Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland

Launching “This is not a book” – what it is and why you should be interested

We just did a thing.

This is not a book is a series of observations on writing in a digital age written by Baldur Bjarnason and Tom Abba. It is our attempt to boil down into a manageable website our combined experience in creating, developing, and teaching interactive media. It’s a deliberately opinionated guide to the current landscape of digital media storytelling and writing.

We come from two opposite sides of digital media. I’m biased towards the technical and the populist. Tom leans towards the experimental, structural, and avant-garde. It’d be easy to quip that our interests are so diverse that the few things we agree on must be true. It’d be more true to say that our awareness and understanding of each other’s work has given us a clear view of the boundaries of our shared field.

We’ve also made a shit-ton of mistakes in our careers and would like to help you avoid them.

All of this comes together in the website This is not a book. Over 40 000 words of opinion, observation, provocation, analysis, and crazy ideas. It is not a manifesto or a manual—more of an idiosyncratic travelogue of the bits of the field where we’ve managed to stub our toes. A lot of it will be off-beat, but hopefully interesting. A lot of it will be wrong, but hopefully in a useful way. A lot of it will be true, but hopefully not too true because we want the discussion to continue.

We are going to be updating the site on a semi-regular basis so, if you want to keep up, you can add the feed to your favourite news reader, subscribe to the newsletter, or just plain follow either me or Tom on Twitter.

This project has had a long gestation period: three, four, or five years depending on when you start counting (first mention of the idea versus first storyboard, that sort of thing). No matter how you count it, from the perspective of ‘web time’, it has taken an eternity. Even though this lengthy process has been frustrating, it has made sure that we’ve avoided diving into the ephemeral and fleeting. We have avoided fads and fashions. We’ve avoided covering almost instantly out-of-date digital tools. We’ve stuck to experiences, context and ideas.

If all of this combined is useful to even one of you, then it will have been a success. If parts of it are useful to you even as you disagree vehemently with other parts, so much the better.

(And if you want a single page version with the entire text on one page, we have that as well.)

Oh, and finally, as Tom says in his introduction to this project:

There’ll be something else too.

In a week or so.

This is going to be fun.

You can also find me on Mastodon and Bluesky