Neeti Sivakumar

The Reading Room

Web-platform for location-based storytelling

Website (in development)

Role: Founder
Team: Neeti Sivakumar, Anushka Trivedi, Ishwari Arambam, Oshin Padhye, George Panicker, Shreya Pidikiti

Supported by
Goethe-Institut, BeFantastic, ZKM Karlsruhe

Exhibited at
C3: Coding, Creativity, Communities Exhibition
The Reading Room is a collaborative storytelling project that enables us to think of place differently. It received two rounds of grants from Goethe Institut’s ‘C3: Coding, Creativity, Communities’ grant. Through storytelling, we can take the initiative of re-defining a place beyond its history and geography.

As makers of place, stories can be drawn from lived-experiences or personal encounters. The Reading Room is home to all stories — from places without names on a map to segregated and integrated places, of places you wish you’d gone to or hadn’t, or the farthest you go in a day.

The Reading Room works as a dialogue between storytellers and their listeners. The experience of a story will create conversations, trigger thoughts, and make meaningful connections.

Screenshots: Lite version landing screen; Adventure version landing screen; Outdoors version landing screen

Design: The work consists of three versions to experience these stories -
Lite - A simple listed version of all the stories with a search function. Readers can filter based on location so as to learn more about a place.
Adventure - A choose your adventure experience that is built by the audience. The version relies on building bridges between stories and making connections between readers and storytellers in order. It begins to explore the possibility of slow media by introducing break screens so the audience can head outside.
Outdoors - This is a geolocative sound-based experience that helps storytellers share ‘voice notes’ at particular locations. They become hotspots to experience reality through other perspectives.

Through an initial survey, the team discovered that the pandemic had reduced the time most people spent outdoors, even alone. There was no appeal to exploring and wandering in a city. As a result, we developed multiple versions of the website to explore the possibilities of interacting with content creation about locations. For example, in the Adventure version, the experience embodied the physicality of how we navigate space - strolling, turning corners, eavesdropping - through familiar digital interactions - scrolling, hyperlinking, bookmarking/search history. The cyber flaneur could travel during times of isolation across these imagined realities.

Screenshots: Transition between stories (a compass that calculates the direction in which you are travelling based on the location data gathered from the stories); Break screens offering readers relief intermittently

The Reading Room is a work in progress. The website currently consists of a text editor/publisher, map builder, hyperlink generator, search/filter, account/profile and login via magiclink generator, so on.

Below are two videos of guest and user walkthrough of the website.

Screenshots: Walkthrough of beta version as a guest user; Walkthrough of beta version signed in