Storytelling Platforms? A Priority Misplaced

March 17, 2014

Sharing a story on the web these days is super uncontrollable LOLZ. We’ve got all these new-fangled tools, each with only minor differences to the other, that make filling the internet with more stuff as easy as polishing off an entire tube of Jaffa cakes.

Want to see a bunch of code while you write? Try Ghost. Want to see a big-ass map to pinpoint your photos and text? Try Maptia. Want to read listicles on Buzzfeed but feel too pretentious to do so? Hit up Medium.

It’s all so incredibly utopian, publishing in this day and age. There’s a platform for everything imaginable.

But, when all is said and done, and every new start-up is funded, isn’t there one crucial matter at stake here? The quality of the storytelling itself?

Look around and you’ll see that most of what’s surfacing on today’s web is produced by artless morons. Morons dependent on the dumbing down of culture. Morons who think that rock, paper, scissors and getting slapped in the face is an interesting tale of Tolstoyian proportions.

Quite frankly it’s depressing these people have an audience in the first place. That they can make a decent living off silly stunts or pictures of politicians in wellington boots. All that just makes me want to go live in a cave.

Giving them one more platform to broadcast such inanity? Hardly seems worth the effort to me.


Sure, I know the cool thing these days is to attach yourself to a start-up. And, just like you, I too went down that route (albeit a few years ago). The amazing thing is though, I think, is how bright creative people are so keen to attach themselves to a product or service geared toward putting more meaningless shit out into the world. It’s like they’re casting aside their idealistic “let’s make the world a better place” spirit. Only to replace it with a “let’s look like we’re making the world a better place but really just helping fill it with more noise and distraction” addendum.

Instead of developing storytelling platforms themselves then, wouldn’t it be better if these people focused on developing better stories? Or teaching users how to do the same? Or taking the energy spent on code to instead focus on the classics, the key narratives that have penetrated the public consciousness for centuries? Somehow infusing that ethos, of sharing the vulnerable human spirit, and the poetic nature of life, inside these platforms themselves?

Heaven knows the web would be a more interesting place. With just a little bit more concentration on craft, narrative and substance I might feel like using it again. Like it’s worth paying attention to.

Right now I just gravitate to more high-brow pockets.The ones that go beyond the superficial. Such is the ugly juggernaut that is the mainstream.

Isn’t it time we reclaim YouTube from stupid little kids and infuse it with story arcs that transcend fart jokes, video game commentaries and other baseless shit that gets people subscribing in hordes?

It seems the trick is, that before any of this can change, we must first remind content consumers that things don’t have to be this way. That there is stuff out there that can indeed help shape your life better than an article on business made quirky by the insertion of tales about your dog.

Perhaps I’m just banging a tired old drum here. The one of an elitist high-brow consumer versus the popular mainstream consensus. Perhaps there’s nothing to do but submit to the fact that most people are idiots who want and enjoy idiotic things. I don’t know.

But I do think things could be a lot better. That instead of focusing on giving more voice and opportunity for shitty content to take-over the world, we’d be better off stripping things back a bit. On attempting to better the quality.

Futile dreaming? Possibly.

Still, I’d rather dream in my head than live in the reality that is Instagram.

2 Comments

  1. James Clark says:

    While I’m in favour of improving site design (have a look on wayback machine to see how far we have come) I agree that a shiny platform isn’t going to improve the content.

    This article is also worth a read on the topic:
    http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2014/03/27/against-beautiful-journalism/

  2. Me says:

    Beautifully and simply written- very moving- I feel the force!