form(at) aids function


Originally posted in 2014.

Yes, technology is transforming the art of storytelling by literally placing the control of content into the hands of millions and enabling them to send their storied messages, silly or significant, any time of the day or night — 24/7.

These days, the average individual can transition from being a passive story observer to an engaged storytelling contributor; e.g. instead of purchasing the “Day in the Life” books an individual can choose to participate in the creation of “Life in a Day” [produced by Scott Free Productions and YouTube, with distribution by National Geographic Films].

This newly-minted set of communication tools has taken the everyday interchange of friends, family, strangers, organizations, and, corporations, and enabled all to engage in a very public telling of tales. However, the ability to use these new-fangled storytelling tools does not necessarily guarantee a higher level of quality. But what these multitudes of stories may lack in quality, they certainly gain in scope, speed, and ease.

The relative simplicity with which an individual can contribute their narrative to the mix does encourage self-expression. Three is no longer a crowd, it’s crowd-sourcing. But is crowd-sourcing really all that different from the Surrealist’s storytelling game of the Exquisite Corpse — other than perhaps democratizing a seemingly creative process?

In most cases — no; in Aaron Koblin’s case — yes.

His crowdsourcing, collective “Ain’t No Grave” tribute to Johnny Cash has taken the idea of the Exquisite Corpse digital. However, there is a key distinction that transforms Koblin’s work from a mere technically enhanced collaboration — his vision. The creative crowd-sourcing concept is no longer a mere parlor game but rather it has become a game-changer. Therein lies the uniqueness of Koblin’s storytelling ability and establishes his link to creative leadership.

Leaders are dreamers. Leaders are idealists. Leaders are possibility thinkers.

One of the Five Practices of Leadership Kouzes and Posner’s cite is “Inspiring a Shared Vision”. Not only did Koblin envision a different future, he successfully enlisted others in his vision, too. He established his role as the creator and keeper of the vision while he gathered the support and participation needed to grow the idea. He and his colleagues willingly enabled thousands of contributors to imagine right along with him.

Yes, technology can aid in scope, collaboration, and articulation. However, even Stephen Denning would no doubt agree, every successful team needs a leader who can craft a motivating vision that shifts their emerging story from data to distinction.