Telling stories

In the middle of explaining some social media stuff recently, I was pulled up short and given a useful dressing down.

“You’re using too many words,” they said, or something to that effect. “What you mean is that just like people had to learn how to use Powerpoint ten years ago, if they wanted to be able to get their point across, they have to learn about these tools.”

Um. Yeah. Exactly.

Nice simple way of explaining the imperative for people to learn, to become literate in this medium.

Social web literacy, just like any other literacy before it, is partly just about the technical skills. They are very, very important these technical skills, if you are to realise the amazing potential of the web to help you get things done.

But underpinning them all, more so than during the channel media age, during the industrial communications era, is the ability to tell stories well.

Social media, as I will never tire of saying, is a useful phrase because of, er, the social bit. The rules are social, human and innate. Often as not, we’ve unlearned our skills in story-telling have been undone by corporate organisational life in the previously modern world. In that world, the story was driven to ground, meaning flushed out by jargon, shibboleths and weird communications.

Lloyd Davies gave me a nudge about this this morning when I read the text of a talk he gave at the ICA (a story wrapped ina  story, now I think of it):

And it comes down to telling stories with purpose, telling stories to make sense and learn about yourself and the world. No doubt that’s also how I stumbled into being invited to speak to you tonight. Because I believe that telling stories (and engaging in conversation about them) at this human scale, where you can see the whites of my eyes is something that’s going to be very useful to us in the 21st Century as we grapple with unprecedented rates of social, economic and technological change. Talking at this scale is a skill that I think we all need to learn again and practice regularly.

Read his stories. They are lovely.

Reminds me also of the invigorating Brain Rules, especially Rule 4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things. Story telling with the social web helps us format information as human, relevant stories.

Leave a Reply