virtualDavis

\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…
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The technology of storytelling

I mutter on and on about storytelling in the digital age, but storyteller Joe Sabia (tumblr/facebook) whips out his iPad and geeky glasses for a waltz with Lothar Meggendorfer. Sabia’s quirky narrative quickly, deftly demonstrates how storytellers have always leveraged innovative technologies to improve their craft.

No doubt Meggendorfer shook up the book world when he launched his storytelling technology, the pop-up book. Bibliophiles, teachers and book printers/publishers/retailers must have ranted and raved. “Three dimensional images? Are you crazy. That’ll be the death of imagination! That’ll be the end of reading…”

But his history-altering technology was a hit. It still is today. And yet we’re still imagining, still reading. Bravo, Lothar!

Sabia’s TEDTalk, “The technology of storytelling” reminds us that technology — from the walls of caves to projected iPads — have long served creative storytellers. Bravo, Joe!

I’m curious what you think of this video. Several commenters on the YouTube video have suggested that Sabia’s performance wasn’t TED caliber. I disagree, but I’m a storytelling pushover obsessed with digital storytelling. What’s your opinion?

Dream. Share. Live.

My friend Mia Starr (@fourdaysaweek) just shared her dream with me. Via Twitter. Via a comment on her blog. Via this video. Via the Holstee Manifesto which has inspired many, been shared by hundreds of thousands and will make you happier, healthier, wiser, sexier, funnier, calmer (and did I mention happier?) if you take a few seconds to read it. And then reread it. And then smile. Out loud. With friends.

THIS IS YOUR LIFE. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, STOP. They will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate life is simple. Every last bite. Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people. We are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is. And share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often. Getting lost will help you find yourself. SOME OPPORTUNITIES ONLY COME ONCE, SEIZE THEM. Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them. So go out and start creating. LIFE IS SHORT. LIVE YOUR DREAM. AND SHARE YOUR PASSION. (FOUR DAYS A WEEK)

Did you reread it? I did. Did you feel like you could have written those words? I did. Maybe that’s why it’s so compelling. Familiar. As if we’ve been reminded of something that we already knew but maybe had forgotten about. Temporarily misplaced. Recovered. What a way to start the new year!

I couldn’t resist adding a comment. A goofy-but-sincere comment…

I dream. Aloud. Every day. Because I can. And because I can’t help it. I dream of telling stories and discovering new stories, of hearing the singing underneath, of gardening more and shopping less, of flanerie and adventure, of windy sailing and still sunrises, of continuing to fall in love with my bride after six years of marriage and a decade together, of stretching boundaries and nourishing imaginations, of giving back as much as I receive. This is my dream. This is my life. Thanks for asking, Mia!

Do what you love. Risk. Adventure. Create. Share. Inspire. Here’s to a reinvigorated life!

2012 Publishing Predictions

2012 Publishing Predictions (image of/by virtualDavis)

Day three of the new year. Already! I’m plugging diligently away at my 2012 resolutions, but what good are resolutions without some predictions?

I’ve polished up my crystal ball, and an image is emerging… A thinly veiled wish list? Are you kidding? No way. This is the real deal, a sneak peak into the future!

I’m seeing a sea change in the publishing world, a dramatic shift throughout the creator-to-consumer landscape. Old news? Yes. But what exactly does the new publishing landscape look like? Here is my oracular best.

My top publishing prediction for 2012 is book bundling. It’s time for user friendly digital book and audio book integration. If I want/need a book, I should be able to instantly find and purchase a digital version. And it should include both the text and audio version of the book. Not a computer generated voice struggling through the language. A whiskey tenor bringing the story to life. A current favorite is  Michael Ondaatje‘s The Cat’s Table. Splendid! I want to listen while driving, exercising, showering and cooking. And when I settle into my armchair or flop into the hammock by the shores of Lake Champlain I want to be able to switch seamlessly from audio to text so that I can read. And when I want to jot marginalia or forward a quotation to a friend, I want it to be equally simple in both formats. This vision of book bundling should be the bare minimum. But my prediction goes further. Print books can remain relevant if they include the digital bundle. Gift giving demands this. I want to write a personal inscription in green fountain pen ink in the front page, and I want to be able to wrap and hand the familiar bound heft of a book. Most of us still love print books. And the appetite (habit?) will die slowly. But what better incentive to buy the print version if it includes the digital bundle so that readers can also be listeners, etc. Personally I love experiencing books in multiple formats. But the bottom line is that the future is all about flexibility. And as long as we’re imagining the perfect giftable book bundle, let’s through in the Vook or other digitally enhanced, value added version too. Icing on the cake. Consumers will love the bundle even if they only use a fraction of the content.

