Siri & Me wins New Media Writing Prize
Student, BA English, Bournemouth University
January 24th, 2014
The New Media Writing Prize awards evening took place at Bournemouth University on 22nd January 2014. BA English Student, Joanne Ball, covered the event for us and was blown away by the variety of storytelling on offer.
In its 4th Year, and with over 1000 votes cast for the ‘People’s Choice Prize’, Bournemouth University’s New Media Writing Prize is rapidly expanding, becoming a notable award for new media. The winner of the overall award was Esmarelda Kosmatopoulos with Siri & Me; a social media sitcom.
Esmarelda is a French storyteller who at the time of the award ceremony was in New York. She Skyped through and spoke about her inspiration for the project:
“I have a heavy French accent, so sometimes Siri doesn’t understand me, but through her responses I quickly realised that it wasn’t mechanical – “press 1, 2, or 3 for your particular option”- but that the voice was more personable, and almost friendly. I started experimenting with what I could say to her, and how she would respond. All the conversations in the story actually happened; so I had to talk a lot. With the increasing immersion in technology, how long will it be before our fridges talk to us, telling us we need milk, or our chairs, or our showers. And how long after that will it be before people start having relationships with their technology.”
In contrast to the other, more interactive, shortlisted works, Siri & Me is presented in slide form, and it was the currency of the work – along with its poignancy and humour – that secured it the top spot.
Orange Sweatshirt, by David Devanny won the Student Prize. As an interactive poem, this piece allows users to customise the poem depending on their preferred style and even to discard individual words to change it further. The judges loved the simple interface and that the quality, and integrity, of the poem was sustained across each iteration.
The People’s Choice Prize was won by The Engineer; a multimedia journalism experience headed up by Ann Luce and Mat Charles, and a Guatamalan journalist Juan Passarelli. Available both online and as an iOS app, the judges appreciated the depth of research that went into the project as well as the way it was packaged.
Preceding the awards, three prominent figures in the new media industry spoke about their current work, and reflected on their craft. Andy Campbell, of Dreaming Methods, gave a whistle stop tour of how new media writing evolved – or rather survived – from floppy disks containing skeuomorphic design and pixels the size of breeze blocks to the more sophisticated medley of media over which narratives now unfold.
Julian Mccrea of Portal Entertainment chose to empower the audience, giving a sober, but encouraging, assessment of what is necessary to survive in the writing industry: “know what you’re writing and make people care about what you’ve got to say in the 6 second window you have.”
The New Media Writing Prize blew me away with the synthesis of multiple technologies, and how far it has advanced in a relatively short span of time. With the winners’ work exhibiting some of the best, and most novel ideas, the contributions of the three speakers only further expanded my mind on how far new media writing has come, from book based, to narratives which couldn’t be considered book dependent at all.
Photo (c) Hazel Asbery. New Media Writing Prize Judges (left to right) Chris Meade, Founder of if:book; Joanna Ellis, COO of The Literary Platform; Dan Franklin, Digital Publisher, Penguin Random House.