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Iris Murdoch on Storytelling, Why Art Is Essential for Democracy, and the Key to Good Writing
“A good society contains many different artists doing many different things. A bad society coerces artists because it knows that they can reveal all kinds of truths.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
“Storytelling is a tool for knowing who we are and what we want.” Ursula K. Le Guin
philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch (July 15, 1919–February 8, 1999) — one of the most lucid and luminous minds of the twentieth century — explored in a long, deep, immensely insightful 1977 conversation with the British broadcaster and philosopher Bryan McGee, which aired on McGee’s television series Men of Ideas.
Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature (public library).
the fundamental difference between the function of philosophy and that of art — one being to clarify and concretize, the other to mystify and expand.
A century after Nietzsche examined the power of language to both conceal and reveal truth, and several years before Oliver Sacks’s trailblazing insight into narrative as the pillar of identity, Murdoch considers how we, as storytelling creatures, use language in the parallel arts of literature and living
Hemingway’s admonition against the dangers of ego in creative work. distinguish a recognisable style from a personal presence.
bridging William James’s landmark assertion that “a purely disembodied human emotion is a nonentity” and Tolstoy’s insistence that “emotional infectiousness” is what separates good art from the bad
There is always more bad art around than good art, and more people like bad art than like good art.
James Baldwin wielded the double-edged sword of the artist’s duty to society, Murdoch insists on this largeness: The artist’s duty is to art, to truth-telling in his own medium, the writer’s duty is to produce the best literary work of which he is capable, and he must find out how this can be done.
In consonance with John F. Kennedy’s exhortation to a propaganda-smothered society — “We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
(My note: Lenin – Art is always political. He did not distinguish art and propaganda. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1924-2/socialist-cinema/socialist-cinema-texts/lenin-on-the-most-important-of-the-arts/)
after the teenage Sylvia Plath precociously observed that “once a poem is made available to the public, the right of interpretation belongs to the reader,”Murdoch examines the laboratory for reflection and interpretation
My note: on Sylvia Plath, see Elif Shafak’s Black Milk: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9923549-black-milk
Susan Sontag’s beautiful wisdom on storytelling and what it means to be a moral human being, Murdoch weighs the relationship between morality and truth, as mediated by language
Rebecca West on storytelling as a survival mechanism,
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The Future Of Mobile Web Design: Video Game Design And Storytelling
As attention spans shorten and visitors just want to get to the good stuff on a website, designers have to get more creative in how they communicate their website’s “story.”
By Suzanne Scacca June 25, 2018
What is truly impressive, however, is how we are now able to use design to tell a story. In other words, we no longer need to use long scrolls to set up plots or describe what a company does. This is especially great when designing for the mobile experience, which already sets pretty strict limits on how much we can “tell” versus “show.”
Three Video Game Storytelling Techniques We Need More Of In Web Design
1. Make Your Visitor the Hero
Create User Personas
Develop user personas before you do anything else when strategizing and planning for a website. Your personas should have a key “problem” they face.
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Use Relatable Content
In video game design, there is something known as “ludonarrative dissonance.”
the unpleasant situation where we’re asking players to do something they don’t want to do… or prevent them from doing what they want.
Spin a Fantasy
Here’s an interesting fact: people are 22 times more likely to remember data when it’s presented in a narrative form.
The brain digests visual content 60% more quickly than written content, so your web designs and other visuals (like video, animation, and so on) are the keys to doing this.
The Airbnb blog always does a great job of this type of visual storytelling.
2. Minimize Distractions by Using Symbols
As of August 2017, 52.64% of all visits to websites were done via a smartphone. And, starting in 2017, the most popular size for a smartphonewas between five and six inches and will only continue to grow in popularity as the years go on.
That’s not a lot of space to fill with content for the majority of site visitors, is it?
Functional minimalism is already something you’re doing in your own web design efforts, but have you thought about how it can tie into the storytelling aspect as well?
Here are some ways in which you might use symbols to declutter your site:
- Hamburger icon (for the navigation)
- Profile photo icon (for account details)
- Pencil icon (for an editing interface)
- Gear icon (for settings)
- Shopping cart icon (to checkout)
- Magnifying glass (to expand the search bar)
- Connector icon (to open social sharing and RSS feed options)
- Question mark (to expand live chat, search, or help options)
- And so on.
3. Be Smart About How You Use Space
Use a Spotlight
In video games, you can use light and darkness to draw attention to important pathways. On websites, it’s not always easy to employ the use of lightness or darkness as too-dark of a design or too-light of text could lead to a bad user experience. What you want to do instead is create a “spotlight” of sorts. You can do this by infusing a key area of your design with a dramatic color or a boldly stylized font.
If you’ve ever played a horror video game before, you know how critical the element of sound can be for it.
That said, while you might not be able to direct visitors down the page with the sound of something playing down below, you can use other elements to lead them. For one, you can use interactive elements like animation to draw their attention to where it needs to go.
