13. The little things


When doing something new it’s always good to start simple.

THE GOAL of an ABC Open producer is to equip the community with skills required to create, collaborate and share stories online and to build a network of story contributors.

THE CHALLENGE is to engage the community and encourage the production of online content.

THE STRATEGY is to provide the region with a multimedia producer and an online platform (http://open.abc.net.au) to help, encourage and facilitate the development of locally produced content.

With these things in mind I have developed the story idea: The little things.

SYNOPSIS: This story idea encourages contributors to produce a diverse range of stories about the little things that people appreciate in life – from watching a sunset to collecting tea pots to the secret ingredient in home made secret sauce.

RATIONALE: People are naturally curious about others and about themselves. This story will highlight and contrast the simple things and basic values in the lives of Australians. More importantly, this story is a simple vehicle to educate the community about sharing stories online and will help build a network of contributors.

The little things accomplishes the following:

The little things is a simple concept that allows a storyteller to focus on developing online storytelling skills. Simultaneously storytellers will be contributing to a canvas of stories highlighting the basic values of all Australians by sharing a little thing that they appreciate about life.


There are two main reasons people use the internet: Information and entertainment. A website needs to provide it’s audience with information and entertainment for the audience to feel that the website has something of value. When an audience feels they are getting value from a website they will interact.

Information + Entertainment = Value + Interaction.

Therefore, a storyteller needs to produce online content which provides information and entertainment that an audience will find valuable. The beauty of search engines and web 2.0, is that like-minded people who have values and interests similar to a storyteller can interact with the storyteller’s online story.

Through natural selection, stories which get a lot of attention will grow exponentially and stories with little interaction will drift off to be archived. This encourages storytellers to continue to improve their multimedia production and storytelling skills so as to create engaging content for their audience. And because the little things is about something that is important to them, a storyteller will enjoy the experience of developing their story online and finding different ways to connect and engage their audience. It’s a nice feeling to have people react to your story and this encourages you to create more stories.

Because the ABC Open team can see what little things Australians are interested in, we can collaborate with storytellers and their audience by feeding and prompting interaction through our own story productions, discussions and workshops relating to the little things, and can even link to ABC news stories relating to the topic chosen by the storyteller, and vice versa. This will help develop and grow the online storytelling community and keep momentum for the ABC Open project.


Ideally I want to develop a network of local online storytellers. Like any social entrepreneur I want to be able to connect members of the community who have complimenting storytelling skills to collaborate and contribute on different storytelling projects.

To begin, I will interact with creative groups in the community (writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians, community speaking groups, the university etc.) and use the little things story idea as a vehicle to test and develop their multimedia production and online storytelling skills, which I will encourage them to develop at a pace they are comfortable with.

I will inform people that the ABC Open project equips members of the community with the knowledge and skills required to share their story online, and that they will be able to learn how to do so at their own pace.

When learning a new skill it is always good to start with baby steps. Workshops, presentations, online resources (such as a blog/forum) and one-on-one lessons will help educate members of the community how to bring their story online. To start, I will teach enthusiastic storytellers in the community how to:

…using different resources available in their homes and around the community, including equipment and software, to create, collaborate and share stories about the little things they appreciate in life. Over time I will be able to encourage members of the community to educate and train others in online storytelling skills.

I can also collaborate with the ABC North Queensland team to encourage the community to produce content for, and interact with, team member’s web pages. For instance, last week Paula Tapiolas of the Morning Show interviewed soldiers regarding Exercise Hamel, the ABC Open story Mr and Mrs Military would compliment Paula’s interview and vice versa. After listening to the story about snakes on the Breakfast Show presented by Pat Hession I would collaborate to contact the interviewee, Gavin Kreisel, and encourage an ABC Open story collaboration for the ABC Open topic Killer Venom.


In most cases I will find out what equipment and software is available to each community member or group and work out what is the best way to share their story. If they have access to the internet (including local libraries) I will show them how to use cloud computing software (blogs etc.) to produce their stories. There is a lot of free and cheap multimedia production tools available to the community and hopefully, with a little encouragement, members in the community will network, grow and help each other to create stories and become storytellers.


Blogging, social networking (Facebook, twitter, etc.) and liquid content are great ways to create, collaborate and share stories online. As long as storytellers adhere to ABC policies we can mix, match, swap and share ABC Open produced content (such as the little things stories) all around the internet and feature the best produced stories on the ABC network.


I asked a few locals about the little things they appreciate in life to brainstorm examples of potential online story growth.

