When Technology Can Write, Will Storytelling Suffer?

Hey folks, Jim Hull here, and let’s talk about something that caught my eye this week—the release of DALL-E 3, which generates images from text. while the demo was captivating, what struck me was the notion that the “story” it created at the end could be considered a real story. As someone deeply immersed in story theory and structure, it raises a big red flag for me. If you thought explaining the essence of good storytelling to Hollywood execs was challenging, buckle up because it’s about to get a whole lot trickier.

Complete Sentences Don’t Make a Story

I mean, look, DALL-E 3’s abilities are amazing, but just because it can string sentences together doesn’t mean it’s crafting stories with meaning. Storytelling isn’t just about creating a series of events or dialogues; it’s about thematic richness, character arcs, and those gut-punch moments that resonate with audiences. It’s about weaving throughlines and subtext, something a machine just can’t get… at least not yet.

A Flood of Content, but Not Substance

Now, what happens when every aspiring storyteller gets their hands on DALL-E 3? We’re gonna be deluged with content that may look like a story and sound like a story, but lacks the soul of a story. Think “Ashoka” was a storytelling misstep? Imagine a world flooded with similar narratives, only worse because they’re mass-produced by next-word algorithms.

The Real Challenge: Educating the Masses

What’s concerning here is the scale. Teaching the intricacies of storytelling to a room full of studio execs is one thing. But how do you educate millions of people who think they’re telling meaningful stories just because they have a machine that writes in complete sentences? That’s a daunting task, but it also means there’s an even bigger market for folks who understand the mechanics of effective storytelling.

A Call to Action for Story Theorists

This is a moment where the teachings of story theory and structure become more critical than ever. It’s our responsibility to lead the way in educating people about what makes a story compelling and resonant. Technology is a tool, not a substitute for the human elements that give a story its heart.

So, get ready for a bumpy but exciting ride ahead. There’s a lot of work to do, and I’m up for the challenge. How about you?

Catch you later!

James R. Hull @jhull