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Analysis and opinion 19 Jun 2017

Technology and the new financial narratives

In a report entitled The Future of Football, Futurizon predicts that in the future, sports events will be broadcast using tiny drones capable of hovering a few inches above the playing field, swirling around spectators or chasing the ball in the air. Except for referees, players and coaches, ordinary spectators have always enjoyed these events from architectural points of view:  the stands or the sides of the pitch. And, even if we don’t realize it yet, narratives have also depended on these points of view. What would happen if the perspective changed? Would it be possible to televise a match exactly as the referee sees it? Would that be of any interest at all? Or telling what an embedded drone observes?

These possibilities are quite suggestive; much more if the images are accompanied by sounds that we have never been able to hear before. Would players behave differently if we could hear what they say to the linesmen, their breathing before the final goal? And what about sports journalism’s approach? Something similar is already happening in eSports and Formula One, and may become pervasive in the future.

In a recent interview, Michael Gunton, wildlife documentary producer and senior executive at the BBC Natural History Unit, underscored the importance of telling stories from new points of view. And this is someone who indeed knows what he’s talking about: In Planet Earth II, viewers can crawl alongside a beetle as it climbs a desert dune, witness the behavior of the elusive snow leopard during mating season, follow a lizard as it creeps over a lion, or fly right next to a falcon. Today, this type of footage is possible through to technology. And here is where the tremendous success of these documentaries lies. What before could only be filmed using a tripod, today can be shot from groundbreaking perspectives.

This flexibility is enabled by progress in recording media: the miniaturization of cameras, high-definition technologies, night vision technologies or drone aerial filming. Combined, all these new technologies offer directors endless new possibilities that enrich their work. Taking this idea as a premise, the Australian documentary Tales by Night accompanies nature photographers in their professional adventures. Art Wolfe, one of them, uses a small rover to approach a pack of lions. The tripod was once the only natural point of view of humans.

nature explore travel resource bbva

All this has no meaning without the appropriate narrative. Having multiple perspectives is great, but knowing which one is the most conducive at each point expands its possibilities. Any phenomenon can be told using the adequate tools. Maybe aerial shots work better when trying to understand a football team’s strategy, but to learn how coaches communicate, spectators would have to see the game from their perspective. Perspectives are a challenge to describe the process. We can record as many as we want, but if we don’t know how to feel them and interpret them, they will be of little use. That is why it is so important to properly narrate what we’re seeing. Literature has not only specialized in fiction, but uses its tools to describe landscapes, objects and the many manifestations of what is real. That is why scientific, commercial or analytical education should also include notions of what’s known as storytelling.

How is all this related to banking?

Financial institutions are no longer exclusively physical entities. Our perspective about them goes beyond faces, branches or telephones. Digital devices, robots and mobile apps are the present and future of these interactions. These are also new perspectives. Some of these interactions are totally silent; others take place outside working schedules and most exceed the scope of traditional commercial support. The keys are the passwords, the customers are users, the doors are logins. That’s why the new cases need to be suitably narrated, in order to be studied and made the most of. Tomorrow’s customers will have new ways of telling about these experiences; many of them will be digital in nature, with a new vocabulary and probably using other ideas and formats.

Tomorrow’s customers will have new ways of telling about these experiences

It’s becoming increasingly clear – for the time being – that we have told our stories from biased perspectives. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they were wrong. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn already introduced this notion. As a theory, perspectivism shows us the positive side of all this: in the future we will achieve a more comprehensive vision of reality, and technology today offers a glimpse of it. Although panoptic vision may be an illusion – if we know how to narrate – we can step into other people’s shoes or understand how they use their applications in their devices.

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