The Story of Story: Using Narrative Elements in the Service of Usability.
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The Story of Story: Using Narrative Elements in the Service of Usability.

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Agenda. Why story?What makes for a good story?How can stories be useful in promoting useful and usable systems?How do you elicit or create stories?The Walking People (Oral history of the Iroquois): BOTH Story AND Pattern LanguageSome Socio-technical Patterns from the IroquoisQuestions and comments?.
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1. The Story of Story: Using Narrative Elements in the Service of Usability. John C. Thomas Usability Professionals Association June 15, 2006 jcthomas@us.ibm.com www.watson.ibm.com/knowsoc/ www.truthtable.com

2. Agenda Why story? What makes for a good story? How can stories be useful in promoting useful and usable systems? How do you elicit or create stories? The Walking People (Oral history of the Iroquois): BOTH Story AND Pattern Language Some Socio-technical Patterns from the Iroquois Questions and comments?

3. Why an interest in stories? Returned to IBM to work in Knowledge Management in 1998 ?Knowledge management is simply getting the right information to the right person at the right time.? The story of Dr. Maciw Human beings are not just information processors; also energy processors ? media matters, presentation matters Guernica, Lincoln Memorial, ?Flight? Observe people: you can tell when they are sharing stories: body language and voice animation

4. Stories are memorable and motivating Can communicate a huge amount of ?tacit? knowledge to those who have the requisite background experiences; e.g., Harvey Penick?s Little Red Book : Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf Once experienced, a huge complex of knowledge may now be referenced easily; e.g., Robin Williams in Aladdin

7. Stories tend to focus on the ?edges? of human experience

8. Though experienced sequentially, story has hierarchical structure

9. Stories can be viewed as three-dimensional:

10. Character versus Characterization Character is revealed by choices under pressure; it is what the person is essentially Often confused with mere characterization ? the surface aspects of a person: male/female; age; plays the flute; works at IBM; has a white beard; talks with a Dublin accent, etc. Develop empathy for the hero from the outside in

11. Revealing tension between character and characterization

17. Stories feed on CONFLICT Intra-psychic Inter-personal With the larger society or physical world The most interesting stories have all three; e.g. The Sound of Music, Casablanca

18. What makes for a good story? A hero who wants something passionately; many obstacles; willing to go to the ?end of the line? (Romeo & Juliet) Three main dimensions: Character, Plot, Setting Conflict: External World, Interpersonal, Intra-psychic (e.g., Sound of Music) Action: In every scene a value should change from good to bad or vice versa An emotional ?roller coaster.? A story arc. Cf. ?success stories? on a website

19. Story strength elements: a protagonist with whom we can empathize and sympathize time pressure something important at stake (customer shaved 5% off costs vs. stay in business and 1000 jobs saved in a small town) clear protagonist goal rising action and complication; mounting risk formidable antagonist (Superman: identity, kryptonite, loves friends) peaks and valleys harmonious emotional sequence use of audience superior position or suspense new twist on universal theme meaning -- an underlying theme

20. Work from the outside in to engage empathy: Objective Situation: Sensation and Feeling: Emotion: Inner Conflict:

21. Work from the outside in to engage empathy: The wind howled. Jack felt the sting of the sleet. ?Blast it! Suzi doesn?t really need this medicine!? ?Why do I always let her talk me into these hair-brained schemes anyway? Why don?t I fight back??

22. Mechanisms of Good Presentation: Show, don?t tell Text and subtext Active, specific verbs; try to avoid ?is? ?went? ?had? Use periodic sentences: put critical information at the end: ?I?ll kill you with this gun if you don?t hand over all your gold right this minute.? vs. ?Hand over your gold right now, or die.? Turn ?exposition? into ?ammunition?

23. Text and Subtext: If the scene is about what the scene is about, you are dead in the water Love Story 1: A couple goes out to a romantic, candlelit dinner; soft music plays. He says, ?Oh, I love you.? She says, ?Oh, I love you too.? The hold each other?s hands and stare lovingly into each other?s eyes. Love Story 2: Man is having trouble changing a tire and a woman stops to help. ?Hand me the wrench.? Text/Subtext encourages ?deeper processing? of material thereby making it both more interesting and more memorable.

24. Use Specific Verbs "John went across the room." How? By tricycle? Levitation? Teleportation? Hit by Arnold Schwartzenegger? Or, what? Ambled Staggered Crawled Strode Leapt Floated Cartwheeled

25. Turn Exposition into Ammunition Avoid ?Feather Dusting? dialogue. ?So, how long have we known each other, Mike? 35 years, eh? Yeah, ever since we were undergraduates together at Case-Western.? ?Geez, Mike! Look at you! When are you going to get a clue? It?s 2006 but you?re still wearing the same flower power shirts you wore at our Phi Epsilon Pi parties at Case-Western in the 60?s.? ?Yeah, well, at least I don?t wear the same dark suit and power tie combo as every other robot in this city.?

