Pink Noise and the Science of Story

New research is showing science can be used to manipulate movies to appeal to viewers attention spans.

New Scientist reports it’s all about using ‘pink noise’ which is a sound frequency that can be correlated with people’s attentions spans. So the length of shots in a movie, evenly distributed can hold people’s attention spans.

A Cornell University psychology professor, James Cutting analysed 150 Hollywood films and says directors have got better and better at producing shots so that their lengths grab our attention span.
So while the science shows ‘shot-pacing’ can manipulate the attention spans of audiences, movies that do this are not always the best to watch. Cutting says some movies that had the pink noise frequency were not that great, while others with greater narrative and acting were better viewing.
If you are really keen on knowing how movies can control people’s thinking, there is a science called neurocinematics. Neurocinematic researchers say some films
have the potency to “control” viewers’ neural responses. By “control” they
mean that the sequence of neural states evoked by the movie is reliable
and predictable, without placing any aesthetic or ethical judgment as to
whether the means to such control are desirable.
While knowing the science of making stories ‘stick’ is what you might call, the Y and Z factors, the appealing X factor of movies and great stories are still about something more than manipulative mathematics.
As Cutting says narrative and acting are big influences on the movie experience.
I think we need to have ‘story ethics’ to deal with our ever increasing ability to manipulate through story telling science.
Media from film, to television, to books, magazines and music have long had the abililty to manipulate. But it is the motivation for the manipulation that is important to think about.uess
I guess we can hope that our increasingly transparent online world will ensure we know more and more about seeing the ‘puppeteers strings’ in storytelling.

See Through World

Talk about transparency, these days you can get right to the guts, see how someone’s heart beats, their inner most thoughts, their private lives, even lives we don’t even know we have.

It takes a bit of getting used to at times, but really with everything from surveillance cameras, to GPS, to facebook and twitter, everyone is watching everyone and everyone can pretty well find out just about anything about anyone.
It’s all packed there deep in the history of your computer anyway.
And my point is….
There is no use having a careful strategy about h ow you occur in the world, a planned out persona, a presence online, in your marketing, or where ever. It has to be you, through and through. As a 40 something, and someone who likes to think they are pretty open, baring my soul, or at least chatting about my soul, good and bad, sure does take some getting used to.
Honest and open communication? It does take a bit of getting used to. I’ve just read What Would Google Do? Here Jeff Jarvis talks about how making mistakes and being public about it is where we head today. Truth is a work in progress in this collaborative world.
I like the idea, but it still takes some getting used to. But today when truth and fiction blur constantly and we can always see the strings of the puppets, and are used to that, then it is more than time to give up getting it right. There is an art to getting it wrong. This guy Chris, a blogging expert, and excuse my clumsiness writing around links, reckons we have to break through ‘feedback fear’.
So its time to create a great story around yourself, warts and all, the beauty of your flaws, but being visible and transparent, is not really an option anymore, it’s a necessity.

Double Double Speak Speak

Call a spade a spade, and not an ‘excavation implement’!
Sometimes we get a bit too clever for our own good with language.
I’m reminded of a friend’s young child talking about her older brother and saying: “I can see your lips moving but all I can hear is Blah Blah Blah.”
Politicians, business leaders and the news media have trained us to listen and talk in Double Speak, and use meaningless jargon.
We let people in power drone on. Language should be loved and treasured. Story telling can be so rich and powerful for learning and taking action in life.
Observation is a key attribute to great storytelling. Observe when people use jargon, and see if you can find more colourful and interesting ways to convey information. It’s not hard. Tell a story to illustrate a point. Sure facts, figures and graphs are important, and accuracy is critical. But the greatest communicators rap serious messages in a story, and weave in the stats, data and critical information.
The story will be remembered.
So sharpen your spade and dig for gold in language and in story telling. If you are going to call a spade anything but a spade, make sure its got a great story attached to it, and not soul less and meaningless terminology that does not connect.