Richard Nash (Sirens, USA)

Richard Nash is a strategist and serial entrepreneur in digital media. Currently founder and Executive Producer of Sirens, a global media organization reporting the news from the future, he previously led partnerships and content at the culture discovery start-up Small Demons and the story app/aggregator start-up Byliner. For a decade he ran the iconic indie Soft Skull Press for which work he was awarded the Association of American Publishers’ Award for Creativity in Independent Publishing in 2005. He left in 2009 to found Cursor, now an open-source community publishing project, and to run Red Lemonade as a pilot for the Cursor project. In 2010 the Utne Reader named him one of Fifty Visionaries Changing Your World and in 2013 the UK’s Bookseller magazine picked him as one of the Five Most Inspiring People in Digital Publishing. He spent the 1990s as an experimental theatre director and producer.


Fictions become real

  • The problem of narrative in terms of ascertaining truth is that it is very seductive. Humans are essentially machines for making stories — we make stories all day every day. Stories are how we make sense of the world, and seek to predict what will happen next. This does mean that we like to make coherent narratives out of sequences that are fundamentally random. We fool ourselves with stories.
  • Increasingly marketing and branding rely on story to succeed. How do we remain vigilant around how we use narrative, to stress test it?
  • My new company, Sirens, is testing this in the most radical way, by building a news organization that reports the news from seven years into the future, using journalists, novelists, data scientists and social scientists. We are imagining another world, in part to galvanize people in the present to seriously consider the consequences of present action and inaction.
  • Story is rarely the best way to go about the process of how to solve a problem. But it is enormously effective at getting a problem to be treated as a problem.