Madeira Story Generator
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MStoryG

Madeira Story Generator (MStoryG) is an interactive public storytelling installation designed to revive storytelling practices within public spaces. By provoking curiosity in passersby through the repurposing of a traditional Solari Udine split-flap mechanical display, MStoryG emphasises storytelling as a critical building block in human nature, communication and society, an intricate part of Madeiran culture.

In order to understand how to entice and probe people’s reactions towards storytelling and sharing, several MstoryG prototypes were deployed in different public and semi-public spaces: An initial installation at the hall of Madeira Tecnopolo, a science park (right); and at the hall of University of Madeira’s (below).

Initially, passersby could contribute with stories through Twitter social network and send short (260 characters) stories to the display via a dedicated web interface. Later, Facebook and SMS were integrated an new interaction modalities.

According to the Design Research approach after the deployment of each probe a study was conducted which led to the redesign of some aspects of the installation. These findings led us to design for participation inequality. We iterated over MStoryG’s concept providing authors and writers with as many interaction modalities as possible including a new authoring platform. Please consult the full list of publications below to learn about the case studies and results in more detail. Generally the public enjoyed the juxtaposition of elements, split-flap display and the short stories. What became quickly evident was that storytelling is hard and not everyone is interested in contributing, but almost everybody enjoys a good story, in whichever medium and channel is delivered.

These findings led us to design for this participation inequality. We iterated over MStoryG’s concept providing authors and writers with as many interaction modalities as possible including a new authoring platform.

The authoring platform was designed to simulate the physical Solari display and allow full control to users over all of the elements of the display and was deployed on a airport kiosk, at the Airport of Madeira MStoryG installation, for easy passenger interaction adjacent to the baggage claim area (right).

The main body of content was provided by invited authors and writers such as Christopher Schaberg ‏(@airplanereading), New Orleans Review ‏(@NOReview), Katy Pugh (@ktinlisbon), Lachlan Mackenzie, Peter Thomas, Julian Hanna, and others. They had the following to say about the experience:

“fascinating intersection between technology and humanities”

“amazing, live, interactive forum for an original kind of writing, an imaginative hybrid that blends the informatics of global air travel with poetics, aphorisms, and epigrammatic insights”

“a marvellous and bizarre experiment”

MStoryG is currently deployed at two locations: as a public storytelling installation located at the International Airport of Madeira; and as message board and public storytelling installation located at Madeira-Interactive technologies Institute.

The Airport of Madeira was the chosen location for the MStoryG public installation (see right) due to its high flow and diversity of visitors and connection to the Solari display. Further, airport terminals are currently being targeted by researchers and artists as key spaces to deploy their projects as an attempt to enhance passenger experience.


Simultaneously, MStoryG is deployed at the Madeira-ITI installations functioning as a message board for important institute informations, and as a storytelling installation, synchronised with the airport installation. The public may interact with the display through Twitter and Facebook social networks and SMS.

At the top of this page is a realtime virtual representation of MStoryG’s storytelling installation at the Airport of Madeira. Go ahead, share a story!

Publications for MStoryG

Jorge C, Nisi V, Nunes N, Innella G, Caldeira M, Sousa D. 2013. “Ambiguity in Design.” In CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems on - CHI EA '13, 541. New York, New York, USA: ACM Press.
Jorge C, Hanna J, Nisi V, Nunes N, Caldeira M, and Giovanni Innella. 2013. Fostering ambiguity: decontextualizing and repurposing a familiar public display. In Proceedings of the Biannual Conference of the Italian Chapter of SIGCHI (CHItaly '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, , Article 23 , 10 pages.
Jorge C, Nisi V, Nunes N, Hanna J, Caldeira M, Innella G. 2013. Updating the Campfire Model: a Split- Flap Display as a Digital Storytelling Public Installation. Extended Abstracts and Demo Session, CHItaly.
Jorge, C., Hanna, J., Nisi, V., et al. Storytelling and the Use of Social Media in Digital Art Installations. In Interactive Storytelling: 6th International Conference, ICIDS 2013, Istanbul, Turkey, November 6-9, 2013, Proceedings. Springer International Publishing, 2013, 233–244.
Julian Hanna, Clinton Jorge, Valentina Nisi, Nuno Nunes, Miguel Caldeira, Giovanni Innella, Amanda Marinho (2014) “Island Stories: The Madeira Story Generator Project.” New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, Taylor & Francis (Forthcoming).
Julian Hanna (2013). "Recent Arrivals: The Madeira Story Generator Project." 16th Great Writing International Creative Writing Conference, Imperial College, London, UK, June 29-30.