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Written word in the digital age

23 January 2013

An electronic street game based on characters from the Gothic thriller Jekyll and Hyde, where players will be wired up to bio-sensors, is one of three Cardiff projects to be funded by REACT, the Bristol-based creative economy knowledge exchange hub.

All three projects take innovative, digital approaches to engagement based upon the written word. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the projects champion knowledge exchange, cultural experimentation and the development of innovative digital technologies in the creative economy.

Jekyll 2.0 sees Dr Anthony Mandal of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy working with games company SlingShot to produce a pervasive media adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde,using participants' bio-data to shape a live game experience. Pervasive media use sensors, mobile and wireless networks to bring audiences content that's sensitive to their situation – which could be where they are, how they feel, or who they are with. Dr Mandal is a leading expert in Stevenson's work and in Gothic literature generally.

Dr Alexis Nuselovici of the School of European Studies, Translation and Politics and creative agency Hodcha are collaborating to develop an event-based model of publishing. Book Kernel will allow audiences to curate and print a personal memento of a live poetry translation of Dylan Thomas' work, incorporating selected content, social media interaction and contextual information. Hodcha aims to use the prototype to develop a publishing system which will enable visitors to events to take away a customised publication, reflecting their activities at the event.

'Little j' Hyperlocal News involves Professor Justin Lewis, head of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and creative agency Behaviour who will use behavioural psychology to explore how to inspire local people to become citizen journalists. The project will tackle the problem of how to create a sustainable digital model for collecting local news content. It comes hard on the heels of the School's launch of a new Centre for Community Journalism.

In total, eight projects received funding as part of the Books and Print Sandbox, which is funded by the AHRC's REACT Knowledge Exchange Hub for the Creative Economy. The Hub brings together Cardiff University with the University of the West of England, the universities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath, Bristol's Watershed and a wide range of creative industry partners to drive forward creative and digital innovation and bring benefits to education, society and business.

Professor Ian Hargreaves, School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Cardiff Business School, who leads Cardiff's involvement in REACT said: "These are really inventive collaborations that will look at new ways to deliver stories and other written content. They're ambitious, imaginative and accessible – I really envy the academics being able to take time out to think through ideas like these and I hope the work will prove genuinely valuable to the small businesses involved in the partnerships."

REACT will provide funding for three months to each of the eight projects to enable them to develop prototypes. More information about the Books and Print Sandbox, REACT and the eight projects funded is available here.