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Taking classic novels for a walk: mobile, located literature

Page history last edited by Tim Wright 15 years, 1 month ago

Ok, in for a penny etc.


As mentioned on the home page I'd like to use a project I'm developing around 'Kidnapped' as the focus for a discussion about how to bring classic literature to life for young wired kids by taking this stuff out into the landscapes described in the books.


Now that we have fairly cheap GPS tracking devices, digital mapping and simple ways of logging & filming as we go with Twitter+Flickr+YouTube, it should be possible to walk through the world as described in books and report back on how it feels, how the book matches up to reality, how the past matches up to the present etc.


And once we've generated all that located media (and hopefully got a bit of a response back from people watching us walk via the Web), there's the enticing possibility of mashing up classic texts (assuming they're out of copyright...) and producing rather lovely new versions of old classics - customised and personalised by a new generation of digital readers and then printed to order.


We've chosen Kidnapped as our source book, but I think if we get the model right it could be adapted to any novel where there is some kind of journey undertaken in a specific time-frame. What about Switzerland to the Orkneys using Frankenstein as your guide, or a Don Quixote walk across Spain?


Anyway, for now it's Kidnapped that obsesses me, and below is the various ways people might join in. If any aspect of this interests you - either the specifics of this project or the general principles of marrying old books to digital mobility and mapping, please do come and find me tomorrow.







Inspired by Chapters 14-27 of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Kidnapped’ we want to walk the route that his characters appear to take from Mull to Edinburgh – in exactly the same time-frame as described in the book. We want as many people to come with us or meet us at some point along the way to share our love of this great book.


Wherever and whenever possible we’d also like people to stop and deliver some kind of creative response to a bit of the book – whether it be a talk on aspects of Scottishness, personal memories of running away or hanging out with rebels of various sorts, songs inspired by scenes in the book, a local history lesson, a re-enactment, a game we can all play... whatever you want really as long as the inspiration comes from the book.



If possible, we’d like the whole walk to become an open air festival or casual conference with people  turning up to deliver performances and talks that have been inspired by something in Kidnapped – a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter.


If we can secure funding we’d even like to commission artists, musicians, cultural commentators, historians, school and local Highlanders to contribute in whichever way they see fit. We’re putting together a map of the whole trail on Googlemaps at the moment. If there’s a particular time and place where you’d like to join us and deliver your contribution, please do get in touch.




If you can’t meet us in person on the kidnapped trail you can always meet us online. We’ll probably be using www.kidnappedtrail.com and hope to go live with something very soon.


We want to make it really easy for you to pin your comments, your pictures, your videos onto our GoogleMap where we will promise to pick them up and replay/re-perform in the actual Kidnapped landscape. In this way, even if you can’t make it to Scotland, you can still be part of the action.


To inspire you into action we’re going to put the entire book online in a form that’ll make it easy to print out and read, to annotate, to comment upon, discuss and generally muck about with in any way you want.

As we travel along the trail we’ll also publish to the Web as much as possible, filming all the people we meet, reporting our position, snapping pics and blogging our way across the Highlands. We’ll even be reading out all the chapters of Kidnapped in the actual places it describes so that we all end up with a unique audiobook.



When we’ve finished (August 24th in Edinburgh) the aim will be to combine  your online words and pictures with our site-specific content generated during the walk, mix it with Stevenson’s original text, and produce  a fully customisable, personalised book.


This will be your chance to order a copy of Kidnapped that has your own favourite writings, performance, polemics and pictures in it, generated from our shared outdoor & online experience.  It’ll be your very own classic adventure book delivered to your door with you and your fellow Kidnapped contributors in it. A rattling good yarn and a memento of your personal involvement in the 2009 festival all under one cover.


Remember to bring it with you when you join us for the same walk next year in 2010!




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