Facebook shareholders to confront Zuckerberg over fake news

Investors recognize that poor and dishonest storytelling (which Facebook does not do, but supports by its inaction) is going to cost them in the long run. And they aren’t concerned just about the money.

Facebook shareholders will confront Mark Zuckerberg over the social network’s role in spreading fake news at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday, arguing that democracy is at risk every time it tweaks an algorithm.

Source: Facebook shareholders to confront Zuckerberg over fake news

Narrative, Stories, and the Gaps That Define Us

For more than 20 years, “narrative” has been used to describe the story people are trying to tell. That’s wrong, and it’s the primary culprit in the deep differences in society today. We’re looking at the world through many lenses, not one or two, because technology has given people a much broader view of the lives around them. But traditional narrative strategy often seeks to reduce everything to binary choices: “This is the way the world is. Accept it or get out.”

We can change that. By recognizing that our narratives must adapt through negotiation with our audience, we can create informed consensus. The modern dream of co-design of products and services, for instance, is one of blending narratives until the goals of the customer and company are aligned. And by recognizing conflicting narratives, humans can also learn to live together despite their differences. That’s why I helped start the Digital Narrative Alliance, to explore how narratives develop and grow, as well as how they can be destroyed by poor choices that ignore the audience’s perceived reality.

Narratives cannot easily be imposed on actively engaged people, instead they must adopt a narrative or moderate their own expectations, assumptions, and values to accept a narrative offered in an ad, a social posting, a novel, a movie, or a mission statement, to name just a few sources of daily narratives that compete for our acceptance. Without narrative fidelity, the simple agreement of narratives between teller and hearer, a story falls flat. People won’t believe it because it doesn’t fit with their expectations. Today’s riven Western political debates is the result of people talking at and past one another instead of building shared narratives.

Pepsi’s ill-begotten Kendall Jenner-resolves-the-race-issue ad, which drew resounding criticism and was retracted within hours, is an example of narrative infidelity: Celebrities aren’t the universal solvent, nor is Pepsi. The ad offended the narratives of Black Lives Matter, Millennials who see themselves as driven by values instead of stuff, and virtually everyone who doesn’t want to be a Jenner-Kardashian. It would also be a mistake to think no one wants to be Jenner-Kardashian famous, but their goals and values are illusory in the same way an auto mechanic who dreams of winning the Nobel Prize for physics but doesn’t want to study mathematics to do it. Narratives can actively deceive, too.

“Fake news,” a phrase that should live in quotes forever, seeks to mislead actively. It is in no way news. It is propaganda disguised as news that seeks to overwhelm the audience with a particular political, economic, and social agenda. “Fake news” doesn’t give a damn about your narrative, it seeks to displace it.

Stories relate events. Several stories contribute to a narrative, but no story stands alone. They invoke history, they rely on common knowledge, they add detail, but they do not establish a narrative that will last, with notable exceptions, based on one story. Narratives modulate that information and result in different interpretations of events. Most organizations, including many news organizations, ignore differing narratives when relating information. Instead, they talk at the world without making any connections with their audience. They increase the distance between themselves and potential supporters with their interpretation of events. The laziest storyteller hopes to convert the existing believers instead of expanding their narrative’s reach.

Narratives, which explain how and why the world works, are built by individuals and blended with narratives in the world to create social connections. Narratives, when shared, help people come to terms with differing perceptions of meaning. Narratives can be subtle or blunt. Adults who grew up being the cowboy in “Cowboys and Indians” have a very different narrative about who the good guys are than Native American adults. They share the same places, but have very different narratives about how each arrived there. Stories can break down some of those barriers by showing both communities the values they share. Willfully indifferent narratives, which abound in the United States and Europe today, can create armed camps.

There are three successful new approaches to using narrative to forge new coalitions, and we will certainly identify more over time.

1.) Narrative Interventions. Louie Psihoyos, a photographer, filmmaker and diver was appalled by stories of a Japanese cove where the fishing fleet slaughtered dolphins each year. An open secret ignored by everyone, Psihoyos and his collaborator used underwater cameras to record the annual Taiji cove dolphin slaughter. They released The Cove, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2009, igniting a global response against Japanese fishing practices. The public, in response to “dolphin-friendly” labeling on tuna, had come to believe conditions had improved, but Psihoyos blew up that established narrative with simple, horrible facts. Great stories can achieve this impact, but they don’t sustain a movement without a continuing flow of stories. Psihoyos has continued his work, adding Racing Extinction in 2015 and growing his network of collaborators through the Oceanic Preservation Society.

