For my Individual Project, I would like to produce an electronic book that will serve as the prototype for future works that have the potential to reinvigorate the age-old tradition of the chapbook. To do this I propose that the chap book be tailored to the art form of spoken word poetry so that the performance, crowd participation, and literary aspects of this art form are properly highlighted in a textual product. I think that the best way to accomplish this would involve placing the literary, or print version, of an artist’s poem side-by-side with the performance version of the piece. With the implementation of video within an e-book, this can easily be done, and both versions can be juxtaposed on a two-page spread for the simultaneous viewing pleasure of the reader. This is, however, only one of the ways in which I propose to enhance the chapbook for spoken word artists.
The second of my proposed enhancements involves what is known as a poetry slam. This is a competitive event where spoken word artists vie for the title of best poet. One interesting thing about these slams is that the judges who will rate each performance are randomly chosen from the crowd before the festivities begin. Each of the selected judges is asked to rate each performance based on a ten point scale that includes tenths of a point (for instance, a judge may rate a poem as a 9.4). Five judges are selected in total, and after they give their ratings, the highest and lowest of the scores is voided, leaving only the middle three scores to be added up for the poet’s total score. As to my proposal, I think it would be great to add an interactive element to chapbooks by including a “you be the judge” section for each piece in the book where the reader can participate as a judge by rating each performance themselves. The book would be constructed so that their scores are tallied both separately and added into the fray of the other judges’ scores so that by the end of the book they are taken to a page showing them how they might have affected the outcome of the slam had they been a judge there and giving them a since of who their favorite poet in the slam was based on their individual scores. I may also implement a sort of highlighting system that highlights each word while the video performance is going along. I could also achieve something similar by simply adding captions to the video.
I think a production of this kind is both feasible and full of potential, and I am very interested to see what type of prototype I might be able to develop. If successful, this project could lead to the production of many future books of this type. As this prototype gets further into the development stage, I would like to play around with adding network features that can both gather and organize the data from the individual reader's ratings. For instance, imagine if all of the ratings put in by the reader were collected and combined at a central site for all of them to later access. This could work as not only a high-level ranking system but also a location to generate forum discussions and community interaction. Furthermore, there is marketing value in the retrieval and organization of such data. If multiple slam books were developed by the same publisher, that publisher could devise a system that collects all of the data and charts it so that information about the readers' most well-liked poet, the regions where the books have become most popular, or possibly even demographic data depending on the system that is implemented. I think this network function could end up being a key feature of books of this type, but in the initial phase I would like to concentrate on simply constructing a functioning prototype with an intuitive and fun rating interface.