3 November 2014
Award-winning actor and writer Stephen Fry joined creative minds from across the University of Oxford and beyond for a lively day of creative collaboration at the YourFry Hackathon hosted by the Bodleian Libraries.
The event, held on 30 October, saw more than 40 students - from disciplines as diverse as astronomy, statistics, mathematics and English literature – along with researchers, artists and members of the local community come together to devise artistic and digital creations based on Fry’s life story and the theme of Many faces, many selves: exploring the self in the digital era. The goal was for participants to work on entries to Stephen Fry’s digital storytelling project known as YourFry. His publisher, Penguin Books, launched this international initiative to celebrate the publication of his latest volume of autobiography, More Fool Me.
'It's been an extraordinary opportunity to be part of a global conversation and a worldwide creative experience,' said Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian. 'From what I have seen today there have been some unique takes on Stephen Fry's content and books.'
Hackathon participants had access to free samples of text, audio and imagery taken from More Fool Me (and The Fry Chronicles) and were also encouraged to draw upon the Bodleian Libraries' collections. For example, one team used the Bodleian's digitized collections to compare Fry's written works with Shakespeare's first folio and determine which Shakespeare character he most resembles.
Following the theme of mental health, another team came up with a design for an app that would help individuals track their mood by analysing the language they use across social media channels. Other projects included a musical composition using clips from Fry's audiobooks; mathematical models used to mash up Fry's text into comedy tweets; a comic video about the misuse of social media; and a sculpture/garment made from the phrases that the comedian and writer has used to describe himself.
'Thank you for the so many different ways you have interpreted this particular wodge of words from my two books,' Fry said, addressing participants at the end of the event. 'Some of you have gone in directions I could have never imagined. All the arts seem to be represented here today and I am very proud to be a part of it.'
The Bodleian Libraries' hackathon was held in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute. It is one of a number of Yourfry events taking place across the world this autumn at universities, tech hubs, libraries and other institutions. For more information about YourFry, visit http://yourfry.com.