Did you hear…?

Did you hear Dan Brown was at the Web Summit?
As in the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons author?
Yes.
No, I didn’t see anything about it, would you believe!
Well he had plenty to say….

Dan Brown. Web Summit. Dublin.., I mean Portugal 2015. Cough cough.
Dan Brown made some very interesting comments. He brought up the ultra-controversial yet sensitive topic of science versus religion. Sounds like an episode of The Meaning of Life with Gaybo.
Dan Brown’s fiction is often driven by the tension between science, technology and religion. He went on to say that
“Science and religion are two different languages trying to tell the same story.”
Mind over matter. Yet technology is helping these subjects to merge and diverge in different ways.
Science helps to build the technology that could potentially reach out to people regarding religion.
On the other hand, religion can help to provide a sense of belonging which has been lost nowadays owing to science and technology and the isolation that has been brought about by these.
However, extremist views held by people in terms of any of these subjects cannot transport us anywhere. Rather we will come to a standstill. And there will probably be some very heated exchanges. Down with that sort of thing. Careful now!
I like the idea that science and religion are different languages. Because they are. Some people will be comfortable with both. Others will love or hate these languages. And at some point in time you will be exposed to both. You may well choose to learn one over the other. Technology is the translator of these languages. And very few can speak both languages at once. You may get to throw in a word or phrase here or there. But you cannot speak two languages at once and mix them up. That is very dangerous territory. And you are likely to be misunderstood by many. Numbers versus letters. Experiments versus memory.

“What’s fascinating is that they are polar opposites in their approach,” said Dan.

“Religions have not changed, they still look at the same texts that they did thousands of years ago. It’s self-assured. It’s consistent.”

“Science, on the other hand is changing at a mind numbing speed”.

Religion is static and that can be very assuring, embracing traditional views of society. Upholding a certain set of values and beliefs. And a lot less effort than trying to keep up with the pace of scientists. Technology has struck a healthy balance so far, in my opinion, between these subjects.
Sometimes however we just need simplicity over complexity to be at one with ourselves. More often than not, if we were to be truly honest with ourselves.
Dan summed it up nicely regarding science and religion:

“There’s something about the human mind that craves order and craves answers. The human mind craves the knowledge that it’s not all random.”

Robots may accept randomness, however, us humans, will not.
It comes back to storytelling and how we choose to make sense of the world surrounding us.
We want meaning. We want to acknowledge our existence. In some shape or form.
We all have a favourite story. We all understand the language that we grew up with.
The language that was used to tell us our favourite story. It is up to us to open up our hearts and minds to other versions of the story. But I have to admit there is nothing like an old favourite!
But perhaps by telling our own stories and listening to other stories we can learn something new or even a few phrases here and there. And in turn we may help someone to learn to accept and appreciate what other stories are out there. And technology can point us in the direction we need to go.
Stories inspire. Stories create. Stories ignite.
These subjects bring about such passionate tales that make us stare in awe.
We have to pinch ourselves sometimes to believe that it is all real.
It is great to be human. Such interesting individuals. Unique in every sense.
No two people share the same story but every story can be shared if the other is willing to listen and learn. Stories are there for sharing. Make yours an interesting tale to be told. Technology can aid you along the way but you cannot experience that story through technology alone.
Maybe one day years from now someone will wonder what life you led from the digital fragments left in your wake. Don’t bombard them and keep them guessing!

Cause I Can’t Get It Out Of My Head!

