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The Medium is the Story

  • Until the middle of the 20th century an author/artist would learn the available tools and then use them for the rest of her/his life.
  • In the 21st century a wealth of tools are available to author content and to create art, and new tools appear all the time and the existing tools change all the time. Even if you stick to the same tools, new releases appear all the time, and typically they require relearning even the most basic functions. Many of these tools are incompatible between each other. Many of them create content in proprietary formats that may or may not have a long lifespan. The proliferation of tools has accelerated with the advent of smartphone "apps": hundreds of them provide the same service, but each is slightly different, and picking the "best" one requires a lengthy study.
  • The tools to capture, author, edit and publish content are meant to empower ordinary people to express themselves.
  • However, when tools change over a person's lifetime, and they change so quickly, one has to spend more time learning new tools and how to express her/himself with those tools and therefore has less time to express her/himself with such new tools.
  • The divide between the "haves" and the "have nots" now lies in the technological skills, not in the financial means. It used to be that only people supported by church, state, aristocracy, wealthy benefactors or companies could express themselves. Now that so many tools are available and many of them are free what is required is technological savvy.
  • You can be fooled into thinking that a plethora of authoring tools has make it easier to express yourself over, say, the age of the diary, but the truth might be that you are simply becoming a "user" of tools, as opposed to a writer, and probably a test bench for the tool's creators to refine the tool (an endless process that typically continues until the tool is made obsolete by a new generation of tools).
  • The story that you set out to tell may get lost in the excitement of being enabled by tools to tell a story in sophisticated manners.
  • Tools designed to enhance creativity may end up depressing it: in the age of Leonardo or Goethe or Mann one did not have to waste days trying to decide with gadget to use, and which apps to download, and then to learn how to use them, and then to write to customer support when something doesn't work, and then to download updates, etc. In those days one would learn a tool as a child and use it until death. Time was used to write the stories, not to learn storytelling tools.