The Need for Storytelling Skills

Daniel Pink in “A Whole New Mind” describes how the need for storytelling skills in the information age has increased.

As information and

facts are  ubiquitous, nearly free and available at the speed of light […] What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.

Jason Ohler, in his book “Digital Storytelling in the Classroom“, talks about how stories

help us remember important information that might be forgotten if it’s delivered to us in the form of reports, lectures, or isolated bits of information.

Ohler sees storytelling as an information organizer.

we desperately need tools to navigate and coordinate the immense amount of information available to us.

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Pink and Ohler are not the only ones putting information abundance and storytelling together.

Bernajean Porter in her book Digitales- The Art of Telling Digital Stories writes:

Artificial intelligence research is showing that the more people are buried in the mind-numbing avalanche of today’s information, the greater the importance of stories in making sense of the endless pieces of data. While storytelling does not replace analytical thinking, good stories do provide an essential process for conveying information in an easily absorbed form.
There is increasing urgency to develop communication skills that translate raw information into valuable knowledge for ourselves as well as others. Discovering the personal meanings of topics or events helps us create memory, meaning and understanding of the data and complexity in our lives.

ISTE SIG group for Digital Storytelling.

The more people are buried in the mind-numbing avalanche of today’s information, the greater the importance of stories in making sense of the endless pieces of data. It is the act of telling our personal story – of creating an emotional connection to information and experiences – sharing in story form what we know and understand from an event or topic that provides a “sense-making” process enabling our brains to organize a myriad of factoids.


Image by Will Lion

If we look at the above image that visualizes a quote from Mitchell Kapor:

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.

It is easy to understand that we need to find a tool that allows us to channel the water, a tool that prevents us to waste all that precious water that is being squandered and not to be blown away by the pressure.

What if the skill of storytelling  can be the tool that helps us organize, remember and connect facts from the ocean of information that is coming out of that fire hydrant?

  1. There is more INFORMATION out there than ever before in human history. We (and our students) need to learn how to find, evaluate and make sense out of all this information that we are bombarded with through many types of different media.
  2. WHAT HAPPENS when we have obtained this/these  information/facts? What do we do with it? How will we remember? How will we archive for future retrieval?
    It is precisely THAT ability (organize/connect/remix/create) that we need to foster in ourselves and our students . The ability to put these facts in context. The amount of facts alone (without context)  just overwhelms us.
  3. Storytelling (putting information in a narrative context) might be the answer to our need to make sense of this vast information that is available to us anytime, anywhere and anyhow.

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