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The Future of Storytelling

Stories help us decide with whom to fall in love, which politicians to support, where to live, and which goods and services to buy. We might all benefit from developing a better understanding of why certain tales resonate more than others, and how they influence our behavior.

VIRGINIA BEACH – In October, a group of storytelling pioneers will gather in New York City for a future of storytelling summit. Their focus will be on new media, and the way it enables some surprising opportunities for interactivity. But a story is more than the mode of its telling, so the future is likely to be even more remarkable than these experts predict.

Beneath the medium of a story are the gears that drive it. A new form of analysis is emerging that promises to reveal more of that engine, so we can better understand why some tales grip us. If it succeeds, it would fuel new creative forms, more powerful stories, and make us less vulnerable to manipulation by governments and companies. 

The focus on new media is understandable, because it enables novel relationships. Consider a scenario proposed by Latitude Research, a firm that envisions new intersections of content and technology: Many unconnected people are reading the same book simultaneously, all aiming to reach a particular scene – say, a dance ball – by a certain date. On that day, the readers dress up and attend the ball that they are reading about, held somewhere in their city.