Sunday, December 25, 2005

Digtial Storytelling and Narrative

Two interesting leads to follow here. One is Dana Atchley (, the other is Stephen Denning. One was a performer, one is a theorist.

Atchley believed that "brand" is conveyed in stories. he made a good living going around to corporate meetings and retreats, stimulating creative behavior and innovation. His show "Next Exit," was a blend of performance art, memoir, stand-up comedy, and documentary film. He did a sort of trunk show, using a video campfire on a huge screen and a headset microphone, weaving his live narrative around digital movies crafted from 8MM home movies, stills, and video clips. Interacting with the audience, he selected 12 to 18 stories for the evening.

Atchley, who passed away recently, was a showman. It was about him. The real meme-carrier here may be Stephen Denning. His book, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations, and his daylong workshop, Storytelling in Organizations, revolve around his experience in international development, but can be appled to any organization wishing to expedite the transfer of knowledge within its boundaries. The notion is that abstract ideas and Powerpoints often fail to ignite people's imaginations. Story is what moves people. Get the right one, tell it succinctly, and you can start a revolution.

One wonders how useful this simple idea could be on an organizational or company website: a good story, powerfully told, either in text or mediated form. The right story can communicate loads about a brand--even be the brand. The question of whether the story is true or not is of course going to be a factor in its power, but even myths presented as fiction may be quite moving.

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