Are you with me so far? My crystal ball is not blurry on this book bundling issue, though it’s still not clear if the major strides in this arena will come from the “Big Six” or brave, savvy upstarts. A few publishing companies are already venturing into the territory, but who’s going to redefine the book publishing marketplace. I’m ready!

My second publishing prediction for 2012 is for an app/digital book convergence (or at least blurring). I love the crack of a book’s spine and the smell of musty old pages and contributing to the tangled marginalia of a treasured hand-me-down. But one’s head must be deep in the sand to overlook the smartphone’s manifest destiny. Not only have smartphones become ubiquitous throughout the developed world, but they’re quickly becoming the one stop shop for, well, for just about everything content/communication/entertainment/etc. Phone, email, camera, secretary, navigator, coach, movies, games, news, flashlight, car key, you name it, the 21st century smartphone is almost divine. Like it or not, your smartphone is the ideal book bundling vehicle, and the app strikes me as the most obvious cheap, user-friendly packaging for tomorrow’s book bundles. Enough said? And it is the ultimate inspiration buy!

My third publishing prediction for 2012 is platform androgynous content.  When I purchase a new digital title, I don’t want to be limited by my device. If I’m using my iPhone, Mac Pro or Mac Book Pro I want the same access and experience. Ditto for Kindle Fire, Nook, Sony Reader, in-air entertainment console, etc. Make it easy for your audience to consume your content no matter where they are and no matter what interface they use. Unshackle good books from the devices which we use to read/watch/listen to them and we’ll consumer much, much more of your liberated content. I promise!

These are my top three, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. The media is awash is publishing oracles, but Jeremy Greenfield’s “Ten Bold Predictions for Book Publishing in 2012” (Digital Book World) is the best place to start. A couple of highlights:

The publishing world is a’changing… And it’s changing fast! If you’re trying to catch up, stop. If you’re an innovator reinventing storytelling in the digital age, then sing, dance and celebrate because you are the change. And you’re living in the garden of opportunity. It’s a great time to be a storyteller!

What are your 2012 publishing predictions?

Update: I was honored by Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) with inclusion in his January 5 Writing on the Ether.

“as we flee from the prediction-prone and nostalgia-noxious equinox back into our present, we’re going to cast one brave look over at George Davis’ set of what he calls 2012 Publishing Predictions – but, ah, these are actually wishes… What Davis says he wants is a seamless read across several media… Davis wants to start in the print hardcover. Then have the e-version know where he left the bookmark. Then have the audio edition’s narrator pick up at the same place. And — I’m extrapolating here — finish the book by streaming the film, as before from the last point he left off in the audio-, e-, or tree-version. (Writing on the Ether)

Although Porter almost perfectly summed me up, I’d like to clear up one detail about the tree-versions of books. To be sure, the best-of-bundling will be seamless integration across media. To easily, instantly switch between audio, digital (text and/or multimedia à la Vook), video and print is an ambitious but enticing dream. And most likely a pipe dream, at this stage.

However the opportunity for seamless integration across digital media is considerably more attainable today than the seamless integration of print. So my prediction is for seamless digital integration bundled with the print book as “wrapper”. Many of us still prefer to hold and read and smell and marginalia-fill and gift print books. This habit will likely diminish over time, but not overnight. So give buyers what they know they want. But include a scan-able digital bundle which immerses readers in the riches of digital publishing.

2012 New Year’s Resolutions

English: Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

Resolutions (Image via Wikipedia)

Cheers to a razzle-dazzle 2012! I’m saluting the new year with a confession: I failed my top resolution for 2011.

There it is. I tried. I failed. Period. But last year is history, and the new year is my story!

That’s right, I’m totally undaunted. Humbled but not discouraged. Perhaps I was overly ambitious. Perhaps my resolve faltered. Perhaps I needed humility, checked ambition, faltering resolve. Perhaps I needed to unlearn and relearn and regroup and refocus…

One year ago today — with all the hubris and fanfare of a precocious adolescent — I threw caution to the wind and sang out across the interwebs.

