Human & AI Powered Creativity in Storytelling from TOA Berlin 2017

I already wrote about TOA Berlin and the different satellite events I also took part in. I remember how tired I was getting to Berlin late and then being on stage early doors with the multiple changes on public transport, I should have just taken a cab really.

No idea what was up with my voice, but it certainly sounds a little odd.

Anyhow lots of interesting ideas were bunched into the slide deck, and certainly caused a number of long conversations afterwards.

Join us in exploring object-based media making tools


Like visual perceptive media? Like the concept of perceptive radio, like the javascript libraries we have put out in a open and public way? We want you to come on board and join us…!

We (BBC R&D) have been exploring the new reality of creating object based media through a range of prototypes. I have been exploring the implicit uses of data and sensors to change the objects; or as we started calling it a while ago Perceptive Media.

The big issue is to realisticily create and author these new types of stories, requires a lot of technical knowledge and doesn’t easily seat in the standard content creation workflow, or does it? We want to bring together people in a workshop format to explore the potential of creating accessible tools for authors and producers. Ultimately seeding a community of practice, through open experimentation learning from each other.

The core of the workshop will focus on the question…

Is it desirable and feasible for the community of technical developers and media explorers to build an open set of tools for use by storytellers and producers?

During the backdrop of the International Sheffield Documentary Festival the workshop on Monday 13th June will bring together, and are putting out a call for interested parties to work together with the aim of understanding how to develop tools which can benefit storytellers, designers, producers and developers.

We are calling for people, universities, startups, hackers and companies with a serious interest in opening up this area; to reach out and join us. Apply for a ticket and we will be in touch.

Where Storytelling and Internet of Things cross over

If you know anything about the kind of work I’ve been researching for R&D. You may know Perceptive Media is big deal in my world and as my motto seems to be, my world is not mainstream yet. However this world crosses over with a couple other areas. Internet of Things, Quantified Self and Object media are a few of the obvious ones, which come to mind.

Tomorrow I’m fortunate enough to take part in another one of the Future of Storytelling weekly hangouts. I took part in one a while ago but I regularly watch on Wednesdays (1730 GMT) before heading to Volleyball. Make sure you tune into the hangout

 join us this Wednesday, March 12, as we explore “the story of things” with Alexis Lloyd, the Creative Director of the New York Times’s Research and Development Lab. The “Internet of Things,” has ushered us into an age where physical objects have the potential to talk to us – and each other – in a way that rapidly transforms our most basic understanding of what gadgets are.  Llloyd, informed in part by her background designing immersive and exploratory experiences, believes these “enchanted objects” have within them a world of narrative and poetic potential: The R+D lab exists as a laboratory for the staff of the “Grey Lady” to study the implications of these emerging technologies and behaviors on news-media and print. In the hangout she, alongside an audience of industry experts, will explore the storytelling potential of tools and devices as unassuming as a simple bathroom mirror.

The video sums it up well and gets right into the depths of storytelling and the Internet of things. It begs the question, what would objects around you say if they could talk?

Love what Alexis is doing and who knows what might happen in the future? Sure Perceptive Publishing would be right up their avenue? And some of the guys from the NYtimes office came to Hackday and Mashed back in the day… I wonder what they would make of some more of the object things were up to?

Perceptive learning resources

Future of StoryTelling

For the last few Wednesdays I have been watching the Future of StoryTelling hangouts online. I first heard about them from Matt Locke and Frank Rose last year when I gatecrashed a planned hangout with Perceptive Radio.

The Future of StoryTelling speaker Hangout series continues on Wednesday, January 15th, with a discussion about interactive gaming, and how great entertainment can transport you from your daily life and immerse you in another world.

You can watch the whole thing here on youtube. and last weeks with Google creative labs Robert Wong. This weeks Including my question which is based off my noticing, interaction and narrative keeps getting thrown around together when they are quite different things.

The guest this week was Microsoft’s Shannon Loftis, General Manager at Xbox Entertainment Studios. She said a lot of things I agreed with but switching narrative for interactive, paused me to think about the origins of Perceptive Media.

I’m not going to say Games and interactive experiences are not storytelling. I would be very wrong, but what I’m surprised at is Microsoft have this amazing device with cutting edge sensors and they sound like they are doing some perception. But they are only using it for Games? Shannon even talks about the golden age of Television then slides off into Games again.

Real shame…

Anyway there was a question asking about what this all can mean for children. Most of the guests give some answers which I couldn’t disagree with but Charles Melcher (founder of future of storytelling) jumps in with something quite profound.

I clipped it and put it on Archive.org but its something I’ve been thinking about since the early days of perceptive media.

The beauty of media which adapts, responds or as I prefer preconceives the audience and the context. Is it can unfold one way and unfold another way for someone else. Like Charles, I’m dyslexic and sometimes just can’t get my head around learning resources which are written for a majority of people.