26. Emotional Sequencing The characters in the story need to follow a logical emotional progression; e.g., fear -- > hate; Stockholm syndrome But, the READERS of the story generally have to follow an emotional progression as well. Scene One ends with something totally disgusting Scene Two opens with erotic love ??

27. Agenda Why story? What makes for a good story? How can stories be useful in promoting useful and usable systems? How do you elicit or create stories? The Walking People (Oral history of the Iroquois): BOTH Story AND Pattern Language Some Socio-technical Patterns from the Iroquois Questions and comments?

28. Stories can be used to enhance usability. Stories can help us understand customer needs more deeply FORTUNE, Feb.3rd, 1997 Stories can be used for knowledge creation and sharing within a Community of Practice Scenarios can help concretize and communicate Requirements and Design Stories can help users understand the system In some cases, the product is the story (Pine & Gilmore, The Experience Economy).

29. Understanding Customer Needs Surveys and self-reports often induce a ?should? mode; e.g., people claim to read The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times --- not USA Today or The National Enquirer. Stories may induce more of a ?what is? mode. Stories can also induce fantasy and get people to go beyond current context. Stories can induce deeper wants and needs that may transcend current fashion or technological possibility.

30. How do story and usability relate? Useful usable Design depends on: User Context - Environment Task; Goals Evolving Interaction over time Major Problems: Gulf of Execution Gulf of Evaluation

31. Usability and good story Good Usability (STORY) Design depends on: User -- (PROTAGONIST) Context ? (ENVIRONMENT) Task -- (GOALS) Evolving Interaction over time Major Problems: (MAJOR DEVICES): Gulf of Execution = (CAN?T ACHIEVE GOAL) Gulf of Evaluation = (SURPRISING RESULT)

32. We want protagonists who: Are willful...have a conscious goal -- will go to the end of the line....want very much to get their task done may have a contradictory unconscious goal Have a CHANCE of getting the goal Teachable Have strong antagonist(s) (the system?) Are resourceful use many strategies Cause us to empathize with them

33. Developers may see users as protagonists who: Are not willful... will not go to the end of the line....couldn't care less. Instead of having a CHANCE of getting the goal, are either hopeless ? or, if the developers are wildly successful MUST reach the goal. Instead of strong antagonist(s), have trivial difficulties. Instead of being resourceful, they have not even RTFM. Users are often not portrayed so as to cause developers empathy. Emphasis is often put on characterization, not character --- hence No-one really cares --- no empathy has been created

34. Empathy as Method Rat study in the 1930?s compared Hull?s theory and Tolman?s theory to predict behavior of rats in a number of situations.... And the winner was....

35. A group of non-professionals asked to imagine what is was like to be a rat and what would they do in this situation if they were a rat.

36. Later, at IBM in the 1970?s I asked individuals who were unfamiliar with business processes, to imagine each of several roles involved in an invoicing process and then to imagine what information they would want to have on an invoice if they had that role. Each person was able to generate almost all of the information actually required on an invoice

37. Heuristic Evaluation + Empathy Control Group and Experimental Group given equal amounts of time to find potential problems with system and suggest improvements Experimental Group asked to successively imagine the perspectives of various people; e.g., cognitive psychologist, behavior therapist, occupational therapist, worried mother, Freudian analyst, etc. Experimental Group of Developers and Non-professionals found significantly more usability issues and more suggestions than Controls Desurvire, H. & Thomas, J. C. Enhancing the performance of interface evaluators using non-empirical usability methods. In Proceedings of the HFS 37th Annual Meeting. HFES: Santa Clara, CA, 1993.

38. Story and Usability The Author (cf. "authority", "authentic") must KNOW The World of the story The Characters Architect a sequence of events through space-time Possibly also a sequence of character changes, and/or world changes AND a presentation to the reader presentation ~= events text ~= subtext

39. Story and Usability The Usability Expert must KNOW The Context in which users operate The Users Architect potential sequences of events through space-time Possibly also a sequence of changes in mental model, and/or world changes AND presentations to various stakeholders presentation ~= events text ~= subtext

40. Agenda Why story? What makes for a good story? How can stories be useful in promoting useful and usable systems? How do you elicit or create stories? The Walking People (Oral history of the Iroquois): BOTH Story AND Pattern Language Some Socio-technical Patterns from the Iroquois Questions and comments?

