Yesterday I gave two ‘interactive sessions’ in probably the most beautiful room I ever worked in. Wall-high Sol LeWitt murals and wide windows with a view over central Leuven formed the backdrop for a lively discussion on digital storytelling in cultural and heritage institutions on occasion of the Mediation in Transition conference in M-Leuven.
To address the most important issue first: there is no such thing as digital storytelling. There’s only storytelling in the digital age, and frankly speaking this isn’t much different from storytelling in the age of hunters, gatherers, dinosaurs and ICQ. This doesn’t mean it cannot be challenging to tell a story people react upon online. On any given moment, hundreds of stories are unfolding around you, on Facebook, Twitter, and in niche social spaces. Many of them are much more interesting than anything a museum can possibly offer, at least, in the right here right now (because Justin Bieber might have really died this time, and you don’t want to be the last person to retweet that, do you?).
So, how do you tell a story in the digital age that stands out, captures people’s attention and gets them to act, engage with your institution?
My favourite story for quite some time now and one I’ve been showing in workshops around the world is the story of the Troy public library. The surprising twists, genuine engagement and originality of the project are a constant source of inspiration for me and I can’t get enough of it, even after having heard and told the story many times.
Not too long ago in a meeting about the new online strategy of the Zeeuws Museum Claudia Urru reminded me of my favourite Spanish word, duende. It’s tricky to translate into English, but duende is the special moment when everything comes together, usually in performing art. To me, it is like magic. It is said a lucky person experiences duende at most a handful of times throughout his or her life.
They say you recognise duende when you experience it.
We talked about duende at the Zeeuws Museum, because I believe a great digital strategy is like magic. In a great digital strategy all the parts fit together perfectly and the sum is more than the parts. People are really involved, audiences engaged, staff energised. All the pieces fit. Amazing things happen.
Together with Jim of Sumo we developed a framework to make the pieces of a digital strategy fit. We call the framework the Digital Engagement Framework and it is meant to help your organisation develop ‘digital magic’. At MuseumNext this week I’ll run a workshop with about 40 people about the framework, taking them through the steps and creating (ideas for) a digital strategy from scratch in under 2 hours.