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Optimisation And Storytelling

I was reminded of a Dave Winer quote about advertising recently:

“Advertising will get more and more targeted until it disappears, because perfectly targeted advertising is just information. There’s little point in saying something until the time is right, then you just have to say it once, and the idea takes over and does all the work.”

What reminded me was reading Andy's post, sparked by Stephen Wolfram's description of his new "computational knowledge engine" (which launches today). Says Andy:

"Optimisation scares me when it sacrifices meaning. I'm all for better, faster ways of doing things, but we are at risk of losing context. And context is everything."

It's a good point. Optimisation is a great digital model. It capitalises on what the internet delivers in spades – data. Ever more sophisticated technologies that use interaction, behavioural, cookie based, social or other data to increase the efficiency of delivery until a piece of communication becomes so relevant that, as Dave says, it just becomes information. It's a gloriously attractive idea.

Digital storytelling is as much about curation as it is creation. As much about starting stories as it is about finishing them. As much about being incomplete and imperfect as it is about being polished and finished. I'm all for efficiency. But a scenario where everything is optimised to within an inch of it's life leaves little room for the kind of storytelling that can not only surprise, but genuinely delight. My hope is that in the rush toward efficiency we don't lose sight of the power of a great story. As Gavin has said:

'A good story connects us with the emotion of life. Or as Kafka wrote, it is “the axe for the frozen sea inside us”'

2 responses to “Optimisation And Storytelling”

  1. andy Avatar

    Here, here.
    On imperfect and unfinished, you might like this too:

  2. andy Avatar

    Here, here.
    On imperfect and unfinished, you might like this too:

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