For lunch my cousins and I went out for a goodbye lunch to a "better" restaurant, a French one a block or two from the Conference Center.

Front of building
Le Bosquet: Fine Dining in the French Country Tradition
When we sat down, who should come over to give us menus but the guy who runs the place, who clearly knows them well (like all people in town seem to know each other) and is the out-going mayor I hear.

Vic, the outgoing mayor
The food was quite good, as was the conversation (stories and other catching up about our lives). I noticed the following message on the bottom of the menu about the 1% surcharge for the Crested Butte LandTrust:

1% surcharge for LandTrust
On the menu
As we hurry to finish and get back to the Festival, we go out and it's raining (notice the hammock that won't be used for a while):

Rain and hail
When we got out of lunch
Actually, it was worse -- it was raining and hailing. Luckily, it was small hail, not big baseball sized pieces:

Hail on hood of a car
Hail on hood of a car
Nathan Shedroff
The first speaker of the afternoon was Nathan Shedroff, Chief Creative Officer at Vivid Studios, which he co-founded.

Nathan Shedroff
Nathan Shedroff
He talked about a variety of things. You can learn more about him, his ideas, and his work on his personal web site,

First he talked about personal web sites. He sees them as a new form of expression, blurring a person's personal and professional life (sure true from what I've found out! Did you want to know so much about my cousins?). It is forcing people to be storytellers. Traditional media have a snobby view towards people telling their own stories. These personal web sites are an opportunity to make storytelling a more important part of our lives, he said. (That thought helped inspire me to learn more and cover more about storytelling to help the users of my company's products, since our users are frequently making personal web sites.)

That said, he invoked Denise Caruso (NYTimes columnist and thinker) who bemoaned the lack of memory many of us have (especially young people) towards old solutions to problems. This especially bothers him in his field of design. So...a new web site to deal with prior art. He calls it "industrial storytelling":

Prior Art web site
Prior Art web site
The site will let you search by subject, person, company, time, etc., to learn problems and the solutions others have found years ago.

He showed a project he's working on called "Horror Stories" to help people learn from other's mistakes in business, all storytelling. (Reminds me of the oldest formal way to teach business to students, the case method we used at Harvard, a spin-off of the law school many years ago, with its case-method teaching.)

Finally, he presented two of his own stories -- the first time he's done it publicly. Very moving. He read them as a voice-over while he showed photos. The first, "Saved", was about a car driver who honked his horn and saved rollerblading Nathan from being hit by a car that ran a red light. Nathan never found out who the driver was to thank him, and he was very bothered by that inability. The second was about a lost friendship called "Missing Mark".

John Jay Koriath
The last speaker I heard was John Jay Koriath of Full Circle. His speech was about the "Psychoneuroimmunology of Storytelling", studying how storytelling relates to the immune system. This is of great interest to Dana, who has some sort of immune disease that's going to put him out of commission for a while next year, and to others of us who would love to see a more scientific basis for why storytelling is important.

John Jay Koriath
He had to wait for his computer to start working, as usual here where we were switching from system to system to laptop. He made the comment wondering which is now the worst thing, "stage fright or worrying if your computer will boot up on stage". Here is his first slide:

The Psychoneuroimmunology of Storytelling
Title slide, so I could remember the term
He told a story about a cardiologist working with an old healer in a hospital and learning from him. When the old man actually got up and danced (end of a neat story), the doctor asked him if he could teach it to him. The old man replied: "I can teach you the steps, but you need to hear your own music." This idea, that within each person is the way they react to things, was the subject of the talk.

Doctor and old man
Doctor and old man
He mentioned the work of Martin Seligman, such as the book Learned Optimism. (Read the Amazon reviews I linked to if you want to learn more about that.)

