Is having a compelling and well told story not enough anymore?

Is a compelling story not enough anymore?

Is a compelling story not enough anymore?

As human beings with millennia of oral tradition behind us we have a thirst for a good story.  But we must distinguish between what a story is and how you tell it.

I am an exhibit designer and builder with over 20 years experience.  I consider myself to be first a story teller.  I rely on my clients to write the actual story that we are going to tell.  Sure, I can help with that, but the techniques and nuances of telling that story in a physical space are what I do best.  If I have a compelling story then the telling is easy.  The best thing that I can do is put that story at the center of the exhibit and get out of the way.  What I don’t want to do is to let the story be diminished in any way by the telling.

If a story isn’t particularly compelling the tendency is to “Jazz” it up.  Frequently that involves bringing in some new and exciting piece of  technology that will help engage patrons.  But in doing so we have only treated the symptom.  We are left with a story that still needs work and a piece of technology that, while new and cool, cannot overcome a weak story.  Rather than spend the money and time on the telling, we should have spent it on the story itself.

You need only to head to your local library on a Saturday afternoon to see how simple story telling can be engaging to an audience.  A book, a chair, and a real human telling a good story.  Sometimes that is all that is needed.

So what does this have to do with a 4-D movie experience?  I found myself asking some questions after reading this article. Has cinema reached the point where it can’t compete with other media without these types of “enhancements”?  Are museum exhibits in the same boat?  Do we need to design our exhibits in this type of additive fashion?  Is having a compelling and well told story not enough anymore?

I for one do not think so. The human experience is one of stories heard, told and shared.  We need this by our nature and by the experience of untold generations.  Stories define us and I don’t care how compellingly we tell a story, if the story isn’t good enough by itself, then telling it louder or shinier won’t fix it.

What do you think?