Frank Rose is the author most recently of The Sea We Swim In, a book about narrative thinking — how stories work, and why they matter in a world defined by data. A frequent speaker at film fes­tivals, mar­keting conferences and academic seminars, he teaches global business executives as faculty director of Columbia University’s executive education seminar Strategic Storytelling and heads the Breakthroughs in Storytelling awards at Columbia’s pioneering Digital Storytelling Lab. His previous book, The Art of Immersion, was a landmark work on technology and the evolution of narrative.

Best-selling Author

The Sea We Swim In

The Sea We Swim In

How Stories Work in a Data-Driven World

BUILDING ON INSIGHTS from cognitive psychology and neuroscience, ‘The Sea We Swim In’ shows us how to see the world in narrative terms, not as a thesis to be argued or a pitch to be made but as a story to be told. This is the essence of narrative thinking.

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The Art of Immersion

The Art of Immersion

How the Digital Generation Is Changing Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories

NOT LONG AGO WE WERE passive consumers of mass media. Now we approach television, movies, even advertising as invitations to participate. We are witnessing the emergence of a new form of narrative that is native to the In­ternet.

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Keynote Speaker

“Frank Rose’s talk was spot on. It was fascinating, exciting and amusing. It sparked quite some debate during the following days of the festival and people still talk about it, so it was memorable, too.”

—Mark Atkin, Crossover Summit at Sheffield Doc/Fest

“Frank Rose was the perfect key­note. . . . His expertise, in­sight and thought­ful provo­cation really engaged the audi­ence and brought brilliant con­text to the dis­cus­sions of the day.”

—Anna Higgs, Film4 Innovation Forum (London)

“Frank Rose’s keynote presentation provided the context for what storytelling has been and will become. It was a great demonstration of the impact of digital media in our society and set the stage for a robust discussion on building the industry in Kansas City.”

—Maria Meyers, Kansas City Digital Storytelling Forum

“Frank Rose’s closing keynote for CODAsummit provided insights into people working on the cutting edge of technology to create experiential artworks. It was a sneak peek into the future of immersive art.”

—Toni Sikes, CEO of CODAworx

“Frank Rose’s research on immersive stories is groundbreaking. It underlines the importance of having a relationship with your audience. In his keynote he helped us understand that in order to center stories in your activities as a culture institution, it is vital to understand your target group. Audience development is, indeed, organisational development.”

—Lene Struck-Madsen, CEO of Applaus (Copenhagen)
Frank Rose speaks on “narrative thinking” — what it is and why it matters.
Narrative thinking means understanding that stories comprise a distinct mode of thought, one that’s as important as logic and reasoning — and that comes far more naturally to us. A mode of thought that plays such a central role in human experience that anyone who wants to sell something, communicate ideas, motivate people, or change their way of thinking needs to know how it works.
Frank has delivered this message at film fes­tivals, mar­keting conferences, academic seminars and industry gath­er­ings world­wide, from Lucasfilm in San Francisco to the Festival della Scienza in Genoa to the Film4 Innovation Forum in London. His overarching point, adapted and expanded from his books The Sea We Swim In and The Art of Immer­sion: That stories are fundamentally about pattern recognition, that the brain is a pattern-seeking organ, and the patterns it finds are largely determined by the social world we live in.

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As a senior fellow at Columbia University School of the Arts, Frank serves as faculty director of the executive education seminar Strategic Storytelling and as awards director of the School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab, where in 2016 he launched the Breakthroughs in Storytelling awards. He also leads private seminars and workshops for corporate and institutional clients.

Strategic Storytelling at Columbia

Strategic Storytelling
Strategic Storytelling is a highly intensive, two-day seminar for mid-level and senior executives. It shows participants how to create immersive stories and experiences across the complex narrative ecosystem that audiences have come to expect in a highly interconnected digital environment.

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Breakthroughs in Storytelling

Digital Dozen
Columbia DSL’s Breakthroughs in Storytelling Awards celebrate the year’s 12 most innovative approaches to narrative. They recognize achievements across the spectrum of media that rely on digital technologies, including film, video, journalism, advertising, marketing, games, art and theater.

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Journalist and Critic

After getting his start covering the New York punk scene at CBGB for The Village Voice, Frank became a contributing editor at Esquire, where he wrote about unusual subcultures — New Wave in New York, bureaucrats in the Pentagon, Christian surfers in Southern California. He went on to become a contributing writer at Premiere, the movie magazine, and later at Fortune. In 1999 he became a contributing editor at Wired, focusing on developments at the intersection of media and technology. He left Wired in 2009 to write The Art of Immersion and currently contributes to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others. An archive of his reporting and essays for these and other publications is available here.


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Learning to Live With AI

Learning to Live With AI

With investors and developers pouring resources into artificial intelligence, we can’t avoid AI. We can make it useful, however. In “Co-intelligence,” Wharton professor Ethan Mollick shows how.

A ‘Holopoem’ for the Cosmos

A ‘Holopoem’ for the Cosmos

Eduardo Kac found an unusual public space for his artwork — orbiting the sun. Celebrated fellow travelers include “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry.