Directed storytelling comes from the social science method of narrative inquiry and is a quick and simple way for researchers and designers to gain insights into the real-life experiences of people by using simple and thoughtful questions and prompts to guide and frame a conversation. The approach is based entirely on the stories that people tell, and is means of collecting information on real-life behaviours and contexts where observation or longitudinal studies are impractical. Read more »
Picture cards are a common tool in qualitative enquiry, helping people to think about and verbalise stories about their life experiences. The cards help to anchor such stories in context and detail, acting as a stimulus for conversation. Visual reference points are much easier to process than verbal questions. Images can be more relevant or more abstract depending on the context and objectives. Read more »
Storyboards help build a visual narrative to generate empathy and communicate context to help understand or inform the use of design. It is a great way to help capture the different factors that influence behaviour – environment, social context and technology and their influence on how, when and why designs are used. The technique was first developed by Walt Disney in the 1930s
They are also a great tool for planning any kind of communication, including presentations and workshops. Read more »
Douglas Hofsatdter’s first book, Godel, Escher, Bach, had a profound influence on me while I was at university. First published in 1979, I don’t remember when I first read the book. but have since re-read more than once (and it’s not a short book!).
In the book, Hofstadter explores common themes in the lives and works of Kurt Godel (logician), M.C.Escher (artist) and Johann Sebastian Bach (musician), drawing out concepts fundamental to mathematics, symmetry, intelligence and philosophy of mind. Specifically, Hofstadter discusses how self-reference and formal rules allow systems to develop meanings which ‘emerge’ from the system however meaningless the individual elements of that system. That is, the book describes how thinking emerges from the mechanics of neurons firing, creating a unified sense of self, in the same way that a colony of ants self-organises to produce social behaviours which ‘emerge’ from the acts of individual ants. Read more »
Storytelling helps designers and marketers create imagery, emotional resonance and a more complete understanding of events or systems through a natural interaction between themselves and an audience. Storytelling is an important skill in learning and sharing information and biologically hard wired into all of us as a uniquely human trait. Storytelling is the original method through which we have always passed information to one another and is a rich and satisfying way to share knowledge. Read more »