I don’t know what storytelling means

April 3, 2014

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You are viewing a post that’s more than three years old. There’s a good chance that a lot of the following is seriously out-of-date (or at least not reflective of my current thinking on this topic). Proceed with caution.

As usual, I’m starting to have more and more of a problem with a certain word that a lot of us have started to use with increasing frequency–“storytelling.” It’s a really nice sounding word, but I don’t think I understand the way that we (“we” being “technology-oriented museum people”, I guess) are currently using it. Is “storytelling” just the newest iteration of “it’s not about the technology, it’s about the content?” Is it just another thing we say to sound less threatening?

I guess the word bothers me because we use it with so little thought, and that if we did put more thought into it, we might arrive somewhere magical and wonderful. I think there’s a need, in the museum world, for the kind of storytelling that technology-slash-social media can enable, but I don’t think we’re really pushing that yet.

Maybe I want to be careful that when we say “story” or “storytelling” that we’re not necessarily talking about narrative storytelling. I think there’s value in narrative storytelling, but other people do that well. I think we, as people interested in using technology as an interpretive medium, need to think about story in other ways.

Of possible further interest: