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Creative of the Week – Koos Kombuis

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13 January 2011

If you work in the publishing industry, these are exciting as well as scary times.

Exciting because there are lots of opportunities to explore the role of new media in this oh-so-old-school industry and to redefine the nature of story-telling.

Scary, because possibly the greatest threat is the fact that it is getting easier and easier for authors to cut-out the middle-man altogether and tell their stories all by themselves. Whenever and however they want to.

A great example of that is Twitterdawn by renowned South African author and musician Koos Kombuis. Twitterdawn is effectively a Twitter novel. It is written in short updates of 140 characters each, published on Kombuis’ Twitter account. We’re not sure whether Kombuis writes it as he goes along or whether it’s pre-written and he publishes it over a certain period of time, but it feels like the former.

It’s not the first time people experiment with the short format. Small Places was written on Twitter over the span of 2 years. And already back in 2007, five of the top ten bestselling novels in Japan were written as cell-phone novels.

But the nice thing is that Kombuis’ ‘book’ (sounds strange, no?) is about Twitter and Social Media. As he calls it in Tweet 2, it’s “An urban fantasy about what may become of social media in the distant future”. A sort of meta-twovel. And Kombuis uses his own personal Twitter account, on which he’s very active, to publish his short bursts (with the hashtag #Twitterdawn). It may seem a small detail, but it makes the updates seem very personal and part of his life.

The problem with that is that it’s not particularly easy to trawl through Kombuis’ feed and read the relevant parts. And you can’t just search for the Twitterdawn hashtag; Twitter doesn’t store Tweets very long for search purposes.

So we decided to work our way through his personal timeline and use curated.by to curate the novel into the below feed.

One day, when we find some time, we’ll try and automate it and even auto-publish it in a chronological way, but for now we’ll update it as and when Kombuis adds to the story.

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