Frank Rose is simply the most extraordinary expert in the entertainment and marketing fields and my most favorite thought leader on new forms of narrative.

Rose, a Senior Fellow at Columbia University School of the Arts, a member of the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab, and faculty co-leader of its executive education seminar on digital storytelling strategy is also a longtime writer for Wired, strategy+business and author of The Art of Immersion.

Rose allows that every new digital medium has disrupted the grammar of narrative.

Frank’s seminal work on immersive storytelling and his new focus on The Science of Story, unlock the future for every brand to deliver today’s business value.

Follow FR if you want to know where your brand narrative should be heading, assuming you are leading your company toward transformational innovation and engaging people in these digitally disruptive times.

MARY OLSON: I often wonder where your appetite for new knowledge has taken you since 2012. What are your thoughts as you look back on the four years since publishing The Art of Immersion? How have your views changed?

FRANK ROSE: Well, obviously many of the TV shows I wrote about—Lost and The Office and Mad Men, among others—are no longer on the air, although their impact is still felt and their place in pop culture is pretty well assured.

Entertainment and marketing are if anything even more game-like and participatory than when I wrote the book.

Social media is more important than ever.

The big change is virtual reality and the incredible excitement it’s generated, even though most people still don’t even know it exists. Newspapers are jumping in— The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today.

Advertisers are jumping in. And it seems to be generating, even more, excitement for its storytelling possibilities than for games.

Obviously, VR is extremely immersive—that’s its appeal. But in other ways, it runs entirely against the grain of digital media as we’ve known it to date.

Yes, you can tweet about it, but there’s nothing inherently social about having your head encased in goggles. And unlike conventional video, it breaks completely with the grammar of cinema that was developed at the dawn of the motion picture industry. Cuts, pans, fades—none of these work in 360 videos.

There are some great pioneers at work—people like Eugene Chung at Penrose and Edward Saatchi at Oculus. I suspect it’ll be awhile—and to the extent that it’s adopted, will take us in a direction most people haven’t thought about.

MO: Your chapter, How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart includes philosophical and Zen-like views. Social culture and media narratives seem more and more delusional these days. How do you feel about the way the world is emerging?

FR: When I wrote that, I imagined the world of Disney and the world of Philip K. Dick [the American science fiction writer whose novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was the basis for Blade Runner] as opposites, in style if not necessarily in substance.

But the Walt Disney Company has evolved far beyond Walt himself, and the world is growing closer and closer to the highly disconcerting visions of PKD. A crypto-fascist reality TV star for president.

I suspect the purchase of Lucasfilm and the revival of the Star Wars franchise are going to bring these two closer together than ever. The differences in style will be minimized. And digital technology and the thirst for immersive experiences are only going to accelerate the process.

As I wrote in the book, digital technology blurs dividing lines that were considered sacrosanct in the industrial era—between author and audience, story and game, content and advertising, fiction and reality.

Who can tell the difference any more? That’s why we hunger for authenticity.

MO: The way businesses need to communicate is changing. Where is your journey taking you next?

FR: I’m very excited about my projects at the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab — both the semi-annual executive education seminar Digital Storytelling Strategy, coming up on April 21, and the first annual Digital Dozen: Breakthroughs in Storytelling, which we announced in late January and followed up with a live event at Lincoln Center last month.

There’s also my blog, Deep Media, which chronicles new developments in storytelling, including some of my projects. Next up will be the DSS seminar focusing on “The Science of Story”. The first segment is titled, “Why Stories? Why Now?” and explains how stories are changing in response to digital technology and how immersion is more sought-after than ever.

“The Science of Story” follows up with an account of recent neuroscience and cognitive psychology research that demonstrates how compelling stories are at changing people’s beliefs and explains why that might be.

MO: Thank you, Frank. Your insights inform not only corporate strategists but watchful adopters, too. We all benefit from your futurist insights about how authentic stories transform people’s behaviors and inform digital marketing and transformative business models.

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Download a PDF of The Power of Immersive Media
The most successful advertising today convincingly takes on the qualities of real experience. By Frank Rose. Publisher: strategy + business on February 9, 2015.

Feel free to get in touch with Mary Olson or Frank Rose for further information.

Mary Olson
Phone: 917.656.1856
Twitter: @maryolsonbiz

Frank Rose
Twitter: @frankrose
Website: The Art of Immersion –
Member: Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab
Digital Dozen: Breakthroughs in Storytelling
Senior Fellow: Columbia University School of the Arts


“There’s no such thing as a person who can’t write. I’ve met people who hate to write, and I’ve met people who think their writing is no good. But I’ve never met anyone who can’t write. Anyone can write, and anyone can write anything they need to.” So says Laura Brown, the author of How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide, coming from W. W. Norton this spring. Laura has nearly 30 years’ experience teaching writing to just about everyone, from high school students to CEOs. “We’re all writing more than ever before,” she says, “and my mission is to help people become competent and confident writers.”

How to Write Anything is designed to help the broadest possible audience. With more than two hundred how-to entries and easy-to-use models organized into three comprehensive sections on work, school, and personal life, the book covers a wide range of topics that make it an essential guide for the whole family. It also offers an innovative approach to the writing process that can be used for any writing task. Grounded in a common-sense approach, friendly and supportive, How to Write Anything is Internet-savvy, with advice throughout about choosing the most appropriate medium for your message: e-mail or pen and paper.

How to Write Anything is more than a book. It is also a branded entity with a long reach.

Laura is developing as a rich resource for all kinds of writing advice. It offers a free downloadable report, “The Five Most Common Writing Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them.” There are also free resources on grammar, punctuation, overcoming writer’s block, and specific writing tasks. The How to Write Anything blog offers more support and advice. A weekly newsletter of writing tips is launching later this month.

A suite of online video courses is also under development. The first, “How to Overcome Writer’s Block,” is available at Courses on how to edit your own writing and how to create effective resumes are currently in the works.

Laura also offers training and coaching for individuals and small groups, as well as consulting on communication strategies for organizations.

According to Laura, “writing ability can mean the difference between success and failure for individuals and organizations. If you can get your point across clearly and concisely in writing, you can reach the audience you want to reach and motivate people to act. It’s not that hard to learn. My goal is to give you the writing skills you need to stand out from the crowd.”

Click here to read a review of the book from Kirkus Reviews.

Laura Brown has written the ultimate guide for anyone who needs to create clear, concise, and compelling written communications. With all of its dos and don’ts, good and bad examples, and perfect models, the book not only teaches good writing, it’s like having a virtual ghostwriter looking over your shoulder and helping you craft the perfect message. Students, business people, and even seasoned professional writers should keep WRITE ANYTHING handy, right between their dictionary and thesaurus.
Michael Snell Literary Agent, Writing Collaborator, and author of FROM BOOK IDEA TO BESTSELLER

Laura Brown, Ph.D., Author
Pre-purchase Book: Amazon