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The way that I do it is stories, telling stories that move you from thought leadership to action leadership. The right story can change mindset. The right story can inspire. 

Cristina Jones

Cristina Jones's Chief Engagement Officer weighs in on the power of listening to your audience, using storytelling for good, and why action leadership is the new thought leadership. 
Third Rail Projects
Partners Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett share their insights on caring for the audience, incubating new work, and intimacy versus scale.
The World’s Smartest Artificial Intelligence Just Made Its First Magazine Cover
// Cosmopolitan
Artist Karen X. Cheng (a past FoST presenter) gave an AI called DALLE-2 a text prompt: “wide-angle shot from below of a female astronaut with an athletic feminine body walking with swagger toward camera on Mars in an infinite universe, synthwave digital art.” OpenAI’s latest creation took the text directions and generated this month’s cover image of Cosmopolitan, in stunning fidelity. DALLE-2 is radically more advanced than its predecessor: the AI can now export images at a more substantial 1024x1024 resolution (4x higher than V1), enable “outpainting“ to extend the dimensions, and better understand the relationship between objects—allowing for increasingly realistic images and scenes. DALL-E and other image-generating AIs like Midjourney remain in a “preview“ phase right now, being released to just a thousand users a week as engineers work out issues—as small as blurry/abstract sections, or as large as potential racial biases. Architectural renderings, abstract art, VR environment designs, composited photographs, AR filters, and more are being quickly generated (within 15 seconds), but OpenAI has no plans to rush a public release of this both delicate and powerful technology. This month we saw glimpses of a technology that promises to be a “creative copilot” for artists and storytellers—a tool to reshape how we design, sketch, render, storyboard, and so much more. As the AI continues to improve, its implications are similar to that of deepfake and AI technologies writ-large: how can we distinguish the real from the digitally generated? Read more about DALL-E 2 here, and in the meantime: experiment with a lite version of DALLE using this tool.
Why Marketers Are Missing Worlds of Content that People Want — and How to Change That
// Think with Google

Google Creative Works director Ben Jones has observed a phenomenon in video content: the two most popular video formats are A) long-form, high-budget streaming series and B) super-short, creator-producer projects for small screens. So for marketers, Jones‘s advice is simple: go short for brand awareness or go long for storytelling, but don't stay in the middle. YouTube has capitalized on this insight: its Shorts product has logged 1.5B monthly viewers as of June—gaining the edge on TikTok in this Goliath vs. Goliath battle. Ben Jones echoes Cristina Jones’s podcast insights (above) and Spotify’s design strategy (below)—know what your audience wants, and deliver them what is personally relevant in targeted and specific campaigns.
Barry Lopez on Storytelling and His Advice on the Three Steps to Becoming a Writer
// The Marginalian

“Storytelling is the shape we give to our longing to comprehend and connect with the world,” writes Maria Popova. In this installment of her newsletter, Popova muses on the power and secret of storytelling—exploring the craft through the lens of Barry Lopez’s essay collection About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory. Lopez describes how stories “offer patterns of sound and association, of event and image. Suspended as listeners and readers in these patterns, we might reimagine our lives.” As always, Popova’s incisive commentary weaves together complementary ideas, directing us down the hyperlinked rabbit hole of storytelling wisdom by the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin, James Baldwin, Rachel Carson, Anton Chekhov, and more. 
Spotify's Embodiment of Emotional Design
// Raw Studio

Spotify users—more than 182 million premium subscribers worldwide—know that the app‘s design is singular, seamless, and seductive. It stands out among the app landscape, where most products churn within 90 days of use due to disengagement. In Raw Studio’s telling, “Emotional Design” is the secret to Spotify’s success. This design approach emphasizes personalization, visceral feeling, experiential ease, and shareability. Each user is treated as one-of-a-kind, and every interaction reinforces their individuality. And yet apps like Spotify don’t keep users trapped in algorithmic boxes; instead, the platform organically offers what might be most relevant, while opening the entire library for user exploration. A critical part of this framework is Reflective Design, which “considers the rationalization and intellectualization of a product. Can I tell a story about it? Does it appeal to my self-image, to my pride?” To this end, Spotify’s annual “Wrapped” offering leaves users with an authentic, personal summary of their listening habits, transforming a user’s experience of an app into a story that deserves to be told.

