Burning Temples, Culture and Accessibility.

Last night (March 21st) saw the burning of the Temple. A wooden temple built overlooking Londonderry, the 2013 City of Culture.  Late yesterday afternoon the Temple’s architectural avatar built by Adam Clarke, BlockWorks and Sparks on Minecraft received the same fate.

Templecraft is an innovative digital arts project inspired by a monumental real –world construction. More here: http://templederry-londonderry.com/templecraft

When I first heard about it, I immediately thought of The Burning Man Festivals held in Nevada http://burningman.org/ which has become a ritual in its own right. David Best being the sculptor linking the two projects.

Ok, why am I waffling about what is clearly ‘not book related’. What has this to do with writing, reading and stories? (Aside from all the written messages left in both versions of the Derry Temple, of course.)

Because this particular ‘piece of art’ was accessible through a Minecraft server as well.

I know. Minecraft isn’t a book either, or as some would argue, even ‘art’. Moving along…

So long as you had access to a Minecraft on PC version you could transport yourself across the world to Londonderry and be a part of it. A teeny tiny dot on the globe and no airfare needed. You didn’t even need to “understand” it. Minecraft made it accessible to people that would not have given it the time of day. Minecraft brought in visitors that wouldn’t have even known about it.


Templecraft Timelapse by Blockworks.

I know you can follow events on Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the social media sites. You get to see a festival through another person’s eyes on YouTube experience their feelings and are left wishing you were there too.

It’s not the same thing as being there in person.

We were there in spirit. My family are still talking about seeing the ‘Real’ burn on the news at the same time as exploring the ruins on a server.

BBC: Londonderry temple was a bonfire to peace

So what does this have to do with writing?


As authors, our main aim is to engage our reader, just as any other artist seeks to engage their audience.

Could a book cross that many miles as swiftly? Twitter and co can cause a buzz about a book but that’s not a writer to reader level of interaction. A movie adaptation can invite others in to the story, but as we all know, the movie is never the same as the book.

Reading transports you to anyplace, anytime. One at a time at a speed you can deal with, all you need is the time to turn the page.

Prose can engage and inspire people, but  I doubt one book/story could access the range across generations and interests as The Temple did.

Over time, maybe a book could. Look at that best seller list. The big sales are also movies with a massive web presence, toy lines and various merchandise. That is not writer to reader engagement, that’s franchise expansion.

I’ve spoken with and worked with children who do not know who Harry Potter is. (Imagine!) Children who don’t read books with endless words at all. (Comics are a different beast. However this isn’t going to cross into an debate about whether anyone reads any more.)

These same kids would have been on Templecraft though. They would have explored it.

So, author-writer-person, ask yourself this. Why are you writing?

Fame and fortune?


To share a story?

Then perhaps it’s time you looked at other ways to share your world with others.


*Thank you Londonderry for also showing the next City of Culture, Hull… that the fun doesn’t stop after the spotlight moves on.