Buzzwords on the 404

Riding high on the Coates-tails of the apolitical tea party, I’ll focus on her idea of innovation in communications.  Innovation is not simply for the biotech labs developing the next energy source, nor is innovation confined to cars, particle colliders, plant genetics or ice cream.

“Innovation” as a word is threatening to attain dreaded buzzword status.  The frightful cliché.  Talk about beating a dead horse.

(For more on clichés, see this fun poem.)

Innovation – and I’ll continue to use it despite its headlong progress into banality – does represent a powerful concept that can be applied to storytelling.  Yes!  A story.

Most people assume that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

As Coach Ray would say, “If you assume, it makes an ass of you and me.” Get the picture?

Those people would be correct on the lowest substratum.  BME is a fair model, but it’s equivalent to Henry Ford believing people only wanted their cars in black.  A story can be told in such an abundance of styles and interpretations: creative, non-clichéd, bursting-with-color-and-life art.

“I can only see black, white, and the occasional gray,” you say?

A few examples:

— An ultimate personality feature from Northwestern’s Medill J-School.

— Look in your wallet or purse.  Do you have a business card?

— Internet errors find moments of glory in the 404 page.

— An actual story (!) from Mizzou’s Vox magazine.

Audio slideshows are overrated.  Try kinetic typography.

• A classic speech from “Network.”

Abbott & Costello are legendary.

Complicated events can be simplified with a picture or graphic:

•  Geography of a Recession

Interactive Deepwater Disaster

Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan Map

Matt Thompson synthesized these ideas concisely while he was a fellow at RJI.  “Are we using 1,000 words where a picture should be?”

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