Another perspective on storytelling came from game designer Paul Bennun and sound designer and composer Nick Ryan, who collaborated most recently on the intriguing iPhone game, Papa Sangre. They set out to discuss the “special relationship between sound and storytelling”.
Papa Sangre, if you haven’t seen is set in a pitch black underworld and you have to rely on navigating by sound – apparently about one in ten people just can’t get their head around it, but those who love it.
For the technical-minded, Nick’s passion is for binaural recording, creating soundtracks which when listened to in headphones mimic how sound works in the real world (which is different to stereo – see Wikipedia for an explanation).
There were some really interesting discussions during the session, including ideas about creative an “navigational language of sound” for storytelling, which I’d like to hear more about.
One point which really struck me was when Nick reminded us just how hi-tech recorded sound was, how new it was – just a hundred years ago, as he put it, if you heard a sound you could be sure it was something happening nearby. Recorded sound allows us to separate time and location from the listening experience and
Nick also described a project for Macmillan publishers where he created an “audio enhanced” edition of a Ken Follett novel called Fall of Giants, which looks (sounds) really interesting – in the demo you hear sounds of the battlefield as the text is being read – I’d like to try that out.
This is a post about three lovely things that are all about using technology to help tell stories in new ways.
In private alpha development at the moment, Storify looks like a wonderful way of tying together different bits of your and other people’s content on the web (photos, Tweets, videos) to tell a story, and package it up. Its classic curating behaviour, but in a really simple package – I really hope i get to try it out soon.
The example they use in the video is telling the story of a conference, which it would seem to be a perfect solution for, but I imagine using it also to tell the story of big projects. For instance, at last year’s The Story conference, Aleks Krotoski told the story of the making of The Virtual Revolution BBC TV series, by stitching together Tweets, photos and videos that she had made during the process.
I always fancied doing that for the story of writing Me and My Web Shadow, but I’ve not got round to it. I guess Storify is the sort of tool that would make a similar process even easier.
Keeping stories about projects and experiences would be a lot better for organisations than dull, dry reports. They would get read and remembered more than traditional documents, I reckon.
Facebook hardback book by Bouygues Télécom/DDB Paris
A French Telecom’s agency, DDB Paris, created hardback Facebook books for a small number of people, taking content (I think with their permission) from specific instances and connections and curating them.
It’s a lovely idea, and one which maybe Facebook or a partner should automate. Imagine creating a book about your online conversations during a wedding, or just a yearbook about you and your closest friends. Echoes of the lifestreaming sell that new social network Path is trying to push, perhaps…
These kinds of ideas and applications all indicate a growing sophistication in the way people are thinking about their personal social networks and the data they are creating about them online. It is about more than communication in the now, it is about creating a record of parts of our lives and thinking about how to make the best of that…
Last of the three is Cinemek, which is an iPhone app for creating storyboards. You add your pictures, and can then start turning them into a storyboard, to plan a film, animation or any interactive media experience.
There are some demoes on Cinemek’s Vimeo page, but this one brings it to life for me, as someone storyboards a movie sequence for a suspense thriller on the fly, using a model and inserting cutouts to represent other characters – really cool…
Pricier than many apps at £11.99 on the apps store it still seems incredible value for this kind of tool…
There’s a kind of web media theologians’ debate that goes on at the moment over whether brands should ditch their websites and move their web presence to Facebook wholesale.
So far, I have mostly been an advocate of the teeth-sucking “Ooh, you don’t want to do that…” side of the argument. Reasons being control, wider network presence, not wasting attention, lock-in to Facebook as a platform and the openness/future of the web…
Now, I’m not throwing those arguments away, I stand by them in fact. But…
…as well as advising brands on their digital strategy, I am also an author. A time-poor author without his own marketing team, who wants the best for his published book and future books.
I’m busy. Designing a website is a big deal. I can’t create one by myself so this means I’d have to find a company to do it or impose on my friends. A template or canned package would never make me happy, so I’d end up spending mucho time interacting with whoever is building website for me.
For my new book, I am considering going down the same route. I created a website, centred around a blog, for Me and My Web Shadow, but keeping a blog going is hard enough work without creating a second.
