In the beginning was the Word, and it was given to the Storyteller, and he told his audience stories that taught valuable lessons about life. Many wise masters followed the example of the storyteller: Jesus, Muhammad, and Gautama, and less exalted ones like Plato, Gandhi, and King.
In the early days, storytellers sat around campfires or stood on mounts to cast their spoken stories to audiences. Hungry listeners lapped them up, for stories were soul food, even said to be messages from God. The Storyteller was in command of his story and his audience, and nothing came between the two except the spellbound air. There was respect for the wisdom imparted and gratitude for the listening. A fair exchange.
Then it was suggested that if these stories were written down, they could be preserved for posterity. The Storyteller complied, and was thereafter called a Writer. By the time we arrived at Marlow, Tolstoy, and Grimm, the printing presses had begun to disseminate stories widely. And there was money to be made in them thar’ stories now! Money attracts intermediaries and gate keepers, and they started showing up: publishers, printers, and book shops for starters. Soon, more intermediaries followed: agents, publicists, distributors, editors, proofreaders, writers’ associations, advertisers, marketing consultants, literary prize committees. When the internet took hold, there were even more players to add to the mix: website designers, book review mills, e-zines, e-books, blogs, podcasters, video promoters, content aggregators, endorsers, social media. Little by little, the Storyteller was being distanced from his audience. Soon, he was only responding to his handlers who told him what to write, not what he wanted to write.
Then a strange thing happened. The land rose up against the damage wrought by mankind’s greed and struck back. The land was fed up with “growth for growth’s sake.” It released a bug which mushroomed into a pandemic, forcing everyone to hunker in their bunker. To keep the economic engine humming, mankind looked around frantically, and technology came to the rescue, unveiling tools that had hitherto played only among enthusiasts, hobbyists, and bleeding edge futurists: online shopping went mainstream, “work from home” became the de-facto employment standard, hugging and kissing turned into virtual “likes”, and everyone started zooming more and grooming less.
The Storyteller saw an opportunity to claim back what she had lost. She began using the very technology that had earlier dis-intermediated her. She became her own publisher and created a blog to archive and spread her stories for those who still cared to read. She recorded her voice on her smart phone and podcast snippets of her wisdom to millions. She started zooming direct with her audiences, and using social media (the new Hollywood), she streamed video recordings of her stories to more of those unseen millions. She was now directly connected with her audience again, in word, voice, and video, and it was even more comfortable than freezing around a campfire or standing on top of a windy mountain. And like in the old days, money did not come into the equation anymore, only the message mattered. The intermediaries didn’t matter anymore either. The Storyteller was finally free.
So, in the end, there was the Word, and it remained with the Storyteller.