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Bryan M. Wolfe
| October 8, 2012
The Silent History Represents A New Type Of Storytelling On iOS Devices
Much has been written about the steady decline of traditional books as e-readers and tablets have gained in popularity. This movement, however, really hasn’t changed the overall reading experience that remains much the same as it has for centuries. Even on our iPad, we still advance through a story one page after another, front to back. The Silent History represents a much different type of storytelling, and one that effectively makes use of many of the features of iOS devices, including portability and GPS. The story itself is also quite good. The result is a presentation that is transformative, interactive, and at times, creepy. And one that, if proven successful, could change how future e-books are designed.
The Story[caption id="attachment_345101" align="aligncenter" width="367"] The Silent History[/caption] Set in 2044, the fictional Silent History looks back at 32 years of research on a strange phenomenon that leaves children speechless from the moment of birth. It is told through the use of “testimonials” written and collected since 2011 from those closest to the disease or most affected, including parents, doctors, teachers, and the occasional cult leader. These testimonials each serve a vital, yet at times, different purpose. They may be a character portrait, short story, or just one part of a larger plot. Together, these 1,000-2,000 word narratives promise to tell a complete story. And yet, in another way, these individual stories only scratch the surface.
The Design[caption id="attachment_345103" align="aligncenter" width="989"] The Silent History - iPhone[/caption] The Silent History has been designed in such a way as to require the reader to be actively engaged in the story, and perhaps become a part of it. Each Monday through Friday, a new testimonial is published, in chronological order, in 120 parts. This means that, at the minimum, readers must commit for six months to see the full story unfold. Each installment is told in six parts, or volumes, each available for $1.99 through an in-app purchase. For $9.99, you may purchase the entire story at a slight discount. Testimonials began posting on Oct. 1. This means, at the time of this writing, six testimonials have now been published with four more coming later in the week. Besides the testimonials, The Silent History also includes so-called “field reports.” These documents are designed to enhance the overall story, not take away from it. And unlike testimonials, which are accessible by everyone, field reports are GPS specific. This means that readers need to be within at least 10 meters of the specified location where the report was filed in order to access it. According to the creators in an email to AppAdvice:
The reader travels to a particular street-corner, forest, or riverbed, and reads a short text, a story deeply entwined with the particularities of that specific physical environments — the stains on the sidewalk, the view between the branches, etc. — so that the text and the actual setting support and enhance each other.Field reports represent the app’s most unique selling point because of who writes them – approved readers using a structured formula. To date, field reports have already been filed in five continents including Antarctica. Many more will be added in the coming months as new field reporters are approved.