Book Review: The Storyteller’s Dilemma by Louis Hernandez, Jr.
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Review: The Storyteller’s Dilemma by Louis Hernandez, Jr.
As CEO of Avid Technologies, Louis Hernandez Jr. brings decades of expertise in multiple media platforms into his new book, The Storyteller’s Dilemma: Overcoming The Challenges In The Digital Media Age. Hernandez posits that all these content creators are storytellers and that storytelling is native to the way humans communicate and connect. The book lays out the complex and sometimes convoluted ways that media (film, TV, movies, journalism, etc.) are bogged down in their own systems of production and dissemination with commentary on the ‘how’ and ‘why’.
More importantly, he discusses how facets of these systems have been improved by technology and the consumers, who previously had no way in, are using tech in unexpected ways and becoming part of the story. At the same time, the established media giants have been unable to streamline processes the way more independent creators have.
Whether they’re laptop musicians, civilian twitter journalists, iPhone filmmakers, or veteran TV producers, today’s content creators are living in an unprecedented time.
Through advances in technology, they have the ability to create, produce and distribute their media faster and easier than ever before. But unless you’re near the top of your field, it can be nearly impossible to support yourself with your craft alone.
Digging into the book readers find details of the inner-workings of the various platforms with data sets to highlight and accentuate points. Sometimes dry and repetitive, the book is punctuated throughout with block quotes from industry professionals, and sidebars that add dimension and diverse viewpoints to the content of the chapters. Each chapter is also introduced with shorter, often more playful quotes.
It’s an insightful read for anyone who has never tried to create or promote any content online, but wants to learn why there are barriers to moving into the established ways of doing things. This book could also be enlightening for anyone who either isn’t old enough to have lived through the technological transformations of the late 1980s up to today, or was older and got left behind by it.
The majority of the book is spent explaining how and why our media systems have been built the way they are, and how limiting that is to efficiency even with current technological advances. It goes on to describe the ways users of technology have overturned traditional revenue streams (think of the evolution from CDs to Napster to iTunes to streaming). It paints a grim but honest picture of our current state.
As an unintended consequence, “The Storyteller’s Dilemma” magnifies just how fast technology is moving. There are examples in the book that were either outdated or presented as cutting edge but currently function as a norm. Reflecting on the book’s themes, one might think that the book would be better as a digital entity, constantly being upgraded and updated alongside the evolution of technology as a blog.
After discussing how things used to be done and how they’ve changed the second to last chapter proposes some theories as to how we can overcome challenges created by the old-guard way of doing things. It’s a pleasant surprise that Hernandez, who has benefited from being at the top of a major media company, suggests that the way forward is through equanimity. Hernandez posits that by streamlining the “creation-connection-monetization cycle,” everyone benefits.
Hernandez suggests a streamlined and standardized shared-services platform that everyone involved in creating content can use, while still using their preferred tools to do their part.
Describing what that platform might look like and how it might function, he lays out a possible way forward. Then, he gives us a light at the end of this dark tunnel by showing us why everyone in the chain of content creation and distribution should care, and can benefit from such a platform.
Even though Hernandez uses simple English, the book is a bit of a dense read and can at time feel more like a school assignment. Instead of weaving a thread to pull the reader through a unified journey, the facts are sectioned off point by point asking the reader to digest all then step back slowly to see the big picture. Nearly all the topics and examples featured in the “The Storyteller’s Dilemma” were things a tech-savvy content creator like myself is most likely familiar. But for those who don’t know the history of media or what concepts such as “Moore’s Law” are this could be a valuable read as it is packed with information on the state of content creation and distribution.
Though I find the end conclusion of the book to be a bit of a leap from today’s competitive capitalist digital landscape, Hernandez does lay out a nice picture of the way a digital Utopia could work and asks readers to chime in on social media with their version of a better environment for creative content producers. With technologies like blockchain showing promise to disrupt currency and transactions I do see some glimmer of hope on the horizon and I will be eagerly awaiting the day storytellers of all walks of life can step onto a balanced playing field and present their truths to the world.
For more information on the book visit the Avid promotional page.
The Storyteller’s Dilemma is available as a hardback or Kindle book from Amazon.com