Thinking beyond screens

When Latitude released their ”Future of Storytelling II” research report last year, some things stood out as pretty exceptional to me. One of them was that of all the people they’d talked to – mostly tech-savvy persons in Brazil, the US and the UK – a total of 94% said they wanted storytellers to actively move their narratives into the real world as well. I.e., the screen is no longer enough; stories should touch you physically as well, be a part of the world around you. This, for me, is exciting stuff.

Here’s an example from last summer that many of you have probably seen, but I still think the concept is awesome. Using Twilio as backbone, inanimate objects around the city of Bristol in the UK were suddenly given a voice. Not only a voice, but an intelligent voice that could learn from what people ”said” to them while ”talking” to them. Here’s the trailer:

Remember those really difficult adventure games when you were a kid (70’s kids will remember! :) ) where you needed to ask the exact right question to move ahead in the adventure? Or answer the exact right thing? You could, conceivably, use the same logic in the real world and integrate geocaching with storytelling (another example is by Sara Murrey who writes fiction books set in real parks over at Geocachebooks).

Yet another example which attempted to Kickstart late last year comes from Holland – Textales takes the tradition to reading nighttime stories to your kids to a new level, using the textures and patterns of blankets and quilts to enhance stories through screens (this is the first video, before the Kickstarter campaign):

Even though the crowdfunding campaign didn’t reach its goal, the concept is an intriguing one, fusing AR and the (at times much maligned) QR codes to another level, storytelling-wise.

Now, I will admit it might be a daunting task to think beyond screens. If it’s already difficult to choose which on-screen services, tools and apps you should integrate into your concept, how difficult doesn’t it become if you take the whole world and make it your playing field?

At the same time, the same principles apply as before. Evaluate your project thoroughly, research your audience, see which solutions fit your project and which don’t, and act accordingly. Test it out as quickly as possible, be prepared to fail spectacularly. Learn from the mistakes, and go at it again. The world is your oyster (or soon-to-be-filled script, if you will)!

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