New Media Writing Prize shapes

The if:book uk New Media Writing Prize and The Dot Award are supported by if:book and administered by Bournemouth University.

The prizes highlight inspiring work, raise awareness and provoke discussion about new media writing, the future of the ‘written’ word and storytelling.

They also provide a menu of new media literature for readers to explore and enjoy.

Unlike most literary prizes, the New Media Writing Prize  features works that can be seen immediately and for free by anyone who clicks on the links (as long as they have the right software installed on their devices of course, digital culture still being prone to glitchiness). The Dot Award, set up in memory of writer and silver-surfer Dorothy Meade, is for the author of a proposal for a literary project inspired by the affordances of digital.




And the winner in 2012 was… Katharine Norman, with a beautiful meditation made by a composer with a love of coding and an imagination that naturally expresses itself in digital, multimedia productions – sadly not yet viewable on the iPad. The term “poetic” in this field can be code for impenetrable, but this really is a multimedia poem of depth and substance, inspired by the work of John Cage. The viewer/listener/reader looks out of a window, hears ambient sound, evocative text, using a slider which makes it possible and pleasurable to move from day to night, to remix the balance of text to sound.Other personal favourites of mine on an inspiring shortlist were the joyous and addictively clickable A Duck Has an Adventure by Daniel M Goodbrey and Cityfish by J R Carpenter, an elegantly written and designed narrative with video and links embedded in a scrolling wordscape.

At a time when the debate about the digital future of literary creativity has been drowned out by traditional publishers striving to repackage their greatest hits for new platforms, this Prize reminds us of the power we have now to make work on our humble laptops and put it out directly into the world, in full colour, mixing audio and video as we choose, making interactive work for what is now a real potential readership, curled up in their beds with a good tablet, browsing about for quality experiences to have on it.

Panellists in a debate before the announcement at Bournemouh University came from the three worlds rapidly converging around an interest in this kind of work. Sarah Butler is a writer with a track record of collaborative projects – and now a novel to be published in January by Picador and in 14 countries. Louise Rice works at TouchPress making amazing literary apps, some of which generate serious money. Andy Campbell runs www.dreamingmethods, and has been mingling web and text in amazing ways for decades, with little finance but much critical praise.   All agreed it’s the time for creative minds to focus their energies on making fabulous work using whichever blend of the current means available seem most inspiring and appropriate to the stories they want to tell. Then business people really will have something worth building a marketing plan around.

For the rest of the fully clickable list, go to

– Chris Meade

katharine norman on WINDOWS, winner of the new media writing prize 2012

“As a poetic mediation on place and experience, Window encourages you to explore the things at the edges. The ordinary moments—sounds, sights, memories, thoughts—that make an environment familiar, that make it ‘home’. My inspiration came, and continues to come so often, from John Cage—and I made this work in 2012, the centenary of his birth. His music, writing, and thinking—the way he lived his life—are a wondrous integration of art and ordinary experience.
Interwoven with fragmentary texts, themselves hidden at the edges, and only available through exploration, are a separate series of short essays. Some are about John Cage and some are personal reflections as I looked, listened and collected the sounds and images that provide the material for this piece. I did this over a period of a year—listening, looking, snapping photos and recording sounds.
Arranged in ‘months’, there are various ways to interact with Window. The choice is yours—listening, reading, looking, and travelling from one time of year to another. For each month the images and sounds were actually recorded in the month concerned. So by moving the sounds around, louder or softer or from left to right, you may come to notice how subtly sound changes as time, and life, goes on.
More information on my work at
– Katharine Norman, Winner of the 2012 New Media Writing Prize, supported by if:book UK, organised by Bournemouth University

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