Visionary Storytelling | Business with Purpose Podcast EP 273: Heather Maio-Smith, StoryFile
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My guest this week is Heather Maio-Smith, an award-winning interactive storytelling pioneer and technology visionary who brings more than a decade of storytelling leadership to her brand new company, StoryFile.
In 2010 Heather was creating an exhibit on intergenerational testimony with Holocaust survivors. She created a 3D prototype and formed a partnership to secure in-depth interviews interactively.
Heather had always intended that once the survivors were filmed, that anyone should be able to tell their story and save it for future generations. In 2017, StoryFile was created as an automatic, cloud-based platform that would bring the power of conversational video into everyone’s hands.
3:03 – Heather 101
- She became an expert in intergenerational testimony and had great conversations with older people.
- She wanted everyone to be able to tell their story so future generations could actually talk to them and have a conversation.
6:46 – How does StoryFile work?
- She didn’t know if her idea would work. They built a system that was completely automated and online.
- You record yourself answering a bunch of questions about your life. You can choose from 1,600 questions.
13:02 – Answers for future generations
- There’s no reason nowadays that you can’t have in-depth conversations with people you love.
- Do a StoryFile for a future generation you’ll never meet.
- Some people think it’s a bit egotistic to do, but it’s not. It’s a gift to future generations.
19:05 – Tell your story
- It’s one thing to write down your story or do an audio recording of yourself, but you miss the non-verbal communication.
- The video element allows you to see the essence of the person.
- Every generation has gone through really difficult things, but it’s what you learn from it and can pass along.
27:27 – How to start StoryFile
- Go to StoryFile.com and pick how many questions you want to do. You can pick individual questions or by topic and start recording.
28:27 – Get to know you
- Best concert she ever attended? Madonna in a small venue
We wanted everyone to be able to tell their story this way so future generations could actually talk to them and have a conversation.
If my kids could have the ability to talk to my grandfather, that would be amazing. Because then they would understand me and maybe understand themselves a little more.
It’s one thing to write down your story or do an audio recording of yourself, but you miss the non-verbal communication.
ABOUT HEATHER MAIO-SMITH:
Heather Maio-Smith is an award-winning interactive storytelling pioneer and technology visionary who brings over a decade of immersive storytelling leadership to StoryFile.
In 2010, Heather developed the first 3D interactive conversation with Holocaust Survivor Rose Schindler through her creative agency Conscience Display. At the time, she was creating physical video installations at the United Nations, USC, and in Havana, Cuba, but she understood that the future of storytelling lay at the intersection of digital media and ‘natural conversation’ and decided to create it.
Heather developed a strategic partnership with two global entities with competencies in visual media and technology – USC Shoah Foundation and the Institute for Creative Technologies. The partnership she led has resulted in the development of a new medium – natural conversation video.
Through Heather’s leadership, immersive interactive natural conversation video has gone from being a concept to a reality, combining hi-fidelity multi-scopic video with voice commands to deliver commercial grade natural conversation with an individual, whether it’s a life-sized video or on your mobile device, replicating the emotional experience of having a conversation with a person. She developed and pioneered Dimensions in Testimony, a program to interview Holocaust Survivors in volumetric interactive video without that survivor actually being present. Dimensions in Testimony won both the People’s Choice Award and the Jury Prize at Sheffield Doc Fest in 2016. She produced and led the project before moving on to found and lead StoryFile.
As a leader in content based technology, she has spoken about Natural Conversation at Microsoft (2017), US Holocaust Museum (2017), Dartmouth College (2018), FoST (2018), SXSW (2019), SXSW (2019), The LA Times Festival of Books (2019), M.I.T. (2020), and AI Summit (2020). Heather’s work has been featured in Fast Company, NBC’s The Today Show, The New Yorker, Reuters and BBC. She was also featured on 60 Minutes in 2020.
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