Story-tellers in the digital society

The heroes of the information society were the engineers, the people who developed new products and researched new technologies, chips and genes. They possessed highly specialised and highly regarded knowledge. Their goal was material growth.

The heroes of the dream society will be the story-tellers. Once, the superior product would be the winner in the marketplace, but technology has advanced to such a degree that all products function to a similar quality. In the dream society, material function will become taken-for-granted, and so decisions will be based on the best story.

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For the digital society we must familiarise ourselves with the craft of story-telling, by knowing the

principles behind good stories, and by using the structure underlying the great stories. We must learn the techniques behind the great myths that have survived for millennia, the folktales that have survived for centuries, and learn from the greatest story-tellers of our own time – those with the largest audiences – Hollywood fiction artists. And remind   STORY-TELLING and legends in primitive societies

Current perspectives on the information society

The fundamental structure of a good story has two universes. First is the Universe of Order, which is peaceful and harmonious, everyday life with no surprises. Second is the Universe of Chaos, which is replete with risk, conflict, insecurity and energy, where we risk death for the possibility of triumph.

The good story – and life itself – unfolds in the interplay between these two universes, as the protagonist journeys from the Universe of Order to the Universe of Chaos and back. If we spend too long in the Universe of Order we get bored. We want something to happen. If we have been in the Universe of Chaos for too long, we grow tired of insecurity and conflict. We desire a return to peace and harmony. The same structure lies behind the way we perceive life in general. That is why stories fascinate us. They resemble life. And that is why they can evoke an emotional response.

The decline of the information society

As the transformation proceeds, agricultural and industrial social forms will not vanish altogether, but a smaller number of workers will be able to produce what we need. Only 2 per cent of Europe’s workforce cultivates and breeds what we eat. Soon, a small percentage will produce our industrial products. Because of automation, older social forms will become increasingly peripheral. Gradually, the functions of information workers will also be automated, to be replaced by the story-teller.

But automation will not turn the digital society into a leisure society, because work for many has become part of their identity, their purpose, and so appeals to their emotional side.

There will be fewer routine, alienating jobs. But since story-telling cannot be automated, unlike the production of goods, the demand for labour will not decrease.

It is possible that the high-tech industrial information society will continue for the next 50 years, and that the emphasis will continue to be on function, products and material aspects. But if material growth continues at the same rate as it has for the past 200 years in the affluent parts of the world, in 50 years we will be 60 to 80 per cent richer than today. It is possible that we could spend this added wealth on more material goods but already there are clear signs that material rationality is waning