A better strategy for me will be to use Facebook for the web presence and continue to focus on posts and pages on my main domain antonymayfield.com.
The Kindle app on the iPad is really working well for me.A feature it took me longer than it should have to become useful though is the preview. Instead of building a pile of business books on my desk which I will only read some of, or stacking them up in Amazon Wishlist, now I order the previews. It sends you the first 25 pages or so of whatever book you like. In workflow terms it kind of works like an Instapaper for browsing books… wonderful. (iBooks does the same thing, but the range of books there is quite limited at the moment – though doubtless it will get better.)
This morning I’ve stashed previews of Charlene Li’s book on leadership and the below book “Superconnect” (about networks of all things)…
Literally and virtually. I’ve had some time going with the flow with my family, for a while doing nothing but that. Wonderful.
Then, as Christmas passed, I switched on read-only mode. I read some literature in single sittings, a rare treat that only comes in holidays (The Road and On Chesil Beach – both wonderful and in their own way good at throwing even this grim present into cheerful relief, and making one do a Pollyanna blessings audit).
One other book – a personal favourite and major influence on my thinking – The Origin of Wealth pulled me back to its pages too. There was a chapter toward the end about the political and social consequences of the rise of Complexity Economics that made me shiver. It felt so absolutely aligned with the Us Now, Here Comes Everyone
Then, ever so gently, I eased myself back into the rushing river of RSS…
Now the lights are flickering back on. The only thing stopping me from writing is that there’s so much I want to write. So we’ll start with this, mainly because it is there and it’s making me smile – from a post called The Business Leader 2009: Chief Meaning Officer, by Tim Leberecht on design mind:
Consumption-driven wealth and status are being replaced by identity, belonging, and a strong desire to contribute and do something “meaningful” rather than just acquire things. Trust and reputation are no longer enablers for the exchange of goods, services, and information, they are replacing them. Values are the new value. Meaning is succeeding experience and customer satisfaction. “The job of leadership today is not just to make money. It’s to make meaning,” writes management consultant John Hagel. Out: Bottom-line-pragmatists and financial wizards. In: philosophers and ethicists.
It goes on to talk about “brands to transform themselves into arbiters of meaning” and
essence instead of luxury, free sharing instead of monetized scarcity, radical transparency instead of brand control, authenticity instead of image, empathy instead of focus groups, conversations instead of messaging, collaboration instead of dissemination.
Wonderful, although I admit I felt uncomfortable as I read the “arbiter” bit. Was this going too far? Were we drifting the wrong side of the Hicks-line that so torments many a marketing apparatchik’s conscience?
Well not really – everyone in the network’s an arbiter of meaning, to the extent that they choose to be. As long as we’re not getting lost and saying that brands are *the* arbiters of meaning, I think we’re OK.
A brand is like that thing we all started reminding ourselves of about “viral marketing”: an outcome, not a strategy. We’d be better off thinking about earning reputation than designing brands.
Anyway, now more than ever, revolution is in the air. Not the moneyed, dew-eyed hippy, let’s-all-get-along kind of revolution that 2004 – 2007 felt like. This is the real, tear-down-the-temples, raise-the-barricades, all-or-nothing stuff.
Umair Haque‘s ongoing commentary and provocations around the financial crisis continue to fuel a sense that now is the time to advance not to retreat. I feel almost a sense of duty, a moral imperative not to play safe, not to retreat and wait for the good old times to return.
They won’t and they shouldn’t.
We’ll continue to live with the severe consequences of the lies and venal mass delusions of this last boom through this year – but then comes reconstruction. And the planning and the genesis of that reconstruction start now, have started already.
It’s a time for boldness not for retreat.
I’m really looking forward to this year, even if it hurts. Good fortune to us all…
: : While looking for some images to break up the text of this ramble (think of it as a warm-up at the start of a cold year), I see that The Road is coming out as a movie this year.
The book, the text is so potent I left it lying on the kitchen table for a while like a smoking gun and just stared at it. It was so powerful it left me dazed…
The film’s starring Vigo Mortensen and is directed by John Hillcoat, so at least it’s got good pedigree and a chance of being as good as it can be. Make sure you read the book before you even see a trailer….