“ We are the storytelling animal. ” — Salman Rushdie
My earliest memory, like so many of us, is of stories that were read out to me. We humans are storytellers. All our knowledge is in the form of stories told and re-told in countless ways. We started with cave paintings and telling stories around fire. Epics have been passed on to generations just through word of mouth passing along with them myriad traditions, customs and mythology.Cave Painting depicting the Indian epic Mahabharata
THE EVOLUTION OF STORYTELLING
A still from the movie Avatar. 3D Technology is changing the way we tell stories.
“Words are air, breath and sound wrapped around ideas” — Anonymous
The written word is still perhaps the simplest yet the most powerful way of telling stories. However, in the past 100 years technology has enabled new forms of storytelling such as photography, videos, films, 3D technology, maps. In the past 20 years we have witnessed how internet has accelerated the pace of storytelling even further by allowing sharing and re-sharing of stories, and hence knowledge, at an astounding pace.
So what is the future of storytelling? To re-imagine the art of storytelling we have to explore newer mediums that can capture the essence better. Maybe we have to look beyond the internet? Or create new ways of storytelling on the internet? Storytelling must be an extension of a human’s memories and experiences. The process of converting thoughts into stories must be seamless.
IMAGINING THE FUTURE
“One of the greatest mistakes people believe is that technology changes the essence of the audience, because it doesn’t. It changes the way they participate.” — Brian Seth Hurst
Different people have opined on the future of storytelling. I am merely recounting some well known science fiction ideas and adding some ideas that have crossed my mind, on occasions, in the form of small brainwaves:
1. Perpetual life recorders: Imagine everything you saw, heard or imagined could be recorded on a small device in real time and edited and played back. But how would this recorded data be edited and finally presented to others? None of our story telling mediums have the ability to present such information even if it could be recorded. A star trek like holo-deck virtual reality device might be the only way such a story can be re-told or edited.
2. You are in the story: In traditional story-telling mediums we imagine the story, the storyteller and the audience as three distinct elements. Imagine yourself as part of the story — as a character of your choice. Living their lives and understanding their motives. This theme has already been explored in science fiction innumerable times with movies such as ‘Totall Recall’ and ‘Truman Show’ (although in a slightly different way).
3. Characters that converse: What if you could ask your character a question and they could answer it? Building such characters that understand the context of the story and the context of the question requires significant artificial intelligence. In case of a non-fictional story or lets say a travel story this would involve pre-recorded information by the author or a medium of instantaneous communication between the author and the reader.
4. Smell and touch your stories: Our storytelling experience is limited by the fact that while all our senses are used in creating a memory, we can’t use some of them while re-telling these memories in the form of stories. Our sense of Touch and smell deeply affect how we store and recall memories. If we could incorporate these into our storytelling as well the effect would be profoundly different.
A small, yet important segment of storytelling is – travel storytelling. The most vivid memories are created while traveling and yet it is so difficult to re-count travel stories. How can we capture the millions of fascinating travel stories that are being created every year by real travelers? Are photographs, words, maps or even videos sufficient to re-tell a travel story? Why does it always seem paler compared to our actual experience? We set out seeking answers to these questions and launched Tripoto.
TRIPOTO AND THE ART OF TRAVEL STORY-TELLING
Travel stories on Tripoto
“Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” — Ibn Battuta
Tripoto is a place to share and discover amazing trips and travel stories. While listening to countless enchanting stories of travelers we realized the need for a platform that allows these stories to reach far and wide. With our immense love for travelers we have handcrafted Tripoto. A few nuggets of wisdom we have stumbled on along the way:
- A travel story should help the readers re-create the travel experience for themselves if they so desire. Words have to be integrated with maps, videos, directions etc to help the traveler. Travel inspiration must be supplemented with travel information.
- The personality of the traveler (author) is as important as the story. The reader wants to establishes a direct connect with the author.
- Photo-sharing — the most popular format of sharing travel content is an incomplete form of travel storytelling. It generates wanderlust but no way to satisfy it.
- Travel storytelling should be able to express the grandeur of the emotion and feelings of the traveler as closely as possible for the reader. The reader should feel as if they are actually travelling with the author while they read the author’s story.
While some of this may seemingly obvious — its not easy to build something that captures the poetry and grandeur of travel and yet conveys useful information to the reader. It has been difficult trying to balance the needs of different kinds of travel writers, storytellers and readers. While some prefer pictures, others need a map and some can’t do without written text. Balancing the different needs of the creators and the readers has also been a challenge.
Our focus for now is to make travel stories more readable. A travel blog written in a free wheeling way sometimes serves the writer more than the reader. In our opinion every travel story created must be read, re-read and used by at least a 1000 travelers. To enable this we are building powerful search and discovery and a concise and easily consumable format of a story. For now we have chosen an itinerary format to display the travel stories. We showcase the journey of the traveler through images, stories and maps in a structure that is easily usable. The author is as prominent as the story and we let the readers connect with the author easily. In the near future we will try to incorporate more ‘poetic’ elements into itineraries thus more closely resembling the memories of a traveler.
Our vision is to create a platform that enables travel storytelling for everyone — Travelers, bloggers, Independent Guides and even small businesses trying to sell experiential holidays. The stories should do justice to the memories created or promised. — Michael Lyngdoh, Co-founder, Tripoto
While we have achieved much since our product launch in October, a lot still needs to be done. Well, all great things have small beginnings they say. How will we enable all travel storytellers to create something as beautiful as their memories and ideas? A lot of fascinating answers await us. At the intersection of technology, creativity, language and art we shall hopefully find new solutions emerging.