I understand why its been that way. The cost of creating multiple versions of a learning resource is going to be a bad idea from a resourcing idea. But that only applies if you build your resources in a solid non-flexible way (like a blob) your going to run into the same problem described.  However if you have something more fluid (generative) or object based you can change aspects on the fly.

Simple example, a Book (any book) vs a Ereader (like a Kindle). I’m sure I’ve talked about this before but line lengths is a common issue with people who are dyslexic. We tend to loose what line we’re on for a split second.

I can reshape the lines lengths to make it more readable for myself (thats interactive). An Ereader with sensors could follow my eyes patterns and reshape the line lengths and fonts to give me the best reading experience (now thats perceptive). This all works because the text is digital and therefore an object which can be manipulated.

Back to Charles, a resource which can be manipulated by a person is good but one which can be manipulated by a process of data and sensors is even better (if they are working to aid you). Combining/aggregating resources together gets you to a position where you can weave a story together. I won’t bore you with my campfire == perceptive media equals and this is what humans do thoughts. But I do feel this is the future of storytelling. Charles vision is achievable and its something I’d love to talk to BBC Learning about in more depth.

I’ll be honest and say not only has this one got me writing but I also started writing after hearing Robert Wong talking last week about leadership and inspiring people.

Imagine Vanilla Sky on Perceptive Media

There is an example of Perceptive Media which I like to use. Its a bit of a messy example because I’m usually trying to avoid spoiling the plot of Vanilla Sky or Open your eyes. I used it at TedXBristol, to explain why perceptive media can be so incredible. Of course there is spoilers below.

I remember when I watched Vanilla Sky for the first time, there was a scene which seemed to give me chills or something like a deja vu. I felt like I knew the scene so well, like I’d been there or seen it before. How is this possible? A film I’ve never seen before and a place I’ve never been before? Well in the film you are led to believe they are using parts of Tom Cruises memory to make him feel comfortable with whats going on.

One such scene is a image from his memory. An image of the Bob Dylan album – Free wheelin.

That image comes from flicking through my fathers LP collection when young. I’m not even sure if he still has it or not but something somewhere in my brain is that image. When I saw that image again build up in a similar way, something triggered my brains pulses to say you have seen this before. I call it a deja vu but I’m not certain what it is. Something pulled that image out of my memory and front and center in my mind.

There is something about Vanilla Sky and ultimately Open your eyes which seems to trigger memories beyond just mine.

It was amazing to hear Jason Silva on London Real talking about Vanilla Sky. Although Jason is an excitable character, his observations about storytelling and the affect of the movie is spot on.

Great storyteller can do amazing things.

They craft magic, the surreal and the impossible in our minds through simply words, images or sound. They weave a world which is for a brief moment believable.

Its a little bit of cold reading, great communication skills, excellent storytelling and a number of other things. Perceptive Media enables the great storytellers to do what they do best but on a broadcast sized audience.

Storytelling from Thinking Digital 2013’s stage

Ian on Stage at Thinking Digital

Thanks to Documentally for the picture

Thinking Digital 2013 for me started on Monday with a lovely dinner with a number of other people in Newcastle. I find its always worth booking in and getting to Newcastle/Gateshead a day early so your not flapping around and carrying luggage. But this time I specially need the time to make sure Perceptive Radio was fine. Anyway at the dinner I met quite a few people including Aral, Aza and others.

The next day I spent most of the morning making sure Perceptive Media was working as it should. Surprisingly it everything worked as it should and brushed up on my presentation before heading to the Thinking Digital workshop Harnessing the power of story

Great leaders beginning with the Alexander the Great, have long known the emotional power of story in helping engage people behind a cause or a company. Today more than ever in our chaotic world of information overload, facts are not enough.  We want something that’s meaningful, a message that is compelling and memorable. Similarly, understanding our own story helps us to relate to others and the world around us, to understand how we can contribute and what drives us beyond a paycheque.

The course was fully booked and seemed to be filling up with even more people.

Mari talked about the hero’s journey in some depth and at the end split the group up into 3. Those wanting to exploit stories in presentations, those who wanted to use stories to get a better grip of there careers anwent for the d those wanting to better their lives. I originally signed up for the first and through the process of the hero’s story decided actually I’d like to see how this could help my career but by the decision point decided actually I’ll see what if anything this could do for my life.

I found the whole thing really interesting but the details I’m not going to reveal in my blog sorry… There was something very strange about the instructor. She seemed to know everything about me, I couldn’t work it out. Had she gleamed all this from our brief chat on the phone and by googling me? If so I’ve been far too public 🙂

Later it turns out that I did know her but hadn’t recognised her till she wore her glasses… I say this because it slightly freaked me out. But only slightly… By Wednesday I was running on adrenaline and you needed to be for the 7am start.

