I conclude Chapter 19 Storytelling as Common Denominator of my Storyteller Uprising book with this:
I highlighted those four words in the preceding paragraph – “entrepreneurship,” “innovation,” “community,” “story” – as I see them as the core elements that all communicators must now draw upon if they wish to engage with trust and persuasion in this noisy, chaotic digital age. Indeed, we call those elements the “Four Peaks” of the curricular focus of our Master of Communication in Digital Media program at the University of Washington. They imply the creation and curation of compelling stories in partnership with communities of interest, as we avail ourselves of connective technologies that by their very nature subvert our ability to entirely control the process. This brings both risk and opportunity, which we must manage on an ongoing basis if we are to achieve our stated Return on Investment in this communicative interaction. It all begins with getting someone’s attention; it lives on through a sustained level of multi-platform engagement.
My recent UWTV interview with filmmakers Lynn Shelton and Matt Vancil (which you can watch in the embedded YouTube video above) strikes at the heart of these Four Peaks: entrepreneurial content creators who use innovative techniques and technologies to make films with, for, and resourced by their communities. We described the episode this way:
Despite all the remarkable advances we’ve seen in digital technology over the last couple of decades, content creators still see story as the most immersive platform of them all. Digital media has merely extended the power of narrative to the interactive space, particularly through gaming. This episode of Media Space aims to mine this particularly rich mother lode for the Pacific Northwest — as a center for both film and interactive entertainment. We’ll convene leading practitioners on how story is now just the starting point, as these innovative content creators use it to weave whole new worlds online and offline.
It’s something we do especially well in this region of Cascadia (Whistler to Eugene, Aberdeen to Boise), perhaps because of our unique Wild West business mentality tied to our collaborative spirit of making things happen. It’s what sets us apart from other media and technology centers in the northeast USA and southern California. There may be a “Media Capital” and an “Entertainment Capital.” But our blend of artistic creation, technology, community and start-up acumen creates something entirely different: a “Storytelling Capital.” It’s my personal ambition to grow this idea through Four Peaks — you can read more about it in the most recent issue of Seattle Magazine in Seattle’s Idea-sharing Explosion.