John then started showing how your body reacts chemically to something it sees as a threat vs. how it reacts to something it sees as a challenge:

A Climate for Threat
How the biology works
Threat reaction is bad for the immune system, due to chemicals released by your adrenal gland. Challenge reaction is not bad. Hence, how to use storytelling to help you see things as challenges to overcome and not threats. Unfortunately, at this point I had to leave for the airport. Here's the last thing I saw as I walked out:

From back of the theater
The Hero's Journey
Next to pictures from Star Wars, under the title "The Hero's Journey", it says: Restlessness, The Call of Destiny, Tests and Trials, Rescue the Prince/Princess, Confrontation with Death, Use the Force.

That was it.

What happened after I left
From others, I got a verbal update on what happened at the Festival after I left:

The last speaker was Russell Brown of Adobe. He did a spoof of Next Exit, the show Dana performs and was going to perform in the evening. He used glowsticks for fire, and an overhead projector showing printed pages to put up images. What looked like an old phonograph was used for sound. It was something about the workstation of the future and showed off his products (like PhotoShop) well. It was "Monty Python type humor." He did "wipes" with a paint roller, dissolves by changing the focus, etc. It helped if you knew what Dana's show looked like. For others it was funnier after they saw Dana later in the evening.

The evening was Peter Bergman, Radio Free Oz, who helped found the old Firesign Theater (whose records, on vinyl, were quite big when I was young -- I knew many of the skits by heart). He did a spoof of Y2K, computers, digital stuff, and more. It was "hilarious" I'm told (just to make me feel bad that I missed it).

Dana did a "full blown" version of Next Exit. (See his web site, Sitting by a "campfire" that's really just a TV on some logs, he tells stories, with the pictures, music, and sometimes voices, coming from a projection screen and a computer. Digital Storytelling. Redheads is one, which we've mentioned here. It was "excellent" I'm told.

Dana ended with a story about how he met Denise. He was giving his presentation, Next Exit, and he saw this "gorgeous blond sitting there and couldn't think straight" throughout his presentation. He asked her out, and she said "Yes"!. He called up his roommate to tell him all about it. How beautiful she was, how he didn't know if he'd being coming back tonight depending on how it went, etc. Silence on the other end of the line. Then the realization -- he hadn't called his roommate, he dialed her number. It was Denise listening. (As he said, "It pays to be honest!") The story ends with him not coming home to his roommate for five days.

Finally, he told the story of how they had lost Denise's wedding ring one day and had to drive back 100 miles and search on the ground as the sun set to find it (successfully). He then told about losing his wedding ring on the way to a trip overseas and how he'd promised Denise he'd replace it. He then called Denise up, went over to the "campfire" and got out a box with the new ring, and had her put it on. Everybody went wild. (Many more hankies, I hear.) "A beautiful ending."

Our trip home
Shelley McIntyre of RealNetworks driving Ken Harper of Rolling Thunder Media and me to the airport in the rain:

Car to Gunnison
At the airport we finally got to see Ken's story about himself:

Seated on the floor
Around Ken's computer
One flight, a prop plane again (see "The trip to Crested Butte: Plane and car" for the other direction). A quick snack at the Denver airport, and then another (big, empty) plane to Boston.

I was planning to work on this web site on the plane, which I did, but luckily I got to sit next to another Festival attendee, Leili Towtigh, and we were able to compare notes about the conference:

Leili filling out an airline questionaire and my laptop on the tray table
Since the flight was so empty we got to sit in an exit row, which, on United, means I finally had a reasonable amount of room for my ThinkPad.

While discussing storytelling, Leili told me about a great article where Ira Glass of the radio program This American Life explains the principles behind writing stories for the radio. (It's on the web site which covers public radio and TV.)

Finally, at 1 AM Eastern Time, home at last:

Key in door
Key in door, home at last!
That's it! I've boiled down some of what I learned in "What I learned", and there are other stories you can read, such as about how I put this together and the trip to Crested Butte, and even stuff about Crested Butte itself. Explore the pages in the map at the top of the page or the list on the home page.