Willow Patterns: The Complete 24-Hour Book

willow patternsWillow Patterns has been selected for the ISEA 2015 exhibition in Vancouver 14-18 August 2015. Read more about it here.

In 2012, one of if:book’s most ambitious projects to date took a book from concept to print within a single twenty-four hour period. The race around the clock produced a collection of interdependent stories about a library, a flood, missing children, and a vase. It was called Willow Pattern.

Because the book had been written online using the platform, Pressbooks, we were able to collect every change made to the stories in progress. Every save, whether made consciously by the writer or surreptitiously by the system, was captured and stored in a database.

Last year, we cracked open that database and made it free to browse, search and download the data. We explored the numbers behind the book’s creation, drawing stories from graphs and making connections between the book’s content and it evolution. We then invited a group of poets and students to conceive and create ‘remixes': artistic responses that relied less on the book as a finished product and more on it as a process, a series of alphanumeric strings to be pulled apart and reordered.

We called this extended database version of the book Willow Patterns. Plural.

Through it all, though, was a desire to represent the project beyond a 150-page paperback or a searchable collection of fragments. We wanted to capture the epic scale of the project and provide a sense of the undertaking in something tactile, something visceral.

We wanted to produce the database in print.

And so, today, we present Willow Patterns: The Complete 24-Hour Book. This collection reproduces every version of every story from the 24-Hour Book project and lays them out in ink and paper and in chronological order.

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Loading Memories


We are busy preparing for this year’s Memory Makes Us. We are mere weeks away from the call out for your memories, so keep an eye on the site for details.

Kate Pullinger’s wonderful Memory Makes Us story has now faded away entirely while we build a whole new space for our writers to work in for this year. Her work lives on though in a gallery of photos taken from the event from 9 July last year.

By the way, doesn’t the theme of ‘memory’ just keep on giving in the form of pun-tastic post titles?

My Robot’s Jam

ifbook podcastThe if:book Australia Podcast kicks off 2014 with special guest Christy Dena, focusing on her project Robot University for The Cube at QUT, which you can check out online for more information. Christy also kept a developer’s blog at robotuniproject.com.

Other projects we wanted to discuss in more detail, but have reluctantly left for another time are:

And of course, we always have Cool Stuff We Found On The Internet:


Featured artist is  Freaky Steve with the track 140rendmess. Thanks, Freaky.



Podcast Feed // iTunes



Lost in Memory, if:book in 2014


Memory Makes Us

The pilot stage of Memory Makes Us took place in July 2013 with a live writing experiment by Kate Pullinger. The project sought contributions from the public both leading into and during the event in a unique interaction between artist and audience.

Three Events, Nine Authors

In 2014, Memory Makes Us will be expanded to three events in different cities around Australia. We will also expand the number of authors for each event to three. We will announce locations and featured artists for Memory Makes Us soon.

Memory Makes Us will continue to use a combination of online and live face-to-face interaction between contributors and artists, including web submissions, social media, handwriting, and (of course) manual typing. Readers online will be able to follow the authors’ progress via a new dedicated project web site.


Lost in Track Changes

Lost in Track Changes is a writing experiment that combines contemporary notions of remix culture with old-fashioned writing games and parlour tricks.

Five writers are being commissioned to write a short memoir vignette and pass it along to another writer in the group who will adapt and creatively change the work before passing it along again. The result will be five pieces that evolve and adapt sometimes in unexpected and surprising directions. But regardless of what happens, if:book will track the changes an document their evolution.

Look for the first Lost pieces later this year.


ifbook podcast

if:book Podcast

The if:book Australia podcast will be produced once a month and will discuss future book projects, whether they be our own or those of the forward thinking writers and creative people we interview. Get ready for discussions of boundary pushing projects which poke, pull and transform our ideas of books, storytelling and publishing.

If you are interested in being a guest on the podcast, contact us with a pitch and bio. Make sure you listen to our previous podcasts first to determine if  your project is a good fit. To get an idea of the types of topics and projects we discuss please listen to our previous podcasts.

amplified author

The Amplified Author

So you’re overwhelmed by the mass of information about digital publishing? You hate wasting writing time researching how to publish your own work? We created the Amplified Author just for you.

The Amplified Author is an online suite of resources giving you the tools to navigate digital and self-publishing. This course is all you need to navigate the digital revolution by providing you with information about ebooks and the publishing industry and teaching you the practical skills to produce your own ebooks. You can either grab the full course, or sign up for a short mini-course to fill in a gap in your knowledge.

