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Getting playful with storytelling

Yesterday was the first time I’ve used Play-Doh in a professional capacity.

Power to the Pixel wish storytelling

Power to the Pixel wish storytelling

After a lot of very serious discussions about transmedia trends, it was time to cap off the first day of the Power to the Pixel conference in London with a session from crossmedia genius Lance Weiler, who was ready to host the world’s largest live story collaboration.
The session was part of the Wish For The Future project, which has been involving children and adults in many cities around the world. The PTTP audience was the largest group to participate at one time. The purpose, Weiler said, was to “look at the idea of purposeful storytelling.” In one hour, the whole audience was going to be involved in a wish-fulfillment storytelling exercise. Weiler got us started by warning: “this could fail miserably.”
The project is about people making wishes which are then granted and have related artifacts created, which are sealed in time capsules for 100 years.
Our first task was to come up with 100 wishes for the world — ranging from the serious (fresh water for everyone) to the absurd (open a cheese shop on the moon.) Special groups were sent off with various tasks, such as elaborating on the wish we’d chosen (to build a time machine), writing a story around that wish (something to do with Aboriginals in Australia) and creating something to go into the time capsule (that picture is some kind of group lessons for humanity going into the capsule). The Play-Doh was employed to build collaborative sculptures of the wish.
To be sure, the hour did have some silly moments (including some kangaroo jokes), but it wasn’t just a bunch of digital geeks pretending they were in kindergarten playing with Play-Doh. As Weiler and collaborator Jorgen van der Sloot of FreedomLab Future Studios noted, the exercise was “a whimsical way to imagine a future state.”  The practices at work included putting time constraints on a project, having people adapt rapidly to change, breaking people into groups to get new perspectives, making it tactile (hello, Play-Doh), plus sharing results. All good things to consider in any collaborative storytelling environment.


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