The fusion of tech and storytelling – the FoST conference

Last week concluded an interesting conference/symposium called the “Future of StoryTelling (FoST)”.  True to their name, it focused on the emerging trends in technology and communications that will shape how we tell stories in the digital age.

It’s an invite-only event, and although Vignette was fortunate to receive an invitation, we were unable to attend this year.  However, Ali Ustunang, a friend of Vignette’s in Istanbul, and a forward thinker in storytelling, was able to go.  I sat down with him recently to pick his brain about the best he saw at this year’s FoST.

The rise of immersive storytelling

“For me this year was a quantum jump, because it is the coming of age of all these new technologies, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, 360, etc.,” said Ustunang.

Even though many of these technologies and approaches are still in their infancy, he said he was impressed by their potential. “How are we going to use it to tell stories going forward and to reach out to people?” he asked. “There is a basic belief that through good storytelling you can change the world”.  

A different approach to community knowledge sharing

FoST is pretty unique compared to other conferences. Instead of just a massive gathering, they break everyone down to thirty different roundtables, fostering personal interaction and discussion.  You can watch a little bit about how that plays out here:

Each attendee can participate in up to six roundtables. Ustunang found it challenging to select his favorites from the thirty options after watching all of the 3-4 minute summary videos of each speaker. “It took me two days,” he said. “Two full days. It’s so intense.”

The stories at FoST

FoST offered many gems this year. Here are a few Ustanag liked best:

  • Minority Report roundtable – He was in a group with the designers of the the 2002 film, and learned how they identified trends to be able to predict future technologies like E Ink and self-driving cars years before they emerged in the public sphere.
  • VR – He explored countless VR stories, including a new public festival they put on this year, which everyone could buy tickets to, or take part in a free community day.
  • Talking to a humanoid – And he even had a discussion with an AI robot, where changes in Ustunang’s facial expressions influenced the story direction.

Final takeaway

After several days of roundtables, and going to the public storytelling festival, Ustunang said his main takeaway was that he started to understand the depth of what storytelling really means. “But I’m just skimming the surface.” he said. I think there is a lot of potential for companies and human beings to change the future with storytelling. To change your own future or change the future of a company or change the future outcomes of the earth.”

By Matt Ford

Matt is an avid experimenter of new forms of visual storytelling. He worked as a multimedia journalist for The Associated Press covering the 2008 U.S. presidential election, the Arab uprisings, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Before journalism, Matt worked in the Los Angeles film industry as a set and studio lighting technician on productions such as Spiderman 2 and The West Wing.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.