Do You Have A Story to Tell? Here Are the Digital Tools You’ll Need

Xconomy National — 

Back in January I got an invitation out of the blue to give a 1-hour talk at the Palo Alto Research Center—the Xerox-owned lab better known as PARC. The invitation was completely open-ended. The full extent of PARC’s guidance was “we think you would have a lot of interesting things to share.”

If you’re a writer, that’s the kind of offer you don’t turn down.

I’d already been pondering a bunch of loosely related thoughts about technology and the changing nature of storytelling, and I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to use the talk to try to bring them together. But I was wary of coming across like a junior Marshall McLuhan, and I wanted to offer more than just a list of the coolest new content-creation technologies. I thought the audience would probably respond better if I gave them some authentic stories to chew on. Since there was no one to stop me, I decided to tell a few of my own.

I finally delivered the talk on May 2, and for this week’s VOX column I decided to make a screencast version that you can digest in just 30 minutes. Here’s what you’ll get if you watch the video below.

1) Some pointers for telling your own stories using the latest digital tools, which I’ve arranged into a handy six-part taxonomy.

2) A couple of stories about how my own storytelling genes began to express themselves.

3) Some lessons from two long-dead heroes on how to be an effective storyteller—and how not to be.

4) A heightened sense that we’re all part of a grand cosmic procession, making meaning from the emptiness through the stories we tell ourselves and each other. Really, I promise.

Correction, 5/24/13: Carl Sagan actually died in 1996, not in 1994 as I state in the video.

Though I had shied away from list-making in the talk, quite a few of the people in the audience at PARC asked afterward for a list of the tools I had mentioned. Here they are, with links, arranged by category. Obviously, there are a million more tools out there that I could have mentioned if I’d had more time.







For the curious: I made the presentation using Prezi (which I wrote about in this space two weeks ago) and recorded it in screencast form using Camtasia for Mac. It was my first outing with Camtasia, so please excuse the poor audio quality—I wanted to record a better version of the audio track, but I ran out of time. (That’s one thing nobody has figured out how to make more of.)