Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reinvention Summit 2 - A week of Story

People respond to stories. They tell them themselves. The stories spread, and as people tell them, the stories change the tellers. Because now the folk who never had any thought in their head but how to run from lions and keep far enough away from rivers that the crocodiles don't get an easy meal, now they're starting to dream about a whole new place to live. The world may be the same, but the wallpaper's changed.
- Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

(One of my favorite story quotes.)

This past week I attended Reinvention Summit 2. Each day had 4 sessions that tackled story from a variety of angles. At the end of each day, J and I would sit there for a bit, just getting our heads around what we had absorbed. I have homework to do yet - a few sessions that I missed most of and want to watch, worksheets, book shopping, and lots of links to follow. This is going to help me immensely as I step forward on the Initiative front the remainder of this year.

One key takeaway for me was to set fear aside. I hadn't really acknowledged that it was holding me back. "Nerves". "Not my cup of tea". "Too risky for me". "I don't want to deal with the paperwork." Really all fear-based. Afraid of stepping out and not having anything of value to say. Of crawling out on a limb only to have it crack under my weight. Of not having a clear enough direction and so ending up going nowhere fast.

What I learned this past week is that, if I let myself think those sort of thoughts, there will always be some reason NOT to move forward. That I share a love of story with a large number of smart people, so I don't have to do anything alone. That story excites me and makes me happy and I already knew that when I'm excited I'm pretty good at bringing other people into the fold.

I just have to do it.

Here's a snapshot of just my tweets and retweets from the week so that you can see a bit of the themes that I appreciated enough to share.

What I think jumps out here is that subjects related to connecting stand out as much as creating stories (connect, audience, change, conversation, love, tell, culture, world, people, share).

Some specific key quotes (all from Michael Margolis @getstoried, btw) out of those tweets include:
- Life is a conscious creation - get comfortable creating something on your own terms.
- It's not a job to you. It's a quest.
- We are all self-made individuals and we now have the tools to become whoever we want to be.

Maybe these jumped out because of the fear discussion above.

There was a ton more - a great cast of speakers and a great tribe of participants. Like I said, I have homework to do yet, so I suspect this won't be the last post you see on the topic. ;-)

As part of setting aside my fear (and part of shoving myself into interaction so I don't revert to bashful wallflower), I contributed to the Tribe Showcase and shared the story of my projects - nascent as it is. AStoriedCareer did a nice writeup of the Showcase here. I also provided feedback on the impact of the summit that was shared in the final session, so that was pretty cool.

The experience was awesome and I can't wait to see the path I carve for myself from here and for future encounters with the Tribe on the road ahead.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Storytelling that heals - digital style

Saturday, Jenny and I went to BarCamp Rochester. We were a bit wary. It was our first time going to a geek unconference and several of the presentation titles seemed way-over-our-heads-geeky. But we both wanted to share and to test ourselves and keep up our presentation skills. As we think about getting ourselves and our thinking out in front of people more often, this seemed like a good place to start.

I wanted to present something about story, but it took me a while to craft the exact angle I wanted to take. Working in healthcare market research, I had started to gather a bunch of articles and posts on storytelling in that space, so I decided to focus there.

The result is the prezi below. I talked more to the opening parts of the presentation, so I'm also posting a video. Note, however, that the video includes some Q&A and runs about 16 minutes. (OK, video upload being a pain, so I'll just update this post when I get it up)

It went well! Yes, I read from the screen more than I should, but I also didn't want to read from the laptop and some of the quotes were long. It's all a matter of chops. I like presenting in these environments, so I am bound and determined to chase more opportunities coming up. The Q&A was a good exchange and I think people enjoyed and learned from the prezo. Here are reactions in tweets.

What do you think? And what can we do to roll some of the ideas in here forward, to crank up the support for storytelling as a healing tool?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Object-oriented stories

The Reading Glove is designed to present a tactile storytelling experience. You go into a room that has a table covered with objects and put on a glove with an RFID sensor. Each object is tagged and will give you a bit of the story as you pick it up and pass the tag by the glove.

I find this fascinating as it integrates storytelling with tech in a novel way. Karen Tanenbaum talks in this interview about how the Reading Glove's current state is a scaled down version of her original idea of an entire "haunted" room that could tell a tale.

I had a couple initial reactions:
  • Haunted room?  Coooolness.
  • This reminds me a lot of exploring within many of the puzzle games that I enjoy. You go around the room - looking for a cursor change to indicate that this is an object that you can interact with. You can add things to inventory for later use, get backstory through reading notes and journals and looking at photos,and interact with buttons, bells, knobs etc, sometimes just for silly effects.
    • Moving these type of interactions into the physical realm to tell a stand-alone story is pretty cool, but I'd like more. Some sort of visual interaction perhaps (the glass of a mirror or photo frame is actually a display that plays a bit of a visual story or has a visual narrator). Maybe a way to link stories in different locations into a larger tale - or to spread a story out over a city - a scavenger hunt object-oriented story - love it!
  • I like the ability for a group of people to experience the story together, but I'd like if there was a private feed option (headphones or something) that could bring the storytelling to places that might not be rooms explicitly set aside for it - into public spaces.
  • This could easily be adapted to make interactive displays in museums even more interesting and functional.
Reading RFID isn't super new.  A few years ago, companies got started selling codes that other companies could put on their products that could "record and share" the story of whatever it was.  The examples that I saw I remember being a bit "tired" - quick updates like "bought here on this date", etc.  "Jane gave this to Sue".  But the possibilities were there.

What the reading glove does is provide an interim step where people don't have to get creative on their own with a new technology to boot, they just need to experience it.  I think there could be some really cool things we could do in the object-oriented story space.  Hopefully we'll see some happen.