Naked in every way

Last night I had the pleasure to attend a FutureCast interview between bestselling author Andrew Keen of TechCrunch fame and entrepreneur/filmmaker/Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain. For Tiffany, it was the final global premier of the day for her fantastic new short film The Science of Character (super cool and only 8 minutes long). The event focused on the future of collaborative media and Andrew was kind enough to include me in the conversation with some fun questions about what we’re doing with Uncommon Stock. The entire discussion was filmed and I’ll post a link to watch it once it goes live on the FutureCast site.

The conversation centered on how technology is changing storytelling. Tiffany’s been at the cutting edge of these trends for years and there were a few powerful takeaways:

  1. Intimacy. Technology is bridging the gap between storytellers and story lovers. You can follow your favorite authors on Twitter and see what they eat for breakfast. You can interact with your favorite musicians and comment on their blog posts. My favorite example was Tiffany’s practice of always looking directly at the camera instead of over-the-shoulder shots. It makes it feel like she’s talking directly to you. The flip side of this newfound intimacy is that it’s so easy for people to sniff out anything that’s not authentic. So be yourself and share you art, don’t spin it.
  2. Blurred lines. Storytellers and story lovers aren’t just getting more intimate, sometimes its not even clear who is who. Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program allows readers to publish official fan fiction and reap direct royalties off of it. Mara, Uncommon Stock‘s protagonist, has had numerous Twitter conversations with real-life venture capitalists about investing in her fictional startup. Tiffany coined the term “cloud filmmaking.” Many of her films incorporate content from hundreds of people she’s invited to contribute from around the world, truly collaborative productions. 
  3. Transmedia. Technology is transforming the shape of content. Is a Kindle ebook still a book? Is a Youtube clip a film? What if a fictional character has a social media presence or a book has a teaser trailer? Artists of all stripes are leveraging technology to express themselves through channels nobody could have imagined before.
The event was about the future of media. But I think the trend is the reverse. Technology isn’t creating some wholly new future. Instead, it’s returning storytelling to its roots: tales woven around campfires. It’s an art that’s being re-democratized by the Internet. Now nobody can stand in the way of your relationship with your fans. The best storytellers are naked in every way: they’re intimate, authentic, and use every tool at their disposal to realize imagination.