Some perspectives on storytelling

In a November’ post, I talked about storytelling, reporting also some technical issue on the dynamic of stories and on their success.

I want to go back to storytelling and talk about some video and articles I had the occasion to go through during the Christmas holidays.

If you search for “storytelling TEDx” on youtube, you will find tons of video focusing on different aspects of storytelling and, more in general, on the power of stories. So, you will find video talking about the politics, the marketing, the nature, the technology of stories and even more.

One of the TEDx I liked most on storytelling has been the one of Andrea Gibbs, titled “The power of storytelling“. It actually does not go too much in details of what is storytelling, its dynamics or what makes storytelling a powerful tool. Indeed, in the video, Andrea Gibbs make us understand the power of storytelling simply by telling us a personal story and focusing on the importance and the beauty for people to have a story to tell to other people. In this sense, stories becomes a driver for social interaction and for shaping our personality in our daily lives.

Another TEDx talk I liked a lot, is the one of Zach King. In this TEDx, Zach King makes a reflection on the power of new technologies applied to storytelling, focusing on the fact that nowadays you don’t need to be a successful film maker, journalist, musician, etc. to build a story and communicate it in an effective way to a huge amount of people. What fascinated me most about this video was the tacit reference to a change in the paradigm of who is the consumer and who is the producer of stories in the public sphere.

Changing the scale of the focus on storytelling, I chanced upon two opposite perspectives on the “systemic” (and not “individual”) value of storytelling that I think deserve a combined view.
In a first video, Dave Lieber explains the structure of stories, thought to engage scientifically people, and the educative power of this structure that include not only success but also failure. I found this video very interesting, also thanks to the capacity of Lieber to hold the attention of the audience. Anyway, I found the title of the video (“The power of storytelling to change the world”) a bit exaggerated and I started thinking that I could have found anybody expressing a not only enthusiast position on storytelling.

So I started searching for it, and I found a video by Tyler Cowen called “Be suspicious of stories“. I found it extremely interesting, because it represented a different voice, that allert us also on the risks of stories. Indeed, he makes us think about the fact that storytelling creates order tries to put complexity in a predefined scheme without always being able to respect the messy aspect of our lives. When talking about simplification, Cowen does not say that stories do not have an individual and social function and that they should disappear, but he simply highlight some critical points of something that is becoming always more used in different public and private domains of our lives and that we should take into consideration.
But the most interesting critical TEDx talk about storytelling I found, is the one of Sinonke Msimang, titled “If a story moves you, act on it“. Sinonke Msimang links storytelling with social justice issue and analyze better the relation between storytelling and facts. What i really liked most is the effort made to change the focus from the tool itself to the story and the people that are telling it and listening to it. Finally, I was amazed by the constructive and proactive exhortation toward the necessity of getting passionate with stories and use it to act and “to look closely at the present you are constructing” to help us in building the future that we are dreaming.

p.s. If interested in some articles about storytelling written by some Italians looking also at the Italian situation, I found extremely interesting two articles: a first one is written by a collective laboratory of writing and journalism called MAZ Project and you can read it here; a second one published on De Biase’s blog that talks about the relation between storytelling and history and you can find it here.


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