Originally developed in 2011 as a series of presentations and consultations, the Amplified Author is now available as a set of online resources—text, links, and videos—covering both broad industry trends in digital and independent publishing through to practical skills development in areas such as ebook creation, design and publishing to various online platforms.

The Best Bits of 2013

As we prepare to unleash our 2014 program on your senses, Simon and Emily have taken a moment to compile their favourite if:book Australia posts from 2013. Reacquaint yourself with some of our amazing essayists or discover something you might have missed first time around. Enjoy!

Simon’s Choices

  • All Your Pods Are Belong To Us: This interview with Kate Pullinger was conducted on a phone in a cafe and yet sounds kind of half decent. A great discussion over some pretty good food. We should do more podcasts in cafes. Plus the finished product features Moonshine Kate, one of my favourite musical discoveries from the year. 
  • I Will Say This Only Once: I loved all the Willow Patterns remixes, but I probably spent more time with Pascalle Burton’s than the others. The video upload was an ordeal in transcoding and choked bandwidth, but the result was worth it. Trust me, listening to (and watching) this piece over and over again unlocks its depth. I’m yet to listen to it without hearing something I hadn’t noticed before.
  • Memory Makes Us, the short-term team: The original conception for reader contributions to Memory Makes Us was split into two stream: long-term and short-term memories. The generosity of our readers in providing their memories was overwhelming and the result was beautiful, if a bit voyeuristic. Sometimes overlooked though was the short-term memory team, a gang of intrepid postgrad students wandering the streets and gardens of Brisbane collecting moments. En masse like this, the result is bizarre and intriguing. A day documented.
  • Collabor-bake: Can a cake be a remix of a book? Shut up. It’s cake.
  • Cn u rd ths?: I told myself I could only select one N00bz essay for this list and it appears last here because I still can’t make up my mind. I’m deeply grateful to all our brave n00bz as they battled with coding, closing, drawing, making, scribbling and procrastinating. But Ben was one of the first writers to agree to this ridiculous pitch with his own idea of learning shorthand. From the distance of an editor’s desk, I assured Ben that not being a champion shorthander by then end of the experiment was still a valid result and the essay would still turn out great.

Emily’s Choices

  • Memory Makes Us, The Short-Term Team: Memory Makes us was a grand experiment. While it was wonderful to have Kate Pullinger in Australia and writing this amazing piece, I found the thoughts and moments captured by the short-term team on Twitter to be the most beautiful product of the day. For those of you who completely missed it, we collected all the thought provoking tweets into one post. : )
  • To Sleep No More (Perchance To Write): This Noobz essay was awesome, and not just because I like human experimentation (whoops, did I say that out loud?). It was a wonderfully light and engaging read on Sean Williams experience with sleep experiments. This essay confirms to me how cheeky writers truly are.
  • Robots with 808s: Don’t let the horrible synth music at the beginning turn you off, this podcast was one of my most favourite interviews of the year, with the delightful Noah Rosenberg, founder and editor in chief of Narratively. In fact we liked it so much we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut the original hour interview down to one twenty minute segment, so we split the interview over two podcasts. It covers all my favourite things like crowdfunding, and mixing media to tell a story the right way.
  • The Leak: Though I’m not one for poetry, Nathan Curnow’s cento poem has to be one of my favourite remixes of the Willow Patterns data. I love the fact that the whole thing was stitched together using phrases from the book which then created an entirely new story. Most of all, I loved seeing what part of the poem came from which original author (and not only because I wanted to see which author Nathan had a literary crush more…).
  • Dazzled by the Undoable: Another Noobz essay to finish the list, you can’t go past this very funny essay. Who can pass up an opening line like this: Hello. My name is Ronnie and this is the story of how I failed to draw a comic.

New edition of Hand Made High Tech

blackHiOur collected essays from 2011, Hand Made High Tech, has been included in the latest ebook bundle from our friends at indie online store Tomely.

Like Willow Pattern in the previous bundle, our book becomes available as a social media bonus. Tweet or post to Facebook about your purchase and the book is yours.

Hand Made High Tech features essays from John Birmingham, Jackie Ryan, Paul Callaghan, and Christy Dena and more. For Tomely, we have created a brand new edition with an updated introduction and a new section of ‘Bonus Remix’ essays (not actually remixes, but more recent essays from the if:book vault).

Check it out.


Willow Patterns, plural

willow patternsThe countdown has again ended. Exactly twelve months ago today, if:book Australia gathered together nine authors, ten editors and a mighty support team on two continents. Their goal was to write, edit, and publish a complete book from scratch in just twenty-four hours.

