January 30, 2008

Breaking the Eggs: We're Live!

Welcome, new readers.

Wondering where to get started? Blogs always have the latest posts on top, so, while you can read from "now" and work your way back, here are some posts to get you started:

What is Breaking the Eggs?

Where are the Thought Leaders in Storytelling?

and, for those who prefer wisdom wrapped up in metaphor, here's a story.


January 28, 2008

Thought Leader: Rachel Hedman

Voice-- A Storyteller's Lifestyle is the blog of Utah storyteller Rachel Hedman.

While nominally a blog with practical tips and insight into the nuts and bolts of storytelling, ranging from story crafting exercises to microphone technique to room presentation, Rachel also tackles larger issues in the storytelling community, such as diversity, technology, or the "generation gap." It's clear from her regular and varied postings that she is passionate not only about storytelling but about the storytelling movement.

Whether she means to or not, by virtue of her age (she's twentysomething), her blog provides the storytelling community a window into the concerns and the opinions of the up and coming generation of storytellers... especially in regards to how the storytelling community can best welcome and embrace generational change.

Rachel also posts like clockwork: twice a month, usually on the 1st and 15th, which usually provokes me into paroxysms of panic that I'm posting too infrequently.

I'm really glad she's contributing to the discussion of where the American storytelling revival is going and what it's doing. I don't always agree with her analysis and proposed solutions, but that's precisely why I'm compelled to read her blog... to consider another viewpoint on an issue I'm also passionate about. And I'm sure that her blogging will continue to inspire and challenge me.

January 27, 2008

Tim Ereneta, National Storytelling Network Directory

Technical bugs were worked out, apparently, although if you visit the NSN Teller Directory you can't find my page yet. I have to wait for a human being to approve my content before the page is included in the "Search" function.

But I paid for a page that I could update anytime (in fact, part of the purchase stipulates that I, as the purchases, am responsible for keeping it up to date).

So rather than wait for approval, I'm announcing that my NSN Directory page is live. Here it is: link.

January 17, 2008

Caveat Emptor: National Storytelling Network Directory Listing

There are two online storytelling directories out there.
For years, I have used the one on Storyteller.net.
It's gotten me business, it's a bargain, and it's easy to use.

The other one, at the National Storytelling Network's Storynet.org is not a bargain. Or wasn't, until recently. In what I presume is a need for a fast influx of cash, the last quarter of 2007 introduced a fire sale and dropped the price below Storyteller.net's Premium option. I bought one, partly because it makes business sense, but frankly, also out of a charitable impulse, since the Executive Director put out a call to "help out" the organization.

Caveat emptor.

I purchased a page in the NSN Directory in December with the understanding that the site would not go live until January. When I made the purchase, it was explictly stated that I could modify and update my listing in December but it would not go live.
After five business days without a word from NSN (save for my receipt saying that I would receive my purchase withing two business days), I complained to both Board and Staff at NSN. I did not expect a response, as I knew the office was shut for the Christmas holidays. But someone at customer support picked up my complaint, and promptly changed the NSN web site to say that you could purchase a listing in December, and wait until January to modify and update it. I also received an email saying that I would have to wait until January to modify and update it.

On Dec. 28 I got the go ahead to create my listing. On Dec. 30 I logged in to play around with it. There was not any guidance on how the page would be formatted or any allowable html, so I cut and pasted some dummy text to try it out.

Jan. 2 I got an email from NSN who were surprised to find my directory listing in Latin. (I wasn't surprised, I had entered it in Latin.)

So I spent nearly an hour on Jan. 2 re-doing my entry in English... I would enter data, and then preview the page, but when I tried to correct my entry, the site usually discarded everything I had entered. After my third time, I figured out I needed to save first, and then attempt further editing. I did, even got a confirmation that I had updated my page.

And I waited for my page to go live. This week, I searched, it wasn't there. So I logged in... my page was back in Latin. It had reverted back to an earlier iteration that NSN was loathe to publish.

For the life of me, I don't understand WHY the National Storytelling Network has to have a live human being review my page before I publish it.

The whole point of the Directory re-launch, I had thought, was that "the new Teller Pages allows storytellers to manage and maintain their own page."

Apparently not storytellers who use Firefox as a browser.

And apparently "manage and maintain" means "with the approval of one of our staff members."

Is NSN worried that someone is going to enter a naughty word or an inappropriate photo?

I could see that happening on a free site (although, looking at Storyteller.net, I don't see that it does), but who is going to pay for a directory listing in order to hack the directory?

(Hmmm. A disgruntled customer might....)

FYI: on Storyteller.net, when you make a change on your page, it appears instantly (well, as long as you refresh your browser/reload the page). No one has to "approve" my changes.

Here's a tip for both storytelling directories out there:
You need disclaimers on them. Like the one here.

January 06, 2008

Applied Wisdom: The Storyteller and Listener Online

Holly Stevens' blog, The Storyteller and Listener Online, is subtitled "essays on the role of narrative and story in peacemaking, healing, bridge building and reconciliation."

Her blog's milieu is applied storytelling, that is, storytelling and the use of story in the service of a larger goal.

It is also unique in that Holly prefers to act as a behind the scenes editor. Most of the content on the site is not her own words. Yet her vision and voice shine through. Since 2005, Holly has been inviting story practicioners to share their experiences from the field. The collection of voices has been astounding. From all over the world, contributors have shared their experiences of using storytelling to bring communities together, to come to terms with illness, with grief, with addiction, with recovery, with incarceration, with reconciliation, with isolation. Her quest to seek out these people and invite them to share their stories has been a personal passion of hers, but also a gift to the world.

For performance storytellers like myself (whose main focus is the performing arts), The Storyteller and Listener Online provides a welcome window into an active and engaged part of the storytelling community.

Reading these essays serve as a reminder of the potency of story, the possibilities that art offers in healing body and soul, and the diversity of fields in which storytelling has found a niche.

And occasionally, the essays even offer a shot across the bow of the entire storytelling community (performers and producers included): check out this spirited panel of six contributors (in a Q&A format) discuss on the role of storytelling in community development. In a posting from October 2007, panelists Andre Heuer, Laura Simms, Brian Herod, Arlene Goldbard, Paul Conway, and Katrice Horsley discuss pertinent topics such as: what is storytelling? what are people's perceptions of storytelling? what are the self-imposed limits the storytelling community has created and accepted? what is the impact of storytelling and what are the limits to this impact? does contemporary storytelling need to be re-invented?

This essay alone could generate enough blog discussion to fuel a year's worth of postings here. (And if things get slow, I think I'll come back here to find some provocation to get me going....)

January 02, 2008

Thought Leader: Limor Shiponi

Back in July 2007, I was bemoaning the fact that the storytelling community did not have a "lively agora," a place online to generate the kind of conversational buzz the same way a conference could.

I made this complaint on an email list which once, a decade ago, could have laid claim to such a description, but which has since happily slid into irrelevance.

Little did I know that others peeking at the list would take my complaint as a call to action.

Limor Shiponi, a storyteller, musician, and professional life coach in Israel, quickly set up her own blog, aptly titled "Limor's Storytelling Agora."

Since then, she's not only shared tips and tricks of storytelling, but used her blog to generate conversation. One area of interest of hers is the role of narrative in video games-- an industry still in its infancy which desperately needs to understand the role of storytelling.

Limor hasn't posted anything recently. Go back and look at her past postings. What do you think of her coaching tips? Her exercises for understanding the connection between folktales and personal tales? Do you agree with her assessments on the role of narrative? On the primacy of orality in the storytelling act? Leave her a comment... see if that will get her posting again.