Category

Storytelling

Intersection of Fiction and History

By | Creativity, Storytelling, Writing | 2 Comments

Fiction and reality often intersect in interesting, surprising ways. Actual events merge with the imagined; invented stories draw on and feed back into history. In many ways they’re obviously distinct and identifiable; in other cases differentiation becomes impossible.

Such relationships and dichotomies — experience versus invention, reality versus invented stories — came vividly to mind after seeing a deftly-acted and well-written play, Red Velvet, at St. Anne’s Warehouse a while back.

The play was based on the life of a nineteenth century black actor; but half the characters were fictional and much of the story was invented and interpolated, the known biography providing a framework within which the playwright could project her own beliefs and experiences and emotions, upon which the director and actors could layer their own interpretations as well.

I’ve thought before that it might be worth trying my hand at some combination of creative writing and journalism — writing something at once spawned from the imagination and rooted in historic reality seems like a fun and interesting challenge. Read More

Field Guide to Phenomenal Creation (Learn Do Share #4)

By | Creativity, Education, Storytelling | No Comments

The following is one of my two contributions to this year’s “Learn Do Share” project—a booksprint designed to document the incredible diy days, using a process of open collaboration, and distill the lessons learned to serve as a resource for anyone interested in applying design thinking, social innovation, storytelling, and collaborative creativity. For more, visit the Learn Do Share and diy days websites, and download Learn Do Share #4 (available as a free PDF). Special thanks to all those who participated, and most of all to Ele Jansen and Jasmine Lyman for directing the booksprint and Lance Weiler for masterminding diy days itself.

Field Guide to Phenomenal Creation

The following is a list of things to keep in mind in creating phenomenal work. Not phenomenal as in “great”—though we, of course, should aspire to that as well—but work guided by the ideals of phenomenology, of creating experiences focused more on audience than object.

Brian Clark talked at length about how, as creators, we must approach our work from the perspective of subjective experience, not simply creating things but creating things for people, to be experienced and processed by conscious individuals. When we direct our creative forces with precision and care, and focus on channeling meaning effectively, we can use “things” and “objects” to guide experience—or eschew objects altogether and create experiences directly.

Read More

Emergent Creators, Emergent Economies (Learn Do Share #4)

By | Creativity, Education, Storytelling | No Comments

The following is one of my two contributions to this year’s “Learn Do Share” project—a booksprint designed to document the incredible diy days, using a process of open collaboration, and distill the lessons learned to serve as a resource for anyone interested in applying design thinking, social innovation, storytelling, and collaborative creativity. For more, visit the Learn Do Share and diy days websites, and download Learn Do Share #4 (available as a free PDF). Special thanks to all those who participated, and most of all to Ele Jansen and Jasmine Lyman for directing the booksprint and Lance Weiler for masterminding diy days itself.

Emergent Creators, Emergent Economies

Emergence is a powerful concept, referring to the capacity of complex systems, composed of individually autonomous entities, to give rise to mass-scale intelligence larger than the sum of its parts. If evolution is the optimization of something over a long period of time, as beneficial characteristics are naturally selected for, emergence is something similar on the systems level, a level of collective intelligences.

Reflecting on the keynotes from this diy days, I gleaned several meta-themes, important threads running through all or many of the big ideas presented. These themes include creative entrepreneurship, innovation, and community-building—but one of the most important I saw was that of emergence. The concept itself is powerful, but its implications—that cooperation, group interaction, and human networks can converge to enable revolutionary systems of creation and transaction—are even more so.

Read More

Twofivesix Conference Notes

By | Creativity, Education, Media, Storytelling, Technology | No Comments

Below are my notes from the Twofivesix conference that took place in Brooklyn a few weeks back. I serendipitously discovered the conference via a tweet the morning of, and luckily was able to watch it via livestream and take notes at home. These notes are fairly comprehensive, though with a couple caveats (I missed the brief introduction at the very beginning so may be missing a bit of the scene-setting and context, and I didn’t identify speakers and attribute each point to a specific person). But this was a fascinating conference, both well-curated and expertly moderated, and I wanted to share what I learned. I hope you find this useful—I know I learned a lot!

 

Twofivesix

May 11, 2013, at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn

http://www.two5six.com/

 

Read More

The Best Stories

By | Media, Storytelling | No Comments

Stories are the lifeblood of the human experience. They motivate our actions and desires, circumscribe our beliefs and relationships, and as such are monumentally important to how we construct the reality of our selves and our world.

Everything we do, are, and interact with in any way can be projected onto a narrative. This is something obvious enough that we more or less take it for granted, but I think it’s worth considering what makes a story great, what traits or characteristics the “best” stories share, and where the future might lead us in this regard. We are always capable of challenging prevailing attitudes and definitions, of inventing new ways of expressing our experience. The story—the eternal, original, archetypal narrative—may always guide us, but the boundaries of what a great story consists of will no doubt continue to stretch and change.

The best stories have no endings.

The best stories live indefinitely in our imaginations, provoke continued curiosity and empathy, impel us to create further iterations, extensions, revisions, deepening ideas and observations through out own interpretive faculties. They dwell subconsciously within us, shaping our perceptions and interactions, guiding our ideas, our morals, our worldviews and the horizons of what we know to be possible. This means that to write a great story is to wield a large amount of power. The best stories don’t hype up brand, rehash genre tropes, or suffocate us with dogma and ideology. They don’t merely teach, or merely entertain; in fact, they never serve only a single function. Rather, the best stories speak to us eternal truths, and, however imperfectly, reflect our thoughts and our perceptions, our feelings and our dreams. Not just reflect, but amplify and extract: the best stories purify our common threads of humanity, mirror them back to us in strange and fascinating ways.

Read More

Architecture of Language and Sound

By | Media, Storytelling, Technology | No Comments

There are many ways we can talk about media, many lenses through which we can analyze the way the information and signals around us, both physical and digital, impact our lives.

I’ve long had an interest in different conceptual (and real!) dimensions of space: from the narrative worlds that can be constructed around and inferred from photographs, to the nested layers and networks of links and code that define and expand our digital spaces, to the social philosophy-play Situationist exploration and cartography of urban landscapes, the idea of “space”—mathematical, physical; imaginative, abstract—can be a very interesting framework and fertile jumping-off-point-of-reference for exploring many of my other interests, from narrative to design to technology.

I’d like to focus here on a few related strands of spatial thinking, centered on the idea that first language, and even more so, sound, can construct physical space in different, often more direct ways than other media. I’m still thinking through many of these things, meandering from point to point as I go, so forgive me if this comes across as more a meditation on possibility than thesis-bound statement of fact. (That seems to be one of the great benefits of writing in this format, and an approach I plan to continue taking; I’m more excited to learn from your responses than I am to simply publish a post and forget about it!)

Read More