Sparrow Hall is a writer, designer and immersive storyteller. Author of Two Blue Wolves and Nightwork, Hall is known for creating unique narrative experiences through a hybrid of mediums – including literature, music, video, graphic design, handmade artifacts, and web-specific content. He has led branded content development for a variety of global brands, and has chaired thought leadership panels discussing the future of publishing and cross-platform entertainment. Read More >

Bloggers, Grab Your Fancy Jackets. Tumblr Is Handing Out Book Deals.

Literary “Brat Pack” members - Jay McInerney, Tama Janowitz and Bret Easton Ellis

Literary “Brat Pack” members – Jay McInerney, Tama Janowitz and Bret Easton Ellis – all had their big breaks on Tumblr.

Continuing to blur the lines between digital and print media, Tumblr announced that it’s partnering with Chronicle Books for it’s 3rd annual book competition – looking to “find three worthy blogs, print them, bind them between two covers, and place them into the hands of the world.” All you have to do is tell them your concept for an Art, Humor, or Food + Drink book, based on your blog, and see if they’re wowed by your storytelling hotness. Enter the competition here. All the deets are over here. Now grab your Instagram filters and lunar eclipse GIFs and go get a book deal!

Gathering Inspiration: The Gloriously Goth Homes of Deerfield, MA

A photo posted by sparrowhall (@sparrowhall) on

If I’m ever in need of a good dose of visual inspiration, or just a cathartic country drive, I like to head northwest through the Berkshires into Franklin County, Massachusetts – in particular, the town of Deerfield, MA.

A fully preserved colonial town (pre-Revolutionary War), Deerfield is an eerily beautiful, fully-functioning living museum with a well-heeled private school attached. The vibe is kind of “gothy puritanical” in the best possible way. The protagonist of the novel I’m working on went to Amherst College, about 15 minutes south of here.

View other inspiration pics on Instagram >

Do Your Memories Live Outside Your Brain?

Are Memories and Thoughts Stored Outside Our Brains?

I’ve been studying a concept known as the Akashic records – a storehouse of the infinite consciousness, maintaining all of the information from the past, present and future. Often, clairvoyants will ascribe their gift of second sight to a natural ability to access these records – an ability that apparently all humans have, but are, for the most part, out of tune with. For clairvoyants, accessing the Akashic records is like drawing from an infinite Wikipedia in which every one of us has a page describing our entire lifetime, from birth to death, as well as our prior lives. So how does this relate to our daily lives?

Is your consciousness stored in the cloud?

Cambridge-educated biologist and author, Rupert Sheldrake, is advancing his controversial theory of morphic resonance – proposing that humans may not store thoughts and memories in their own brains, but rather “upload” and “download” them from an infinite consciousness much like a cloud computing system. His studies have shown that this may be true not only for humans, but all living things. In essence, we may all be learning from, or at least influencing, one another without even realizing it.

In the above TED Talk, famously pulled from TED’s YouTube channel, Sheldrake outlines the 10 dogmas of science that are keeping us from discovering how the universe actually works.

Lebanese Child Recounts Past Life In Detail

Boy Reincarnated in Lebanon

I’m researching reincarnation as part of a new project, and the stories I’ve been coming across are phenomenal – like this one of a little boy in Lebananon. Click the article link and read what happens when his parents finally take him to his former hometown.

From The Epoch Times:

If you heard a child give detailed information about a dead man’s life that he could not seemingly have known through normal means, would you believe he is that man’s reincarnation?

Psychologist Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, professor emeritus at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, has long studied reincarnation. He has highlighted a case he began investigating in 2000 in which a boy named Nazih Al-Danaf gave many correct details about his purported past-life incarnation.

Dr. Haraldsson worked with a local researcher, Majd Abu-Izzeddin, in Lebanon to interview the boy’s family members and the family of the deceased man Nazih may have been. All witnesses were interviewed multiple times several months apart, and the story remained by and large the same. The most striking testimony came from the dead man’s wife, who tested the boy’s knowledge of her life with her husband.

