Passport to the 21st Century
John Seely Brown, Steve Denning, 
Katalina Groh, Larry Prusak: 
Some of the world's leading thinkers
explore the role of storytelling in the world

 I Introduction to storytelling I John Seely Brown on science I Steve Denning on change I Katalina Groh on video
Larry Prusak on organization I Discussion I | Contact us | Bibliography on storytelling

Storytelling: Scientist's Perspective: John Seely Brown
Threshholds and doorways 
    Now, a low tech idea. Have you ever thought about the empty space that a doorway creates. A doorway is an amazingly safe place to start a conversation. If you donít like the conversation, you can pull back from the doorway. If you do like the conversation, you can invite the person in. Very much like what Peter Brook was saying. This doorway is a virgin space. And think about the kinds of ideas, the kinds of conversations that are permitted, standing in the doorway, as a step, as a 
start down out into the evocative, potentially evocative space.

Staircases: The Nickolodeon building

   The last example is the building I have just gotten  We have the last new building in San Francisco for a company Twelve Entrepreneuring, and the building was nine-tenths of the way through, and I went into the building, a seven floor building, itís going to be impossible to create the social space between the floors. ďStop the goddamn construction! Blow a hole in the building!Ē They didnít like this too much!  But it turns out that we stopped the construction, we are blowing a hole in the building, in the floors, but the fire people would not let us do what is shown in this picture.
    This comes out of Nickelodeon headquarters in New York City, this is designed by the wife of my co-author, Paul Duguid, whose wife is also an architect. This is one of her buildings, but whatís happening here at Nickelodeon headquarters, they wanted to build a center staircase in the middle of their various floors of this building. And whatís turning out to happen in this particular building is that incredible social events happen actually not only on the staircase but they now use this space to hold their meetings.  So you see people hanging over the rails. Dangling over the rails. This is very informal. This is Nickelodeon.
   And this space has become a very interesting place. To create a space that brings different disciplines, people on this floor are different from people on this floor, to tie them together. So I am encouraged to see architects who are beginning to really think about the design of space as well. 
   Now, the problems I have right now with one of my colleagues, Paul Johnson [in Twelve Entrepreneuring] is that we have a hole and we donít have a staircase.  How do we actually augment, how do we create a real social space, in terms of augmenting some virtual technologies as well. I think we ought to be able to crack a sense of social dynamics between floors of the building by using technology, correctly, we have not yet done that, so check in next year to see whether we have really been able to crack this problem. I think it is an interesting challenge.

Books and videos on storytelling 
*** In Good Company : How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work
by Don Cohen, Laurence Prusak (February 2001) Harvard Business School Press
*** The Social Life of Information, by John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid
(February 2000) Harvard Business School Press
*** The Springboard : How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations
by Stephen Denning (October 2000) Butterworth-Heinemann 
*** The Art of Possibility, a video with Ben and Ros Zander : Groh Publications (February 2001)
Copyright © 2001 John Seely Brown 
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