Narrative is natural. Narrative mechanisms, or stories, are so deeply ingrained in human communication that we rarely notice how ubiquitous they are. Streams of events linked by cause-and-effect relationships are how people create meaning from information, and these narratives are the primary way in which people understand their world and process information about it. Communication in other forms, such as data or with isolated facts, is less accessible to people because it requires them to first integrate that information into a narrative. Narratives make genuine understanding easier.
We need ways to make genuine understanding easier. Our information environment has become overwhelming and there is an urgent need for more efficient ways to help people understand their increasingly complex world. The existing digital media environment has generally failed to satisfy this need because it has focused almost entirely on maximizing the quantity of media consumption rather than on maximizing its quality as a sense-making tool. Although there is clear demand for new forms of digital media that deliver efficient understanding, the existing digital media ecosystem has been technologically limited in addressing this by its continued use of a pre-digital unit of production and consumption – isolated, self-contained and disposable documents, or articles. These documents are created and consumed in enormous quantities but without pre-digital editorial coherence, leading to the confusing ‘document chaos’ that characterizes the existing ecosystem. A new approach to digital media founded on connected networks of narratives instead of on isolated documents offers new ways to facilitate understanding and sense-making by media consumers. Narratives are how people naturally comprehend their world, and using narrative technology as the basis of digital media can help to restore the sense-making function of media at digital scale.
StructuredStories’ purpose is to enable digital media that provides more efficient ways for people to understand their world, through structured narrative technologies.