Jerome Bruner, meet Live Journal

This summer I read an interesting article by Jerome Bruner about how we (humans) are actively creating narratives of our experiences.  He argues that narrative is really the only way we can understand experiences and the only way we can communicate our experiences to others.  While we are experiencing something, we are thinking about how it will be narrated to others, which then affects the experience itself. 

For example:  Getting very lost in Old Delhi can be narrated as humorous incident befalling the clueless international traveler, a tragic incident that ruined a trip, or a challenge that the heroic world traveler overcame.  Let’s say the person subconsciously decides, for various reasons, that this narrative will be a comedy.  Because he knows it is a comedy, he makes the decision to buy cheap street food in an alley which will most likely lead to an awkward intercultural exchange and even more awkward bowel exchange.  If it were a tragedy, he may not have eaten at the food stall, and the fact he was stranded without food would have added to his tragic story.  Obviously, the actual process of defining the narrative is much more fluid and complex, but I simplified it for explanations sake.

So, what does this all have to do with Live Journal?

This funny cartoon, which inspired this post, illustrates the connection between experience narrative and Live Journal pretty clearly.  Information communication technology allows our experience narratives to be recorded and shared in new and different ways.  And this change in narrative communication then changes the experience itself.  

I have not done any real research on this topic, but I find it fascinating.  So, as HCI designers interested in experience, what does all of this mean to us?   Any thoughts?


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