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Cynthia Kurtz
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Hey Tony, great post. When I see this sort of thing I get a warm fuzzy feeling because, not to toot my own horn or anything but, this was my idea and I'm kinda proud of it. I'm so glad to see it living a healthy and happy life out there in the world. :-) Cynthia
This is excellent advice. If the story doesn't resonate with its audience, it doesn't matter how compelling it is in general. If you want to get people fired up to act, they have to be able to place themselves in the story. Great post Thaler!
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Hi, great post and great examples. I've been thinking about the same issues and have come up with remarkably similar solutions - great minds think alike - see especially here http://www.storycoloredglasses.com/2010/06/confluence.html - happy to connect and discuss! Cynthia Kurtz
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Hi Thaler, great post. One issue with using photographs to elicit stories is that you have to pay attention to excluding or off-putting messages hidden in plain view. These are most likely to cause problems when the people who will be telling stories are speaking from a different context than where the photos came from. Unlike drawings, photographs contain much more information than is immediately obvious. Clip art in particular tends to come packaged with some fixed assumptions about class, value, belief, and so on. For example, if I type "clip art success" into Google's image finder, I get a page of twenty thumbnail images, and out of those twenty I can think of reasons that somebody would feel offended (or at least unrepresented) in about fifteen of them. It's so easy for people to look at a photograph and see something you had never thought of. If some people are turned away and believe the project isn't about them, the stories you collect will be diminished in diversity. I'd say there are three ways to maximize the utility of pictures for story elicitation. First, use pictures with metaphorical rather than direct connections to stories. So, for success, instead of showing a person-of-some-background wearing or holding something, you could show a flower bursting into bloom or a puzzle fitting together or something. In this way nobody feels unrepresented because the picture doesn't represent or exclude anybody. (But watch your metaphors too: something that connotes safety in one society or context may connote danger in another.) Second, photos should be tested in front of many audiences to ensure broad utility for elicitation. People are surprising! And third, the set of photos you use should give people maximally diverse choices. Even with testing, no one picture can speak to all people, so if you increase the diversity of the prompts you increase the diversity of the responses. I agree with your criticism of magazine-advertisement methods: advertisements are not the best pictures to choose among because they all have an agenda which is difficult to separate from the topic they represent. (And hidden-in-plain-view messages are the bread and butter of advertising.) I've looked at the Dialoogle pictures and they seem to score well on all three of these issues. The images are mainly metaphorical and compelling; they seem well chosen (and may have been tested, I can't tell); and the picture sets are diverse. The VisualsSpeak set seems also good, though it seems a little less aware of its hidden messages from what I've seen. For Picture Your Legacy I can't see the pictures so I can't tell. Of course, the best story-eliciting pictures are those tailored to the needs of the project's context and group of interest. I've been part of projects where stories were elicited with cartoon drawings that emerged through the cooperation of people in the group of interest working with a cartoonist in a facilitated sensemaking workshop. This more intense style of image-based story elicitation works wonders for diverse, authentic and productive response; but it also entails a larger project scope and is inappropriate for small-scale efforts. A well-chosen set of stock images fits well when needs (and budgets) are smaller. All great ideas and enjoyed the post. Cynthia
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Jul 6, 2010