Neil Gaiman Launches New Crowdsourced Storytelling Project (Sponsored by the New BlackBerry)

The tech-savvi­est among us may greet the news of a new Black­Ber­ry phone with an exag­ger­at­ed yawn, if that. But we have rea­sons not to dis­miss the lat­est iter­a­tion of Research in Motion’s flag­ship prod­uct entire­ly. The Z10 launched to record ear­ly sales in the Unit­ed Kind­gom and Cana­da. Both the device and the fresh oper­at­ing sys­tem that runs on it “rep­re­sent a rad­i­cal rein­ven­tion of the Black­Ber­ry,” writes Wall Street Jour­nal per­son­al tech­nol­o­gy critc Walt Moss­berg. “The hard­ware is decent and the user inter­face is log­i­cal and gen­er­al­ly easy to use. I believe it has a chance of get­ting RIM back into the game.” Even so, build­ing the prod­uct amounts to only half the bat­tle; now the Black­Ber­ry brand has to con­tin­ue gain­ing, and man­age to hold, cus­tomer inter­est. That’s where a cer­tain mas­ter of gain­ing and hold­ing inter­est named Neil Gaiman comes in.

Say what you will about their phones; Research in Motion’s mar­ket­ing depart­ment has shown an uncom­mon degree of lit­er­ary astute­ness, at least by the stan­dards of hard­ware mak­ers. You may remem­ber Dou­glas Cou­p­land, for instance, turn­ing up in adver­tise­ments for the Black­Ber­ry Pearl back in 2006. But the com­pa­ny has recruit­ed Gaiman—the Eng­lish author of every­thing from nov­els like Amer­i­can Gods and Cora­line to com­ic books like The Sand­man to tele­vi­sion series like Never­where to films like Mir­ror­Mask—for a more com­pli­cat­ed under­tak­ing than Cou­p­land’s. Under the aegis of Black­Ber­ry, Gaiman extends his col­lab­o­ra­tion-inten­sive work one domain fur­ther. A Cal­en­dar of Tales finds him sourc­ing ideas and visu­als from the pub­lic in order to cre­ate “an amaz­ing cal­en­dar show­cas­ing your illus­tra­tions beside Neil’s sto­ries.” The short video above recent­ly appeared as the first in a series of episodes cov­er­ing this sto­ry­telling project. Of this we’ll no doubt hear, see, and read much more before 2013’s actu­al cal­en­dar is out.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Free Short Sto­ries by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman Gives Grad­u­ates 10 Essen­tial Tips for Work­ing in the Arts

Neil Gaiman Gives Sage Advice to Aspir­ing Artists

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.


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  • Stacey C says:

    Per­son­al­ly, I have noth­ing against Black­ber­ry (phys­i­cal key­board shines!), but I gen­er­al­ly doubt their poten­tials to rise up.

    It has noth­ing to do with how good the qual­i­ty of hard­ware is, nei­ther the fan­ci­ful­ness of OS, and def­i­nite­ly not the amount of pop­u­lar APPS available—all 3 are any­way pret­ty much unreach­able for a new com­er in Smart­phone mar­ket like RIM, by the way—but the sur­vival fac­tors rest inside the psy­chol­o­gy of human minds:

    Which way are the gen­er­al cus­tomer-base lean­ing towards? will the com­bined pow­er of CURIOSITY and BRAND-LOYALHOOD pre­vail? or are peo­ple rather be PRACTICAL and SPARED of UNKNOWN BUGS by stick­ing w/ an OS and APP sys­tem they know well of?

    Besides, a fatal bat­tle RIM has to fight is on how to break up peo­ple’s TIES with an OS sys­tem they’ve already shipped pos­si­bly hun­dreds of dol­lars in: On the sur­face it’s not like a heart-wrench­ing amount—nonetheless for the major­i­ty, it’s an “extreme­ly upset idea” to pay for APPS great­ly resem­bled to those on their cur­rent sys­tem, kin­da feel like being charged for things already paid. And the HIGHLIGHT here is, it’s not just apply­ing to stale smart­phone mar­ket, but even part of RIM’s most promis­ing buy­ers, peo­ple w/o a smart­phone yet…but own­ing a Flatscreen! They’re also bound­ed down by the same APP sys­tem issue; Peo­ple such as me, who did­n’t notice about this locked-in state after already shov­el­ing mon­ey buy­ing a bunch of APPs, most of them uni­ver­sal; while the rest are buy­ers whose “brand-pref.” already played into their Flatscreen pur­chase.

    Any­way, my point is, RIM’s road towards becom­ing a hard smart­phone sell­er seems espe­cial­ly bumpy. I will pray for them, though, since the idea of smart­phone mar­ket com­ing down to be a 2‑party nation is rather nasty!

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