Week 7: Empathy & Persuasion

This week we shift to ACT03 and begin concluding the course.

Complete and publish your storyworld projects -  due one week from today, on July 26th.



As we exit ACT02 and enter ACT03 we near our course conclusion.  There is still work to be done, but we will reorient a bit and begin to wind-down. The hero's journey is near full-circle.

ACT02 was largely about the vast digital ocean that is the Internet, and the never ending waves of digital stories produced there.  This is water.  For ACT03 I'd like to pivot back to the individual - to you - me - kids - parents - and a particular side-effect, empathy.  I have previously characterized storytelling as a culture machine, but it also be considered an empathy machine. After all, what does story do if not transport us to another place and another perspective?  

This is the silent super power of storytelling.

The mediascape of the Internet is a big hot mess.  The culture machine is spewing information from every perspective all at once, empowering tribes so correlate, and nurturing an ongoing culture war.   It is an ocean of digital stories attempting to sway each if us into agreement.  Storytelling of this sort plays on the implicit bias that is baked into each and every one of us.  It speaks to our subconscious and tugs us in different directions, creating a partisan affect.  That's the bad.

What about the good?

There is good too.  In complete opposition to implicit bias and partisanship, storytelling may also produce empathy.

[em·pa·thy] (n) /ˈempəTHē/ : *the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another *.

So what determines if a story nurtures our empathy or if it nurtures our implicit bias?  

Story transports us into the perspective of others and it has an emotional affect - it tugs at us in ways we can't even articulate.   This is human, and has been with us long before the days of the Internet.  The Internet is neither good nor bad; it is simply an amplifier for society and humanity.  It takes what's in us, and simply multiplies and broadcasts.   This is leveraged in all fields to some extent - politics, social, and commercial.    Advertising has mastered this story arc and the ability to tug and persuade us.

[nos·tal·gia] (n) /näˈstaljə,nəˈstaljə/: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations..

Have you ever seen a commercial that made you cry?

As we enter the final ACT of INTE5340 I'd like to invite you to reflect on your own tribes (family, politics, religion, ethnicity, professions, etc.) and the nostalgia you hold there.  It's precious.  It is also open to manipulation via storytellling... manipulation that is amplified via the Internet.  

Here again, we return to notions of your Natural Default Setting.  Do you recognize the catalogue of stories within you and how they shape you?  Do you tell stories that elicit empathy or do they reinforce bias?  What do you amplify?  

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This Week's Tasks
  1. Read & watch all of the above.  Answer any questions found in the margins.

  2. Read & annotate the following article  with your hypothes.is teams.

    Kocurek, C. A. (2018, December). Walter Benjamin on the video screen: Storytelling and game narratives. In Arts (Vol. 7, No. 4, p. 69). Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.


  3. Collaborate and complete your storyworld project with your team. Do your part. Get it published. Someone from your team should drop a link and a description to your storyworld in the #stories channel by Sunday.

  4. Smile - there is no StoryThing this week. Focus instead on your storyworld projects.

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About Brad Hinson

Teller of stories; drinker of coffee; father of kids; tinkerer of tools; geek. I am an SEHD Assistant Dean, an LDT Instructor, and a ThinqStudio Director @ CU Denver.
  • Denver
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