In October 2014, the Social Space Agency was invited to the Frankfurt Book Fair to conduct a mission. The title of that mission was called metaTEXT. It appeared to us that reading, and our way of treating books and literature could be understood with a couple of conventions: A book is usually read from left to right, top to bottom, starting at page number one, ending on the last page. Also, we read in order to understand. Furthermore, when it comes to text the most prominent agents around it are the writer and reader.

We started taking those bits apart, finding alternatives to them, putting things back together, and developing a palette of new techniques on how to read. See pictures below.

We created most of those techniques without testing them. Some seemed reasonable enough, others appeared a bit like a wild card. We printed them numerously and headed towards the fair area where we were expected to be in the Finish pavillon.

It is there that we on one hand put a couple of techniques into the showcase books, and on the other hand distributed them amongst the visitors — asking them to test the techniques and share their expierences with us. Also, we invited the visitors to share their personal reading habits with us to enlarge our palette of reading techniques.

During the five days of the fair, we dawningly realized that we might have stumbeled upon something bigger than just a small experiment on the convention of reading. Looking into a horizon where people would not perceive themselves as passive consumers of books, but where they would see books and text as a starting material of their own creativity, we could see in the distant fogs a new culture of reading.

It took us almost a year to process the whole mission. We ended up writing an introductory guide that one can use to enter this New Culture of Reading. The whole document is available here.


place: Frankfurt Book Fair

date: 11th-15th of October 2014

group: Social Space Agency

read more: „Wer sagt, dass man ein Buch mit dem ersten Satz beginnen soll?“ (WOZ/41/2014)