Friday, March 06, 2009

Are Videos Really Storytelling?

Over at Kathy Hansen's excellent blog, A Storied Career, she posted a very popular video that's floating around the Internet. It's a visual explanation of the financial crisis. I truly enjoy Kathy's blog and think she's one of the few quality and consistent bloggers for storytelling out there.

I disagreed, in this case, that the video was storytelling. Regarding the video and digital storytelling, my casual comments I left were:

It's informative.
It's useful.
It's fun to watch.
It's a great video experience.
It's educational.
It's a way to understand a complex subject.
It should be seen by many people.
It's something that I am glad that I watched.
It's something that deserves attention.

It doesn't need to tagged as storytelling to make it valuable. It stands well on it's own as a powerful video that serves a good purpose. It has value as art in its use of video.

If everything is storytelling, then nothing is storytelling.

It's not storytelling.

A hammer is no less a valuable tool just because it's not a screwdriver.

This video doesn't have to be storytelling in order to still be excellent.

And it is excellent.

Kathy, you have illustrated the a real issue: Just what is storytelling?

For me, storytelling takes people. I have videos on YouTube of me doing storytelling, but the videos are *not* storytelling. They are video records of my storytelling and they pale by compare to the video quality and technique of the above video you posted.

We do a disservice to both storytelling expertise and video expertise by not treating each to its own unique charism and definition.

I can talk about the financial crisis by retelling (speaking) the stories of others or using world tales to illustrate the meaning. A program of these stories, used to frame the video above, would be a powerful evening of conveying an idea through the dual communication methods of storytelling and video.

If I had to attach a shelf to a wall, I would have different tools to choose from based on how I wanted the shelf attached. I could use a hammer, screwdriver or glue gun, for example. Each is a different way of getting to the same goal.

If I had to talk about the financial crisis, I could choose different tools based on how I wanted the audience to understand the issue. I could use oral storytelling, writing, video or dance. Each is a different way of getting to the same goal.

I shall stop rambling now.

Let's stop calling all communication storytelling. Let's recognize that there are many ways to get a message out and storytelling, the one-to-one even-in-a-crowd oral technique (or ASL), is one very exciting way. Let's not dilute everything into one single pool called storytelling. Let's value the many ways to express story.

Having practiced and taught the art of storytelling for many years, I think it's the most effective and cost effective way to communicate. However, I know that all art forms (video included) are equally important contributors to the conversation.

By the way, add Kathy's blog to your regular reading. It's that good.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

1 comment:

  1. I just read this now (March 11, 2014!). So good - I'm linking to it in my next blog post - thanks! :-)