Cheese – A blog about Maria’s love for cheese can generate stories including people’s recipes, people who make home-made cheese and stories about the lives of dairy farmers. This ABC Open story can compliment the ABC’s food and lifestyle categories.

The sound of a harvester – A blog about a boy who enjoys sounds on the farm can generate stories leading to rural concerns such as succession planning. This ABC Open story can compliment the ABC’s rural and agriculture categories.

Snorkelling on the reef – A blog about Nina’s love for snorkelling can generate stories about the Great Barrier reef, including tourism, economy and the complex ecosystem. This ABC Open story can compliment ABC’s environment and community/society categories.

Weekend footy – A blog about Rob’s love for playing football with his mates on the weekend can generate stories about the importance of youth playing sport and discuss the values of sporting heros in a community. This ABC Open story can compliment ABC’s sports category.

All of these stories start with a simple story about the little things people appreciate in life. We need to start simple and build foundations as the ABC Open project develops and as ABC Open producers we can prompt, encourage and interact with community members’ ABC Open-inspired blogs and websites to generate stories for the project.


When the community develops the technical skills required to produce good quality online stories we can focus on more challenging story ideas relating to mining, agriculture and politics, etc. We can even follow up on the little things by introducing a story topic called the big things. Storytellers can create, collaborate and share stories regarding Birth, Love, Occupation, Marriage, Death and other big issues in life.

Make me an ABC Open producer and I’ll get the little things rolling.

Michael Bromage.

Therefore, to recap on this story idea: The little things.

SYNOPSIS: This story idea encourages contributors to produce a diverse range of stories about the little things that people appreciate in life – from watching a sunset to collecting tea pots to the secret ingredient in home made secret sauce.

RATIONALE: People are naturally curious about others and about themselves. This story will highlight and contrast the diversity of Australians regarding the simple things and basic values in life. This open story is a simple vehicle for teaching contributors the foundations of digital media storytelling. Contributors are free to choose a thing to focus on that they know well and appreciate. For physical items contributors can learn how to see and capture the detail of the item and how to display the little thing in a story format. Contributors can also decide which media format will best suit their story about the little thing they appreciate in life. To begin I recommend we start with the simplest media format (text), then add photos, video and sound.

TARGETED STORY CONTRIBUTORS: This story would require anyone who has a story to share about the little things they appreciate in life.

HOW TO ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY: Create awareness of the project through radio announcements, libraries, community groups, universities, social media networks and internet communities.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR STORY DEVELOPMENT: Workshops with community groups may be held to educate story contributors about the different ways to tell a story about little things online. This story will encourage contributors to define and use their preferred creative skills to produce simple stories. For the process of creating a story from idea to finished product please see my storytelling skills page.

DELIVERABLES AND STORY DISTRIBUTION: This story can be displayed on a blog and on social media networks using different types of digital media. Text, image, audio and video media created in the form of viral and liquid content and linking to the ABC Open blog, can be made available for interested and targeted audiences to link and/or embed into their own websites, blogs and social media platforms (such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, etc.) and include maps.

TARGETED AUDIENCES: Regional, national and international audiences.

ADDITIONAL USER GENERATED CONTENT: Audiences may choose to add their own content to the blog/social network relating to little things they appreciate about life in formats suited to best portraying the little thing and comment on other people’s stories.

SUGGESTED CATEGORIES/KEYWORDS: Little things, nick-nacks…

CONTACTS TO POTENTIAL STORY CONTRIBUTORS: One of the little things in life that Jeff appreciates is his torch.

Jeff appreciates his torch

Jeff appreciates his torch

SIMPLE EXAMPLE: While preparing for an interview about dengue mosquitos I asked Jeff to tell me a simple thing that he appreciates about life. With a cheeky grin Jeff reached out and picked up a small torch. I showed Jeff’s wife Pat different ways she could take photos to tell a story and to be aware of details and perspective. Because Jeff is wearing a light coloured shirt and the torch is dark we decided the images would be more effective in black and white. Jeff says: ‘I was rummaging through my shed the other day and there wasn’t enough light to see under the work bench – luckily I had my small torch handy! I’ve always got a small torch lying around somewhere because I never know when I’m going to need one,’ (and with the cyclone season fast approaching Jeff may be right). A torch is one of the little things that Jeff appreciates in his life. What little thing do you appreciate in your life?


Story idea: The little things

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Posted: October 8th, 2010
Categories: Story ideas for ABC Open
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