Storytelling: swimming with the tide

I found Laurel Richardson’s (1990) monograph yesterday. I was sorting through some books at home, thinking about storytelling. And there she was … Writing Strategies: Reaching Diverse Audiences.
Laurel was writing long before the appearance of weblogs and certainly a very long time before vlogging. The conclusion to her monograph connects the world she experienced and the emergence of reaching diverse audiences through the Web.

If we wish to understand the deepest and most universal of human experiences, if we wish our work to be faithful to the lived experiences of people, if we wish for a union between poetics and science, if we wish to reach a variety of readers, or if we wish to use our privileges and skills to empower the people we study, then we need to foreground, not suppress, the narrative within the human sciences.

Her final sentence is:

How and for whom we write lives matters.

I agree that how we write matters and that we have a real sense of our implied readers. For some time now, I have been blogging as my main way of communicating. It works wonderfully in a rural environment with relatively limited access to broadband connectivity.
This week two separate blogging connections added to my thinking about audiences.
The first was the announcement of the winners of the 2015 Football Blogging Awards. I liked the double awards in each category: fans’ choice and judges’ choice.
I have been thinking about developing  a short, open course on storytelling in sport. A key part of that process for me would be to use football blogs as the illustration of storytelling approaches. The awards have accelerated my interest
The list of Award winners can be found here.
The finalists are listed here.
The second, was finding Simon Duffin‘s blog about ocean pools in NSW. Simon moved to Australia from Scotland in 2014.

The great thing about living on the NSW coast is that there are over 100 tidal baths, rock pools or ocean baths, and I imagine even in the depths of an Australian winter, the water temperatures will be warmer than what we experienced off the coast at Wick in north east Scotland.
So, I couldn’t resist the challenge of swimming in all those NSW tidal baths and recording both my own experience and that of others I meet along the way.

I was delighted to read Simon’s posts. I had written about Wylie’s in Coogee, one of the beautiful ocean pools in NSW.
Simon combines his interests in ocean pool swimming with his knowledge of tea and coffee. Each pool review has a link to local cafes.
Finding both blogging alerts this week added to my thinking about visual literacy. There were lots of other blog posts too to send me off on delightful trips of the imagination.
Four years after Laurel’s monograph was published, I attended a Commonwealth and Scientific Conference in Victoria, British Columbia. My report to my line managers did not have the eloquence of Laurel’s concluding sentiments but it did include this observation:

I do feel that the ongoing inclusion of the Institute in a world system of scholarship requires a creative use of information networks. Many delegates actively use E-mail to share research and ideas. I think we must do this and recommend that E-mail and Internet use be an urgent theme for staff development.

From that time on, I was keen to be an early adopter of educational technology opportunities to share experience and to explore story sharing. I have used a variety of blogging platforms since the early 2000s. My first was a GeoCities site. I settled on WirdPress in 2008 as my main platform but have continued to explore a range of options since then.
Back in 1994 my approach was swimming against the tide of conventional practice, I am delighted that twenty years on I appear to be swimming with the tide … in the company of remarkable writers.
It is even possible to mention poetics!

Photo Credits

Keith Lyons (CC BY 4.0)



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