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James Zhang

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How to Look Past the Perceptual.

Here's another challenge to you guys, but it's REALLY challenging, but I think it's fun.

Find a story (news story, movie, personal experiences, whatever).

And do the following analysis.

Identify Premise
Who are the characters in this story? What are the events in this story? What's the setting? Year? Other contexts...

Understand Character
What strengths and weaknesses do you know about the character? What's the character's personality?

Then for each character, put yourselves in their shoes. And ask...
What are they experiencing? What does the character want or what motivates the character's thoughts and actions? How did that character feel in each part of the story. And bonus question, what was the character's past probably like?

Identify Problem
When did a conflict appear? Who or what caused the conflict? Why?
What were the driving forces behind the scene that the story didn't explicitly say?

Then finally the biggest question of all:
Who was the storyteller and what is HIS/HER character like and what was his/her goals in telling the story?

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    Jul 14 2013: This is very reminiscent of how kids are encouraged to approach the reading of fiction when they are in high school.

    There is also a very famous book from the mid-twentieth century by Mortimer Adler called How to Read a Book. It is still in print and encourages the reading of fiction with a strategy much like this one.
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      Jul 14 2013: What if I said, if you learn storytelling, you can save the world from self-destruction?
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        Jul 14 2013: Many of our TED speakers, and many scientists who study human behavior, argue that we all understand our world through the narratives we construct for sense-making. So we are all story-makers, whether we then tell them or not.

        The influence of stories is very well recognized which is why those who aim to persuade one way or another typically put forward a story to pull people in and motivate them to take some kind of action.

        Some stories we tell ourselves or others may have positive effects and some negative effects.

        There will always be many different stories in play.
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          Jul 14 2013: Stories play with emotions. Emotions are humane.
  • Jul 16 2013: I am not sure I agree - from my experience UED was an out growth of Don Norman's work in user centric design (Classic book - the design of everyday things) and James Whiteside work in usability(he coined the term)

    I guess what i was saying was a play on buyer beware - be a skeptic on what you read or hear.
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    Jul 15 2013: I would say I try to do this. I always remember sitting with a one-time music journalist in a bar in Los Angeles. She said she got out of music journalism for this reason: She interviewed a musician and tape-recorded the interview, and then wrote down the interview word-for-word from the tape. She presented this writing to her editor as the piece to run in the magazine, in the other words the article would be a word-for-word transcription of the interview. Her editor changed some of the things the musician said in their side of the interview to make it more interesting, but still presented the interview as though it were a word-for-word transcription of what the musician said! After I heard that story, I took everything I read quite a bit more carefully.
  • Jul 15 2013: I guess what you are suggesting is to apply critical reasoning on what you read/hear. I would also add that Adler's book should be applied to much of non-fiction that is published today given how "factual" some are. Even newspaper stories after reading them fully, do not explain the 5 W's and H.
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      Jul 16 2013: This critical reasoning that you refer to is called...

      User Experience Design.
      • Jul 16 2013: I am not sure I agree - from my experience UED was an out growth of Don Norman's work in user centric design (Classic book - the design of everyday things) and James Whiteside work in usability(he coined the term)

        I guess what i was saying was a play on buyer beware - be a skeptic on what you read or hear.
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          Jul 17 2013: Don Norman, the guy who went crazy over doors? LOL