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Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking

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Abstract

This paper discusses the future of storytelling The way we communicate and tell stories is an exercise for the brain. Stories shape human brains and shape the way people are able to think. New tools and technologies allow new ways of thinking. Many people feel that we live in a confusing time. The reason is that currently there is a dramatic shift in the way we tell stories. Storytelling becomes less linear, more multi-perspective. The influence of computers and the internet on human communication dramatically increased the speed of that change. But the fact that the way humans communicate, think and perceive the world changes is nothing new. It changed throughout history, just the pace has never been as fast as today. There is a clear direction where this change is headed. We can get a glimpse on how stories will be told in the future, how thinking will work.
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
Talk by Florian Thalhofer at Vertice Festival / Transmedia Meeting on
October 21, 2018 in Mexico City
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
Abstract
This paper discusses the future of storytelling
The way we communicate and tell stories is an exercise for the brain.
Stories shape human brains and shape the way people are able to think.
New tools and technologies allow new ways of thinking.
Many people feel that we live in a confusing time. The reason is that
currently there is a dramatic shift in the way we tell stories.
Storytelling becomes less linear, more multi-perspective. The influence
of computers and the internet on human communication dramatically
increased the speed of that change. But the fact that the way humans
communicate, think and perceive the world changes is nothing new. It
changed throughout history, just the pace has never been as fast as
today.
There is a clear direction where this change is headed. We can get a
glimpse on how stories will be told in the future, how thinking will
work.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
Imagine the life of a human being as journey. A journey on a train. The
whole trip takes a lifetime. From birth to death. What the passenger
sees, when he looks out of the window is – REALITY. Imagine it as a
wide landscape. If the train moves very, very slowly, maybe just a
couple of meters during the whole trip, the landscape the passenger
sees from the window, does not change. Reality at the end of the
passenger’s life is still the same – the same reality as it was, when
the passenger was born.
For most of human history – the last 200.000 years – that was the
experience of a human. Reality did not change within the span of a
lifetime. Reality changed very, very slowly. Humans invented the wheel,
stone tools, metal tools, all kinds of tools, ans the tools changed the
humans - the way they thought, the way they approached the world around
them. And this way the reality the humans lived in changed. There were
dramatic changes. But those changes were slow.
Six thousand years ago, hunter-gatherers slowly, slowly settled and
became farmers. But always – reality at the end of the life of an
individual human, looked pretty much the same, as it did, when the
human was born. There was progress, but only visible over the timespan
of multiple generations. Within one generation reality hardly changed.
But the train slowly increased its speed. Maybe now the train travels
for a couple of kilometers within a lifetime. And now you can see a
change in the landscape of reality. In fact, at the end of a human
life, the train has now travelled so much, that most of reality (what
the passenger can see from the window) has changed, compared to the
reality, when the passenger was born.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
We live in an amazing period. Things around us change in a pace, like
never before. I remember, when the first answering machines came up
(and I discussed with my friends - “what is this thing good for?”), I
remember, when the first ATM was set up, in a bank, at the marketplace
of the small town, I grew up in. And I remember the discussions we had
among friends. It might have been me, who said: “When I get cash from
the bank, I want to talk to a human, not to a machine!”.
I remember the time before digital, I remember the time before the
Internet. I have been in that time! Still, I can’t imagine any more how
it worked. How you would navigate a city, without Google maps. I use
Google maps now, when I go to the doctor, in the city, I have lived in,
for 25 years. How on earth do you find your way around in a city you
have never been to before? I remember I did just that, I remember how I
did it, but I can not imagine an analogue world any more.
And I remember how difficult it was, for me, to understand the concept
of digital. When I was a student, I had a course at University where I
was told the idea behind bits and pixels. Fifteen years later, I taught
students myself, this time, I tried to explain to them the concept of
analogue. Analoge! Digital is simple. Analogue is really complicated!
Within the last 30 years, the reality that we live in, has changed to
an extent, that it is almost unrecognisable.
Of course, this is not the first time that this happened. Earlier
generations must have had similar experiences. When cars were invented,
and changed how cities, how countries, how the whole planet looks like
and sounds like… or when the steam engine changed almost everything.
Those were times, when reality changed dramatically as well. But there
is a difference. It is the speed in which these changes happen. How
long did it take from the steam engine being invented, to the moment
the steam engine had changed everything - everywhere, up to the
smallest corners on the planet? Maybe 100 years? – More than a
life-time.
