Sketch for curved shelf ¬©2007 Dan Soltzberg
There’s a testament to the power of openness as a spur to creative participation nestled in Scott Brown’s piece on early fan fiction in this month’s Wired.
Brown writes about the works Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s more avid readers created around his Sherlock Holmes novels, and how what were really continuity errors provided these folks with points of entry:
Sir Arthur, God bless him, didn’t write with an eye to what today’s nerd would call “continuity.” Crafting Holmes stories bored him, and he frequently lost track of details like the exact location of Watson’s Afghan war wound (was it the shoulder or the leg?) and the precise status of Mrs. Watson. But Sir Arthur’s table scraps, his inconsistencies and random allusions, made for a fan feast. From a throwaway line-a hilariously oblique reference such as “the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared”-scores of amateur yarns have been spun.
Conan Doyle’s omissions and errors left space for others to contribute. Less-than-fully-speced inputs–raw sketches, concept directions, overarching themes–can often leave more space for creative participation than a finely honed departure point.
Of course it depends on where in a development process one is and what the objectives are. (Sing, “a time to diverge, a time to converge” to the tune of The Byrds’ “Turn Turn Turn”).
In semi-related news, San Francisco IxDA will be exploring the use of prototypes at their May 26th event.
Giving Away Time, and Moving with a Magic Thing (Quickies)
Trying to find out things we didn’t even know to ask about