Can virtual storytelling help in building community identity?

The Dutch Province Overijssel is renewing its public website and is now looking for stories which strengthens the local identity of the region - roughly the area from River IJssel near Zwolle, Deventer to the German border. The idea is that anyone can publish relevant stories under a special link or button for the relevant subject ( culture, religion, crafts, community activities, sports, heritage, etc.). This way, hopefully a virtual community will grow where all inhabitants share and comment on each others experiences and knowledge; to feel themselves more an 'Overijsselaar'.

I am delighted to have the official role as the 'story hunter' for Overijssel. That means, doing the research and finding the people and locations 'with a story' to tell. I try to stimulate people to write their own stories. I kick things off by writing lead articles for the website and hope reactions will follow. The dream is to find people who will share on a more regular basis new topics. Or even better, that they start local story circles. At the moment contact has been made with a variety of groups and institutions; from university to homes for the elderly and museums. 

After the reshaping of the website, new products will be introduced such as an E-bookshelf with E-books where people are asked to add in new chapters. Interactive maps will soon be added, so that people can see others in the neighborhood with more stories to share. This way, the project can also is an opportunity to expand and renew contacts within story telling.

Plans are also being made at public and community locations such as stations and libraries, to offer pens, books and even Wifi to inspire people to sit down and write a story on the spot for the website.

My job sees me responsible for the non-technical site of the project as an inter mediator. On one hand I contact the web builders for illustrations, video and images, and on the other hand, I am a community worker helping people share and write their stories so that they can be accessible for others to read and enjoy.

I was a community worker many years ago, in the last century. We needed buildings back then. The quest for me this time is to find if virtual story sharing can become a new way of community building. I hope some of you join me on this wonderful adventure.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know. You can read more about me on my website.

Thanks for your time,
Jan Swagerman
Narrative Coach


Jan Swagerman, narratief coach / trainer Pieter Steynstraat 165, 8022 TE Zwolle 038-4546436

Panel on Narrative Formalization Using PDDL

Planning is by no means the only AI technique supporting narrative generation, but it has certainly featured in many of the Interactive Storytelling systems implemented and published to this date. While a range of different planning techniques has been used, the existence of a standard formalism for the description of planning domains should make it possible for newcomers to reuse previous implementations or standard planners, thereby making the development of Interactive Storytelling systems more accessible. There is also a need to demystify the formalisation process, and to discuss openly the various methods, until now largely empirical, of narrative knowledge elicitation.

Interested potential panel members should contact the organisers to volunteer by July 3rd. Candidates can apply as individual or as representatives of a team, research group or institution (in which case only one member will take part in the panel discussion). Upon selection, they will be informed of the story to be formalised, which will be the same for all participants, as well as the maximum number of PDDL operators that should be used. The story will consist of an existing narrative readily accessible as text or film. It is expected from candidates that they will attend the Conference and present their formalisation, as well as making it publicly available. Their strategy to formalise the story (not just the list of PDDL operators) should also be described as a 2-page short paper to be included in the proceedings.

Please find details in the INT 6 call for papers...



The IVA 2013 Doctoral Consortium will be held on the 28th August 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is a call for all PhD students working in the area of intelligent virtual agents who might be interesetd to attend.

The purpose of the Doctoral Consortium (find out more) is for participants to share experiences, compare approaches, discuss future research problems, and to receive feedback from their peers and established researchers in the field. An opportunity not to be missed!



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HypeDyn -

There's been lots of interest in learning about using HypeDyn as a writing tool to help generate  stories, so I've summed up an overview you can watch to summarise how this tool functions. You can also access documentation on my website - which is a complete  introduction to HypeDyn and it's more advanced features. 

Below are links to the HypeDyn installer. The correct version to use is 2.2b4.




Windows users may need to install the Java runtime environment for those that don't already have it. 

If anyone has any problems getting HypeDyn to install or run, there's a HypeDyn Google Group where they can post.


Thank you to those who attended the recent RIDERS workshop and had a play with HypeDyn and fed back your experience on using the software.  Feedback and evaluation is always useful and all RIDERS members feel free to get back to me with any thoughts that arise using the tool, as I'm continually developing ideas and research in this area.



Within AI, storytelling research began with NLP work on story-grammars in the 1970s [4], aimed at the non-interactive generation of text-based stories. For example, Meehan’s TALESPIN [9] used character goals and planning to produce very short fable-like stories. In parallel, work on psychologically-plausible memory structures supporting stories was carried out [44]. However the advent of multi-media systems and then Virtual Reality – immersive real-time interactive graphic environments – in the 1990s, created a new vision of a dramatic ‘holodeck-like’ experience [2,10] or virtual theatre [6].

RIDERS | Heriot Watt University (Riccarton Campus) | Currie | Midlothian | EH14 4AP