Thousand years ago hundred years did not change much. What parents
taught their children was relevant useful for them to get a better
understanding of the world around. My father taught me a lot, but
honestly, just very little, of what he told me is really helpful in the
world I live in now. It took me a long time before I realised, that the
rules and the tricks my father had learned during his lifetime, were
not helpful and often times even obstructive to me. My father was a
good man, but a lot of his wisdom turned out to be bad advice.
One example: He told me “Don’t be lazy and go for the things, that are
easy for you – show that you can master the things you are not good
in!”.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
This advices might have benefited him, when he grew up in Germany after
World War II, but it just made me waste a lot of time and energy before
I learned, that it is better, to instead focus on the things that I am
talented in.
Five thousand years ago thousand years years did not change much. If
you fell asleep and woke up thousand years later, you would not know
anyone anymore, but you would still be able, to navigate the world.
Five hundred years ago, if you fell asleep for hundred years, there
would have been new buildings, but the world would still function the
way, you knew.
If you feel asleep 50 years ago and woke up today, you might even
recognise your friends that have turned old, you might even recognise
some streets and some buildings, but most likely, you would not know
any more, how to navigate the world. You would have to learn so much.
MONO AND MULTI PERSPECTIVE
There are two different concepts to understand the world. The first
concept is based on the idea that there is one way to look at things,
and this is the only true way. There is one right viewpoint from where
you can see the the truth, and this truth, is the truth for everyone.
The second concept is based on the idea, that there are multiple
perspectives from where you can look at something and that all these
views are meaningful.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
There is not one true way. In a sense all views are true, or better -
to not get confused with the word truth – all the views are relevant.
They are relevant to collectively form a better understanding of
whatever is there – of what is reality.
Reality is what individuals agree on, what is shared between them. That
means that the individual viewpoints have to be constantly exchanged
and discussed, to understand reality.
A lot of communication is necessary to build a multi-perspective
understanding of reality, to agree on the shared reality.
When better communication tools became available in the past, societies
advanced. This happened not necessarily immediately, but usually with
latency, after the societies had learned how to use the new tools. This
development always lead to an increased multi perspective
perceptiveness.
In general one can say, the better the communication, the more views
can be considered, to build the shared reality.
So there are two basic concepts to understand the world:
Mono Perspective
and Multi Perspective.
But people are usually not one or the other. They are usually both, to
a certain degree. Very rarely people are on an extreme, either mono
perspective or multi perspective.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
SCALE OF PERSPECTIVE
Most people are somewhere on a scale between one or the other.
Somewhere between -10 and +10 on the Scale of Perspective
.
Maybe there are absolutely mono perspective people and maybe there are
absolute multi perspective people.
But if they exist at all, these extremes are rare. This curve
visualises the distribution, of the people on the scale of perspective
.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
Few mono perspective even fewer multi perspective people, but the
majority of humanity is clearly on the mono perspective side of the
scale – currently
.
There is a direction. Over time, humanity always moved towards multi
perspective. Hard to know, where humans currently are on the scale, but
clearly, humankind is headed towards multi perspective perceptiveness.
As laid out before, the speed of the movement has accelerated
noticeable. So much, that we can notice the development within a
lifetime.
Why is the speed accelerating? The main reasons are technical inventions
in transportation and communication. Technological inventions brought
people closer together. Also physically. When I walk the streets of
Berlin, I can see people from everywhere in the world. I have been
living in Berlin for 25 years. 25 years ago, I have turned my head
around, if I heard someone speaking another language than German. This
is not the case any more. Every day now, I hear English, Spanish,
Turkish, Arabic, French, Swedish, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, Finnish,
Hebrew or Chinese (and those are only languages I am able to
recognise). There are many more tongues, that I regularly hear on the
street, when I walk the ten minute walk from my home to my studio.
Of course, Berlin might be exceptional, but you can certainly recognise
this trend at many places on our planet. In fact, there might be just
few places left, where you are not able to recognise this trend. The
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
decreasing proximity of people with different views and the increasing
communication between people, with different views, simply makes it
more likely, that people exchange views and ideas.