I love Thinking digital except this time I missed most of Wednesday preparing for my time on stage with manager Adrian. If it was just 5min talk it would be fine but doing a couple of workshops in lunch with something your not certain will work as expected was scary.

You know how they say don’t work with young children or animals? Can I add robots and machines to the mix. The biggest problem I had was the wifi which required you to press I accept to get online. How do you do this on a device which has no screen at all? On top of that each client was isolated on the network, so you couldn’t ssh, rdp, vnc, or anything into another machine. This made setting up the radio for the environment very tricky (to be honest I was tearing my hair out by 9:30pm)

Anyway I solved the problem and I decided the wifi leases were maybe long enough to allow me to take the radio offline. So I did and during the talk on stage I did the grand reveal of the perceptive radio. After the grand reveal and Adrian finishing up, I didn’t have the heart to grab it in the middle of Maggie Philbins talk, so shes got it on the counter while she talks about Tomorrows World. Ironic don’t you see…

After the talks, I took the Radio downstairs for the public demos. There were only meant to be 2 but due to demand we stretched it to 3. Anyway I can happily say they all went extremely well, with me showing some of the basic functionality and of course playing the whole Breaking Out play. Questions were well received and lots were new to do with the radio. Just enough adrenaline to do an audioboo with Documentally.

Perceptive Radio and Me

You don’t want to miss the Audioboo Documentally recorded after I finished the workshops, to be fair I sound knackered but it still came across well. Cheers for the photo too 🙂

I won’t lie, once my commitments were fore-filled and alittlebit had gotten me a very lunch (bless her motherhen reactions), I crashed as the last of the adrenaline left my body. The live lounge was my paradise for the next 20mins (dark with a projection of what was happening next door) while I caught up with some nap time. Kate assure me I wasn’t making a sound, so thats great. That power nap really did something to me and I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.

A virtual roundtable about Immersive Storytelling

I recently had the absolute pleasure of talking about the Future of StoryTelling (FoST) on a virtual roundtable with Frank Rose author of The art of immersion, Susan Bonds of 42 Entertainment and Matt Locke of Storythings.

Matt Locke had re-tweeted about it and I was thinking to myself, now thats a line up I’d love to be part of. Knowing Matt, I suggested I would love join the panel and talk about Perceptive Media’s Radio. After a few emails back and forth, I was on and I waited for 5:30pm GMT to join the panel.

The rest was captured on the Google Hangout, as you can see above. So great I could take part and not only that but throw something very new into the mix.

A Perceptive on storytelling

As most of you know BBC R&D have a demo of Perceptive Media which we’ve shown a few places including the EBU in Copenhagen. Its been a hidden gem for a long while and its been amazing to see what people have had to say about the concept of perceptive media. Specially liked the two Brits sitting on the sofa talking about it.

We’re really hoping as many people will enjoy it and give their honest feedback to us (good and bad). But its not just the individual  feedback we would like to research, its the interconnected stories of how people tell others about it and how they explain it to each other…

How memes spread has always been high on my list of loves and to be honest should be high on the BBC’s research lists (if its not already?) In actual fact there is something about how memes spread and attribution which I think is very interesting and could be a new business model into the future.

Anyway… expect much more about Perceptive Media on the BBC R&D blog this month. In actual fact if you want to be first hear it and respond directly to people behind it like myself, the script writer, actress, coders, etc… Then you should make your way to the next Social Media Manchester.

I was reading about the domino effect on my Kindle via Instapaper the other day on the London Tube prompted after reading this tearjerker story. This bit really got into stuck in my throat, further proving that I’m just a sucker and massive romantic…

At the end was this bit…

Here’s the power of a story: someone hands me one, like a gift (I imagine it wrapped in shiny paper with the bow, the handmade letterpress card, the whole nine yards), and in that gift, I find parts of myself that have been missing, parts of our world that I never imagined, and aspects of this life that I’m challenged to further examine. Then—and this is the important part, the money shot, if you will—I take that gift and share it. In my own writing, sure, but the kind of sharing I’m talking about here is the domino effect: how I hear/watch/read a story, and then tell everybody and their mother about it, and then they tell everybody and their mother, and somewhere in that long line of people is someone who, at this exact point in their life, needed its message more than we’ll ever know.

The power of a story indeed…

You could look at this as a example of why Perceptive media isn’t going to work but actually I disagree. Someone (out there) has written a story which perfectly suits the medium but they don’t know it yet.

Everything you know about transmedia storytelling is wrong

I’m glad Dan Hon created this and the follow up presentation, unfortunately I can’t believe it took me 2 years to see this presentation. I totally agree with the points made in the presentation. Transmedia storytelling to date has been pretty lazy affairs. I’m wondering where the blockage is… beyond the notion that people don’t get it. Its a whole new world and personally I feel there no frameworks to support this new kind of storytelling. Someone should do something about that…