How Storytellers transformed the psyche of Athens

The people of Greece were always telling stories. And these stories were everywhere – on TV, in cafes, in magazines, in books, in schools, in offices, on the Internet. As usual, the country was going through heavy political and economic turmoil. Strange groups called the Fire Nuclei and Golden Dawn were at war, while people from all nations watched the center of Athens become a crucible of fire and smoke and the smashing of marble slabs by hammer and fist. The sophisticated members of Athenian society were increasingly moving their money, homes and families to London, Vancouver, New York, Dubai and further afield. The middle class was shrinking and the poor were out in the streets. Even as the violence found momentum amidst global market upheaval, a core group of committed storytellers in the universities and cafes found their legs. They began experimenting with the effect of story upon society. Some even became interested in trying their hand at changing events through the application of storytelling techniques.

The concept that set the imagination of these storytellers on fire was a simple term: context. The storytellers realized they could place stories in specific contexts and drastically change the participants within that context in short periods of time. Through simple A-B testing, the storytellers tried various methods of influencing perception of groups within Athenian society simply with well-wrought digital stories. Word spread amongst Masters level and even University level students as to the potency of story in changing the day-to-day headlines and events in the city of Athens. A network of storytelling “cabals” arose quickly in the Athenian underground. Each had its goal, its desired outcome. Every group had its specific root or history and its specific parea to exert an effect upon. Wild excitement grew amongst these storytellers upon seeing the power of their tales. All over Athens, in the cafes, universities, workplaces, the youth and young workers were increasingly active online and offline and telling one another fantastic tales. The wave of storytelling reached a fever pitch.

The storytellers were also interested in finding a way to make money and build lives from their stories alone. And this began with education. It became not only fashionable but downright normal and a convention that the youth trained in digital storytelling as a basis of communication. The types of media involved in digital storytelling – graphic, motion graphic, video, animation, text, photo, and audio – became incredibly popular courses of study. The universities and media agencies of Athens all began selling courses and extra-curricular courses in this area. From the heads of Communications Departments to the managers of television stations, the trend grew. Vendors of software related to the types of media used in digital storytelling offered cut-rate deals to students and the sale of computers and software skyrocketed. In addition, many start-ups were founded in Athens related to the various types of media used in digital storytelling. When people around the world talked about the power of digital storytelling to change a society, they always referred to the Athens example from 2013-2017.

Now there were two types of schools of thought related to digital storytelling in Athens. One focused on recording events and putting an emphasis upon these events. And the other was focused on live interaction with physical events. But it was a third school of thought that really captured the imagination of Athenian youth: fiction that creates new realities. In this third school of thought, the storytellers would think up a story that showed what they wanted to happen and then they would design a timeline of content AND context in order to bring this story to life in the physical realm. Although traditional news had focused on reporting real-time events and interpreting these events in light of specific political and philosophical ideologies, this new approach openly celebrated the power of story to shape events. The idea was criticized heavily and then accepted universally as repeated good results were shown.

This third approach to communications had a simple mechanism or function: a digital storyteller would write a story and create an editorial calendar for posting snippets of the story into specific contexts. The goal was to take control of that context through the various elements used AND the personalities conscripted to participate. In every case, a very clear outcome was written in an executive summary. The stories always had alternative paths built into the mechanism in anticipation of specific reactions by members of specific contexts. The approach had such an effective outcome for the students and staff working together that the form took off like wildfire in Athens. The model is what we formally call Dynamic/Active in formal digital storytelling, where user action foments additional dynamic content action.

As a result of this bias towards Dynamic/Active action in digital storytelling circles, storytellers became highly interested in psychology. Gaining an understanding of the psychologies of specific Athenian contexts, i.e.- pareas, became a major focus on the digital storytelling curriculum in Athens. A group of researchers mapped the current “ethos” of every known parea, small and large, in Athens, along with every sub-culture in the city. The map grew into a living infographic, which digital storytellers attempted to alter through their tales. It was this living infographic that caught the attention of the global media establishment and the world at large. And it is this living infographic that is really the starting point of our unique story.