I do hereby firmly resolve to publish Rosslyn Redux in multiple formats and to share my experiences over the next year while moving toward this goal.

My most important 2011 new year’s resolution was to deliver Rosslyn Redux to its audience. And I failed. Mostly…

But rather than sulking and groveling and begging absolution, I’m going to double down. My timing was off, but my goals were spot on. Last year whistled past like a downtown express which sucked my clutch of papers and carefully coiffed do down the tube in its wake. After standing on the platform for a while I learned to read an iPad and wear a hat. Now when the train bullets past I don’t blink.

My 2011 resolution numero uno eluded me, but I made strides and learned plenty over the last twelve months. Now I’m ready to deliver on my promise. I’m gambling that new year’s resolutions (like wine and cheese) tend to improve with proper maturation!

But good cellaring alone won’t be enough to deliver the goods. Dreams are dandy, but it takes good fundamentals and process to mature goals into accomplishments. Here are a few pointers I’ve collected to help guide me.

  • pick very small resolutions, measurable actions that you can fulfill… You want small goals you can meet in a short time. (abc7.com)
  • make your resolution specific, with a tangible, achievable outcome. (forbes.com)
  • create a timeline… that gives you enough time to make the right choice. (How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions)
  • Get back to scrappy… and do fewer things, better. (inc.com)
  • outline the small, manageable steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve [your resolutions]… [Create a] a step-by-step plan…  (forbes.com)
  • [When you encounter] setbacks, don’t throw in the towel. Pick yourself up and start again. Setbacks are not a sign of failure; they are opportunities to learn and start again. (huffingtonpost.com)
  • Counterbalance all of these resolutions with a resolution that inspires you. Something you just want to do… Something that just makes you happy to be alive for another year. (psychologytoday.com)

Not bad coaching, right? So far I’ve got goal and guidance. What’s missing? Inspiration. For the rocket fuel of success, no better place to turn than Seth Godin.

The thing is, we still live in a world that’s filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity — we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing.

You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day… you have the power to change everything that’s to come. And you can do that by asking yourself (and your colleagues) the one question that every organization and every individual needs to ask today: Why not be great? (fastcompany.com)

I always and forever agree: we live in a world filled with opportunity. And we have an obligation to find, create, inspire and share greatness. In order to do so, we have an obligation to take risks.

I mentioned earlier that I mostly failed to deliver Rosslyn Redux to its audience. There are two exceptions. Last April the Rosslyn Redux blog was born. Nine months and four dozen posts later readership is growing and the chronicle/adventure is evolving. While working through the book manuscript the blog offers an open workshop to learn from my readers what is working and what is compelling and what is not. Reader comments and feedback have become an invaluable measure of my storytelling and focus, and I’m excited to ramp up the posts in the new years.

The second exception was Redacting Rosslyn, a solo performance at The Depot Theatre of readings, storytelling and vignettes ranging from a wader-wearing Amazon named Rosslyn to a perennially pickled bathtub yachtsman. Turning my book inside out for a capacity audience was scary and thrilling and addictive. I wanted to stay in that collaborative space, that creative tension between storyteller and audience forever. It was the first time that I’ve invite the public into the story, the first time I’ve shared the characters and scenarios with which I’ve been obsessed for years. The performance explored the uncanny parallel between renovating Rosslyn and redacting the Rosslyn Redux manuscript.

Renovating Rosslyn was an adventure. Writing and editing Rosslyn Redux is an adventure. Redacting Rosslyn is an interstitial adventure tucked into the folds of both, a wander into the unfamiliar. And it demands new methods and rhythms, new risks, new exploration. (rosslynredux.com)

In this world filled with opportunity, this world in which we have an obligation to take risks, the blog and the live performance were my first two forays into the fulfillment of my 2011 new year’s resolution. In 2012, they will serve as the foundation upon which I find, create, inspire and share greatness.

I do hereby firmly resolve to publish Rosslyn Redux in multiple formats in 2012. In the weeks ahead I resolve to define small, measurable actions and to arrange them into a viable timeline in order to produce specific, achievable outcomes. I’ll organize a step-by-step plan and reduce it to the fewest, most necessary elements in order to succeed. I’ll get scrappy when necessary, and I’ll turn setbacks into lessons that will propel me toward my goal. One year from today I will celebrate success.

Thank you for your confidence!

 

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