So…almost five months since I quit my job I have the first real evidence that I haven’t just been drinking coffee and playing my PS3 (which is flashing the Yellow Light of Death, sadly.)

Here it is: an illustrated/interactive version of The Great Gatsby for the iPad (should be in the store soon, pending usual Apple hoops.) And if you didn’t guess it, you can now see where the name of my company comes from.

I’m very proud of this product and especially the artwork, which is original and was done by Michigan-based artist Mike Schwartz (his stuff above and below.) He is a very talented and efficient artist who instinctively understands the text, its characters and the scenes depicted. I hope this app can really help drive his profile and look forward to seeing more of his stuff.


So what’s this all about?

We know about Baz Luhrmann’s movie (I’m yet to actually see it.) You may have even read the novel at some point. On the surface, this product includes a bunch of value-adds through the illustrations, maps, my own research of this text and the other interactive features. Things that may have made sense when the book was first published in 1925 but are lost in the wash of historical context more than eight decades later are explained in convenient and unobtrusive pop-up notes. There are also maps of the story’s geography, which are designed to address a major gripe from e-book readers about how inaccessible in-story maps are on reading devices. With a little more work and investment, something like this is a good product for the education market. Sure enough that’s where I’m headed (wish me luck.)

But it’s more than that.

Here’s the bet: good narratives and storytelling are the new frontiers for the digital economy, the railroads upon which new cities and trading posts will spring. Content is everywhere, so are social networks. Good content–well-crafted and well-curated–is less ubiquitous. Storytelling, be it through narratives old or new, can take us to a lot of new places. I don’t believe digital technology or Silicon Valley has worked out the best possible way(s) to take us there just yet. I know for a fact that big, dirty digital utilities companies are looking very closely at how storycraft can create new digital on-ramps for them. I don’t pretend that my Gatsby adaptation comes close to this dream, but it’s a baby step.

If this sounds conceptual, wanky and meaningless, then I’ll let the future do the talking. In the meantime, watch for more products like this. I’ll be blogging shamelessly about them and what they mean for my livelihood.