There’s something special about reading a book, the pages crisp and excited to see you for the first time or lightly crumpled with the memory of those who have flicked through the pages before. These days between work and uni, reading for my own pleasure is a bit of a luxury so it’s a pleasure I take very seriously. I don’t just want the words from a book, I want the total experience. As a consequence e-Books have never got a look in.
And then I saw Firestorm.
Firestorm is a multimedia e-Book that was collated for the launch of The Guardian Australia. It’s not just a book that you can read online or via a tablet. It’s an experience that fuses together imagery, words and sound seamlessly. You’ll be reading a page and then notice that the image in the background isn’t still, the crackling of fire slowly buzzing in the background. These elements could be intrusive, but they’re not. They’re perfect.
It helps that it’s a great story. Set amongst the Tasmanian bushfires earlier this year it retells the experience of Tim and Tammy Holmes and their five grandchildren as the fires swept in, devouring all in their path. As the Holmes and their grandchildren shelter under the jetty it’s a little bit traumatising and emotional but presented in such a way that you’ll find yourself captivated, taking in page after page of content.
As far as technology and sharing of information goes, Firestorm sets a new bar. It’s not a novel or a replacement for books themselves, it’s something new that takes advantage of all the technology we have at hand. Watching it you can see clearly the potential for documentary makers, teaching, historians, journalism you name it.
Firestorm is available to watch, read, enjoy here. Watch it, watch it, watch it. I cannot say this enough. Take 20 or so minutes, put on your head phones and dive in. You will not regret it. And if you liked it, keep an eye out. An extended version will be on sale for a mere four pounds soon.
If you’re based in the UK and found Firestorm interesting, The Guardian is hosting a masterclass on the process behind creating Firestorm, on digital journalism and storytelling (swoon). If it wasn’t on the other side of the world I would be there in a heart beat.