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During a four hour workshop Olivia Koski, procucer at The Atavist, guided a group of eager potential users through the process of publishing media-rich stories on their innovative publishing platform. Stories will end up on tablets, ready for a digital savvy audience to read.

I attended the workshop because I wanted to play around with the system and see if it has the potential to be a platform for publishing our science and alumni magazine Delft Outlook. The system is a little buggy, but to be fair it is still in beta. The publishing process itself is dead simple although not as hassle-free as I had hoped. But it shows potential, as David Dobbs attested who published a wonderful 13,000 word story on The Atavist called My Mother’s Lover.

The feature that sets this system apart from regular e-reading solutions is the extra layer of content you can offer your reader. Text is only the beginning of your story, the exciting part is the extras that you can add like video, images, audio. All in an easy to navigate package.

It made me realise two things:
1. In order to bring out the full potential of the system we need to tell the stories that we publish in Delft Outlook in a new way. We have to go beyond “simply” writing text and adding photos or an infographic. We need to add new depths to our storytelling.
2. But, is the reader ready for this? Do people actually want to interrupt their reading to listen to an audio clip, or watch a video, or explore a historical timeline? Is The Atavist platform ahead of its time or perhaps a gimmick that won’t tear people away from the conventional book?

I look forward to playing around with The Atavist some more and seeing if their ambitions will translate in a growing community of users.