41. Story: How to collect stories How to morph stories How to create stories

42. Social Dynamics of Storytelling Storytelling is a social act. Who tells stories to whom? Storytellers Exercise Power. How does storytelling impact status? The "victors" write the history. Storytelling Involves Risk. What are the risks? Are there ways to tell stories that mitigate risks? Telling a story versus Writing a story. Most people like to tell stories; very few like to write stories. Storytelling is Often Collaborative. Stories beget stories. Comparing individual stories can lead to larger truths accepted by a community or team.

43. Social Dynamics of Storytelling (Continued) Storytellers Try to Enhance Face. What are some of the methods of doing this? How can we use this knowledge to contextualize the story as told? Culture impacts Story. How do people from various cultures modify stories? How can we learn about culture from story? Typically, it is best to observe storytelling among peers; however, sometimes, you need to elicit stories. Elicitor Guidelines. How can you effectively elicit stories from others?

44. Observations and Conversations with Interviewers (by Deborah Lawrence): Reporters Medical Record Takers Police Investigators Hot line volunteers Therapists

45. Guidelines for Eliciting Stories Provide a "warm-up" period. Tell something personal and revealing about yourself; perhaps tell a story that is a model of the kind of story you're looking for. Observe an implicit contract of trust. Provide a motivation for the story -- why it's important. Accept the storyteller's story and worldview. Don't resist the story. Reveal who you are, how the story will be used, potential audience and goals, answer questions. Use questions to probe. Sometimes, a totally "off the wall" question can create space for story to emerge. Empower the storyteller -- they are the expert. Avoid threat; don't appear as an expert yourself. Listen with avid interest.

46. Techniques for morphing "Negative Stories? Issue: We can learn from others mistakes but How to do so in a corporate environment? Anonymity Projective spaces; e.g., British Navy Admiral cartoon "Trusted Source & registered anonymity" (e.g., Moose Crossing) Re-framings: "I almost did X, but -- Deus Ex Machina -- hence, goodness" "I had intra-psychic conflict; almost did X, but thankfully did ~X; hence, goodness" (airline seats) "As an experiment, on a small scale, we did X and discovered badness; hence, ~X"

47. Creating Stories Take a "What if?" larger, smaller, prettier, uglier, stronger, longer, grosser, etc. Focus on an action, a person, a thing, a quality and say: where did this come from ? where is it going? how did it get here? when will it end? who made this happen? why is this here? what will happen next?

48. The best stories come from ... When were you most upset? When were you most frightened? When were you most amused? When were you most yourself? When were you forced to be least yourself? When were you most angry? When were you most earthy? When were you most spiritual? Can use your own experiences even if the ?setting? and ?content? of the story you are creating is quite different.

49. The Walking People Oral history of one branch of the Iroquois transcribed into English by Paula Underwood Includes additional material about the translation, the relation of the narrated locations to modern geography and about the process of using the story Less like a ?blog? than a ?Pattern Language?

50. The Walking People is persistent Internal Redundancy Songs repeated often All learn the narrative However, some are especially selected and trained as storytellers ?Listening? is not passive but an active process that requires ?deep? processing An awareness of the possibility of error

51. The Walking People is likely to be an accurate recounting Travels recounted and descriptions are consistent with geography No ?story-arc? in The Walking People No ?deification? in The Walking People No retroactive ?fixing? of erroneous decisions The events are physically and psychologically believable No ?we/good? ?they/bad? dichotomy

52. The Walking People as Pattern Language Sole criterion for inclusion seems to be whether the incidents recounted show new learning Each story includes context, detailed description, summary of solution pattern and an ?analysis of forces? illustrated by a recounting of the arguments pro and con Taken together, the stories form a lattice of inter-related solutions to a domain of problems

53. An Approach for knowledge creation and sharing: A Pattern Language Christopher Alexander Architectural ?Patterns? that capture recurring problems and solutions Organized into a ?Pattern Language? ? a lattice of inter-related Patterns. Examples: Eccentric Town Center encourages commuter traffic to stop at Town Center European Pub Gradient of Privacy in homes: porch, entry, living room, dinning room, kitchen, bedroom

54. Some Socio-Technical Patterns Elicit from Diversity Rule of Six Small Successes Early Reality Check Who Speaks for Wolf? Support Conversation at Boundaries Social Proxy Context-setting Entry Answer Garden Registered Anonymity Anonymized Stories for Organizational Learning Mentoring Circle Radical Co-location Levels of Authority Rites of Passage

55. Elicit from Diversity Pp. 7-8: ?AND HOW MANY MIGHT DO WHAT FEW-ALONE COULD NOT EVEN THOUGH EACH OF THE MANY HAS LESS STRENGTH.? Pp. 11-12: ?WHAT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ONE MAY BE POSSIBLE FOR MANY? P 44. ?IF THERE IS NOT ONE AMONG US WHO CONTAINS SUFFICIENT WISDOM MANY PEOPLE TOGETHER MAY FIND A CLEAR PATH.? P. 65: ?WHAT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ONE MAY BE POSSIBLE FOR MANY?

