Authenticity versus narrative?

One of the most interesting observations about the recent Social Media Club Sydney event came from the esteemed Servant of Chaos (a.k.a. Gavin Heaton) in his post  Social Media Club Sydney Kicks Off.

Gavin noted that the theme of narrative (“storytelling and satire”) came up with each of the speakers at SMC Sydney. This is interesting because in social computing in general, and in social media in particular, much has been made of the virtues of authenticity. But are the two – authenticity and narrative – interlinked in important ways?

Lately I have become conscious of how much power authenticity achieves when it is placed within an effective narrative framework. Being authentic but dull or repetitive becomes boring.

A key element of powerful authenticity is personalisation of a story to create the feeling of  connection. And other key elements seem to be time and consistency. We need to see consistent appearance or message over time, or at least a consistent evolution over time.

A great example of this is Nick Hodge, whose recent Red Cordial Catharsis really got me thinking. As Nick has revealed more about his motivations and underlying ideas within a narrative context & this self revelation has made his ustream shows much more powerful.

This raises a lot of other interesting questions:

  • How do we demonstrate authenticity?
  • Why is it so compelling?
  • How do we know it when we see or hear it?
  • And, why are we so angry when we feel that authenticity is faked?

These are some of the issues that I’m thinking about at present, and I suspect there’ll be more on this topic later.