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From the Media Age to the Liquid Storytelling Age – The long version

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Sharing stories is an irrepressible urge for mankind for the very good reasons explained in the previous section.

For centuries in the pre-industrial society people has been the main medium to propagate stories. Books, frescoes, sculptures carried maybe the stories worth to make the history, but they were negligible when it comes to numbers.

Everything changed with the advent of the Industrial Age. Mass-market distribution rules: it’s all about making people consume stories in big numbers during a short time-frame as any other packaged product. Storytelling becomes media-driven: only stories most fitting for distribution formats are told. In the Early Media-Age each channel is a silo: television, cinema, books and even the internet of its beginnings do not communicate with each other. The different industries are separated and in competition each other: a story produced as a movie for cinema is not going to be found on other media. There is a big effort to conquer audience to a specific medium at a specific time. Television is by far the big winner: hundred million people’s “natural” behavior becomes to sit down in front of tv screen when their day is ending.

In the Late Media-Age cross-media storytelling emerges as unrelated stories are delivered at the same time on different channels, loosely linking them together under the same brand/franchise. A few examples: C.S.I., Matrix, Spiderman. It optimizes marketing dollars as companies once working on different industries merge and consolidate. However, the separation between producer, distributor and consumer is still total. The main challenge is still to win the attention of enough people belonging to the desired market segment at a given time of the day. The advent of the video-recorder starts to challenge this status-quo.

When the Internet becomes a social phenomenon, the storytelling industry is ripe for disruption. People becomes increasingly used to access content when and where they want, not at the given time and place dictated by the Majors’ needs. The entertainment industry tries to adapt by developing transmedia storytelling franchises, where reciprocally enriching stories are delivered through different channels. Consumer can choose different paths in each story-world. This way a limited interaction with producers is introduced, but this relationship is still heavily asimmetric as the distribution and the business model have not changed for real. The core effort is to try to find new ways to keep the same degree of control over consumer behavior. Apple and Amazon have been very good at seeing the potential for improvement of the industrial distribution model in the Internet-powered world, but as a whole this effort is falling very short: all the traditional media-centric companies are losing customers. The loss are dramatic when one looks at the younger generations.

The new frontier of business is for people-centric companies like Facebook or Twitter: it’s all about empowering people to share stories. Everyone is a storyteller: producer, distributor and consumer at the same time. Everyone learns new stories, blends them with his own stories, and shares them with his circle. Stories behave like a fluid: each storyteller creates an interference and bounces a new and slightly different wave.

So in this new age, focus is no longer on delivering stories as a closed package through a channel to consumer, but it is on providing services to people to help them manage the storytelling process. Once again the crowd is the only real medium as it was before the advent of the Industrial Society.

The king format of the Liquid Storytelling Age is the Story-World.

From the Media Age to the Liquid Storytelling Age – The short version

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Since the dawn of humankind remarkable stories have always traveled by word of mouth and changed along their way to final destination, adapting themselves to the places they visited. Sometimes stories traveled for thousand miles that way, like the ones along the markets of the Silk Road from Venice to China, for example. Then the Industrial Revolution came: mass market distribution became king and its rules transformed stories into packages to deliver most efficiently. The mantra became to be able to deliver millions of copies of the same story to people in a very short interval of time and packaging them in a way that makes the most efficient use of the scarcest and priciest resources: shelves and logistic assets. It was the advent of the Media Age of Storytelling.

The Internet challenged, and still challenges, this model and the entertainment industry keeps working on adaptive solutions, like the Cross-media Storytelling and the Transmedia Storytelling. Anyway, Internet brings word of mouth back with a vengeance. Stories propagate once again in a natural way like waves through people. We are living the dawn of the Liquid Storytelling Age. As of today the entertainment industry keeps working on building always better pipes to deliver liquid stories according the same business model of the packaged ones, but a completely different business model is possible. Interestingly, liquid storytelling gives back a very important feature to market squares: they are places where people meet to exchange not only goods, but news and ideas again.

A tentative definition of Museater

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According to Wikipedia’s definition a museum is:

”an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary”

and, theatre or theater is:

”is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art and stagecraft are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience”.

Sometimes in the future our goal is to read on Wikipedia a definition like the following one:

”A *museater* is an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of stories (storyworld) of scientific, artistic, cultural or historical importance, helps people to experience them in contexts where their educational and emotional impact is maximised, and facilitates their re-use and diffusion”.

To understand the above definition it is important to be aware of the central role of stories in human being’s life and to be introduced to the key concepts of Liquid Storytelling.

Museater Manifesto

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Making of Museater Manifesto

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