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“Put simply: cities are like ant colonies are like software is like slime molds are like evolution is like disease is like sewage systems are like poetry is like the neural pathways in our brain. Everything is connected." - Patrick Pittman

A collaboration of Notthisbody & Jason Silva.

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This is part 6 in a 12 part series. The first five skills were Pattern Recognition, Environmental Scanning, Network Weaving, Foresight, and Conscious Awareness.

:: storytelling ::

The following video by Jonah Sachs, creative director at Free Range Studios has prompted me to get back to completing the next installment in this Essential Skills series. He does a beautiful job revealing the secrets of effective and high-impact storytelling.

Jonah Sachs at Compostmodern '11 from AIGA San Francisco on Vimeo.

One of the concepts Jonah presents is that of a “myth gap.” He defines ‘myth’ as the combination of Explanation + Meaning + Story. Historically, myths are the vehicles of culture. They provide a context and framework for the world, hopefully imparting wisdom, insight and guidance as to how we should live our lives. (ie - myth of Genesis). But sometimes, society falls in a myth gap.

Like now.

Another way of saying this is that the cultural narrative is broken.

Most of us are acutely aware of this current state of affairs, especially in the broader context of systemic change. We see that our institutions (education, finance, politics, economy) are not equipped to serve us any longer, and we’re clawing around for a story (or stories) to describe the “new way of doing things” that can be agreed upon by society so we can move forward.

As Jonah notes in the video, it’s marketers and designers who are closing this myth gap and infusing our culture with the new stories we can choose about how to live our lives and exist in the world. It’s a powerful message, and one that seems pretty accurate to me.

People are disillusioned and lacking trust, and a new story infused with simplicity, aesthetics, beauty and grace will go far. I think many of us are looking for something resonant to believe in and stand behind, something that is in alignment with our deep desires, passions, values and principles.

So what are some stories shaping culture today?

Well here’s a few that I’ve been listening to and weaving into the architecture of my own mind:

  • Makers, hackers, prosumers, and cultural creatives are the driving force of the new economy.

  • It makes practical sense to support local economies, buy food that's grown regionally when possible, and build resilience by creating infrastructures designed to weather uncertainty.

  • The "future of money" is about cooperation over competition. We’re llearning how to intelligently share resources, build value together, and display integrity in thought, word and action - which is then reflected in a boost of social currencies like reputation, influence, trust, authority, and access to opportunities.

  • Mindless consumption is uninspiring, and ultimately a distraction from engaging in the types of behavior that actually lead to sustained happiness. These include: spending time with people we love, having goals and actively working towards accomplishing them, and cultivating gratitude daily for having the opportunity to experience Life.

These are just a few narratives that keep me inspired and motivated these days.

What stories are guiding you towards a more meaningful future?

In today’s polarized and fractured narrative landscape, the winners are those who can get above the noise and weave new mythologies that act as a beacon of light for the path ahead. As a wise man once said:
Those who tell the stories rule society. ~ Plato
Below are a few resources to help you on your journey to becoming better storytellers and mythmakers.

Stay tuned for the next installment. In the meantime, you can follow my musings on twitter @venessamiemis.
“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”

Brian Massumi - Introduction to A Thousand Plateaus

some storytellers i like:

- Notthisbody
- KS12
- Compathos
- Coalition of the Willing
- Cowbird
- Epipheo Studios
- Workbood Project
- Motherlode

a few storytelling curators on twitter worth checking out:

@AStoriedCareer -


The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell on comparative mythology
slide:ology - the art and science of creating great presentations
Resonate - present visual stories that transform audiences

further resources:

Center for Digital Storytelling
7 Tips for Storytelling
Digital Storytelling: A Tutorial in 10 Easy Steps
The 17 Stages of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth - infographic
Storytelling for Knowledge Management in Projects - slideshare
Influence through Storytelling - slideshare
The Social Life of Visualization: Part 1
Transmedia Storytelling - wikipedia
Story-Based Communication Skills - on scribd by makingstories
With Clarity and Beauty, the Weight of Authority - NYTimes
The Pull of Narrative - In Search of Persistent Context - john hagel
Lost in Translation - language profoundly influences the way people see the world
The Future of Social Networks is Storytelling
The Hero’s Journey - video on big think

header image via

jonah sachs video via @mgusek555

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Something great to think about...

"Beauty is an adaptive effect which we extend and intensify in the creation and enjoyment of works of art and entertainment. The experience of beauty is one of the ways evolution has of arousing and sustaining interest, or fascination, even obsession, in order to encourage us toward making the most adaptive decisions for survival and reproduction."

"Beauty is nature's way of acting at a distance."

"Human beings have a permanent, innate taste for virtuoso displays in the arts. We find beauty in something done well."

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We knew the world would not be the same ... ..
I suppose we all
thought that, one way or another.

Video: Ryuichi Sakamoto - music. Shiro Takatani - visual art.
From "Life - Fluid, invisible, inaudible" opera / Oppenheimer's aria /
Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media commissioned Installation 2007.
Quote: J. Robert Oppenheimer. (original video here. )

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When I woke up today
and you weren't there to play
then I wanted to be with you
when you showed me your eyes
whispered love at the skies
then I wanted to stay with you
inside me I feel alone and unreal
and the way you kiss will always be
a very special thing to me...

When I lay still at night seeing
stars high and light
then I wanted to be with you
when the rooftops shone dark
all alone saw a spark
spark of love just to stay with you
inside me I feel alone and unreal
and the way you kiss will always be
a very special thing to me...

If I mention your name
turn around on a chain
then the sky opens out for you
when we grew very tall
when I saw you so small
then I wanted to stay with you
inside me I feel alone and unreal
and the way you kiss will always be
a very special thing to me...

One of Syd Barrett's best songs and performances ... Sublime. I made the video for Donna who is far away on her birthday.20.04.2010

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