Share Your Experiences and Story with the World

“Social-networking sites, blogs, online discussion forums and online journals represent modern arenas for individuals to write themselves into being.” ~Theresa Sauter

YOUR JOURNEY IS A GIFT: Your unique journey through the world of human soul work has tremendous value. You’ve seen life in a way no-one else has. And, at the same time, you’ve had an experience that many others will identify with. Share this!

Your first step is to train a video camera upon yourself today and begin filming 60 second segments of your experience. Here are the best camcorders for this year:

Write down 20-30 questions that your life experience answers or speaks to. Design 20-30 short pieces about these questions. Write a few paragraphs on each. Here’s a great book of questions to jump start this process:

Then film these over the course of the day. Consider visiting a location and dressing in a way that communicates the flavor of this specific piece. Two cool sites about film locations: AND

Look straight into the camera and speak to your audience. Imagine your best friend or your child. Speak to your audience with this level of care and love.

Review and edit the pieces.

Over the course of the following week, expand the initial paragraphs into a blog piece for each one.

Tweet lines from each blog piece with trackable links back to your blog and the video pieces on Vimeo or YouTube.

Discover an audience for these pieces through the use of social monitoring tools and audience discovery tools.


Get these video pieces in front of audiences who are already talking about this topic.

As they respond, engage with each person individual and speak with them. Connect in social networks and meet up with these people in person, if possible.

Some will want to work with you in a variety of ways. Do it. Work with them.

Expand your circle of influence, share what you have to share. The world needs you in 2013.

The story behind a product, the tale of a community

The reality is that many products and services have a real human story at the root of their existence. Tapping into this story is what connects us to the heart of a product’s latent community, the living fabric with an orientation toward a specific service.

The existing corporate story related solely to sales should cease as the number one tale known to contemporary society. And this needs to happen now.

Humanity is tired of being “sold”. Humanity wants and needs the magic, the tactile sensibility of a story populated with sweat, flesh and the intricacies of a rich inner life. That’s where connection occurs.

Social Networks: Born from Greek roots of storytelling and socializing

HEART AND SOUL ARE GREECE’S PRIMARY EXPORT: Greece has vast exports of the heart that world citizens desire. There’s nothing new about this AND there’s a whole new generation of Greeks who deserve to experience a return on their culture’s seemingly endless ability to tap soul and human-ness. There’s a tactile aspect to relationship here found nowhere else on the planet. People everywhere want this experience AND want to know how to get it.

THE TIME OF THE GREEK HAS COME ONCE AGAIN: Due to increasing weaving of heart and tech via social networks, the time has never been better for Greek “heart-exporters” to get busy. Walk into a night club in NYC or LA and watch what happens to the crowd when DJ Vassilis Tsillichristos takes control. There is an intuitive understanding within the Greek psyche of interior landscapes and this plays out in Greek music especially. The music effortlessly carries one swiftly to the center of physical sensations related to relationship, self-exploration and identity.

SOCIAL NETWORKS BORN FROM GREEK PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITION: PhD student Theresa Sauter, from the Queensland University of Technology, is examining how social-networking websites help people form their own identity.

“Social-networking sites, blogs, online discussion forums and online journals represent modern arenas for individuals to write themselves into being,” the Courier Mail quotes Sauter as saying.

“A lot of people see social networking as a new way for people to interact but I’m interested in examining it as a way to form an identity and understand ourselves,” she adds.

“The ancient Greek philosophers used a reflective notebook to write down what they had read and their thoughts on it,” she said.

EVIDENCE FOUND IN THE GREEK COFFEE RITUAL:We see in Sauter’s quotes the strength of the Greek identity. Living in Greece, one REALLY experiences that force in real-time. It is a passion for creativity that is shaped by the presence of a harsh critical eye. This typifies the internal Greek landscape, its psychic tension. One part of the Greek psyche acts like a chisel upon marble, carving towards essence. How could an export of Greek sensibility and passion play out?

Here’s just one way: There is an increasing movement via Augmented Reality, Transmedia and the externalizing of social network experience that needs Greek input. As we begin wearing computers, touching QR codes and interacting “in-the-flesh” with social networks, humanity has the potential to extract from imagination a deeper experience via relationship. And Greeks have mastered this. One only need sit at coffee in Greece to know what is meant by this. Every possibility is explored over coffee, every avenue of relationship, every business idea, every position on anything at all. And it is this, this precision of relationship, that Greeks bring to the global human community. If I were to ask someone to lead the branding of external social hardware, I would pick a Greek BECAUSE of the precise and complex social analysis he/she creates.

