Telling stories in the digital domain: 2 examples

This is a post from my other blog that I felt had a bit of a home here.

I’ve been reading a lot about narrative for my dissertation recently and came across 2 examples this morning that illustrate some of the ideas I’ve come across.

Oatmeal on Game of Thrones

The first simple example is from the Oatmeal. It says it’s about Game of Thrones but is actually about media companies completely misunderstanding the web.

One way of looking at storytelling is that it’s a way of framing complex, abstract concepts in a way that is both engaging, memorable and helps understanding. Some authors say that story is the primary way we understand the world.

So, with the Oatmeal example we have a simple depiction of an individual trying to do the right thin, being thwarted and finding, as the author sees it, a reasonable solution to the problem.

So, it takes some abstract points about the piracy debate, uses narrative to contextualise them, keep our interest, create an emotional response and hopefully make it more “sticky“.

Why is being in the digital domain important? As a static image it could have been published in a magazine or on a notice board. By being digital it give an audience a way of interacting and responding. At the most basic level it had over 6k likes and 2.5k shares on Facebook as well as 18.4k retweets. This helps the people that come across it incorporate it into their own personal and social narratives about piracy, IPR, SOPA, ACTA or whatever.

The Tale of the Invention of the Incredible Folding Plug

This is more of a distributed bunch of content telling a story.

Now the invention is plainly awesome in a why-has-this-not-been-done-before-it-could-transform-my-life way so I can immediately relate to it.

But what you also have around it through Rory Cellan Jones’ interview, the business’s website, the product demo (embedded above), and all the other mentions in the media (traditional and social) is a story about the product.

We have a cast of characters, a macguffin (the invention), a plot, setting, triumphs, hurdles to be overcome, quite a clear timeline and perhaps the possibility of a sequel.

Somehow, just watching the product demo (embedded above), although it contains some elements of story, doesn’t quite have enough of the human content to make it properly engaging.

My own reaction is that I’m thinking about the product in a much broader way, seeing how it would fit into my own life but also having it humanised by the story of its inventor and his business partner and how it fits into the wider narrative of startups and innovation in the UK.