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Thriving in the present, looking to the future

In the dystopian series Black Mirror (Channel 4), Charlie Brooker’s skill is to anticipate a technological future that seems at once terrifyingly feasible and fantastical. For those who haven’t been watching, in one episode it imagines a woman bringing her deceased partner back to life by piecing his character together via his social media updates, or a cold interactive world where the only reality is a TV talent show and the outside world is never seen.

It’s difficult to anticipate just how radically technology is going to change our lives – in the short-term, the mid-term and the long-term. And will the backlash come? In Silicon Valley – the home of technology starts-ups, technologists are literally switching off and running to the hills to live ‘off-grid’. Will the real and tangible always trump the avatars and imaginary worlds? And how will all this impact the way we read, interact and work with stories and writers?

At our annual FutureBook Innovation Workshop, we try to look at projects that are using technology innovatively and anticipate how these might be relevant to the publishing world of the future. In previous years we’ve looked at augmented reality poetry from MIT, 3D sound featuring narration from Benedict Cumberbatch, interactive storytelling with A.L. Kennedy, and a whole host of other fascinating projects from those in and around the publishing industry.

We’re delighted to be running this year’s event as part of Digital Shoreditch, an annual celebration of the outstanding creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of East London and Tech City. The event will be based at Brick Lane offices of Marketing magazine’s Digital Agency of the Year LBi in their offices on Brick Lane. LBi brought to life the illustrated, crowd-sourced story of Brandon Generator; and are also behind The Secret Annex Online – a 3D version of the house at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam where Anne Frank lived.

At this year’s workshop we’ll be exploring innovations in story interaction: gestural interactions, shared experiences and inter-authorship; innovations in business methodology: how to pivot in a changing landscape and learning the skills of improvisation; and post-digital innovation: how to create effective integrated on and offline campaigns and marrying up print and digital.

As well as showcasing some innovative projects we also aim to get delegates actively involved with the afternoon’s workshop.

When we set up shop in 2009 the key word doing the rounds at conferences was ‘experiment’, but at last year’s FutureBook Conference the word that rose above all others was ‘pivot’. Can you build long-term strategies in such a fast-changing landscape? With this in mind we’ll be learning the skills needed to improvise in a changing world in an active workshop.

Another word hard to escape at the moment is ‘Story’, readily adopted by advertising agencies, brand managers and the film and games industry, but as those working everyday with story creators how does the publishing industry use ‘story’ in its work?

Delegates to this year’s conference will leave invigorated and inspired. We aim to deliver a programme that is exciting and inspiring, and one that anticipates the future while considers the challenges of the present. Programme speakers will be announced soon.

This year’s workshop takes place on Thursday 30th May, from 1pm to 5.30pm (the venue also has a bar, so plenty of time for networking). book now.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jackdaw Studio

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