2.) Narrative by example. John Dewey, the American pragmatist and educational activist, argued that intelligent educated citizens can change the world by deciding together to make the change and starting to live as though it has been accomplished. Dewey’s narrative is one of engaged action. His work is being revived by Ann Pendleton-Jullian and John Seely Brown, who explore Dewey’s approach to productive inquiry in Pragmatic Imagination, the prequel to their five-volume re-imagining of design in the digital era.

Modern narrative can be augmented by computation. It can become many different forms of media in many channels, as well as blending multiple stories to establish a nuanced view of events about which the audience can decide. Dewey’s inquiries accomplished something similar before computation, demanding comprehensive debate and discussion to arrive at its conclusions: “Deliberation is a dramatic rehearsal (in one’s imagination) of various competing possible lines of action… (It) is an experiment in finding out what the various lines of possible action are really like,” Dewey wrote in Human Nature and Conduct.

3.) Persistent Narrative. A double-edged sword, the persistent narrative seeks to outlast the competition with repeated and varying stories that reinforce the underlying values and assumptions of the audience. “Fake news” is the embodiment of this trend, which has taken hold in many corners of life because of the overwhelming volume of information available today. “Bubble” theories, in which people live in media echo chambers that reinforce even the most outlandish perspectives, describe the downside.

But there is a much greater opportunity for persistent narratives: They can meld many different kinds of stories into a coherent and complete picture of the world people can support enthusiastically.

Aaron Loeb, President of Studios and Live Services at Kabam!, a game development studio, has bridged experimental theater and game play to build “lore” that supports imaginary worlds filled with superheroes and to confront theater audiences’ conflicted relationship with technology as a playwright. Games, along with multi-volume book series, such as the Harry Potter books and The Lord of the Rings, are built on shared lore that backfills the story, provides the myths that rein in the world, and establish character motivations the gameplay does not have the capacity to cover.

Movie and television series are other artistic examples of persistent narrative. Cosplayers, Trekkies, and Americans (Republicans or Democrats) all have their lore that explains their decisions. The narrative maker can create worlds by sheer force, detailing in an engaging and relevant tales of George Washington’s honesty or the fall of Sauron, creating a sustaining myth that binds communities.

These three approaches to narrative work separately, like tools in the hands of a skilled artisan, and they can be combined in various ways to plot and pace the evolution of a community’s expectations and assumptions.

Persistent narratives have accrued over centuries. The earliest examples are epic poems that were shared verbally for centuries before they were committed to writing.

The poets known collectively as “Homer” built The Illiad and The Odyssey on the demands of their small fireside audiences, who must have demanded more Achilles and less Priam, because Achilles was an action hero. The resulting written stories captured everything the Homers may have said, but publishing erased the notion that some parts of these stories were more popular than others.  They also survive translations, adaptations, and reinterpretations. This is why it is essential that narrative makers recognize the give and take with their audiences that build global or local legends. Stories must change to win their audiences — new characters work their way in where they didn’t exist in early versions, and some, like Jar-Jar Binks, go the way of the dodo bird beneath the fire of Dutch arquebuses. Jar-Jar deserved it, the dodos didn’t.

Ultimately, narratives are stories that change. They expand, contract, reconfigure, and evolve. They jump languages and media. They are living communities that people genuinely engage with passion. Whether you are a marketer with a product to sell, a business leader building a mission that will endure, a filmmaker or poet or blogger seeking an audience, or the citizen thinking of launching a movement, narrative is the tool you need to understand.

Louie Psihoyos, Ann Pendleton-Jullian, and Aaron Loeb will be speaking at Narrative Summit 3: Stories That Change on June 20, 2017 at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center. Join us to learn: How stories can conflict with mission and goals; How to use stories to align mission and goals; To use stories to engage internally and externally; To use stories and narratives to develop co-designed products, services, and futures, based on proven film and marketing strategies represented by our speakers. Register today, seating is limited!

