Digital Adaptation: Show Strands

Strands by Jean Sprackland first caught my attention in my Environmental Crisis module where the purity of her place writing transported me to the Ainsdale Sands between Blackpool and Liverpool where she shares a year of discoveries found on its shoreline. The impact of these discoveries drew out several conclusions from me, I found a sense of nostalgia and adventure along with a connectivity to the land and environment and a discoverability of the inhabitants of the ecosystem. When I thought of Strands and how much Sprackland’s discoveries proposed wider, more meaningful questions I realised a digital adaptation could give a reader experiencing Sprackland’s place writing so much more to engage with to enhance their experience.

The digital purpose was to produce a reading companion on a WordPress blog, designed to add insight into random yet thought provoking moments within the book’s chapters, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. These sections are labeled ‘Spring | One’ for instance, then there are random opportunities to engage with a wider thought intimated by Sprackland with the ‘Think | Engage’ tabs, then finally tabs with a globe on them feature a moment in the book that has been enhanced with a google map to help readers get a sense of the geography behind her discoveries. ‘Not, of course, that the map is already an explanation; but at least it shows us that there is something that needs to be explained.’[1] All three different types of engagement are designed to explore associations between the text and the wider environmental issues using hyperlinks, video and news articles where each link is placed on the blog to challenge the reader beyond the text.

I wanted to create a visually stimulating experience, as the book holds a emphasis on nature and environment I wanted to create a Tumblr to show the beauty, reality and coarseness of the discoveries Sprackland made on the beach, along with small quotes to teach Tumblr users something about a place, animal or poem. The medium of any digital adaptation changes the relationship a reader holds to a text and my relationship with Strands has expanded with the added visual element in Tumblr, pictures are a pleasing addition to a book where we could only imagine what has been discovered. Finally I wanted to show how the website and the Tumblr could be shared on a social media platform in the shape of Twitter to produce a page that was visually stunning, highly informative and thus very sharable. The publicity of these platforms has been a challenge during my project and is a work in progress as to decide if they are open to the public, or private.

I have created three platform showcases for Show Strands, the primary being the WordPress with a consistent, minimalist style along heavy image content where a mixture of my visuals along with hypertext is designed to feed the senses of the eye. ‘What belongs to the domain of the eye can be stopped and manipulated at will. It is possible at any time, without using any particular technology, to go backward in a text, to isolate segments and hold them one’s gaze, to relate them to other segments or establish hierarchies among them […] Sight is the ideal sense for intellection, since it permits the unlimited analysis of the data being considered.’ [2]

The elements in my digital adaptation project of nature writing book Strands are all aimed to entice the reader to engage further with the text and urge them to discover more about Sprackland’s year on the Ainsdale Sands and discover more about the environmental implications she implies in her narrative. The website, Tumblr and Twitter facilitate a broader reading potential in that ‘each such instance of establishing a relationship can produce a different reading, and therefore a different meaning, determined by the viewer […] which does not in principle present any necessary beginning or end to the various reading paths available.’ [3] The exact intention of my digital adaptation is to provide more pathways around the core text to discover and learn more about discoveries mentioned in the book and provide a deeper context for the issues raised with an aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye.

[1] Moretti, Franco Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History. New York: Verso, 2007, p. 39.
[2] Vandendorpe, Christian From Papyrus to Hypertext: Toward the Universal Digital Library. Illinois: Uinversity of Illinois Press, 2009. p. 88.
[3] Vandendorpe, Christian From Papyrus to Hypertext: Toward the Universal Digital Library. Illinois: Uinversity of Illinois Press, 2009. p. 90.

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