October 28, 2006

Cathy’s book

Bud posted this on his blog and 2 things caught my attention. The first is somewhat insignificant to the post but the fact that Bud asked the student to use their cell phone to call the number on the book made me think about the ease and natural way we could be using this technology. The second thing I like about this is that I love the way this book appears to be intergrating traditional media with digital media. Writing a book that requires folks to seemlessly move from online information to group problem solving is really interesting.

Written by one of the creators of I Love Bees, an early incarnation of an ARG (alternate reality game), Cathy’s Book is a puzzle wrapped inside a book and scattered around lots of voice mail boxes, collections of documents, websites, and . . . well, we’re not sure what else yet. We just know it’s addictive and contagious. At least one other student here at school is waiting to read the book, and we’re all reading voraciously; we even met up today during lunch to check in on the progress that we’ve each made. (All of us had discovered different clues that allowed us to access various hidden puzzles. We needed each other to make the picture begin to be complete. VERY COOL.)

I like the idea of a novel that uses a narrative that exists in lots of places. I’ve written this before, but I really, really think there’s potential in these types of stories, stories where we have to access different types of information and begin to make sense of what’s real, what’s relevant, and what’s important to the story.

After only a day of reading Cathy’s Book, I’m hooked, as are my students. The only problem I see with that excitement is that in a week or two, we’re going to need another book that engages us in this way.

I’m currently writing a chapter for the new Coming of Age book on geocaching. One of the things I love about geocaching is the way it naturally involves physical activity, problem solving and physical activity. These are both very natural ways of learning and experiencing the world where technology is critical but sits nicely in the background.