Digital Storytelling

Exploring what makes a good story in a modern age

It’s undeniable that digital technology is changing the way we live and consume media. With every new invention, the death of the old is announced. Cinema was going to kill off theatre, TV do away with cinema, the internet destroy TV, and as for books, well they've been on death row for 100 years or more! But the truth is never that clear cut is it? Each platform offers us a different experience, the points where they don't overlap or conflict.

“Has the art of what makes a good story changed significantly?”

The same zeitgeisty comments are often made about storytelling, that in the age of digital distraction the art of storytelling is changing. Sure, digital tools give us a different lens to experience stories through, but has the art of what makes a good story changed that significantly?

We often have cause to explore these questions when developing our ideas and creative strategies, and at various times have had the opportunity to listen to seasoned writers tell us what they think the secret ingredients of great stories are. The points that keep recurring are about how great stories connect with emotional truths, and are often about overcoming and resolving conflict. These stories explore action and consequence, and always keep the audience one step behind wanting more. Importantly, the best stories channel empathy, and create room for the audience to put themselves into the narrative.

“The fabric that connects human minds to a story remains unchanged.”

All of these ideas are fundamental principles that have underpinned great storytelling for centuries from campfire, to page, to multiplex. The technology to deliver those stories may have changed but the fabric that connects human minds to the story remains unchanged. Interesting lessons to inform how we might best develop engaging digital experiences.

Perhaps once this phase of digital technology has outgrown using book and magazine metaphors and realised that 'interactive' doesn't necessarily mean that content always needs to be interrupted, played with and prodded we might begin to see more examples of emotional digital storytelling that make us laugh, cry and reflect on what it is to be human.


Jon Humphreys

Date published

01 February 2014