When I mention that, people usually react critical. They say that, when
you turn on the TV or you read the news you hear so much about fights
and wars and people killing each other – over different ideas. And that
is true. Conflict - is all over the news. I have described the reasons
– why that is – in an other talk, you can find it on YouTube - it is
called “The Way We Tell Stories”. The whole talk in a nutshell:
Conflict makes good stories. As a result, if things go bad, they get
attention, not if things go well. So things get our attention, that are
an exception - to a point where it seems to become difficult for people
to perceive normality. Normality is unspectacular, which does not make
it a great story, but if you want to get an understanding for what is
really going on, you have to look at normality, not at the extreme.
But sometimes the clash of views does happen – the war between views.
When people, who hold one view, try to wipe out people with a different
view and eliminate them. The clash of two mono perspective perceptions.
Between 1618 and 1648 there was the Thirty Years' War in central
Europe, which started as a war over religion between the mono
perspective views of two different branches of the same (!) believe.
Catholics and Protestants – both Christians – fought each other in a
war, that wiped out 30% of the population of the time. Catholics and
Protestants did not agree on the right interpretation of the same
story.
STORYTELLING TOOLS
For storytelling you need tools. Words and language are the simplest
storytelling tool. Words and language also need technology, but this
technology is different from all the other technologies, because it is
built into humans already: The voice cord and and ears.
All other storytelling tools, need some kind of technology outside the
human body. Different storytelling tools enable humans to tell stories
in of a different kind. Those tools use technology that is outside the
human body, technology to communicate and become aware of different
perspectives.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
Different media tools are suitable for storytelling within a certain
range on the scale of perspectives.
Painting was maybe the first media technology (outside the human body)
that came up. The oldest known cave paintings are said to be more the
70.000 years old.
Of course it is is very blunt to say how mono- or multi perspective
folks at this time around were. Maybe they were super duper multi
perspective. Of course, no one can with reasonable certainty exclude
the possibility of that, but stay with me for a minute, we will soon be
much closer to a time, where we have much better understanding of the
thinking of humanity. So painting was a technology suitable for
communicating ideas and viewpoints on a certain spectrum on the scale
of perspective.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
Then roundabout 70.000 years after those first known paintings were
made, photography was invented.
And then something happened, that is typical, when a new media
technology comes up. The new technology changed the way the old
technology was used, and expanded the spectrum of the older technology.
So before photography was invented, painting was a tool to depict the
world. Then photography came around, and was much better at that. From
that point on painting, released from its main purpose to depict
“truth”, could be used differently. Painting was liberated from its
original job. Abstract painting was invented and widened the spectrum
painting could cover on the scale of perspective.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
Let me place other media technologies on the scale of perspective.
This is just a rough sketch.
With mankind in general moving towards multi perspective
perceptiveness, it is necessary to have new tools of storytelling.
Technology advances tools of storytelling. Korsakow is such an advanced
storytelling tool. It is not (yet
) a popular tool. The majority of
people still prefers a less multi perspective kind of storytelling.
The Korsakow-way of storytelling at this point is still ahead of time
for most. But for how long? Maybe 5 years, 10 years, 50 years? Hard to
say.
But even if Korsakow will not be part of popular culture for quite
a while – the trend is clear. It is more than likely, to be the same
trend, as throughout mankind. Towards multi perspective perceptiveness
and thinking. And as we have seen, the speed of this development is
increasingly accelerating.
I know, in the time of Donald Trump as president in the US, it might
not look like it, but clearly, the majority of people who are most
influential on how societies develop in the future, are on the multi
perspective side of the scale.
If you want to communicate with them, pick your tools wisely.
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Future of Storytelling - Future of Thinking
Talk by Florian Thalhofer
Vertice Festival / Transmedia Meeting
October 21, 2018 in Mexico City.
There is also a podcast of this text available:
“Life According to Korsakow - Podcast #4 - Miss Understanding”
Also available on YouTube, including the slides of the original talk:
https://youtu.be/d401kOOnUJs
Florian Thalhofer
Korsakow Institut
Kottbusser Damm 76 - 10967 Berlin - Germany
http://pha.de (blog)
http://korsakow.tv
http://korsakow.com
http://thalhofer.com
Florian Thalhofer 10-2018
Chapter
Traditional scientific research on visualization has gradually changed from emphasizing order and stability to disorder and changes of new science. The visual expression of lifestyle helps designers to understand people’s real life and create more ideal design works to meet people’s life demands. This essay discusses how to understand life behavior and rhythm by integrating philosophy, sociology and other interdisciplinary knowledge. It focuses on how to visually present people’s life behavior and rhythm through visual graphics, so as to understand the living habits and characteristics of a person and a group of people.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.