Employ a Mascot
For some brands, it might make sense to employ the use of an actual mascot to guide visitors through the story.
As attention spans shorten and visitors just want to get to the good stuff on a website, designers have to get more creative in how they communicate their website’s “story.” Ideally, your web design will do more showing of that story instead of telling, which is how video game design tends to succeed in this matter.
Remember: Storytelling isn’t just relegated to big brands that can weave bright and shiny tales about how consumers’ lives were changed with their products. Nor is it just for video game designers that have hours of gameplay to develop for their audiences. A story simply needs to convey to the end-user how their problem can be fixed by your site’s solution. Through subtle design strategies inspired by video game storytelling techniques, you can effectively share and shape your own story.
Online Course | A Thousand Words and a Picture: Storytelling with Data
Part 1: March 13, 2019 | 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET
Part 2: March 20, 2019 | 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET
Part 3: March 27, 2019 | 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET
A picture is worth a thousand words, but developing a data picture worth a thousand words involves careful thought and planning. IT leaders are often in need of sharing their story and vision for the future with campus partners and campus leadership. Delivering this message in a compelling way takes a significant amount of thought and planning. This session will take participants through the process of constructing their story, how to (and how not to) incorporate data and anecdotes effectively, how to design clear data visualizations, and how to present their story with confidence.
During this course, participants will:
- Develop a story that elicits a specific outcome
- Identify and effectively use data elements to support a compelling story
- Learn how to tell your story in a clear and effective way
NOTE: Participants will be asked to complete assignments in between the course segments that support the learning objectives stated below and will receive feedback and constructive critique from course facilitators on how to improve and shape their work.
Leah Lang, Director of Analytics Services, EDUCAUSE
Leah Lang leads EDUCAUSE Analytics Services, a suite of data services, products, and tools that can be used to inform decision-making about IT in higher education. The foundational service in this suite is the EDUCAUSE Core Data Services (CDS), higher education’s comprehensive IT benchmarking data service.
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What’s Going On In Your Child’s Brain When You Read Them A Story?
A newly published study gives some insight into what may be happening inside young children’s brains
“emergent literacy” — the process of learning to read.
“Goldilocks effect,” here’s what the researchers found:
In the audio-only condition (too cold): language networks were activated, but there was less connectivity overall. “There was more evidence the children were straining to understand.”
In the animation condition (too hot): there was a lot of activity in the audio and visual perception networks, but not a lot of connectivity among the various brain networks.
more on storytelling in this IMS blog
Storytelling with Data: An Introduction to Data Visualization
Mar 04 – Mar 31, 2019
Data visualization is about presenting data visually so we can explore and identify patterns in the data, analyze and make sense of those patterns, and communicate our findings. In this course, you will explore those key aspects of data visualization, and then focus on the theories, concepts, and skills related to communicating data in effective, engaging, and accessible ways.
This will be a hands-on, project-based course in which you will apply key data visualization strategies to various data sets to tell specific data stories using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Practice data sets will be provided, or you can utilize your own data sets.
Week 1: Introduction and Tool Setup
Week 2: Cognitive Load and Pre-Attentive Attributes
Week 3: Selecting the Appropriate Visualization Type
Week 4: Data Stories and Context
Upon completion of this course, you will be able to create basic data visualizations that are effective, accessible, and engaging. In support of that primary objective, you will:
- Describe the benefits of data visualization for your professional situation
- Identify opportunities for using data visualization
- Apply visual cues (pre-attentive attributes) appropriately
- Select correct charts/graphs for your data story
- Use appropriate accessibility strategies for data tables
Basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets is required to successfully complete this course. Resources will be included to help you with the basics should you need them, but time spent learning the tools is not included in the estimated time for completing this course.
What are the key takeaways from this course?
- The ability to explain how data visualization is connected to data analytics
- The ability to identify key data visualization theories
- Creating effective and engaging data visualizations
- Applying appropriate accessibility strategies to data visualizations
Who should take this course?
- Instructional designers, faculty, and higher education administrators who need to present data in effective, engaging, and accessible ways will benefit from taking this course
more on digital storytelling in this IMS blog
more on data visualization in this IMS blog
In education, storytelling tools help connect students with curriculum, lead to effective classroom engagement, and drive faculty community-building by empowering educators to connect authentically.
Moth’s Seven Principles of Storytelling: https://www.fastcompany.com/3052152/6-rules-for-great-storytelling-from-a-moth-approved-master-of-the-form
1: MAKE PEOPLE ROOT FOR YOU
2: HAVE A FEW GO-TO STORIES AT THE READY
3: STORIES ARE ABOUT HOW YOU FELT
4: THIS MAY SEEM OBVIOUS, BUT “Stories have a beginning, middle, and an end
5: GOOD STORIES ARE UNIVERSAL
6: DON’T BE BORING
more on storytelling in this IMS blog
we teach digital storytelling: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SCSUDigitalStorytelling/