This is the sort of post I wish I had the time and talent to write. Now, the least I can do is link to it and urge you to read it.

With a little bit of introspection and reflection on the functional constraints and social affordances of media, we can grasp new forms of communication. Vine is just an example for Om Malik to elaborate how conventions and consumer expectations emerge from a particular medium.1

So please enjoy a quick introduction to very recent media history, and some context to help us understand how technology and a peer group of users shape what a medium is. Screen sizes, download speeds, user habits, they all have a systematic relation to the way we can package moving pictures into an experience. Putting the pieces together helps us understand, perhaps even tentatively predict media evolution.

And if, after reading the piece, you feel up to it, imagine how a change in user base, like a succession of generations, may influence the development of a tool itself. We don’t read our grandmother’s newspapers, if we read newspapers at all. Do you think that the Youtubes or Facebooks 15 years in the future will cater to today’s expectations? Surely they will adapt to new users demanding their experience to matter, lest they go the way of Myspace.

  1. Incidentally, Medium, the platform, is another example where it is hard to pinpoint what it is that makes the medium. Its properties are fluid, never quite clear to either its authors or readers whether it is a distribution platform or a channel with its own voice and brand. And yet, through networked use of the technology, of the medium, properties emerge that bring value to both, authors and readers. 

Vine gets better with age: How screens, speed and networks are changing the future of online video — Tech News and Analysis

The post Bruce Sterling wrote about the state of communication infrastructure and its denizens is a gift that keeps on giving. You can read it as a piece on policy in a post globalization world, or as an analysis of where systems thinking and intelligence collide with ideals of democracy and rules dating to a premodern world. I’m sure you can read something else into it entirely, but read it you should, if you have not already. It is relevant in every context.

The Ecuadorian Library — Geek Empire — Medium

Storytelling On The Web

Reading up on communication strategies there is no escaping the word storytelling. Storytelling seems to be a miracle cure for all purposes.

I disagree. Storytelling is a powerful tool when applied judiciously, and it just so happens that it is all the more compelling when it is being genuine1. But it does not work equally well in all contexts.

More importantly, the word storytelling is often being thrown around even when there is an abject failure of telling a story. Dropping pop culture references to famous stories does not magically transform a list of things to do into a story.2

While I am currently working in an environment where storytelling is the native art form, I do appreciate attempts to tell a good story in all kinds of settings. Which is why I would encourage you to dig deeper into the question what makes a story.

I’ve written in more detail about the theory of storytelling as applied to a business context, especially for presentations, over at the blog of BrightCarbon. There’s more about the Underwear Gnome Theory of Marketing, too. So please check it out.3

Storytelling & the Underwear Gnome Theory of Marketing

  1. Which unfortunately turns into an arms race of bogus authenticity attempts in marketing if people confuse telling a genuine story with putting on a show. Audiences don’t take kindly to finding out when they are being played, though. 

  2. In fact, there is a lack of storytelling even in storytelling media, if we take a closer look at some inane set-piece driven Hollywood specs or remember the mind numbing level grinding in generic fetch quest RPG-excuses. 

  3. And on a side note: I’ve made embedding HTML5 animations via iframe semi-responsive on Tumblr. That’s going to come in handy, pulling animations into responsive iframes in the future. Serious storytelling potential with interconnected narratives. I just cheated a little bit with the padding on the expanding container div set to 70%, if you look closely on resizing your browser window. 

Wonderful, just wonderful. Science informs how information architecture can expand its use across experience channels. Which is basically applied business model design.

Yep, this article from the Journal of Information Architecture presents us with a look at the retail experience both online (across various devices) and offline, and how to create semantic “anchors” that help customers make sense of the experience in both worlds.1

Successful cross-channel user experiences rely upon a strong informational layer that creates understanding amongst users of a service. This pervasive information layer helps users form conceptual models about how the overall experience works (irrespective of the channel in which they reside).2

  1. Which is, incidentally, eerily close to my USP. You know, the whole meaning business. 

  2. The nice thing about scientific articles is that I can just copy & paste the abstract. Much more convenient than having to dig for a quotable catch phrase. 

Sense-making in Cross-channel Design