The rich contextual narrative contained in a story makes it a far more effective way of learning than by reading any procedure, best practice, or most other knowledge transfer media. What makes stories so compelling? While we have been taught that people process information, they actually learn by processing patterns. The patterns held in stories hold far more contextual meaning than we intentionally convey, and stay longer with those being told the stories. Will we ever wean customers from calling the help desk? Should we start our manuals with "once upon a time ...?" Is the answer to usability to create a giant template for all Web applications? Which patterns work, and why don't my patterns ever seem to be ones that stick?
This presentation was delivered by to the Indiana Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication and the Indiana Chapter of the Usability Professionals Association, Monday, March 12, 2007 by user experience and content management consultant Rahel Anne Bailie. Take a rollicking trip through information versus pattern processing, ditting as a requirements-gathering techniques, urban myths as knowledge base model, and other issues related to contextual narrative. Bailie's academic background in creative writing includes a specialization in myth, folklore, and fairytales, which led to a decade-long career in technical communication.
You can reach Rahel at www.intentionaldesign.ca.