PRECISION OF RELATIONSHIP IN GREECE: What do I mean by “precision of relationship” in Greek culture? This is related to insight. I’ve learned a lot about insight since spending time in Greece, both in the professional sense and the personal sense. Devin Coldewey writes, “Insight is the result of recombination, hybridizing ideas, internal accidents, emergent properties of ideas we never even knew were related.” To return to Greek “coffee time”, here we experience a seemingly inexhaustible exploration and re-exploration of what was said, who said, when it was said, why it was said, what it could have meant, what should we do about it. And it is in this analysis that one finds laughter, depth, decision. When you look into the eye of a Greek, you really feel like some part inside your chest or brain has been touched by that eye. And whether this is true or not, whether the observer really does “feel” you immediately, is not the point. The point is what YOU feel in that moment. Because Greeks will reflect to you what you are very quickly, if only by staring back at you a few seconds longer than other nationalities.

HOLLOWED BY SORROW, FILLED BY JOY: If externalized social hardware is to lead humanity to some kind of evolutionary step, it will necessarily lead one into depth of experience of others and the world (as digital social networks have done). James Hillman writes, “Until the culture recognizes the legitimacy of growing down, each person in the culture struggles blindly to make sense of the darkness that the soul requires to deepen into life.” It is natural to desire transcendence, to want escape, to experience “another place”. And the pleasures of transcendence are multiplied when one has experienced depth and pain. A cup hollowed by sorrow can hold more joy. No nation has experienced such depth of heartache than Greece, not only because of the nature of its travesties but ALSO because Greeks truly do feel emotion in their bodies with an intensity one has to see to experience. A fight between Greek lovers is truly something to behold!

FROM CITY TO ISLAND: But what really draws one into the Greek experience (and why Greek sensibility ought to have a strong influence upon the externalizing of social networks through social hardware and wearable computers), is the bent towards simplicity. The journey from the endlessly complicated chaos of Athens to a Greek island captures what humans really long for deep down. Cosmologist Brian Swimme captures this journey when he writes, “The fundamental worldview of industrial society is that Earth is like a gravel pit or a lumberyard — just a resource for human use. We live disconnected from the evolving earth community, but our deepest allurement is a rich, intimate participation in the sacred powers of life, of nature, of soul, the ongoing adventure of the Universe and the ways that each one of us can reinvent ourselves.” Tens of thousands of Greeks experience the ritual of departing from an industrial mindset to pure physical and social immersion every August. Our future as a species should be characterized by this type of pilgrimage for it is the healing we need.

SOCIAL GRAPH = ATHENS, INTEREST GRAPH = THE ISLANDS: Externalized social tech at its best will follow Occam’s Razor. Leonardo da Vinci captured the Razor in his own elegant language: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” And few environments could be more simple than a Greek island in the summer. As one of Greece’s greatest writers, Nikos Kazanstakis writes, “How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. . . . All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.” He goes on to write, “You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint the paradise, then in you go.” Think of the social graphs (Facebook) as Athens, many types all melded together. Think of the interest graph (Twitter) as the islands: each island has its purpose. Santorini for lovers, Mykonos for parties, Tinos for Mother Mary, etc.

GREECE IS THE PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE: The immersive quality of social networks matches the immersive experience of Greek culture. If you walk down the street in Athens, in any Greek city, you’ll see how over and over each person IS a kingdom unto themselves, ready at any moment to react or seduce, to envelop you in his/her ethos. A Greek may seem quiet on the surface but I will tell you that below this surface is a great molten center ready at any time to burst forth. And in this fire there exists the same Promethean tendency to distribute the magic of the gods to one’s parea, one’s tribe. The magic of the parea is the at the center of Greek culture. This subjective nature of the parea and its interests is captured in The Art of Immersion by Frank Rose:

“That was then. In the months and years ahead, professional storytellers of every persuasion—people in movies, in television, in video games, and in marketing—will need to function in a world in which distinctions that were clear throughout the past century are becoming increasingly blurred:

The blurring of author and audience: Whose story is it?
The blurring of story and game: How do you engage with it?
The blurring of entertainment and marketing: What function does it serve?
The blurring of fiction and reality: Where does one end and the other begin?”

