I think a lot about what makes a compelling story. Why do people listen? Why do people engage? I know the science, sure (see my tweet on Uri Hassan's TED talk) - but how can something like Norway's NRK (basically, the Norwegian Broadcasting Service) multi-day LIVE broadcast of the Hurtigruten - Bergen to Kirkenes - journey (about 3000 km) along the Norwegian coast constitute engaging storytelling? If people are so enraptured (and they were), then perhaps "boring" is better.
But is that really what happened here? No, I don't think so. Sure, there wasn't a lot going on most of the time (it was a lot like taking the trip from your couch), but there was something deeply compelling about the footage - especially when you take into account the number of people watching (in-person and online) and those that took to social media about it. Those were fellow humans out there, and they - indeed, we - were a part of something that was bigger than us all. That is the first thing I thing makes it engaging, and memorable.
The second thing that makes this "slow tv" mode of storytelling particularly powerful is something that the producer, Thomas Hellum, refers only briefly to at the end of his TEDtalk. In his words:
So you have to let the viewers make the stories themselves, and I'll give you an example of that. This is from last summer, and as a TV producer, it's a nice picture, but now you can cut to the next one. But this is Slow TV, so you have to keep this picture until it really starts hurting your stomach, and then you keep it a little bit longer, and when you keep it that long, I'm sure some of you now have noticed the cow. Some of you have seen the flag. Some of you start wondering, is the farmer at home? Has he left? Is he watching the cow? And where is that cow going? So my point is, the longer you keep a picture like this,and we kept it for 10 minutes, you start making the stories in your own head.(http://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_hellum_the_world_s_most_boring_television_and_why_it_s_hilariously_addictive/transcript - found at 16:39)
Inadvertently, then, this type of programming does EXACTLY what daydreaming or reading a good book does - it forces us to engage our minds, to become a part of the creation of the story, and in doing so, makes us into storytellers. We're not bored - we're participating. I like that.
Hello! My name is Donna, and Raconteur is my Studio. Words are my passion - especially beautiful, powerful words, beautifully and powerfully shared. I never planned to be a Spoken Arts instructor, but I was lucky enough to have fallen into the work 23+ years ago - and I have never really looked back.