Storytelling – digital storytelling – and Glass/Stanton reflections

What storytelling means to me: it’s a journey with someone. It’s personal. It’s engaging, and it makes you feel different emotions. It can be used for many different reasons, such as sharing and preserving histories and cultures; for simplifying a difficult concept or idea—like a metaphor; and for entertainment. A story usually has a beginning, middle and end: the storyteller generally knows where they’re taking you from, and to. Storytelling is an acquired art, and some storytellers are better than others. Storytellers employ different techniques within a story to keep you engaged, whether that’s through a common thread, a sense of suspension or mystery, or empathy with a character. Telling is a creative process, and listening an active one–one implies the other, so it’s connotes a relationship too.

When I think of digital storytelling, I have both positive and negative associations. Firstly, on the positive side, I imagine a story being permanently preserved; a history, experience, or something else that is now fixed and available for eternity, to all. I guess that’s the ‘scalability’ aspect. And there’s also the ability to introduce audio/visual in a way that a master storyteller probably couldn’t in a traditional storytelling setting. The storyteller is also, potentially, anonymous. Secondly, on the negative side, I think of something less fluid, and organic, and perhaps that we might lose the spontaneous and intimate aspect of traditional storytelling…between the teller and listener(s). Lastly, there are also some similar characteristics btw non-digital and digital-story telling, which is that both have beginnings, middles and ends, and I imagine similar objectives (whether that purpose if for sharing a history, experience, as a metaphor, or as entertainment).

I find it challenging when I think of incorporating Ira Glass’ anecdote (and bait) as well as moment of reflection, into my regular daily (work) communications. I do think of the story structure when I’m storyboarding a report for instance, but I’m usually following a logical reasoning flow (inductive or deductive), as opposed to anecdotal logic (if that makes sense). When I write courseware content and I’m using a storytelling approach to share certain information, then I might follow an anecdotal approach. Regarding the ‘so what’ test, I try to apply this to all communications I prepare.
Regarding Stanton’s comments, I think a lot of his comments were compelling. However, again, I’m not sure how many of those techniques I’d be able to incorporate into my (corporate) workplace communications—people ‘working for their story/dinner’, asking people to ‘surrender to wonder’ and the idea of the story ‘slingshot’ just seem somewhat removed from the type of communications I prepare. Then again, that’s one of the reasons I’m here—to learn how I might be doing things differently!


Fighter’s Story Spine

Once upon a time…there was a boxer called Mickey Ward who lived in a working-class suburb of Boston training to be a boxer.

Every day….he would train with his brother to try to win a welterweight title

But one day….he was put into the ring with an opponent who was much heavier than he was, and he was figuratively and literally crushed.

Becase of that…he withdrew from the boxing world, disheartened and discouraged.

Because of that…his father steps in to help him with this training, setting him up with a new trainer and manager, and away from the influence of his brother.

Because of that….his game, confidence, and opportunities to fight, increase.

Until finally….he wins several games, including one pivotal one which he wins after following the guidance of his brother.

And ever since then…he teamed up with his family and continues to have a very succesfull boxing career.


Pixar Rules

The Fighter storyline, I believe, aligns with a couple of the rules. One that jumped out was rule ‘#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.’ Our hero is a pretty undramatic, patient character, with strong families ties. The story is ‘gritty’ so the situation itself isn’t unbelievable. However, I think it’s due to the hero’s ‘honest’ responses to the disappointments, challenges and his unfulfilled dreams that keep you rooting for him right from the beginning, through to his culminating successful win.


Vonnegut’s approach: The Fighter

A film that follows Vonnegut’s approach: The Fighter, directed by Rusell, and staring Wahlberg, Bale, Adams and others. It begins with a disheartened boxer, who is being trained by his older brother and managed by his self-serving mother, getting beaten up and knocked down by a heavier, mismatched, opponent. (This is the downward slump ‘phase’.) Our hero then withdraws from the sport and during this period you see him meet a girl, but also deal with family relationship issues, including estrangement from his older brother. (This is still a low point, but has some small ups and downs.) Our hero’s father then steps in to help nurture his boxing talent, and the boxer’s confidence, courage and abilities begin to climb. During this upward trajectory, you also see him reconcile with his family, and they accept his love match. The film culminates in the boxer once again teamed with his family members, and winning a title fight. (The onward and upward trajectory ‘phase’.)


Getting started

Welcome to my second blog site. I like to consider myself pretty quick with technology. So, I raced ahead with my first blog site but after-the-fact found issue after issue. So, I took my second blog site a little slower, and here I am.

My thoughts on setting this up?  I don’t consider myself a blogger at all. I was comforted by Ira Glass’ words about writing a tonne of stuff before anything meaningful is produced. So, here goes!