From Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coates, via Welcome from the Future, great story telling principles. In each, notice that stories are built out of tension, with the release from the tension coming only at the end point.
Archive for the ‘story telling’ Category
Today we wind up our three day negotiation skills class so I can’t do a long post. What to do instead? Well, I can offer you a glimpse of what I have been reading over the last few days.
Lots of things are happening — perhaps most notably the recent elections in France and Greece. And today, we have the odd jury verdict in the Google case. Google infringed on Oracle’s trademarks but it may have been fair use? Just shows that the jury did not understand the law. But you probably have heard about that stuff. The articles below may have escaped your attention.
My cousin barney - Barney Rosset revolutionized publishing with his Grove Press. But what was he like as a person? His cousin gives us a peek.
Bertand russel on teaching - A quick primer on how teachers should behave from a person who hated coercion and loved reason.
Morganthau on offshore - Are offshore havens a minor nuisance for tax collectors or are they a major source of risk?
utorrent rebranding - The word “torrent” is becoming more well known. Is it too well known for firms that want to avoid giving the wrong impression? Utorrent may think so.
Zynga’s demise? - For a while, Zynga seemed like a sure bet. But the future may be with independent game producers who operate cheaply instead of an expensive big boy like Zynga. Poor Zynga!
A global virtual network for mobile phones? - I don’t know about you, but I hate roaming charges. Could someone invent a way to get around them. Create a single global mobile phone network? The answer may be “yes”.
The past isn’t really over. Just like the future is not entirely ahead of us. We carry both past and future with us in what we think and do in the here and now.
What do I mean? Well, consider the story of Montezuma’s hat … errr … sorry. His headdress. As emperor of the Aztecs, Montezuma had a quite a few of these, I am sure. But along came Cortez et al and the hats vanished. Montezuma too. Who cares? Well, the government of Mexico cares deeply. It found out a long time ago that one of these hats is collecting dust in an Austrian museum. And they want the damned thing back. They have been trying to get it back for decades too. To no avail. The Austrians have not been inclined to part with the hat at all. No one uses it. But a lot of people do like to look at it. And the Austrians want them to look at it … in Austria. It has taken years just to get a deal going where the Austrians would temporarily lend the hat to Mexico so that folks there could get a peek at it … in Mexico. And BTW, it may not even be Montezuma’s hat anyway. The History Blog tells the story.
Isn’t this just a huge waste of time and energy? Well, no. We cannot understand who we are without understanding where we came from. We endlessly confirm and refine our notion of what our story is. And Montezuma is still a powerful part of the story for people in Mexico. So even if he is long gone, Mexicans would crave a peek at his hat. They feel a loyalty to the thing that extends way beyond its physical attributes. And so, the story of the hat is important. And the story of trying to get the hat back becomes a matter of honor. It builds confidence. And that is a good thing.
Here is the weird thing. Because we are constantly confirming and refining who we think we are based on what we think happened a long time ago, and what we do about it now, we also accept limitations on who we could be in the future. And that is both good and bad.
Appreciating great craftsmanship is one of the pleasures of life. So I loved this review of a new movie from Aardman Animations. It is a great story about great craftsmanship. And here is a quote that might whet you appetite
Much is often made of the handmade attractions of Aardman’s work, of the signature imperfections and literal fingerprints on its creations. These tiny dents and fingerprint whorls are reminders that these movies were made by people who molded clay with their hands instead of only manipulating symbols on computers. But these human touches also give the movies an extraordinary haptic quality — you watch them, but you almost feel them in your fingers too — that can transport you back to childhood pleasures, like squishing Play-Doh and making crooked clay pots for your parents. That’s partly why the movies seem more personal than many computer animations and why, for all its digital flourishes, “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” like other Aardman films, is a wonderful time machine.
Dan Pink is in the business of making people feel better. He gets paid for it because making people feel better makes them more creative and more productive. Every now and then I visit Dan’s blog to catch up on what he is up to and I always feel better when I do. I guess Dan is just good at his job.
But when I visited yesterday, I felt MUCH better. A LOT better. Why? Because Dan embedded a short video that tells a great story. Here is the link. Go check it out. You won’t regret it. It is an automatic heart warmer and it is free!
And if that is not enough for you, there is more great free stuff! After you watch the video read Seth Godin’s post about the video. Dan links to it and I provide the link here too for your convenience. BTW I agree with Seth that the publishing business is supposed to be about finding and distributing new ideas — not just selling high priced paper products that we don’t have time to read.
One of the trends that I watch rather closely is how the web is empowering people to express themselves more and better. That is interesting in itself, but it has quite a few spin off effects as well. Like how we find and take advantage of ongoing stories.
Stories? Did I say stories? Yes! There are so many stories developing that it is hard to keep track of them. And not just about the rich and famous. For example, Cringely offered a fun story about Jack Tramiel. And Fred Wilson writes well about his wife.
Well, the Sixers lost to the Knicks last night in a really big game and my cat woke me up at 6 scratching at the door. So I am now having a bad day, right? Well, maybe not. This paragraph from FC about the game Penguins got me thinking
The purpose of that game is to help the “most adorable animals in the zoo” escape their keepers. This is achieved by earning points as you work your way through 80 levels of puzzles, navigating eight different zones in the zoo. You can do that for no cost whatsoever. There are no payment walls required to progress further. You can keep going until the penguins are free. There is, however, one wall that catches most dedicated players, and that’s the emotional wall. If you want to be recognized for your skill and expertise as a gamer who’s liberated those adorable creatures, you have to pay.
And people do pay. They don’t have to, but they want to pay in order to get that recognition. The article is mainly about the emotional aspect of purchase decisions. But there is a deeper meaning here. There is an emotional aspect to everything we think and do. So if we start off the day feeling that we are part of a great story, we are more likely to create that story around us as we go forward.
Does this solve all of our problems? No. But it is the first step.
That great line is from the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it appears in Dwight Garner’s review of “Revelations” by Elaine Pagels.
Revelations is an odd and rather frightening part of the New Testament, and I sometimes wonder how it got there. After all, Jesus spoke mainly about love and Revelations is about a war to achieve justice at the end of all things. Smashing those two ideas together creates sort of a “love or else” type of message. And isn’t that counterproductive?
Which brings me back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Rather than allow our fears to get the better of us, aren’t we better off assuming that whatever comes will be manageable? I think so.
Bill Keller started off his editorial yesterday with this thought
WHEN you’ve been wrong about something as important as war, as I have, you owe yourself some hard thinking about how to avoid repeating the mistake. And if that’s true for a mere kibitzing columnist, it’s immeasurably more true for those in a position to actually start a war.
What? Repeat a mistake! Heaven forbid!
Stories that start from lessons learned lay a foundation to draw people in. They have an automatic stress factor built into the narrative. So why don’t we see more of these? Either we are very, very smart or … could it be that we re not very good story tellers?
Ok, so here we go. In the old days, I would never admit to a mistake. But then, I read Bill Keller’s editorial …
Regular readers of this blog know that I tend to apply learning from videos that relate to the main theme at hand. These videos often (but not always) can be found in the TED data base. And I am always on the lookout for new videos that I can use.
One ongoing theme of my work and of this blog relates to the power of story telling. So, I was pleased to see Andre Stanton’s TED video on this and add it to my page of educational videos. I will be referring back to points that Andrew makes as we go forward.