Oral cultures come with implicit codes for the repetition of words and sentences, making room for some literary hide-and-seek between the storyteller and his audience.
Could such narrative schemes be employed for users’ stories to open out the dialog between users (the storytellers) and business analysts (the listeners).
To begin with fiction, authors are meant to tell stories for readers ready to believe them at least while they are reading.
For young readers yet unable to suspend their disbelief, laser-disc games of the last century already gave post-toddlers a free hand to play with narratives.
But when the same scheme has been tried with grown-ups it has fizzled out: what would be the point of buying a story if you have to make it yourself ? the answer of agile business analysts is that users’ stories may be more pliable than budgets.
Tell Once, Tell Twice, Think Again
That’s what has just happened to “Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace”, first published by
For one, and notwithstanding readers consideration, a good story, fiction or otherwise, remains a good story which may be better appreciated in different circumstances. Then, considering the weighty mutation of circumstances since the book first appearance, theis about probable cause: should the origin of the rebirth to be looked for in technological advances, in the readers’ mind of that specific (non-fiction) book, or in the readiness of (fiction) books readers to collaborate in story building
Alternates in Narrative
As probable cause for new narrative ways, technology obviously comes first due to its means to change the relationship between readers and stories: breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, deep-learning, and computational linguistics have opened paths barely conceivable twenty years ago.
As a collateral effect of the technological revolution, opportunity may explain the renewed interest of Janet Murray’s likely readers: issues that were hardly broached before the initial publishing are now routinely mooted in the literati cognosphere.
Finally, on a broader social perspective, changes may have altered the motivation of fiction aficionados, bringing new relevancy to Janet Murray’s intuitions: as farcically illustrated by the uncritical audiences for alternative facts, the perception of reality may have been transformed by the utter sway of social networks.
Back to a literary perspective, evidences seem to point to the status of stories with regard to reality:
- When embedded in games, stories don’t pretend to anything. On that ground changes are driven by players’ decisions regarding events or characters’ options that only affect the narratives of a plot defined upfront.
- When set as fictions, stories, however preposterous, are meant to stand on their own ground. The meanings given to events and options are constitutive of the plot, and readers’ decisions are driven by their understanding of facts and behaviors.
So, Google’s AlphaGo may have overturned the grounds for the first category, but stories are not games and the only variants that count are the ones affecting understanding. More so for stories that use fictional realities to tell what should be.
Heed & Lead in Users’ Stories
Users’ stories are the agile answer to the challenge of elusive requirements. Definitively a cornerstone of the agile approach to software engineering, users’ stories are meant to deal with the instability of requirements, in contours as well as detours.
With regard to contours, users’ stories explore the space of requirements through successive iterations rooted into clearly identified users’ needs. Whereas the backbone (the plot) is set by stakeholders (the authors), the scope doesn’t have to be revealed upfront but can be progressively discovered through interactions between users (the storytellers) and analysts (the listeners).
But detours are where alternates in narratives may really prove themselves by helping to adjust users’ needs (the narratives) to business objectives (the plot). As a consequence changes suggested by analysts should not be limited to users’ options and ergonomy but may also concern the meaning of facts and behaviors. Along that reasoning users’ stories would use the agility of words to align the meanings of new business applications with the ones set by business functionalities already supported by systems.
- How to Mind a Tree Story
- From Stories to Models
- Agile Business Analysis: From Wonders to Logic
- Spaces, Paths, Paces (Part 1)
- Spaces, Paths, Paces (Part 2)
- Business Stories: Stakeholders’ Plots & Users’ Narratives
- Alternative Facts & Augmented Reality
- Things Speaking in Tongues
- Out of Mind Content Discovery
- Brands, Bots, & Storytelling