MY DAUGHTER RECENTLY UPGRADED from the I can’t-believe-you-carry-that-embarrassing-relic iPhone 4 to the new, shiny, I-am-a-respectable-member-of-modern-society iPhone 6. She touched the device and the heavens opened: Streaks of sunlight embraced her from the sky, fireworks erupted in a brilliant ballet and woodland animals gathered nearby to celebrate.
Okay, not really. And by “not really” I mean “not at all.” But to a 16-year-old whose life is defined by 1) good and bad hair days and 2) texting speed, all that stuff might as well have happened.
What did happen, however, was almost as powerful – her eyes lit up and reflected against the larger and more vibrant screen as never before. Tumblr became more immersive; she read news articles far beyond just the headlines. She devoured digital books that she once avoided because her small screen and poor resolution made the text difficult to read.
Most of all, she wanted stories. More stories, better stories – stories that made the finest use of the advanced technology she now held in her hand.
This is our challenge as we enter 2015: Can we create stories that live up to our bigger and better screens?
Stories as “Software”
Phones, tablets, watches, VR headsets – these and more are the hardware of the present and future Digital Age. And the quality, from speed to experience to size and intelligence, is improving at an exponential pace. It’s a beautiful collision between Moore’s Law and human imagination.
Any great piece of computerized hardware, however, also needs great software. This “software” today often takes the form of social media channels, Web sites and mobile applications. These things are wonderful and will continue to evolve.
But it’s not enough. We need great content. We need unforgettable stories.
Stories are the new software. As communicators we need to increase the quality of our content creation and storytelling because our hardware demands it as much as our audiences expect it.
Efforts such as The Vanishing Game from Land Rover; Honda’s The Other Side interactive video experiment; and “Meet Me at Starbucks” are just a few examples of storytelling that push the limits of our technology while bringing us closer to our humanity. Similarly, the quality journalism being published daily by GE, such as on GE Reports and Tumblr, embraces the power of visual content that not only looks amazing on large mobile screens but also tells compelling stories that impress, inform and inspire (disclosure: GE is a client.)
Audio is getting “bigger” too, as demonstrated by the resurgence in Podcasting and programs such as NPR’s Serial. This popular true mystery series is great cerebral theater regardless of technology or medium, though the prevalence of high-end audio built into our standard devices deepens the experience and emotional connection.
It’s true that bigger isn’t always better. But our “better” nevertheless needs to be bigger. Our ideas and the content that flows from them need to rise to the top.
The Internet is endless but there’s no more room for the mediocre. Common content cannot succeed. Let’s create content that matters; let’s tell stories that resonate on a more human level than ever before.
Let’s focus on quality in 2015, on doing not just good work but the best work we’ve ever accomplished. Our screens are waiting.