Frank Rose is the author most recently of The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories, a landmark book that shows how technology is changing the venerable art of storytelling. Sparked by a decade of reporting for Wired, it has been called “a grand trip” by New Scientist and “a new media bible” by the Italian daily la Repubblica.
Frank speaks frequently on the power of immersive storytelling. He has given keynotes at ad:tech Sydney, the Film4 Innovation Summit, The Guardian's Changing Media Summit, and Sheffield Doc/Fest; debated the future of media at South by Southwest, Ars Electronica, and MIT; and lectured at Stanford, USC, and NYU. He has addressed global marketing summits at Timberland and Unilever, joined R&D symposia at the Museum of Modern Art and the BBC, and taken part in speaker series at Google and Lucasfilm.
A senior fellow at Columbia University School of the Arts, Frank teaches global business executives as faculty director of the executive education seminar Strategic Storytelling, presented in partnership with Columbia Business School. He is also the awards director of Columbia's pioneering Digital Storytelling Lab, where in 2016 he launched the annual Digital Dozen: Breakthroughs in Storytelling awards to honor the most innovative approaches to narrative from the past year.
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A native of Virginia, Frank graduated from Washington & Lee with a degree in journalism and moved soon after to New York. He got his start covering the punk scene at CBGB for The Village Voice, chronicling the emergence of Patti Smith, the Ramones, and Talking Heads. As a contributing editor at Esquire in the early ’80s he began to document a variety of highly idiosyncratic subcultures—new wave in New York, generals and bureaucrats in the Pentagon, Christian surfers in southern California, entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. One of the first national magazine writers to start reporting on digital technology, he stepped into the controversy around artificial intelligence with Into the Heart of the Mind, a national best-seller about researchers at Berkeley trying to program a computer with common sense.
In his next book, West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer, Frank delved into the cult of Macintosh and the power struggle between Steve Jobs and John Sculley that ended with Jobs being expelled from the company. Now available in an updated edition, it too became a national best-seller and was named one of the ten best business books of 1989 by Businessweek. He then turned his attention to Hollywood, becoming a contributing writer at Premiere and profiling such figures as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Tim Burton. At the urging of legendary “superagent” Sue Mengers, he turned a story on turmoil at William Morris into The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business, a multi-generational saga of loyalty and betrayal at what had once been the leading talent shop in Hollywood.
In 1997 he became a contributing writer at Fortune, where he expanded his focus from Hollywood to the global media conglomerates that dominate it. Two years later he joined Wired as a contributing editor and over the next decade covered such stories as the making of James Cameron’s Avatar, Samsung and the rise of the South Korean techno-state, and the posthumous career of Philip K. Dick in Hollywood. His essays and reporting have also appeared in The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, New York, The New Yorker online, Rolling Stone, strategy+business, Travel+Leisure (where he was a contributing editor in the late ’90s), Vanity Fair, and The Wall Street Journal. In addition to his speaking and academic work, he currently writes on art for the Times and books for the Journal and is working on a new book, to be published by Norton in 2021, that will revisit the phenomenon he explored in The Art of Immersion ten years on—this time with an emphasis on how. ■