We Have two General Models of Storytelling. One is Ancient. One is New. It is Only a Matter of Time Before they Collide.

  Story in data patterns

We're all storytellers with an audience. Telling stories is how we make sense of our lives.

    Stories have an infrastructure of data and information. When things change in the data — we have more, or different inputs — the story gets updated. Whoever is able to find more accurate information that is up to date and reliable and can connect the dots and see the hidden patterns has an advantage.

     The essence of all storytelling is the way events change, says Christopher G. Moore#. Whoever owns the digital storytelling platforms wins. He puts forth an interesting thesis.

    Today we have two general models of storytelling, he says:

1./ the ancient model familiar to many is local, personal, based on low information, on sharing personal reports, it's anecdotal, it focuses on actions that changed behaviors and lives, talks about things like courage, or warns about disloyalty, etc.

    Typically the storyteller is a member of the community, we're audience and storytellers at different times. There's a a psychological safety and payoff in this model. We merge facts with anecdotes to share beliefs, dreams and aspirations, light the imagination. These kinds of stories helped weave the community together.

2./ the new model started developing after WWII with the advances in computer science. Hence began a model of storytelling based on scientific inquiry and Methods. With the ability to process large data sets, we have been able to discover new patterns.

    Some industries like banking, medicine, and transportation have invested heavily in this model of storytelling. We call this model predictive. This kind of story is not really personal, it's about a larger number of people like you who share your fears and needs.

    Algorithms are better at digging and finding patterns in large data sets. They don't need to worry about the necessities of life.

    The two types of stories are like oil and vinegar, they repel each other. Says Moore:

We have a generation who are getting their stories from the global library, and the international group of story-tellers are transmitting stories that may conflict or contradict what they learned at home or school. As storytellers compete for the attention of an expanded global audience, the stories essential to sustain local cultures are threatened. Stories that inspire are no longer exclusively based on local elites, celebrities or events.


The statistical story has disrupted and threatens to displace the anecdote.    

    But at the same time we have a hard time shedding the subjective story. Because it feels more real. This is interesting because since the early days of social media we've been noticing how people relate more readily with a person — a representative of a company — through their subjective voice vs. a brand or company.

    The reason why we feel more connected to a subjective story is that it influences our emotions. The statistical story keeps changing based on updates and fixes. We have a hard time connecting to that. But the statistical story can make us more efficient, improve our decisions.

We’ve never had a period where the global population has been under intense pressure to shift their identity and reality from myths, legends, and fables and embrace a radically different kind of storytelling with a new rank of story-tellers.

    Which is why we're resisting and retrenching into the personal and local. Imagine telling your children a story bout probabilistic outcomes! The one thing anecdotal stories teach us well is the topic of being human.

    We're witnessing the clash between the two storytelling models. I found the article stimulating, I had not thought about story in this larger context.


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