BoingBoing has alerted us to a marvellous multi-channel fiction and photography project called Dr. Julius T Roundbottom. The puppetmaster of this fascinating world is Jeremiah Tolbert, who says of the project:

“It’s a little fantasy, a little steampunk, a little clockpunk, and I hope a hell of a lot of fun. The comment community that has grown up around the site respond to the stories in their own characters, and the characters of the site have a dialog with them. The audience, through comments, influence the direction of the story, often introducing new concepts to the world building.” [via BoingBoing]

The site structure is essentially a blog, beautifully designed in steampunk style, which follows the adventures of Dr Roundbottom, a naturalist studying faeries in City Park. Each post is fiction written in the first-person voice of the good doctor, with a few other characters thrown in. Tolbert accompanies his posts with high-quality art photography. He has also established an ‘encyclopedia’, a tikiwiki to expand and flesh out worldbuilding aspects of the site (there’s that quasi-spectral hypertext again)

I particularly love that readers are encouraged to engage with and extend the narrative by posting comments “in character” and conducting dialogue with Dr Roundbottom and his colleagues. Tolbert is monetising the narrative through sale of photographs and premium memberships to the site. I imagine there are any number of other ways he could introduce income streams to this, especially once the community builds up around it.

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