Read the full article here >

Teenage Artist, Lorde – Prophesizing an End of Extravagance

Lorde

I’m fascinated by this young artist out of New Zealand that goes by the name Lorde. Her sound is a blend of expository songwriting, stripped down hip hop beats and husky, honest-to-goodness soul. If the views on her YouTube videos have anything to say for it, this chick has amassed quite a following on just a handful of songs. You could chalk it up to the quality of the work, but for me it has to do with the message behind the music – something altogether different.

Lorde is one of a new generation of artists that have grown up in a modern day Great Depression. When riches are no longer relevant, when the old measurements have gone extinct, what will the kids dream about next?

A young generation that places less of a focus on material wealth makes the Kanye Wests of the world look like irrelevant dinosaurs.

I don’t know if it has to do with the alignment of the stars (literally – Saturn in Scorpio), meditating on the subtext of The Dark Knight Rises, or just spending too much time with The Law of One, but there’s something in Lordes’ music that makes me feel like I’m reading the tea leaves: A disinterest in celebrity, a disregard for wealth, and an unwillingness to play for the camera – even in her own music video (see “Tennis Court” below – brilliant). There’s a prophecy hidden somewhere in here. Something about this young woman’s presence is telling a larger story about her generation. One that is looking less and less like the images portrayed in the media, but rather far more secretive and compelling, as if the artist were holding a conversation in her head that we were not yet a party to.

Unlike the past, where young people were compelled to amass physical belongings to communicate their story (and simply to know themselves) – “these are the bands I like, this is my style, this is how I spend my money” – today, they craft their identities online. Who they are becomes a digital portrait that can be tweaked, updated, deleted, and exported in any way they see fit. And it’s free, which is a huge bonus seeing as how they’ve grown up in one of the most difficult economies we’ve seen in the past hundred years. If you don’t think these kids have lived through a Great Depression, maybe you should ask them. These young voices remind us that change isn’t on its way, but rather it’s already here. Maybe it hasn’t taken hold on a mass scale yet, but it has taken root, and it’ll be fascinating to see how we transform because of it.

Nexus of Digital Innovation, “Made in NY” Media Center Arrives in Brooklyn

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

In her article “Home Screen” for the Summer 2013 issue of Filmmmaker Magazine, Mary Anderson Casavant takes us inside the IFP “Made in NY” Media Center in DUMBO Brooklyn – due to open October 2013.

I was interviewed for the article, in which I share my thoughts on what it means for New York’s new media community, the challenges the center could face, and how the “Made in NY” Media Center could help establish the business of new media.

Filmmaker Magazine - Summer 2013 Casavant writes “An 18,000-square foot facility at 20 Jay Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn, the Media Center will be an incubator for new artists, entrepreneurs and companies working in software development, mobile, gaming and multiplatform storytelling. It will offer educational classes in media and technology, exhibit work in a gallery and screening room and be a hub for new media in New York’s growing DUMBO district. And, significantly, the center will offer residencies for selected transmedia artists, an opportunity that will give the artists ‘a stamp of approval in quality, as well as access to mentors, classes and angel investors,’ says IFP Executive Director Joana Vincent.”

Below is an outtake from my interview with the team at Filmmaker Magazine. You can read Mary Anderson Casavant’s complete article with a paid digital subscription of Filmmaker Magazine, or on the newsstand.

FM: Is there a real need in the tech and transmedia communities for such a center? How important are physical spaces in an age of digital communication when it comes to the bringing together of artists and technologists?

SH: Some creators may find it helpful, but I don’t think it’s necessary to the work. Operating in the digital space, we’ve made an art of making something out of nothing. Working in our bedrooms, our apartments, a cleaned out corner of the garage. We’re a resourceful bunch. And we’re modular by nature. We collaborate online. We shift. We adapt. If we enter a physical space, we do our work and then we’re gone. I don’t know if we need four permanent walls. Maybe. We might not know what to do with them.

