FRANK ROSE is the author most recently of The Sea We Swim In: How Stories Work in a Data-Driven World, just published in the US and the UK and recently featured in the New York Times Book Review’s “New & Notable” column. His previous book, The Art of Im­mer­sion: How the Digital Gen­era­tion Is Remak­ing Holly­wood, Mad­ison Ave­nue, and the Way We Tell Stories, was a landmark work that showed how technology is chang­ing the age-old art of storytelling. Sparked by a decade of re­porting on media and technology for Wired, it has been called “a grand trip” by New Scientist and “a new media bible” by the Italian daily la Re­pubblica.

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 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.

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, MIT, Ars Elec­tronica, and the Politecnico di Milano; 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, taken part in speak­er series at Goo­gle and Lu­casfilm, and led workshops at L’Oréal, TBWA\Chiat\Day, and the United Nations.

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. During this period he partnered with photographer George Bennett on Real Men: Sex and Style in an Uncertain Age, a book about styles of masculinity that featured profiles of seven men—a military cadet, a punk rocker, a professional hockey player, a gay designer, a steelworker, a playboy stockbroker and a Hollywood actor. After that, as a contributing editor at Esquire in the early ’80s, he docu­mented 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 waded into the cont­roversy around arti­ficial intel­ligence with Into the Heart of the Mind, a Bay Area 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 Bay Area 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 the movie magazine Premiere and profiling such figures as Tim Burton and Jeffrey Katzen­berg. Acting on the suggestion 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 was once the leading talent shop in Hollywood.

In 1997 he became a contributing writer at Fortune, where he broadened his focus from Holly­wood to the global media con­glomerates that dominated it—News Corp., Walt Disney, Time Warner, Sony, Viacom, and Universal—and the often ego-driven moguls who controlled them. Two years later he joined Wired as a contributing editor and over the next decade covered such stories as Samsung and the rise of the South Korean techno-state, the posthumous career of Philip K. Dick in Hollywood, and the making of James Cameron’s Avatar. When he realized as a result of this reporting that digital technology was changing the way we tell stories—that it was making them nonlinear, participatory and immersive—he left Wired to write The Art of Immersion.

Frank’s essays and reporting have also appeared in The New York Times Book Review 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) and Vanity Fair. In addition to his speaking, consulting and academic work, he currently contributes to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publications. He lives in the East Village of Manhattan and travels as widely as possible.


How Stories Work in a Data-Driven World

by Frank Rose

A practical guide to “narrative thinking,” and why it matters

in a world defined by data.

“If you want to connect with customers—that is to say, with the audience for the experience

you’ve created—Frank Rose shows not only that you have to think narratively, but how to

go about it, element by element. And he wonderfully exemplifies his ideas, for his stories

about storytelling are superbly written and expertly woven together. Read this book to be

immersed in the sea of storytelling that’s so crucial to business success today.”

—B. Joseph Pine II, coauthor of The Experience Economy and Authenticity

“A master storyteller on the story of stories. Frank Rose deconstructs them expertly—

how they make us pay attention, how they move us, and why we remember them.

His eloquent toolkit will help us make our own stories more effective and avoid

being buffeted by the strange modern sea of digital stories that surrounds us.”

—David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect and founder of Techonomy

“Terrifically readable, as compelling as the many successful stories

and stories of success it tells.”

—Brian Boyd, author of On the Origin of Stories

“Frank Rose’s fascinating new book is an essential companion for our age—

when narratives, no matter how incredible, produce real-world outcomes that defy all

reason. The Sea We Swim In takes us systematically through the elements that create

compelling stories and offers a practical guide both to creating powerful tales

and to resisting the pull of the most dangerous.”

—Rita McGrath, author of Seeing Around Corners

and The End of Competitive Advantage

“What a delightful read and a novel contribution. The Sea We Swim In is an essential master

class in how to think about that next pitch you need to make, letter you want to write,

speech you have to deliver, or anything else you hope will be persuasive. The right story can

open up a person’s heart and change their mind far more effectively than an argument

or set of data—and Frank Rose explains it all beautifully.”

—Daniel J. Levitin, best-selling author of This Is Your Brain on Music

and The Organized Mind

For decades, experts from many fields—psychologists, economists, advertising and

marketing executives—failed to register the power of narrative. Scientists thought stories

were frivolous. Economists were knee-deep in theory. Marketers just wanted to cut to the S

sales pitch. Yet stories, not reasoning, are the key to persuasion. With THE SEA WE

SWIM IN: How Stories Work in a Data-Driven World [W. W. Norton & Company; June

29, 2021; $25.95 hardcover], Frank Rose, author of the landmark book The Art of

Immersion, offers a practical guide to “narrative thinking,” and why it matters in a world

that’s defined and increasingly governed by data.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, stories determine how we view the world and our

place in it. That means the tools of professional storytellers—character, world, detail, voice

—can unlock a way of thinking that’s ideal for an age in which we don’t passively consume

media but actively participate in it. Building on insights from cognitive psychology and

neuroscience, Rose 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.

Leading brands and top entertainment professionals already understand the vast

potential of storytelling. From Warby Parker to Mailchimp to The Walking Dead, Rose

explains how they use stories to establish their identity and turn ordinary people into fans—

and how you can do the same.


Frank Rose is the author of The Sea We Swim In and The Art of Immersion, a landmark

book on tech and narrative. A former contributing editor at Wired and contributing writer at

Fortune, he now teaches global business executives as faculty director of Columbia

University’s Strategic Storytelling seminar and heads the Digital Dozen awards program at

Columbia’s pioneering Digital Storytelling Lab.

TITLE: THE SEA WE SWIM IN: How Stories Work in a Data-Driven World

AUTHOR: Frank Rose


PRICE: $25.95 hardcover

ISBN: 978-1-324-00313-7