The Story 2016

The Story 2016 was, as usual, at Conway Hall, London, on Friday 19th February. The speakers at The Story 2016 were:

Gaia Vince is a writer and broadcaster specialising in science and the environment. She has been the front editor of the journal Nature Climate Change, the news editor of Nature and online editor of New Scientist. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines in the UK, US and Australia, including The Guardian, Science, Scientific American and Australian Geographic. She has a column, Smart Planet, on BBC Online and devises and presents science programmes for BBC radio. Her first book, Adventures In The Anthropocene: A journey to the heart of the planet we made, won the Royal Society Winton Prize for science books this year. She blogs at and tweets at @WanderingGaia

C. Spike Trotman was born in DC, grew up in MD, and lives in IL. She runs Iron Circus Comics, Chicago’s largest comics publisher, and is responsible for Poorcraft, The Sleep of Reason, New World, and the Smut Peddler series, along with the webcomic “Templar, Arizona.” A Kickstarter early adopter, her projects have raised nearly half a million dollars in funding and earned multiple awards. Her achievements are just of few of many like it in the independent publishing world, a world reinvigorated by online comics, diversifying audiences, increased access and crowdfunding. In case you couldn’t tell, she’s  a big fan of where things are going.

Daniel Meadows is a photographer and storyteller who has spent a lifetime recording British society, challenging the status quo by working in a collaborative way to capture extraordinary aspects of ordinary life through pictures, audio recordings and short movies. He is best known for his 1973-74 journey around England in the Free Photographic Omnibus when he travelled 10,000 miles in a converted double-decker and shot 958 portraits in “free studio” sessions on the streets of 22 different British towns and cities. This is a project he revisited in the 1990s, photographing again some of the subjects of those portraits for his widely published series National Portraits: Now & Then. His pioneering community storytelling project BBC Capture Wales (2001-08) encouraged many hundreds of people across Wales to embrace the arrival of the digital age in pop-up workshops by making their own two minutes of TV, framing their memories and pictures into digital stories, “multimedia sonnets from the people”. Capture Wales won a BAFTA Cymru in 2002. His work has been exhibited widely both in the UK and on the continent of Europe. Solo shows include ICA London (1975), The Photographers’ Gallery London (1987), National Media Museum Bradford (2011). Group shows include Serpentine Gallery London (1973) and Tate Britain (2007).

Wolfgang Wild is the creator of Retronaut, a brand that shows “the past like you wouldn’t believe”. In 2014, Wild licensed Retronaut to Mashable and National Geographic published the first Retronaut book – two further books will be published in 2016. Number 20 on the Times of London’s list of the “50 people you should follow on Twitter”, Wild worked across the museum and archive world for the better part of a decade. He is guest curator for a range of digital and physical museums, and lives near Oxford, England, with his wife, Annie, and two children.

Hannah Nicklin is a theatre maker, writer, game designer, and academic. She has written a PhD about how theatre-influenced games and games-influenced theatre can destroy capitalism (mostly). Hannah is most interested in DIY, community storytelling, tools that break systems, and the spaces between ‘what is’ and ‘what if’ where new thinking happens. She makes theatre and games in public and community settings, and has worked with people like The RSC, Northern Stage, Slung Low, Invisible Flock, Hide & Seek, Coney, The Wellcome Trust, The Space, Gamecity, Videobrains, Rock Paper Shotgun, and on housing estates, in swimming pools, on the streets of cities, and rural market towns. Her favourite thing is not working. Her favourite kind of not work is swimming long distances and cycling even longer ones.

Musa Okwonga is a poet, journalist and musician based in Berlin. The son of refugees from Idi Amin’s Uganda, he studied law at Oxford University before leaving a career as a City-trained solicitor to become a poet. The winner of the 1996 WHSmith Young Writers Competition, he is the author of two books about football, A Cultured Left Foot(Duckworths) and Will You Manage? (Serpent’s Tail): the first of which was nominated for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. A journalist and commentator on various issues, he has written opinion pieces and features for several outlets, including The New Statesman, Al-Jazeera, Foreign Policy, The Guardian and MONOCLE. In 2014 he co-wrote and presented “The Burden of Beauty”, the BBC World Service’s flagship documentary for its World Cup coverage. A vocalist who has been described by Q Magazine as “a globe-trotting Mike Skinner”, Musa ‘s music has been played by BBC Radio One, BBC6 Music and Xfm. His debut EP – “The Nomadic”, a four-track electronic EP – was praised by leading websites Okayafrica, Complex UK and The 405, from whom it received a rating of 8/10. He has just published “Eating Roses for Dinner”, a collection to mark his first ten years as a poet.

