W18 - Incubator of stories

My team and the rest of the class worked throughout the weekend on the report and mid-presentation. Kevin came up with a brilliant idea of presentation that we gonna experiment. His inspiration came from a TED talk <What Are The Clues To A Good Story?> by Andrew Stanton who wrote the Toy Story movies. 

And the way I like to interpret that is, probably the most greatest story commandment, which is, make me care - please, emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically - just make me care.

William Archer: "Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty."

It confirmed something I really had a hunch on, is that the audience actually wants to work for their meal. They just don't want to know that they're doing that. That's your job as a storyteller is to hide the fact that you're making them work for their meal. We're born problem solvers. We're compelled to deduce and to deduct because that's what we do in real life. It's this well-organized absence of information that draws us in. There's a reason that we're all attracted to an infant or a puppy. It's not just that they're damn cute, it's because they can't completely express what they're thinking and what their intentions are, and it's like a magnet, we can't stop ourselves from wanting to complete the sentence and fill it in.

A researcher takes his son to work for the first time. The little boy looks around the research station with big eyes. "What are these things?" the boy asks. "This are petri dishes where we cultivate cells or small mosses". The little boy looks confused. "Is this what you do all day?" he asks carefully. The researcher shakes his head. 

A researcher takes his son to work for the first time. The little boy looks around the research station with big eyes. "What are these things?" the boy asks. "This are petri dishes where we cultivate cells or small mosses". The little boy looks confused. "Is this what you do all day?" he asks carefully. The researcher shakes his head. 

They walk on through a corridor full of maps and diagrams. Again the boy points at them asks "Dad, dad, dad! And what are these things?". "Oh, scientists make these to show how the permafrost disappears as the earth gets warmer each day", the researcher responds. The boy tilts his head and asks "Is this what you do all day?". "No, not most of the time", the researcher says.

They walk on through a corridor full of maps and diagrams. Again the boy points at them asks "Dad, dad, dad! And what are these things?". "Oh, scientists make these to show how the permafrost disappears as the earth gets warmer each day", the researcher responds. The boy tilts his head and asks "Is this what you do all day?". "No, not most of the time", the researcher says.

They arrive at the researchers tiny office. Immediately the boy points at a huge bookshelf that aches under the weight of the many books, folders and stacks of papers that have been placed on it. "Dad, did you write all of these books?". The researcher chuckles. "No, no, I merely read them for my research". And again the boy asks "Is this what you do all day?" - "Son, no, not all day. Only sometimes".

They arrive at the researchers tiny office. Immediately the boy points at a huge bookshelf that aches under the weight of the many books, folders and stacks of papers that have been placed on it. "Dad, did you write all of these books?". The researcher chuckles. "No, no, I merely read them for my research". And again the boy asks "Is this what you do all day?" - "Son, no, not all day. Only sometimes".

The boy kneels on the floor next to the bookshelf. "But Dad. What DO scientists do all day?" The researcher looks stumped. He pauses to clean his glasses. He finally says "Well… Scientists explain things to people that no one ever knew before." The boys eyes widen. "What kind of things does nobody know?" he asks. The researcher pats him on the head. "Some day you will be a scientist and then you will understand".

The boy kneels on the floor next to the bookshelf. "But Dad. What DO scientists do all day?" The researcher looks stumped. He pauses to clean his glasses. He finally says "Well… Scientists explain things to people that no one ever knew before." The boys eyes widen. "What kind of things does nobody know?" he asks. The researcher pats him on the head. "Some day you will be a scientist and then you will understand".

I really like the end of the story. It seemingly implies the problem using an indirect manner. It has the natural feeling of an ending. Space are created for imagination. Though the development seems a bit redundant and this is only a personal preference.

This makes me reflect on my own approach of communication. I'm an ultimate example of an over-reasoning person. I love stories but I'm not good at telling stories. People always envy the magic they don't have and thus I envy people who can tell stories. And these people envy my super power of sarcasm and telling the truth.