1. Effective stories inspire people for social causes by creating human connection and emotional resonance.

I love those movies that make me want to change the world. In a good way of course. Those stories that reach out to you and grab you by your heart and elevate, entrench and excite your mind to the endless possibilities and you won’t take no for an answer. It’s difficult to put into words how an emotional film makes you feel and it’s even more difficult to argue against it. Our emotions can be our greatest weapons. E.T., The Blindside, Dead Poets Society are just a few of a long list. Robin Williams had a special gift, making others feel good about themselves. Powerful stories that strike out at every imaginable emotion. It is almost akin to having a class with your favourite teacher. Inspirational, but not quite the same. In greater depth. You feel like you could do anything right now at this very moment in time. After this instantaneous high, you will probably sleep it off and return to what you believe are your senses. If you’re not helping people or at least attempting to inspire people to help others, then what are you doing? This world is for living in. Why does it have to be so miserable at times? If everyone could give of themselves just a little more in any way possible and I don’t just mean financially speaking, any stone could be overturned. There are lots of people who try out there, go over and above everyday – giving of themselves but we need more inspirational people for sure. These are the people that make you want to do something for the greater good and more often than not will be the prompt or be a catalyst that will bring about you achieving those goals in one way or another. We all have known at least one person in our lives, a real daring, go-getter, that chases after the thrill, has the zest for life, and elevates those who surround them, these people are light-hearted usually, can knock a laugh out of anything, and people would give anything to be exactly like them. These people are the definition of inspiration but instead may be labelled troublemakers and such in school and their value in the world can be undermined in some aspects. There are some who get the timing right and quickly cover their tracks. There is a fine line between mischievous misdemeanours and downright malevolence, that oscillating line is one of deviousness. And it separates the class clown from the upstart or those viewed as troublemakers. Know your limit. Become engaged with your emotions through creative works.

2. Well-crafted stories can communicate abstract and complex ideas in ways that encourage understanding and value connections.

Have you ever listened to somewhere ramble on endlessly and aimlessly about what seemed like nothingness? It made absolutely no sense to you because you didn’t place a value on it, it didn’t seem important, it wasn’t a priority because you just could not ‘get it’? And then somebody almost caused your mind to explode by telling you exactly what you needed to hear in order to spark your imagination and cause you to experience exactly what it all meant to begin with? Such lessons are learnt when cramming while burning the midnight oil, your lecturer rambled and rambled while you doodled and doodled and then it’s wham, bam, exam! Didn’t see that one coming! So you caffeinate yourself and get into gear you look for anything and everything but you just don’t understand it or ‘get’ the vital components, it’s all in disarray, and now it’s a priority. In sheer desperation and panic, you have begun to play with the idea that you may just fail outright but then you think of all the other times that you have passed exams and so you venture your network for people ‘in the know’ namely the lecturer who will probably shun you in your hour of need or at least won’t be particularly helpful at that point at time, if only you availed of the help sooner! So you then begin chatting with your college pals who are also freaking out but there happen to be a few ‘know-it-alls’ to the rescue! It feels like you’re using your lifelines on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? But at this point in time, there is only one option – to use your lifelines! Gently does it but you ask someone what something is about and in a panic-induced state of ‘not having enough time’ they draw something or say something that gets the ball rolling. Something essential that was missing from the jigsaw. And now suddenly everything seems so interesting and you are kicking yourself that you didn’t spend your time on this discipline that you chose, that you suddenly have begun to love with all your heart, and remembering why you chose to study this to begin with! And then it’s wham, bam, you pass your exam and the cycle repeats itself (ah well, humans are creatures of habit!)

3. Stories can be used to introduce a new topic into the public dialogue, contribute to an ongoing conversation and engage people as active participants.

The media. And now social media. People are talking all the time. It’s a great ice-breaker. It’s an everyday bond. It’s a connection or disconnection. An agreement or an argument. A love for or a hate of. The pot has been stirred again and again. And no two will have the exact same reaction but if they do repeatedly they may just become best friends given time. Those newspapers that float around the canteen at your workplace. Those daily newsfeeds that you just can’t seem to ignore every morning. You’re telling others what you think and now you can even tell the world via social media. If you hamper people consistently with your kind of uninteresting rants, prepare to get hammered by some online troll or reject or perhaps some form of expression of dislike or the worse kind, nothing even remotely responsive! We all know articles can be placed in the public domain in order to gauge a reaction before some change is even made. And of course it does happen with enough opposition behind or in tow, that that change is quickly rejected, replaced with something more affable or agreeable with the populace. Nobody wants a Twitter showdown but usually people become part of one before they realise it, the idea that someone may tweet you out of it, you just won’t stand for it! You know you’re right, and if you are a celebrity, some coverage is better than none at all. If you cannot get into the limelight, then the spotlight is available, just don’t turn the lights off completely. I am here just so you’re aware! There are days when we’d rather not voice or vent our opinion or vice versa..but the ink keeps rolling, they spate-ing….! Just ignore your phone and isolate yourself from the following: laptop, television, oh and people! Wreck the tech! But the tech will beckon you and you will come crawling on ones and zeros. Your dignity now lies with tech-heads somewhere…I would say here but who really knows!

