Thank you Tech Storytellers

Last week, I had a conversation with Kin Lane and Mike Amundsen about Storytelling (watch here).

At one point Mike mentioned that throughout human history, across most every civilization, there’s been a role for scribes, myth-holders and storytellers who held the stories and made sure they got shared.

Stories have always been our compass, they help orient us towards that which matters most, to avoid making the same mistake twice, and to share a lifetime of hard-earned empathy and compassion with another soul. Storytelling is the way you scale love, empathy — scratch that, it’s how you spread humanity.

The effects of stories are entirely fractal, serving the same function for all of humanity, a country, an industry, a company, a family, and even each individual.

You can tell which direction any group/individual is headed by the stories being told, shared and elevated today: where are they looking? what do they value? how are they biased? There’s a reason why re-contextualizing history is part of politics — it’s how you steer a big ship — but I digress.

Just a blink ago, you could count all the different types of jobs in the world on a single hand. Which means you could also count all the ways people find meaning in the world on a handful of hands.

Today — the world is so much more complex, we need good storytellers on every front of human progress. It’s not optional, it’s required.

Impartial, dedicated, and authentic storytellers perform a valuable service to everyone working in a space. They’re doing the hard work of setting up the game-board, preserving the cultural memory, and keeping us oriented towards problems that need solving.

In this age of hype where that which is easy to quantify is valued, at the expense of that which matters; in this time of loud voices and feigned authenticity….it’s essential to have people telling stories because they love telling stories.

Intentionality matters, you actually can’t do good storytelling, the kind a whole community needs, if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

Now to the thank you part….

There are many great storytellers, I can’t name them all, but the two that really have influenced me are Steve Krouse of Future of Coding and Kin Lane of API Evangelist.

When I was working on new developer tools, I was reading Steve’s blogs and having conversations with people in the community he built. These interactions helped me think more clearly in a way reading research papers can’t. These stories and conversations helped me grok how people think, not what they discovered and invented — subtle difference, enormous impact.

When I switched focus to building API tools, I read years of Kin’s blog to build my own mental model about the space. Talking to Kin has helped me understand what problems need solving, the human side of these vast technical problems, and how to human (verb) better.

Thesis: The human endeavors with good storytellers (be them industry, non-profits, or public sector) will advance faster than those without good storytellers.

Takeaway 1: If there’s a storyteller in your field, say thank you. That probably matters more than anything else you could say. Attribute them when you apply their insights in the real world. Support them financially if their work requires it.

Takeaway 2: If you want to be a storyteller in your space, just start. Do it for the right reasons. Don’t expect to parlay it into anything — just follow your curiosity. [go find better advice here (I’m not qualified)]

Takeaway 3: If you’re a builder, go find the people with stories to share, then return your findings to the well.

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Building Tony Stark’s workshop one company at a time. Founder useoptic.com (YC S18)

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Aidan Cunniffe

Aidan Cunniffe

Building Tony Stark’s workshop one company at a time. Founder useoptic.com (YC S18)

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