If you ask people what's the one digital device they absolutely can't live without, the mobile phone comes out as the clear leader.
That's why you have industry heavyweights like Google's Eric Schmidt calling mobile advertising the single most exciting opportunity for the do-no-evil guys as far back as 2006 (The Wall Street Journal).
It also explains the strategic importance of the Android platform for Google. Mobile search and the ads that come along for the ride will be a massive market.
While predicting the size of such an embryonic market is a little like Mrs. Magellan asking how many lunches to pack, this hasn't stopped the prognosticators from taking a shot. Industry analyst firm Informa, for example, forecasts annual expenditure on mobile advertising reaching the $11.4 billion mark by 2011.
Whether you buy this number or not, the point is that people are increasingly turning to the phone for content ... which brings us storytelling on the "small screen."
Rudy De Waele's blog called Mobile Media Lifestyle looks at this very topic. In fact, De Waele delivered a presentation called Mobile Digital Storytelling in Seoul last week (appreciate Kathrin Eiben in Spain flagging it) that even touches on the tools emerging for packaging a story for display on mobile phones.
Obviously, a tiny screen puts a premium on the visual element.
You can check out the early days of visual storytelling on Flickr via its "tell a story in five frames" initiative, which offers the following guidance:
Guidelines are not rules, but a formula that can be used to suit your creative imagination. Several avenues exist for story telling, such as journalistic reporting, sequential photos that reveal a moment, photographic poetry, and narrative. The following guidelines are for narrative.
A good story has characters in action with a beginning, middle, and an ending. Fortunately a lot of information can be given in a single photograph, enhancing the limitations of five photographs for your story. Location, time, and atmosphere aid viewer imagination. Keep standards of pictorial beauty, but pack as many storytelling elements in one photograph as possible to develop an action.
1st photo: establish characters and location.
2nd photo: create a situation with possibilities of what might happen.
3rd photo: involve the characters in the situation.
4th photo: build to probable outcomes
5th photo: have a logical, but surprising, end.
Like any form of storytelling, drama keeps an audience engaged.