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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Storytelling with Data: An Introduction to Data Visualization
Mar 04 – Mar 31, 2019
Delivery Mode : Asynchronous Workshop Levels : Beginner,Intermediate Eligible for Online Teaching Certificate elective : No
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
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
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
the trending but undefined concepts of digital storytelling and immersive learning
Storytelling is a logical form of thought. It is an analytical process including perception, labeling, organizing, categorizing real and imaginary objects and their real and imaginary relations in speech.
Q: What do you think immersive documentation technologies such as 360 images and videos can bring to this process?
V: 360 degree media and virtual reality are cultural-historically developed tools that mediate our relationship to the world in a new way. They expand the possible fields of perception transcending space and time. Perception precedes other psychological functions.
Immersive storytelling can be understood as an activity through which students use language to visualize relations and meaning in 360 degree digital environments. Naming or describing relations between objects in our field of perception using verbal or visual language awakens intellectual processes fundamental to learning.
Q: Would you say immersive storytelling is a form of creative play?
V: That is a possible interpretation. Play is a psychological process through which we create an imaginary situation or place, reflecting or separating objects and their actual meaning, or creating new meanings. The ability to digitally create and modify situations and environments can be understood as a form of play, opening a realm of spontaneity and freedom, connected with pleasure.
Q: Can robots help us learn? Is AI already the More Knowledgeable Other?
V: The More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) refers to anyone or anything who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept. If a robot with artificial intelligence can function as an MKO and support our problem solving, it can expand our Zone of Proximal Development.
Juxtapose JS from Knight Lab is a free tool for making and hosting side-by-side comparisons of images. The tool was designed to help people see before and after views of a location, a building, a person, or anything else that changes appearance over time. Juxtapose JS will let you put the images into a slider frame that you can embed into a webpage where viewers can use the slider to reveal more or less of one of the images.
Storyline JS is one of the newer Knight Lab offerings. This beta product is designed to help students tell stories with data. The basic purpose of Storyline JS is to help students can create interactive line graphs. Students add annotations to the data points their line graphs. Those annotations are used to tell the story of the data represented in the graph.
Scene VR is another beta product from Knight Lab. The purpose of Scene VR is to enable users to stitch together panoramic images and VR images to create an immersive photo story. Stories published through Scene VR can be embedded into websites and viewed on desktop computers as well as on tablets and mobile phones.
If you want to embed audio into a written story, Soundcite JS is the tool for you. Soundcite JS lets you add audio clips to a written story. When Soundcite JS is properly used, a play button appears where you specify in the text. For example, if I wrote a story that included a scene in which a dog barks, I could have “the dog barks at the stranger” be highlighted with a play button that when clicked plays the sound of a dog barking.
StoryMap JS lets you combine elements of timelines and maps to create mapped stories. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text. As you scroll through your story there are simple transitions between each slide. StoryMap JS integrates with your Google Drive account. To get started with StoryMap JS you have to grant it access to your Google Drive account. StoryMap JS will create a folder in your Google Drive account where all of your storymap projects will be saved. With StoryMap JS connected to your Google Drive account you will be able to pull images from your Google Drive account to use in your StoryMap JS projects. Here’s a good tutorial video made by Jan Serie Center’s Digital Liberal Arts initiative at Macalester College.