56. ?WHAT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ONE MAY BE POSSIBLE FOR MANY? THINKING OF THIS, They wove ropes which were long as well as thick and with which those who were struck by Ocean and washed from their footing might be restrained by others who were more secure.

57. Iroquois ?Rule of Six? You are in a meeting room. Your calendar says the meeting is supposed to start at 10 am. The clock on the wall says 10:15. John is not here yet. You think: ?John doesn?t really care about this project.? According to the ?Rule of Six? you need to generate five additional explanations for the current situation.

58. Iroquois ?Rule of Six? Your calendar entry is wrong The clock on the wall is wrong John comes from a culture where 15 minutes is not ?late? John was unavoidably delayed in traffic John was waylaid by the Vice-President and even now is talking up the project

59. Seek to Understand the Heart of Others The Iroquois reflect on how giant tree sloths became extinct and how even now bear and deer are more difficult to find; they decide to understand more about how their four-footed brothers live and ensure the world is arranged for their prosperity Later, when confronted with a war-like tribe with superior weaponry, they see that this other tribe, unlike the Iroquois, has a strict division of labor between men and women. The Iroquois use this, first to learn the arts of war and then, when battle comes, to ?freak out? their opponents by sending five women to fight their braves.

60. Small Successes Early

61. Reality Check

62. Reality Check

63. Who Speaks for Wolf? Visual by www.PDIimages.com

64. Where can you find out more? www.research.ibm.com/knowsoc/ Fog, K., Budtz, C., Yakaboylu, B. Storytelling: Branding in practice. Berlin: Springer, 2005. Frey, J. How to Write a Damn Good Novel : A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling, New York: St. Martin?s Press, 1987. De Geus, Arie The living company: habits for survival in a turbulent business environment. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1997. Lawrence, D. and Thomas, J. Social Dynamics of Storytelling: Implications for Story-Base Design. AAAI Workshop on Narrative Intelligence, N. Falmouth, MA. November, 1999

65. Where can you find out more? McKee, R. Story. New York: Harper/Collins, 1997. Paulos, John Allen. Once upon a number: the hidden mathematical logic of stories. New York: Basic books, 1998. Schank, R. C. Tell me a story: Narrative and intelligence. Evanston: Northwestern University, 1990. Thomas, J. Narrative Technology in the New Millennium. Knowledge Management Journal. July, 1999. Thomas, J. Stories, Storytelling and Human Computer Interaction. Human Factors and Ergonomic Society Special Interest Group on Computers Newsletter, July, 1999. Turner, M. The literary mind. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

66. Where can you find out more? Thomas, J.C.; Danis, C. M.; Lee A. Who Speaks for Wolf? Report of the T.J. Watson Research Center. RC22644 (2002). Pine, J. B. II & Gilmore, J. H. The experience economy: work is theatre and every business a stage. (1999). Desurvire, H. & Thomas, J. C. Enhancing the performance of interface evaluators using non-empirical usability methods. In Proceedings of the HFS 37th Annual Meeting. HFES: Santa Clara, CA, 1993. Thomas, J. C., Kellogg, W. A. & Erickson, T. A. The knowledge management puzzle: human and social factors in knowledge management. IBM Systems Journal, 40 (4), 863-884, 2001.

67. Q & A? Comments, questions, suggestions? John C. Thomas jcthomas@us.ibm.com www.watson.ibm.com/knowsoc/ www.truthtable.com

68. E.g. Washing Dishes Hand Washing Duo Rhythm required Side by side ?confessional? Conversation OK Team accomplishes the work High shared stimulus context Using Dishwasher Rhythm not required Unitary better Conversation ? Team or One prepares machine to accomplish the work Moderate shared stimulus context

69. Fixing Dinner Traditional cooking Negotiation Required High shared stimulus context (same meal) Synchronous activity Conversation likely Microwave No negotiation required (separate meals) Asynchronous activity Conversation less likely (person who is ready first starts some other activity)

70. Traditional Queue Some shared context; however? Perceived as competition for limited resource (tickets may run out) People in front are costing you time Face to Back of Head orientation Asynchronous movement reinforces individual identity (cf. rowing)

71. Vibrating Pager Queue The obviousness of the competition has been greatly reduced No requirement to ?face the same direction? Face to face interaction possible Conversation is much more likely

72. Enhanced Telephone Help Desk Queue Many more people need help solving technical problem than servers available People describe problem ASR used to group similar problems People are bridged onto a conference call Synthesis announces to group their areas of overlapping interest Group may be able to solve the individual problems When available, help first gives generic advice


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