BORN n BREAD are a creative collective of friends, who share experiences of everyday life with the world, embracing imperfections and 1st takes. They take life as it comes and make the most of what they have. Their motto is ‘It is what it is’, and they’ll be talking at The Story about how to make a zine for the Internet Age

Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead  live and work in London and Kingussie in the highlands of Scotland. They make artworks and installations for galleries, and specific sites that include online spaces. Much of their recent work looks at networked global communications systems and how they are changing the way we all understand the world around us. Recent exhibitions include; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Witte de With, Rotterdam; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Haus Lange, Krefeld; Dundee Contemborary Arts; ZKM, Karlsruhe; and Carroll/Fletcher, London.  Having both studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Jon is now Reader in Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, while Alison is reader in contemporary art and visual culture at University of Westminster and lectures in Fine Art at Goldsmiths University.

Helen Zaltzman Helen Zaltzman is an award-winning podcaster. She makes the linguistics podcast The Allusionist and the comedy podcast Answer Me This. She appears regularly on BBC radio and writes crude jokes for TV panel shows.

James Ball is special correspondent for Buzzfeed News. Before joining Buzzfeed, he was an award-winning data journalist working on the Guardian‘s investigations team. He was a core journalist on several of the newspaper’s data-driven investigations, including the publication of the NSA files received from Edward Snowden, the Reading the Riots project, its reporting on the WikiLeaks’ Guantanamo Bay files, and the Guardian’s extensive reporting relating to the ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks series.  Before joining the Guardian, he worked with Channel 4 Dispatches, Panorama, Al Jazeera and ITN with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and was a freelancer working for WikiLeaks during its publication of 250,000 US embassy cables. In 2012, he was awarded the Stern Fellowship, and worked for four months on the national security desk of the Washington Post, reporting on the state-sponsored trade of online hacks, electronic sanctions in Syria and Iran, and serious security failings of the TSA. He is a lecturer on City University’s Interactive and Investigative journalism courses, and the co-author of two books: WikiLeaks: News in the Networked Era and The Infographic History of the World.

Dallas Campbell is an presenter, actor and writer who has worked on many innovative science and technology programmes across TV and Radio. In 2015 Dallas filmed Britain Beneath Your Feet, exploring the hidden wonders of below. In 2014 Dallas presented Tutankhamun: The Truth Uncovered on BBC 1; a groundbreaking documentary where Dallas uses new scientific research to explore the mysterious life and death of the boy king. He also co-hosted the hugely popular BBC1 2 part series, Treasure Hunters, alongside Ellie Harrison. A presenter of BBC One’s popular science show, Bang Goes The Theory (BGTT), for 6 series, Dallas was also a regular on stage at the Bang Live! Roadshow, which toured for 2 years. Prior to his BGTT role, Dallas co-presented Five’s enormously successful The Gadget Show, where his exploits redefined the word ‘geek’; racing jet powered street luges, wrestling robot jellyfish, testing the latest in gadgets of all sorts, as well as his proudest moment: breaking the Scalextric land speed record.

Jamie Byng is the CEO of the Edinburgh based, independent publishing house Canongate Books which he has run since 1994. During this time Canongate has grown significantly in size and reputation and has twice been named Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards (2003 and 2009) as well as Independent Publisher of the Year in 2013. Its international, prize-winning list of authors includes Yann Martel, Barack Obama, Muriel Spark, Kate Grenville, Ruth Ozeki, Nick Cave, Philip Pullman, Scarlett Thomas, Matt Haig, Terry Gilliam and many more. Byng is also a Director a company that celebrates letter writing through ambitious events at which great performers read notable letters to a live audience. In 2011 Byng co-founded World Book Night, a literacy charity that promotes reading for pleasure with a particular focus on getting books into the hands of those who rarely read. He is also Chair of the Publishers Association’s Consumer Trade Council and has been given honorary doctorates by both Edinburgh and Dundee University.

Our host for The Story 2015 was Leila Johnston. We’ve long been a fan of Leila’s work. Her podcast Shift Run Stop with Roo Reynolds was one of our favourite listens, and we’ve given copies of her excellent magazine Hack Circus to every delegate at the last two The Story conferences. Her recent projects have included a comedy arduino thermal printer Victorian letter exchange, a musical about a radioactive woman in Ancient Greece, simulators for Twitter and Instagram in BBC BASIC and a talk where the slides were written entirely in MODE 4. She was recently profiled in the Guardian Weekend magazine for her collection of photographs of IBM cash registers and wrote about Hack Circus and invention as a reaction to digital for Creative Review. She created a film and experience around life extension, after being awarded both Brighton Digital Festival ‘New Work Award’ and funding from the British Science Festival to develop projects on this theme, and is currently the first digital artist-in-residence at the dance company Rambert.