A Note on Algorithmic Storytelling

Humans make sense of reality through narratives. But today reality is taking its toll on the creative sense-making. Human kind has always been telling stories, creating narratives to make sense of the individual life and the historical movement of societies. It’s a known fact in psychology . It was underlined in science by Einstein  and philosophy by Henri Bergson. And this insight into human conduct means that nothing is given. We actually have the power to create our own narratives of life in our own creative ways. That’s the human condition in all its glory and the beauty of sense-making.

Today everyone is explicitly the narrator of their own life. Digital media, in particular social media, have provided every person with a set of tools to make sense of individual life through explicit storytelling. Though not a very creative type of storytelling. It’s a tyranny of the algorithm and once again the chronological Newtonian timeline. The form our stories are forced into. We are creating “digital diaries”, organized according to a very specific predictable chronological Timeline. Not “digital memories”  as it is often claimed. Not the subjective memories of the mind, placed in whatever associative order they might fit and make sense in. And what type of sense making? If the algorithm decides the appearance based on the prediction of behaviour (the prediction of consumption…). If our personal algorithmic stories can be predicted, they can be also be controlled, manipulated….

Key features of human sense making – unpredictability, heterogeneity – are feebled with the algorithmic storytelling tools of today. We are forced to tell more ‘realistic’ (realistic as in realism) stories.   Away with the struggle of last century’s artistic expressions: expressionism, impressionism, modernism, postmodernism etc..   We are back to basics where the fabula leads the syuzhet. Perhaps it is time we reclaim the right to tell our stories in our own way!