You know how it went down.

Featuring work from Nick Earls, Steven Amsterdam, and Krissy Kneen and others, the 24-Hour Book proved a great success, but the project generated much more than just 142 pages of finished text. Every edit, annotation and interaction with the online audience was time-stamped, captured and stored in an online database.

This is where Willow Patterns comes in. This project opens the book’s complete database, creating a web site that will let you browse through every version of every story. It’s fascinating stuff. Already I’ve spent hours trawling through page after page, scrolling through the numbers, inferring what happened when, watching word counts rise and, sometimes, fall. The data tells its own stories about how our writers worked, about their style, about the choices the editors made and the consequences of those choices.

This is Willow Patterns.

Those of you who know your way around databases and coding can download the raw data and create your own applications, visualisations and animations. We have already created a simple graph on the site that chronicles the book’s total word count. We’re also presenting the complete data as a one-off multi-volume printed work: the book behind the book, if you like. Later this year, the project will hear from artists, poets, and others responding and remixing the book to create new works in both digital and physical forms.

Want to get involved? Let us know.

All books—all stories—are made from data. Usually we see only a fraction of the data that goes into the finished product. The idea behind Willow Patterns is to lift the veil, explore the book’s hidden machinations before exploding it into myriad works and responses that will inspire visitors to step outside of ‘the book’ and consider a future where anyone can engage with stories on their own terms.

Check it out.



Why iPad?

choose your ownThe recent official launch for The City We Build, the amplified ebook made between if:book and the Queensland Poetry Festival, has highlighted some of the challenges faced by authors, publishers, and readers when designing digital books that take advantage of their capabilities.

Regardless of how well designed or how beautiful its content, The City We Build is unlikely to ever reach some readers. This is because it has been designed for one digital platform alone.

Writers and publishers alike want their content accessible and available to as many readers as possible, but in the digital world this means taking into account a wide variety of devices. Some have high colour screens that can handle video and other content. Some have more simple ‘eink’ black and white screens that are simply not fast enough to handle anything other than page turns (and even those are too slow for some readers). Some devices are connected to the internet and handle much more than just reading; others are largely unaware of anything on the web other than their own bookstore. Some devices use highly response touch-sensitive surfaces, others opt for physical buttons.

Some devices are available in Australia, others are not.

It’s entirely appropriate there should be no one-size-fits-all reading device. But, for creators of content, this incredible diversity of devices presents a challenge of first principle.

What kind of book are we making here?

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TOC wraps up: Thrillbent and Brain Pickings

The final in this series of live dispatches by if:book’s own Meg Vann from the O’Reilly Tools of Change Publishing Conference in New York City.

Last session from TOC 2013!

Firstly, a big congrats to the Startup Showcase winners:

Keynotes from Mark Waid: Thrillbent

‘It’s Valentines Day, and this is is my love letter to comics.’

Mark writes comics and graphic novels, and addresses the challenges they face going into digital media:

  • Format leading the eye down the page in portrait style doesn’t work in landscape style ie on screens
  • You don’t get the canvass as it was intended, nor is it taking advantage of the things digital can do – akin to reading a book or watching a movie through a cardboard tube
  • Motion comics are the devil – mini things with voiceover, but not comics – cheap animiation that leads you by the nose through the story

The north star philiosophy about what makes comcs comics and graphic novels a unique reading experience is that you are in charge of the pace of reading.

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TOC: Creators and Tech Converging

A series of live dispatches by if:book’s own Meg Vann from the O’Reilly Tools of Change Publishing Conference in New York City.

One of the great features of TOC 2013 is a stronger emphasis on the tools of change that relate to the creative development space, like the panel on Creators and Technology Converging: When Tech Becomes Part of the Story.

Here’s a couple of quick snips from the panel:

Kate Pullinger

Started writing what she termed digital fiction ten years ago – collaborative multimedia projects where text is primary – literary works, new hybrid forms of literature.

Definition of digital fiction: works that combine text with images, videos, animation, games and all the other elements that digitl platforms allow.

Flight Paths:

  • Began the research phase of a novel by opening it up online – 100 particpants in conversation and created 6 stories for Flight Paths
  • Next iteration of project – novel called Landing Gear – Flight aths is the digital prologue – novel will exist in 2014
  • Multimedia epilogue: Duel (in collaboration with Andy Campbell of Dreaming Methods, fusing writing and new media eg. parallax views and 3D)

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