THE PAREA: In a country like Greece, influence and connection is of particular importance to success and career momentum. The Greek is a FANTASTIC mix of being a very social animal AND being very private about matters to do with money and ownership. And that ‘s a nice mixture! But the social side seems to always win in the end and that’s a very important factor in understanding Facebook’s acceleration in the Greek social eco-system. Through Facebook, one may discover the tribe, the lover, and the career best suited to one’s interests: in short, Facebook is the ultimate digital Parea-producing engine.

As I understand it, a Parea in Greek culture is a circle of friends who gather and share their stories about life, their philosophies, values and ideas. The Parea is a venue for the growth of the human spirit, the development of friendship and the exploration of philosophies to enrich one’s quality of life that is all too brief in time. In Greece, the Parea is a long-lasting circle and cycle of life nourished by its members. And that’s exactly what social networks are engendering in the human family: a finely woven fabric of connection and communication resulting in unlimited new possibility found first internally, in the psyche, and then actuated externally.

Follow your bliss: The future of human interaction with the invisible

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. ~Joseph Campbell

The future of human interaction with the invisible has fully arrived. We are now firmly in an era where Predictive and Temporal Analytics (THINK: Analytics-Driven Policy) MATCHED WITH abundant Storytelling/Transmedia genius HAS yielded full-blown portals into the realm of RELATIONSHIP TO THE MYTHIC. One need only look at the largest portals to VIRTUALPHYSICAL and ROMANTIC relationship creation for evidence of these doorways.

WHAT IS “RELATIONSHIP TO THE MYTHIC”? (And why is this important?)

Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, writes, “The role of the artist I now understood as that of revealing through the world-surfaces the implicit forms of the soul, and the great agent to assist the artist was the myth.” Wolfgang Pauli writes of “an invisible, potential form of reality that is only indirectly inferable through its effects.”

I submit to the reader that through a combination of Listening to Oneself AND Investigation using Social Monitoring Tools, humans can now discover “worm-holes” that lead directly to their most cherished and inner-desired locations. I would also suggest that these most cherished INNER LOCATIONS are spiritual destinations characterized by terms like nostalgia and “the best times of my life”. Such INNER and REMEMBERED locations MAY be the most desirable locations known to mankind AND MAY also be THE wellspring of creativity for the individual, a society and the whole of humanity. We all seek the bright field, which IS the MYTHIC REALM.

The process for accessing these locations COULD trace the following path:

1. LISTEN TO YOUR OWN HEART by taking one single day out of your life and spending that 24 hour period alone. Simply listening. Karl Menninger writes, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us , makes us unfold and expand.” Places like Spirit Rock, Esalen, Omega Institute, forests, deserts, islands and parks within cities can facilitate a window TO THE dreamed-of location.

2. WRITE! During your time of listening to yourself, write. And underline the words that mean the most to you. Those are your search terms, the keywords that you will use in the social fabric of the internet to find others like you, destinations of your tribe and eco-systems sympathetic to YOUR nature. Joseph Campbell writes, “One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.” What a fabulous reality we have in that the social fabric of the internet offers abundant paths to the flowering of our humanity!

3. IDENTIFY YOUR KEYS. Take your keywords, your KEYS, to the social monitoring tools, visual maps, AND keyword tools and follow your findings to the location of your tribe in the social networks!

4. BOARD YOUR PLANE, TRAIN OR AUTOMOBILE, whether this be a metaphor for mental passage, spiritual exploration, relationship deepening/adjustment/discovery AND/OR actual physical movement.

5. WRITE YOUR LOVE LETTERS TO THE WORLD as you travel to the land of your tribe (Hint: That’s what blogging, tweeting, FBing, Flickr-ing, YouTubing, SlideShare-ing, etc. really are…these are your forums to express your GIFT to the world). The joy and beauty of your journey will infiltrate and instruct the fabric of the communities around you and inspire others to do their own exploration and SHIFT!

What each must seek in his life never was on land or sea. It is something out of his own unique potentiality for experience, something that never has been and never could have been experienced by anyone else. ~Joseph Campbell