Audible Creates $5 Million Fund for Emerging Playwrights – The New York Times

So pleased to see my friends at Audible making an investment in short drama for the ears and mind.

Audible, the digital audiobook giant, announced Tuesday that it would create a $5 million fund to commission new works from emerging playwrights — not for the stage, but for people’s headphones and speakers.

As audio fiction seems to be having a moment, in the realm of podcasts, Audible plans to draw from the vast pool of young writers to create one- or two-person plays. They will be available beginning late this year, the company said.

Source: Audible Creates $5 Million Fund for Emerging Playwrights – The New York Times

Airbnb CMO Says Marketing Industry Can’t Wait Any Longer to Diversify Workforce – WSJ

The diversity outreach by AirBnB is important, but the hidden element of this is the local and regional element to AirBnB marketing. One agency isn’t the solution.

The company announced earlier this week that it will use the Cannes Lions advertising festival—the annual event where many of the world’s top creative and marketing professionals descend on the French Riviera to celebrate creativity in advertising—to woo new types of executives.

Source: Airbnb CMO Says Marketing Industry Can’t Wait Any Longer to Diversify Workforce – WSJ

‘S-Town’ and the Ethics of Storytelling – Crixeo

A thoughtful review and commentary on covering marginalized people, even when they give permission.

Whether or not McLemore’s story should have been told by Brian Reed is for the listener to decide for themselves. The podcast is an amazing feat of art, in that McLemore was a man who was so complex and brilliant, who most people likely wouldn’t have given much consideration — and here he was deeply considered, given the attention and connection he so deeply desired in life. To see McLemore’s picture is, to me, to look at a man that I would not have looked at again, to have seen as a whole and vibrant and c

Source: ‘S-Town’ and the Ethics of Storytelling – Crixeo

Not Just Data — Doc Searls

For many years, Doc Searls and a group of technologists have worked to develop Vendor Relationship Management tools that put customers in control of their data. They came up a new name, CustomerTech. The idea is a big, important one with applications across all aspects of daily life. It recognizes that the ubiquity of communications must be accompanied by new controls over personal data. Like Hannah Arendt, who argued that the private is essential to public personas, CustomerTech acknowledges the control we have over own data is the key to how we share and collaborate publicly, whether as customers or citizens. Just a few of the things Doc calls out as opportunities, all of which are important to the storyteller:

“With customertech, we can—

Source: Not Just Data

‘What’s the Story?’ series to focus on storytelling craft | The Drum

With the massive change and upheaval in the industry that shows no sign of ever abating, understanding the importance of story is more important than ever. Not that everything needs to be wrapped neatly in storytelling, but knowing what makes a great story can be useful as everyone navigates these new waters.

To that end, The Drum saw a unique opportunity to be a conduit between the two with “What’s The Story?”, a new video series around the art and craft of storytelling.

Source: ‘What’s the Story?’ series to focus on storytelling craft | The Drum

“Searching For Syria” Is Google’s Innovative Response To The Refugee Crisis | GOOD

A fascinating interpretation of Syria based on how people are trying to understand the crisis through search tools. [Link added to excerpt below.]

On Monday, The U.N. refugee agency, in partnership with Google, launched a new and completely immersive website to help people understand the five most common search queries about Syria and its refugee crisis.

Source: “Searching For Syria” Is Google’s Innovative Response To The Refugee Crisis | GOOD


Source: “Searching For Syria” Is Google’s Innovative Response To The Refugee Crisis | GOOD

Opinion: Europe’s Strict Privacy Rules Are Scary but Right | DigitalNext – AdAge

Here’s a good way to think about privacy legislation: It is an expression of customer concerns, not just regulatory intent. In the U.S., 92 percent of consumers want greater protection for their data — companies often frankly ignore that requirement.

The E.U. and individual European nations have a long history of protecting personal data. It is based on an intimate and painful understanding of what happens when data is abused. People have died because of their data being exposed and abused.

While Apple has ostensibly eschewed collecting data, I think the writer here lionizes Apple despite it’s own use of personal data for its purposes. However, the intention to provide greater choice to consumers over what data will be shared is an important step in the right direction.

