I am a story enhancer. As a producer at The Atavist, my job is to take a story and enhance it using the overwhelming number of digital tools I have at my disposal. But just because it’s easy to throw an image, or a piece of video, or a map, or a musical snippet, or an interactive graphic at a story using the Atavist platform, doesn’t mean it will always improve the story. So I try to practice restraint when adding media to a story. Some results are better than others. But the biggest challenge I face is not related to producing a story, but explaining exactly what the finished product is.
A lot of people have been asking me*:
What the heck is an “Enhanced E-Comic?”
To be sure, comics have rapidly gone digital, and comics artists and fans were early adopters of the iPad platform, which has enabled some incredible works of comics art. A standout is Operation Ajax, a detailed history of the 1953 Iranian coup. It’s an elaborate production that exists somewhere between comics and animation in a space some people call “motion comics.” It comes with a haunting soundtrack and digital features too numerous to name, and you should definitely download it immediately. (It’s a story you can spend hours with—and it’s also a story that took a large staff several years to produce.)
Our enhanced e-comic, Stowaway includes a soundtrack and behind-the-scenes extras that illuminate the boundaries between journalism and art. The music, sound effects, and video animations elevate it beyond a print comics reading experience and the audio extras allow you to engage with the creators of the piece in a way that would be impossible in a print medium. In this way, Stowaway creates an embedded dialogue about the subjectivity of the comics form (which you could argue is no more subjective than written journalism).
So why not be a part of history, and experience the future of comics journalism?
—Olivia Koski, Senior Producer
*No one has asked me this, actually. But they should.
Check out these fancy pants Atavist guys! So fun! Great work!
How to use an iPad to add voice comments to grading
The app they’re using is called iAnnotate PDF, which, well, is an annotation app for PDFs. I normally wouldn’t recommend an app that costs $10 [foreshadowing], but in this case it’s absolutely worth every penny. Imagine having students submit work via a Dropbox folder, then annotating and sending it back to them via email. Simple, paperless, and stronger feedback than simply writing.
LJ Digital: This is really handy. My biggest problem with iPads and ereaders in general is that it is difficult for me to annotate. It’s typically possible but it’s never as quick as just jotting a few notes in the margin of a print book. The voice notes and zoom-in features are definitely helpful. I’m slowly losing my vision. I’m being swayed. What do you think?
Have you ever watched a toddler play with an iPhone?
Most likely, the child was completely captivated and surprisingly adept at manipulating the tiny icons. Two-year-old Teco is no different. Sitting with his Motorola Xoom tablet, he’s rapt, his dark eyes fixed on the images, fingers pecking away at the touch screen. He can’t speak, but with the aid of the tablet app I created for him, he’s building a vocabulary that will likely total several thousand words. What’s more, he’ll be able to string those words together into simple sentences and ask questions, tell jokes, and carry on conversations.
Such talents wouldn’t seem exceptional in a human child, but Teco is an ape—a bonobo, to be precise.