Friday, October 25, 2013

Story Telling: How Our Primitive Emotions Rule the Evolution of Technology

Compelling narrative remains the most important ingredient in effective communications. Modern day story telling takes many forms, ranging from episodic television, movies, traditional print to social networks to E-Learning, web sites and digital channels. While each has a unique delivery mechanism each remains tied to the technology for which it was designed …the one thing they have in common is the need to engage an audience to gain awareness for any given message. Each contributes in some small way to our social consciousness- perhaps one channel or medium more than another but all have their impact on our understanding of the social fabric we live in.

In reality we are immersed in a kind of, communications soup, each of us is absorbing information in different ways, at different times, all while we unconsciously weigh each of these mediums based on our need for narrative context; and this helps to create our personal emotional understanding of the world around us - filtered through out emotional lens. One recent study suggests that fully one third of Americans get their news through Facebook.

 Powerful narratives utilize our primitive instincts such as fear, sex and love to tap into our unconscious desires and drivers.  Advertising advice has, for years, recommended selling on emotion - just check out any car commercial – pride of ownership, bold and exciting, sexy lines and performance. In new media such as social networks and e-learning we continue to seek and interact with compelling narrative and developers are gradually modifying the interactive experience and the technology that drives it to mirror that more primitive emotional experience we long for and are conditioned to seek out and leverage our desire for a more emotional narrative experience.

 We are creatures that are at the mercy of the human condition, and for all our technology and sophistication we continue to seek out those influences and basic emotions at the heart of storytelling that define our social interaction. Technology moves ahead in starts and fits to try and respond to the user’s experience, more often failing as a result of the parameters of technology. What does it all mean? It means we are governed by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and that we always prefer powerful narratives that encourage all of the senses.    

 We have extended out social networks today in our technology, through tweets, pintrest, linked-in, etc., we are adding a new layer that speaks to this social narrative. Our ability to absorb information still rests on the shoulders of our ancestors through powerful narratives and storytelling – the more we can simulate this experience through layers of technology  the more we engage and enjoy the experience.  It adds a more fluid dynamic to how get our information, more closely mirroring the narrative experience. What it tells us is that we are only in the very early days of truly engaging interactive learning and understanding; and that technology must conform to our desire for a more primitive and encompassing emotional experience.

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