In another article, I’ve discussed the idea of the WIDE WORLD Web — the idea that people with significant connections outside the US have made disproportionately large contributions to innovation and quality on the Web. I suggest in that article that one reason for this is that Wide World people seem to have a particular appreciation for Storytelling. Here, then,I’ll discuss examples of this from articles I’ve written.

The outstanding example of resonance between the Wide World community, storytelling, and the Web is certainly British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie’s tantalizing word picture in Haroun and the Sea of Stories that I see as an envisioning (prediction?) of  the Web. Rushdie, of course, was raised as a Muslim in India, and his “stories within stories within stories” style in Haroun resonates equally with One Thousand and One Nights and with the Web that we experience, with its “liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity,” to borrow Rushdie’s words.

I’ve gotten new insights into storytelling and the Web in following the active brain of Bulgarian blogger and storytelling fan Maria Popova. She coined the phrase “controlled serendipity” that spread virally last winter after being headlined in a NY Times article by Nick Bilton. As I wrote in my commentary about that article, I think the reason the phrase resonated so strongly with people is because it captures the essence of how we use the Web — To follow stories, and make new stories ourselves. So I see Popova as another example of a heightened appreciation of storytelling from the Wide World community.

Popova combines her interest in storytelling with a strong interest in TED conferences (popularized on the Web as video stories told by prominent people), and I learned to see the TED-Storytelling connection from her. Beyond Popova, TED provides another example of the Wide World community and storytelling — TED Curator Chris Anderson grew up in Pakistan and India — the land of Rushdie — and it certainly seems possible that this experience helped to foster his building TED into a prime Web storytelling spot.

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Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

2 thoughts on “Storytelling & the WIDE WORLD web

  1. Pingback: Storytelling Multimedia, Business, Personal Narrative, Spoken Word, Anecdote & More

  2. Stories and storytelling are subjects that I am deeply interested in and have spent 5 decades working to codify.

    And I must start by say this.

    Despite the degradation of the word story by popular dictionaries that would indicate otherwise – only fictional narrations are “stories”. Non-fiction narrations may be called articles, essays, news items or the like, but they most definitely are not “stories”.

    Let me explain by offering a correct definition for the concept of “story” (which, unfortunately, will not be found in any dictionary)

    “story” – a narration; consisting of an introduction leading either to an event (or two causally related incidents, culminating in an event) and ending with a conclusion of the premise of the narration.

    Non-fiction fails on two counts. It lacks a conclusion which “concludes” the premise of the narration. And it lacks an introduction in which the premise is illustrated.

    While the WWW has a tremendous capability to spread and enhance our storytelling abilities and heritage as a species – if we continue to propagate a confusion about stories and storytelling we will only progress into a barbarism.

    Episodic drivel from the internet or TV is no better than episodic babble from the barstool.

    And until we correct our understanding of what a story is, what it does, why it exists and how to tell stories effectively – all we gain is the ability to say less, to more people, faster than ever before in history. And that is no progress at all.

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