Floor plan of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

SH: In terms of networking, I think the Media Center could do a lot. But it would need to be a diverse and exciting environment. I think the biggest, and maybe the most important thing the Media Center could do is serve as a symbol. A stake in the ground. It’s like Silvercup Studios. We’ve always known movies are made in New York, but it wasn’t until you could see that giant building with the words SILVERCUP STUDIOS did people start thinking of New York as a legitimate movie-making city. Places like this show that we mean business.

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

FM: What potential opportunities does the center offer New York storytellers and technologists, and what are potential pitfalls the IFP might experience in running it?

SH: I think there are a lot of storytellers working in the classic formats of narrative – film, publishing, TV – that are eager to push themselves into the world of new media because of the opportunities it holds. It helps to have something like the Media Center, because it gives people a concrete place to go and immediately start immersing in the culture. That said, I think spaces like this can fall victim to a few things – 1) Being overrun by a sterile corporate ethos 2) Eliciting an obnoxious start-up incubator vibe 3) Being too expensive for artists/entrepreneurs to use on a regular basis.

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

FM: With so much innovation occurring at the grass roots, fan level, by users unaffiliated with institutions, what do you think the Media Center must do to properly engage a community?

SH: It needs to showcase good work. And compelling stories. Not just new technology and methodologies. It needs to have good taste.

Read Mary Anderson Casavant full article with a paid digital subscription of Filmmaker Magazine >

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

Other Articles on the “Made in NY” Media Center:

INDIEWIRE: ‘Made in NY’ Media Center by IFP Prepares for October Opening >

FAST COMPANY: How The “Made In Ny” Media Center Will Connect Filmmakers And Entrepreneurs >

Filmmaker Magazine cover image courtesy of Filmmaker Magazine. All other images courtesy of IFP “Made in NY” Media Center and MESH Architectures.

Real Freedom is the Ability to Think and Choose

This is Water - David Foster Wallace - 2005 Commencement Speech - The Glossary

“This is Water” by David Foster Wallace / Short film by The Glossary

Commencement speeches usually make me feel like I’m sleeping with my eyes open. Here’s an exception.

This short-film interpretation of David Foster Wallace’s address to the graduating class of Kenyon College in 2005 elegantly reframes the soul-crushing realities of a day-in-day-out work week as an opportunity to think and choose differently – and the promise it holds.

A Roving Gathering For Those Who Create – DIY DAYS 2013 NYC

DIY DAYS NYC 2013

DIY DAYS NYC 2013
Saturday April 27 / The New School / Starting at 9:15 AM

Afterparty
Bar 13 / 13th Street at University Place / 6 PM – 8:30 PM

Helping creators fund, develop, distribute, and sustain their work.
DIY DAYS is a free one-day event where creators from all over the world descend on New York to present their latest discoveries, innovations, and methodologies. This year, I’m helping the team host the afterparty at Bar 13 in Union Square.

DIY DAYS NYC 2013 - Program

You can still register for the conference at www.diydays.com, view the schedule, learn more about the speakers, and even sign up as a volunteer.

Highlights of this year’s DIY DAYS include:

misfit

brianclark

elejansen

petersims

Last year, I contributed to the “Measuring Success – New Methods for Funding, Engaging and Creating” panel with transmedia creative director Nick Braccia, media anthropologist Ele Jansen, and digital strategist Ryan Aynes. Here’s an excerpt form the talk.

When Your Metalhead Brother Makes an Indie Documentary

Mistaken for Strangers - Documentary - The National

Looking forward to checking out “Mistaken for Strangers” the opening night film for the Tribeca Film Festival.

The documentary captures The National’s “High Violet” world tour from a rare insider’s point of view – directed by lead singer Matt Berninger’s brother, Tom Berninger, who believes indie rock is “pretentious bullshit.”

Mistaken for Strangers - Documentary - The National
The National lead singer Matt Berninger (left) with filmmaker brother Tom Berninger (right).

Looks hilarious.