“Interactive storytelling is hard. Most people prefer passive viewing experiences that wash over them. But this one works. Emotionally engaging, charming and enlightening.” —Winston Binch
“So much truth here, it’s scary.” —Ginny Golden
Overview: Pride, lust, avarice, gluttony, envy, wrath and sloth: human behavior has been seen in the context of the seven deadly sins for many hundreds of years. Today’s digital world brings with it a whole new set of moral dilemmas. From the greed-driven world of the high-frequency trader to the envy of the anonymous Internet troll, from the Instagram food bore to the dad who e-spies on his kids, this interactive documentary looks at how technology is reshaping our beliefs and everyday lives.
• The project took eleven months to produce.
• It was co-created by the National Film Board of Canada, the Guardian and Jam3
• Featured in the Guardian online and on nfb.ca, the documentary has had more than 400,000 visitors since launching in June 2014.
Comments by the National Film Board of Canada, the Guardian and Jam3:
What are the project’s core features? “The Seven Digital Deadly Sins pulls together the confessions of seven familiar faces—novelist Gary Shteyngart, folk musician and activist Billy Bragg, comics Josie Long, Mary Walsh, Ophira Eisenberg and Bill Bailey, and writer and broadcaster Jon Ronson—alongside 20 first-person stories from a wide range of contributors, including a secret Twitter star, a hacker and a couple whose wedding invite went viral. Some of these stories are extraordinary, and many of them admit to behavior we all recognize, from Bragg’s admission that he loses entire days watching YouTube ‘fail videos’ to Jon Ronson’s guilt—and a little glee—at having flamed enemies online. There are also 21 interactive polls that capture users’ own online admissions of guilt as well as their judgment of others—more than 100,000 submissions thus far.”
How did this project compare with others you’ve worked on in the past? “We tackled a new kind of interactive documentary on this project—what we call the ‘living documentary.’ Data is collected with every poll entry, and this data tells the story over time. It will reveal more about us when there’s enough data to look back and connect the dots.”
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “The most difficult aspect was also the most rewarding. The National Film Board of Canada, a 75-year-old organization, and the Guardian, an almost 200-year-old newspaper, had to learn how to work together and create something that is ultimately greater than each could have done on their own.