the ongoing expressive challenges of the humanities. This theory forms the basis for what I call the exchange: temporary collaborations between creative writers and interaction designers which lead to new forms of fiction and communications technology. I promote close readings of literature as a starting point for the exchange, examining specific passages for mobile storytelling inspiration and innovative means of modeling users. I then look at nascent efforts in storytelling over mobile devices, focusing on museum tours, grassroots organizations, artist collectives, research groups, and, lastly, my own work. In the end, I advocate a hybrid form of “Moving Fiction,” combining mobile media characters with live actors, music, and sensory input from the surrounding environment.
About Michael Epstein
Michael is a screenwriter, transmedia director, and expert in place-based storytelling. His work is a direct extension of his thesis "Moving Fiction" discussing models for mobile storytelling. In 2006, Michael founded Walking Cinema, an interactive storytelling studio comprised of filmmakers, developers, and designers specializing in cinematic applications for mobile devices. The company has developed cross-platform apps for MTV, PBS, the Venice Biennale, Audible and many museum and broadcast clients.
Walking Cinema's 2009 project MURDER ON BEACON HILL extended a PBS American Experience documentary into the streets of Boston as a mobile app. The project was the first iPhone app to win an award at a major film festival and has garnered international press. In 2013 Michael directed the Gold Muse-winning WALKING CINEMA: POSTS FROM GLOUCESTER, a handheld documentary a young woman channeling her family’s traditions via a series of postcards from the past.
Michael is currently working on the NEH-funded WALKING CINEMA: MUSEUM OF THE HIDDEN CITY, a hybrid popup museum/documentary about this history of affordable housing in San Francisco. He is also developing two original podcast series for Audible: PEN & PLACE (travel with authors to the places that inspire their writing) and UNCANNY VALLEY (comedy audiobook about an artist/entrepreneur developing a technology to send your smell to others.)
Thesis: Moving Fiction