Emergent Conclusions

In a typically diverse couple of weeks, I have been prompted to ponder about the way narratives develop. Not only in the context of cultural media but also in knowledge driven business context where the confident articulation of what you do or are trying to achieve is critical to its success. These musings have been prompted by having lunch with a writer/producer of a long running hospital TV drama series, attending a book group discussing various popular economics titles, and also pondering the theme of my next (this) blog post.

They say everybody likes a good story, but I’m beginning to wonder if that is changing.

Personally, I’ve always preferred my media a bit more ambiguous – I
prefer music without lyrics, and films with more questions than answers
etc. And the digital generation are far more interested in creating
content and interacting with it rather than passively consuming media
and stories. One of the primary criticisms of the books discussed at
the aforementioned book group was that, whilst they captured a series
of interesting phenomenon (Wisdom of Crowds, The Long Tail and Blink),
they were incomplete without a proper concluding chapter that draws out
all the inferences and implications. However, putting aside the flaws
with those books for one moment, I think we are so used to media or
stories with a beginning, middle and end we are confused when we are
presented with a series of observations without a grand narrative as
those books tend to. By limited media I mean books with no more that
300 pages, films of no more than 2 hours, 1 hour lectures etc, but now
with plummeting transaction costs, the limits of our media or
vanishing. 

And yet the lack of immediate conclusions is far more realistic than
the epic stories with which we grew up. Without wishing to sound too
post-modern about it, who wakes up in the morning and thinks, I am a
hero on chapter 4 of an epic journey to save the world? I certainly
know I don’t, but then I’ve never been a morning person. I’m
increasingly of the opinion (notice the gradual development) that
stories emerge from a mass of activity and yet we crave the certainty
of a definitive set of cause and effect leading to a satisfying
conclusion, be it a pitch to a client or a script for a film. As our
business and social networks expand and collaboration increasingly
becomes the norm, I think that the way we create and tell stories is
changing. But in the spirit of these musings I’m not going to suggest
how this is happening, rather please develop and draw your own emergent
conclusions.

Comments

  1. Interesting post Roland. Maybe we should look at it more like the ‘aphorisms’ that Nietzsche talked about, those flashes of intuition and understanding, that stop the rhetoric of artificial beginnings, middles and ends…

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