Ironically, I was reading a book on storytelling last week and it was as boring as hell. This is an indication that I have to reconsider my channels for information. I love books and I love reading, especially for purely procrastination. But sometimes you have to find more efficient ways to achieve your goal.

Mid Presentation.001.jpg

Mid presentation in Abisko

Considering that we were heavily brainwashed by Wes Anderson's movie <The Grand Budapest Hotel>, the style of our presentation was as posh, dramatic and symmetric as Futura. Before we were slightly worried about the value of a 10-hour train ride simply for the sake of presentation, but then it turned out to be a great opportunity to meet stakeholders and revisit our path.

We met again Ludmilla and impressed by the approach she used to translate the language of science to daily life. It's about storytelling. An example she gave was to use mythology to explain the name of plants. Until then I realised what Brendon meant in ethnography lecture on "people love to talk about what they are good at". Because it evokes and resonates with people's emotion. A good interviewer has the ability to find out what the interviewee is truly passionate about.

Besides, a great learning point was how to communicate with your clients. It was nice that we tried to challenge them with a novelty concept. However, if this doesn't solve their problem, and after the discussion on "You want an apple but I have a nice orange", I personally cannot ignore their concerns anymore. It is not about being like a passive servant and feed whatever your clients want. Sometimes they are narrow minded and they don't know what they want. It's more about understanding the reason behind instead of a single statement.

Working on a bouncing train is not an easy task

Working on a bouncing train is not an easy task

Depressing door(s)

Depressing door(s)

Lovely cover of a book in the library

Lovely cover of a book in the library

Sweeeeeets - Poloar survival kits

Sweeeeeets - Poloar survival kits

It's all about stories

What we found out particularly interesting is the pervasive usage of storytelling. It could be the beginning of a presentation. It could be the tool we provided researchers with. It could be your own interpretation of any information. It could be a method to analyse and synthesise research. It could be used as a brainstorming tool. We love stories.

Thus we started to read the book <Storytelling for User Experience> (and I expanded my reading list of the full set of the books including <Interviewing Users>. I wish I came across this book earlier for ethnographic research in Abisko) and experiment the beauty of stories. 

Stories from ethnographic research (and it's double sided!)

Cluster information into: persons, places, activities and motivations (Kevin's adopting my tiny little dot on cap I)

Of course the random Facebook birthday story generator was just a trigger. We were fascinated by the power of randomness which helps us to see the possibilities that we haven't experience before. Thus we went back on ethnographic research stories and cluster the information. (And it happened on a Saturday...) Then it was the wonderful moment (And it happened 3 hours after at midnight, during that moment I screamed inside desperately saying " I wanna be a "delicate" programmer.)

I'm still not quite sure what this could lead us to. It's fun though. However this is always the case in design process. At least we experimented and even if it fails in the end, we can learn from it.

Basic graphic elements

Basic graphic elements

Adapted to multiple screens

Adapted to multiple screens

Screen based design is not a devil 

At the same time our delicate programmer was working on the randomise story generator, I was working on my first app interface. I finally got to the point to understand why Nigel said "interactive illustrations on screen should be simple to leave space for interaction". The graphics I made was rather flat and simple, just as a guideline. And afterwards they were really easy to expand and being adapted to multiple screens. And eventually I conquered my fear of designing something screen based, it was actually pretty fun to play with vectors. It just takes a lot lot lot time.

How to digitise your notebook:scan is apparently just a compromise

It's about writing style still

But I'm really running out of time to summarise

Reading

The reading materials are going accumulative and seems slightly out of control now. I was reading again the book about English grammar, random pages from wikipedia, linguistic books about writing and conversation, set of design books, last year's service design reports.

Experience extreme weathers in May : raining cottage cheese on my scarf

Experience extreme weathers in May : raining cottage cheese on my scarf

Sharing the sauna corner with a silly mallard

Sharing the sauna corner with a silly mallard