4. Stories can be used to share learning and lessons from successes and failures with colleagues, donors and other key audiences.

We learn from others mistakes. End of. But really we do. As adults we become less daring and so we let others mess up first and listen to them tell us what we didn’t know already to ensure that we don’t walk the same plank again and again because that would just be the height of stupidity. But where the process is developmental and can be improved, we sometimes like to better each other and tell each other stories in order to extract any information that may be useful in our pursuits and future endeavours. Reverse Psychology 101. It is ok to make mistakes but just learn from them. You have got to admit to failure to become a success. It’s usually a great popularity mechanism. But hey fake it til you make it! Til then keep telling tales and making it up as you go along! Peace out!

digital-storytelling-for-social-impact-8-1024

What’s the story, boy?!

Storytelling in all its forms is a key player in helping us to gain an understanding of the world we live in. From the moment we come into the world until we learn to read we rely on storytelling through listening to others. Stories build connections, connecting information in order to make sense of things, otherwise we would all live in a random world of practically useless information. Irish people are not fully aware of their value in the world and the potential they hold to unlocking the world of digital storytelling. Many of the Irish, including the diaspora, are born gifted with the natural ability to tell stories. Two shorten the road by giving it length and breadth, by widening it and making it longer. Storytelling is the first step to empowerment, revealing the self in its raw form and setting out to reshape and reclaim what is yours. Irish people are adept probably because of the high levels of emigration in the past and even nowadays. Forced to adapt and change to the world around them, developing an understanding of other cultures, being sensitive to others beliefs. Knowing what to say and knowing when to zip it. The Irish have universal appeal!
Isn’t that what is so attractive about the digital world? Discovering and learning about new things and sharing those discoveries with the world around us? Performance. It may not be real but it feels real. It feels like you’re captivated by that moment in time. You are trapped but you like being trapped. You revel in it. It is the reason we entertain ourselves, to relax and enjoy, to relate, to share that story with someone who would ‘get it’, who would understand where we are coming from. The zest for life. We are born, we live and we die, naturally we have a beginning, a middle and an end. Good things come in threes and well we have a story to go with each stage and lots in between. We naturally edit our lives, we like to reminisce about the good points. We do not remember every single minute detail, just the ones that we feel or have a connection with. With the onset of social media, we get to hear everybody’s story whether we want to or not. One example of this is the Humans of New York page. But knowing how to capture your audience and knowing how to tell a good story will always apply. Emotional engagement is key. I watched the documentary film One Million Dubliners and the guide of Glasnevin Cemetery had something very interesting to say. To capture an audience you need to tell them something they know, something they don’t know, something to make them laugh and something to make them cry. You will then have a guided tour that is considered to be successful.
Everyday of our lives we attempt to grab others attention in one way or another. For good mainly and sometimes bad. We do not have to lift our heads anymore to grab others attention. We can blog, vlog, tweet, belt out a tune via videolink, skype, snapchat, facebook, Instagram, pinterest, IM. The list is never-ending as things fall in and out of fashion. Ideas are now even seen to be fashionable in the Age of Information. We can change our minds like the seasons about ideas, when new information comes to light. The catwalk is under threat. Has your idea any substance, is it worth its weight? The camera doesn’t miss a thing. It’s all down to the people buying into that idea. With more and more experts and people unwilling to pay more than necessary (as they could get it for free) it will be interesting to note how the world is shaped in the years ahead. Power to the people as they exchange ideas and share with the world on an open platform. Will copyright worsen or will it even apply given time? How can you own a word, a phrase, a lyric, even the alphabet? Or a picture, a caption, a story, an idea? Plagiarism is another area that will need to be put under the microscope. How do you apply copyright or plagiarism to a video? If you write about an American produced music video how do you credit it in a college paper or can you? Are you violating a social media website’s terms and conditions if you use the material for some other unnamed purpose? These are the questions that will need to be asked in the years ahead…but probably by a lawyer!