Yesterday I wrote about the trend that every bit of content that is produced on the Internet seems to get aggregated, producing yet another view of what is already out there. Instead of delivering us inspiration, aggregation brings us more of the same. Aggregation doesn’t inspire us to think, it lets us sit back and consume. I said:
And when people get lost, they will simply return to their human nature. They will look out for the oldest, wisest, or craziest people out there. I don’t think the world needs more information. We don’t need any more or better content aggregation, search algorithms or noise filters. We need more inspiration. We need storytellers (and that will be the topic of another post).
I figured it would be good to spent another post on this topic and introduce you to a few storytellers I deeply admire. These are people that aren’t looking at their rating on any blogging leaderboard. They don’t publish for the sake of it. They don’t bring you the breaking news everyone else already does. They are, in my opinion, people that like to take the time to tell us a story. Something that is nearly always fascinating to read, and often leaves the reader with more questions than answers. They make you think, and that is the sole purpose of their act.
If you are a regular reader of this weblog, then you already know that I am a big fan of Jonathan Harris. He is one of the best storytellers I know. You can find most of his work right here. One of the projects he did that really amazed me is called Universe.
Each night, the great stories of ancient Greek mythology are played out in the sky — Perseus rescues Andromeda from the sea monster; Orion faces the roaring bull; Zeus battles Cronos for control of Mount Olympus. Most of us know the sky holds these great myths, immortalized as constellations. Slightly less well known are the newer constellations, largely added in the 18th and 19th centuries. These more modern constellations reflect a different sort of mythology — a commemoration of art and science, expressed through star groups representing technical inventions like the microscope, the triangle, the compass, the level, and the easel.
As humans, we have a long history of projecting our great stories into the night sky. This leads us to wonder: if we were to make new constellations today, what would they be? If we were to paint new pictures in the sky, what would they depict? These questions form the inspiration for Universe, which explores the notions of modern mythology and contemporary constellations.
Universe is a system that supports the exploration of personal mythology, allowing each of us to find our own constellations, based on our own interests and curiosities. Everyone’s path through Universe is different, just as everyone’s path through life is different. Using the metaphor of an interactive night sky, Universe presents an immersive environment for navigating the world’s contemporary mythology, as found online in global news and information from Daylife.
Universe is a concept in which Jonathan brings back our fascination of content exploration. In the earliest times humans would look at the sky and explore the universe. With universe he has created a concept and interface that allows us to explore the world once again. Instead of sitting back and getting stuff aggregated to your screen or profile, Universe demands you to explore, to discover, to be fascinated. Each trip is different.
There is a whole lot more to discover on his site. I love his work on human emotions (check out “We feel fine”). I have seen him present his work once and ever since I have been following him. For all you Twitter fans out there. Jonathan inspired a Twitter tool that is way cooler and more fascinating than any of the tools I’m aware of. check out twistori to find out what Twitter users are experiencing right now!
Anyone that has the audacity to write 477 slide long presentations and can keep the audience fascinated throughout each slide is a great storyteller. I discovered Rolf when he delivered a presentation in the Netherlands entitled “Web 2.0 why we got here and what’s next”. I went back to slideshare and looked at each of his slides. Rolf wasn’t presenting us anything. He was telling us a story. He calls himself a pattern hound, and he has become one of my favorite blog writers. He doesn’t write posts every day, but when he writes something it immediately sets you to think. Just take a look at a few titles of teh posts he has written. Makes you wanna read them right away don’t they?
- the Facebook stalker and other urban myths
- why you’ll pay to network
- 98% or even 100%-open: not enough in social networks
- delivering a useful luxury
Dig into his archives and start following him. There is a lot more to be discovered there ;-)
Michael is an assistant professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. He and his students have created several video’s that spread out like a firestorm over the Internet. He is a master in storytelling. What can I say, just watch his video’s if you haven’t already.
Storytellers are essential throughout times. Even in this digital age where every bit of information is available in digital form. Where all content is aggregated for you, ready to be consumed. But information isn’t really what inspires us.
It’s a bit like Neo in the Matrix, its the question that drives us, that inspires us. I just showed you three people that inspire me. People that make me think and ask questions. People that don’t necessarily provide us with answers.
There are so many more of them out there. I am really curious to hear who is inspiring you. What are your favorite storytellers? Let me know.