Don’t Flinch: Lessons Learned from a Venture Capitalist about Storytelling

Quora: a question and answer platform or a network of stories?
Graphic by Patrizia Kommerell

Inspiration comes from the strangest places sometimes.

When Venessa and I were in Amsterdam last year at the SIBOS international banking conference I made the accquaintance of Eghosa Omoigui, a technology investor and start-up advisor. Eghosa was participating in SIBOS as an Innotribe venture capital advisor in the process of evaluating different ideas for banking innovation which participants came up with in the workshops.

Usually I wouldn’t expect myself to hit it off with somebody like Eghosa, but we got talking and it turned out we shared a common interest in such esoterica as object-oriented storytelling and narrative fractals.

Somehow we came upon the subject of Quora, the new question and answer website. At the time I was getting occasional invites for the service in my inbox, and feeling like I was already distracted enough by Twitter, I hadn’t joined the website yet and was skeptical. Then Eghosa shared a story with me he’d been told by a colleague of his that changed my perspective. He said,

“Quora is not a question and answer website:
it’s a microblogging community.”

His logic went something like this: Let’s say I ask you to blog about some topic because I want to know more about what you think about it. No matter how much the subject matter interests you, you’re probably not going to do it. You don’t have the time. You use your blog to write what you want, not take requests. Enter Quora. You’re confronted with a single question, maybe because a follower has requested you answer it, or maybe because you stumble across it in your feed. Either way, the question is an invitation to blog. Right there on the Quora website. And often enough, people rise to the occasion and answer the question.

I liked the logic behind Eghosa’s evaluation of Quora and the change of perspective was made. I signed up and started using the platform. But it wasn’t until the Future of Art project started being conceived several weeks ago that the big inspiration came: What would happen if I put my interview questions on Quora? It was just a simple hunch, but I decided to follow Eghosa’s personal philosophy of “don’t flinch” and try it out – even if it defied certain conventional wisdom I had about interview questions and my own interviewing process. Here’s the ever-growing list of questions about the future of art.

From here forward in the Future of Art project we’ll be keeping these Quora questions close at hand, both the ones we author and the ones you add to the list. To set this process off, I thought I’d start with the question which has generated the most activity so far:

“Why haven’t the majority of artists embraced open culture and creative commons?”

It’s an especially relevant question given the context of our project in Transmediale’s Open Zone, and I am excited to see how this aspect of the discourse plays out over time.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by gabrielshalom. gabrielshalom said: Lessons Learned from a Venture Capitalist about Storytelling thanks @quora & @EghosaO for inspiration #tm11 #futureofart […]

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