Power of Storytelling — How I Make Postcolonial Theory Interesting

Last night in class, I did a pecha kucha presentation about how postcolonial theory could apply to my past work experience, which is the most successful presentation in my whole life. I feel so excited about it and decided to start blogging by blogging this (bear with me…).

The presentation requirement was 9 slides, 20 second on each slide. I knew I was successful as people start to laugh at the second slide. That was a relief to me and I even didn’t feel nervous anymore. There were laughters throughout the whole presentation, more than I’d expected. Of course the quality of a presentation is not judged by how many people laughed. But it was 9:30pm, at the end of a 4-hour theory class, and people are still so engaged by the slides and stories I was telling! What’s more inspiring was that they were really hooked to the story and asked me more about it after the presentation.

I realized the power of storytelling. The best way to keep audience engaged is perhaps to tell a story. Who doesn’t love stories? Just think about how people love movies, TV series, opera…So, embody storytelling into designs! The design could be everything in daily life, like designing a study method, designing a presentation, designing a conversation even. ( Now I’m a fan a immersive design)

Speaking of designing daily experience by storytelling, I remembered my bestie’s ear studs. She wear different ear studs on each ear, and she rotates the combination everyday. The fun part is that she always come up with a tagline for the combination. So people ask about her ear studs very often to see what’s the new story is. See, I’m telling you a story now in case you get bored by so many texts.

I attach my presentation script here, and hope it could help you get the fun of postcolonial theory.

Before coming to HCDE, I was an investment research intern in Innovation Works, which is a Venture Capital firm in China. And today I’ll share with you a case that we invested last year and how post-colonial theory could apply to it.
To give a little background, Japanese culture, especially their ACG culture, is having greater impact on young generations in China. A great many people watch Japanese animations, play animation games, and even cosplay cartoon characters. Innovation Works is very good at investing for this group of people.
AKB48 in Japan
Another representative social phenomenon in Japan is AKB 48, an idol girl group and one of the most profitable musical performers in Japan. The group performs daily in their own theater and there are also handshake events where fans can meet the group members in person.
Our investment team found this kind of performance very promising and decided to fund SNH 48 in Shanghai. Back then, there was another new teenage boy group called TF boys in China, but we thought that teenage boy group targets mainly females 20 to 30-ish, while a girl group could target both male and female with larger age span.
SNH48 in Shanghai
But could SNH 48 really create a fuss in China as AKB48 in Japan? The post-colonial theory tells us that all design and research practice is culturally located and power laden. In this case, this kind of performance is also culturally specific.
In Japan, it seems pretty natural for the male fans to spend a lot money and wait for a long time, just to shake hand with a girl performer for 10 seconds. And the majority of AKB 48 fans are males of all age. The shows are also catered to male audience, like 14-year-old girls wearing bikini in concerts.
AKB48 Handshake Event
This may be related to the male’s power in Japan, so that many things run in man’s point of view. However, in China, this could not be happening so naturally. It’s okay to be obsessed with cartoon characters, but people will think it creepy if an old man makes such an effort to shake hand with a teenage girl.
Thus SNH48 is not as a big hit in China as AKB 48 in Japan. The fans are equally distributed in gender, and male fans are not as fanatical as female. But on the other hand, TF boys are better known because they successfully attract a large amount of female fans who are extremely crazy for them.
But if you ask me whether it’s a bad investment decision, I would say no. Because there are so many people in China, even attracting 1 percent of the population is a huge deal. But deeper understanding of the culture would help cater it to Chinese market.
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