Storytelling Made Simple

20140709_190258_957-EFFECTSLast year, Gary Vaynerchuk re-popularized the importance of storytelling in a social media-driven world. Lots of people scrambled to figure out how they could improve their storytelling skills, while Google went out and simplified the task.

This year has been my “No Staycation” year, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to get to travel for work to a number of locales. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve brought along my Google Glass and shot photos and video with it. I was determined before I went that I would do some storytelling, but invariably I got home and those pictures sat in memory or in my auto-backup on Google+ waiting to be shared.

Now I’ve long said that Google Hangouts was the killer app for Google+ (and it’s been good to me – I’ve received 8500+ views on my Google Hangouts tutorial, which is woefully out of date). But right now I’m giving some serious love to its upstart cousin – Google Stories.

All those photos backed up from Glass or my Nexus 5 have started begging me to be heard. First I got an Auto-Awesome request to approve the movie on the right. Wow YES! No editing on my part, all I did was auto-backup my photos to Google+ (sharing set to private) and then change the privacy settings on this to take it live.

Then came full on Stories. The first one I published was Minnebar 2014 (a convention for developers, start ups, and tech enthusiasts). It was exciting and simple, so I also went through and published photos from a top agent networking event we had put on at Lambeau Field. All I had to do was add text and decide if Google was right about which images I should use (at least 80% accuracy – kudos to their deep learning system).

People asked me – could this be used by agents for listing presentations? My initial reply was hesitance given the timeliness that requires. When I went on a road trip through southern Minnesota and snapped pictures of the flooding, the story didn’t pop up until a week later.

Wednesday night I went out for a walk with my dog down by the Mississippi river. There are some really scenic views and the water is still up a little, so I brought along Glass and snapped some shots when Cerbie would remain still for a moment. The next morning I woke up and Google had compiled the story for me! I just added some captions and re-chose a couple of pictures, and voila. While not quite real time, this is becoming a very usable tool for purposes like listing presentations.

Of course, my stuff is mostly Google Glass, so if you want a real sense of what Google Stories can do, check out: French Polynesia from High Above {WARNING: there are sharks and crazy Red Bull Junkies}

Gamers and the Social Media Curve

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
William Gibson

Scourge of KaranasTo some degree, the social media revolution was intuitive for me because I had already been through it. An entire sector of the populace had, they just didn’t necessarily make the connection.

What hit mainstream Earth in the late aughts was merely a wave of innovation that had already ravaged Norrath, Azeroth, and the like. Those of us who had spent years hunched over a keyboard chatting with friends from across the world had already developed impressive skills with existing technologies to facilitate better communication in a virtual world.

In MMOs, communications are separated into channels. There are local channels, zone channels, help channels, team channels, and guild level channels. Before Google+ created circles, Everquest and other MMOs were already offering this segmentation to their subscribers.

When I first heard about Twitter, I was instantly reminded of the inanity that was the zone-wide channels where people would incessantly hock their wares, troll for drama, or ask questions in the hopes of finding a mentor. I tended to hide that channel if I could because the chatter was usually worthless and a distraction from what I was usually trying to accomplish on the team or guild level channels where there were people I knew and cared about (sort of like Facebook, only without the pictures and Zynga games). But occasionally, I wouldn’t have an expert available within my core of friends and I would have to wade into those channels to find information.

Outside of the game we would cluster around bulletin boards/forums for the information we needed to achieve our in-game goals. People provided their own take on how to accomplish something, often trying to be the first to discover a new strategy and earn some credibility (my claim to fame: Ring Around the Rosie kiting). Those who posted the most often and with the most insight developed a following not unlike the Klout elite of today – we just never had a score for it.

When you are looking for a solution to a modern problem with social media, consider broadening the scope of your search to Norrath or Azeroth for a solution.