December 22, 2007

Thought Leadership in Practice: Storyteller.net


Sean Buvala recently asserted Storyteller.net has been around on the Web longer than Google. (To confirm that, I checked via the Internet Archive. Yup, by more than a year!)

Since the very beginning, Storyteller.net has aimed to be a clearinghouse on the Web, a "one stop shopping site" for information about storytelling. But rather than a top-down, "we know best" approach, from the very beginning, the site invited members of the storytelling community to contribute content, share tips, share stories, and spread the word about what they offer. Storyteller.net understands the collaborative nature of the Web, and has since the beginning.

The model works.

You can find more on-the-ground, in-the-field, helpful tips on the storytelling art and business aggregated here than on any other web site, period.

From the beginning, copyright of content submitted by contributors (articles, stories, audio) has remained with the contributor.

From the beginning, Storyteller.net has offered storytellers a web page, so that even the non-tech savvy teller could hang their shingle on the Web. (With a brilliant model for building the site: a storyteller could upgrade their listing on storyteller.net for a modest sum ($25/year) OR by contributing content. I don't know if the economics are working out, but that's a surefire way to build your site content).

They've hosted audio files so that people could hear stories online, and they've done it since 1997! Now, in 2007, that doesn't seem so "different," BUT in the storytelling world, it's far from common. (Whereas it's a no-brainer that any band in the 21st century wanting to have a go in the music industry has their music online so that potential audiences can hear it, the number of storytellers that even attempt this is ridiculously small).

You can quibble with the quality of the advice posted there (same as you can with any user-generated content site), but hey, if you don't like the advice in an article, write your own, and submit it. Odds are Storyteller.net will publish it.

The content on Storyteller.net may not be cutting edge-- it's meant to be more practical than philosophical, more personal than political. But in the storytelling realm, the mere existence of Storyteller.net is cutting edge. Hats off to Sean Buvala for thought leadership in practice.

1 comment:

Sean said...

Thanks for the article, Tim.

On finances: No, it doesn't work out. I lose hundreds of dollars a month on that site along with storytellingproducts.com. That's okay. It moves the art form forward for the future. I am planting seeds of trees under whose shade I will not sit.

There are days that I wish I could move on, add the "Former Executive Director of the National Storyteller.net Organization" to my CV...but my heart would be broken and I would be not fulfulling my mission in life. When tellers get business from our directory (and they do!) and a new audience hears storytelling, then I know I am where I belong.

On Audio: When we started, we were the only ones really doing this. We got UNBELIEVABLE grief about it, too. Long, strong-worded Emails about how this would ruin storytelling and how all these stories would be stolen. I wish I had saved those letters. So, storytellers cowered in fear, hoarding their stories while the world passed us all by and now thinks we are all just quaint little folk artists. Oh, how precious each of us are with our 900 CDs in our collective closets.

NB: Syd puts his whole catalog of audio online and the storytelling world was astounded that storytellers could do such a thing. "Have you heard of this Innerneht thingy-do?"

Okay, well, you and me first were astounded and then some 300 people at the NSN conference for at least 15 minutes. But then the wind shifted and we had to have some story-circles. "Let me tell you how my storytelling makes me feel."

On content: Yes, Storyteller.net is a "everybody in the pool" sort of project. Some brilliance. Some meh. Tons in between. I am honored to have brought so many voices into the conversation.

On cutting edge: Oh, 2008 is finally here. It's coming. Again.