 FoST friends at The Moth have released a new book: How to Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from The Moth. The volume draws on 25 years of experience and learnings from The Moth's storytelling experts like Catherine Burns (listen to her FoST podcast interview here).

 A Strange Loop, a play about a black, queer writer created by Michael R. Jackson, won two Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical. The show is produced by a team including Barbara Whitman and FoST friend Benj Pasek.

 Community member Dario Calmese spoke about “Designing for Liberation” at this year's SXSW—this fascinating talk about his work and the Institute for Black Imagination is now accessible to the public.
Our collaborators at Local Projects have joined the design team for the new Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center in New York. For more on the future of museums, watch Founder/Chief Creative Officer Jake Barton’s recent keynote address about his company’s approach to building innovative experiences.

FoST presenter Eli Pariser’s New_ Public organization, which studies digital public spaces, released “The Trust Issue“ of its magazine. The new edition includes long-form stories exploring blockchain, machine learning, queer spaces, New Zealand’s digital governance, and more.

 Greg Lombardo, Head of Live Experiences for Netflix and FoST presenter, was featured in a New York Times story about the fabulous new Stranger Things Experience—located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Want to join a dynamic, creative team that is inventing the future of storytelling? FoST is currently seeking applicants for two roles:

Multimedia Producer (Films / Podcast / Websites)
Curator and Experiential Producer (Events)  

Find more info here.

Below, find a list of some of the storytelling experiences and events we recommend this month. Shoot us an email if you come across anything that should be included next month!

Walk Greenwich Village to the Beat of Samuel Beckett
Pan Pan Theatre has reimagined CascandoBeckett’s 1963 radio play, as an absorbing experience in which the audience is part of the spectacle. Attired in dark cloaks and given headphones, audiences are guided through Greenwich Village on this rhythmic, immersive, group walk. It is a riveting yet broken tale of a man hopelessly trying to finish a story—and you can find tickets to the intimate performances until July 3.

Play The Last Clockwinder on Meta Quest 2
This month, Pontoco released an interactive story and puzzle game for your Meta Quest 2 VR headset: The Last Clockwinder is earning rave reviews for its open-ended gameplay and audio-visual environment design. The project is defined by its narrative through-line, which adds complex character dynamics and first-person perspective to motivate the gameplay. Purchase and play the game here.

Watch President Zelensky’s Speech in Augmented Reality
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Europe’s top tech entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate leaders this month via 3D volumetric video. Powered by Evercoast’s capture technology, and deployable via WebAR, this project enables you to bring Zelensky into your home as a life-sized hologram. The volumetric speech is part of an effort to compel the world’s most influential innovators to donate financial and technological resources to the digital transformation and rebuilding of Ukraine. Activate the Zelensky speech by scanning the QR code at this link

Piece Together The Nest in Los Angeles
A woman named Josie has recently passed away, leaving behind a storage room filled with decades of collected memories and cryptic secrets. Remnants of her entire life are all here in one place, left for you to discover. The Nest is an intimate, live experience for up to two guests at a time, combining elements of immersive theater, narrative video games, serialized podcasts, and escape rooms into a new way to experience a story. Booking through August 13.

Browse 111 Queer Books to Celebrate Pride 2022
The team at Lit Hub reached out to some of their favorite librarians, booksellers, and authors and asked them about the queer books they find themselves recommending over and over again—the ones that no library would be complete without. Find your next great read here.
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Send us your good news, calls for submissions, humble brags, shout-outs, and more at
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