As we think about using story to engage and build coalitions of customers, stakeholders, and committed employees, storytellers should respect privacy to enable greater public discourse. As author Timothy Snyder put it in “On Tyranny” when explaining the philosophy of Hannah Arendt: “Totalitarianism removes the difference between private and public not just to make individuals unfree, but also to draw the whole society away from normal politics and toward conspiracy theories.”

If you work in digital media, you need to know that the industry is one year from taking a big step toward Apple’s view. No, this isn’t a case of digital disruption coming (once again) from Silicon Valley. In this case, the seismic shift originates in the European Union. Much of the digital media industry is likely to panic over the coming months. But mark my words: The EU will ultimately lead publishers and advertisers to a better place.

Source: Opinion: Europe’s Strict Privacy Rules Are Scary but Right | DigitalNext – AdAge

Narrative Summit 3: “Stories That Change” – Digital Narrative Alliance Conference June 20, San Francisco

Leading digital storytelling experts to present narrative strategies for business, media and social change.

San Francisco, CA, May 24, 2017 –(PR.com)– The Digital Narrative Alliance(tm) today announced its 2017 Narrative Summit conference “Stories That Change,” to be held on June 20 at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. The event agenda brings together storytelling experts from filmmaking, academia, non-p
rofit organizations and global corporate brands.
“We are thrilled to host Aaron Loeb, an accomplished playwright and game designer, Louie Psihoyos, an Academy-award winning documentary filmmaker, Ann Pendleton-Jullian, Architect, Writer, Educator, and WorldNarrative Summit 3: Builder, and other inspiring industry experts – all on the same stage,” said Dave Toole, Founder and Chairman of DNA. “These practitioners are leaders in their respective fields of storytelling and their combined expertise will provide a unique learning opportunity.” Joining Loeb, Psihoyos and Pendleton-Jullian are “Silicon Valley’s Favorite Adman” Tom Bedecarre, Producer of “An Inconvenient Truth” Scott Burns, Adjunct Professor and veteran business executive Richard Okumoto, Producer of “Stories of the Uninvited” Barry Johnson, renowned dream researcher Dr. Kate Niederhoffer. Event attendees will partake in an interactive improv workshop led by Ricci Victorio, and expert discussions on the experiential aspect of storytelling.The Summit is the 3rd such event produced by the Digital Narrative Alliance and prior events have been referred to as the most selective collection of digital storytelling experts in the Bay Area. Attendees from major leading tech, media and educational organizations are expected to join the discussion on narrative strategy, digital storytelling and methods for implementing change through evolving channels for distracted audiences. As individuals and as organization, we are the story we tell and those who listen recognize the authenticity of our story and how it fits our actions. Past speakers at DNA events include John Hagel, co-chairman for the Deloitte Center for the Edge Innovation, Bill Pruitt, Producer of “The Amazing Race,” “The Apprentice” and “Deadliest Catch” and Jonah Sachs, author of “Winning the Story Wars,” amongst others.”This conference is particularly important as storytelling is the glue that binds society, communities, movements, brands and markets,” said Sourabh Kothari, Director of Narrative Development at DNA. “New narrative models and digital channels challenge storytelling as we know it, and we need experts to help us evolve and cross-pollinate different communication strategies. Our goal is to collect and share such expertise to generate increased interest from business, venture capital and social activists seeking to drive real-world changes through storytelling.”Registration includes admission to all sessions. Breakfast, Lunch, and refreshments during breaks will be provided. Corporate packages are available for a limited number of sponsors.For registration and additional information go to http://narrativealliance.com/stories-that-change/
About the Digital Narrative Alliance
The Digital Narrative Alliance is a collaboration of master storytellers and organizational leaders. DNA members share experience and insights through online and physical gatherings, as well as participating in collaborative and for-profit projects. We create events, research programs and executive experiences that explore narrative’s power to inspire companies, non-profits, and government, as well as individuals who want to change their world. We help leaders understand and use media purposefully.
Media Contact
Mitch Ratcliffe,
Managing Partner, DNA
+1 (253) 229-1948
Florian Brody

Managing Partner, DNA
+1 (408) 728-8681