What is the story?

Finding the story has been a recurring theme for me recently. It’s come up in a variety of settings, so I thought I’d explore the topic some more. Let’s start with the anecdotes. A friend was looking for advice on sprucing up her resume. I started with the normal advice of stating accomplishments rather than […]


I flew up to my parents’ house yesterday, and our plane came in late due to storms. Over the intercom, the flight attendant said that there was “a newlywed couple in row 14 trying to make a tight connection to their flight to Amsterdam, so if rows 1-13 can please let them through before getting […]

Story Metrics

So I want to build on my last two posts (which both have excellent comments that you should check out, even though I haven’t managed to be coherent enough this week yet to respond). In particular, if I treat everything as a story and I’m asking what the purpose of a design is, the obvious […]

Telling the story of our lives

This week’s New Yorker has an article describing Gordon Bell’s MyLifeBits project. I’ve heard about this project for years, and I’ve never understood what the point is. Collecting all of those pictures and articles and emails about one’s life just creates an overwhelming mass of data that can’t be processed effectively. It’s like the shoeboxes […]

Retconning life

Re-reading my searching for continuity post, I find it somewhat amusing how easy it was for me to construct a story that fits my previous patterns of behavior. The story of our self is always miraculously consistent, no matter how our motivations shifted and changed along the way. It reminds me of the comic book […]

The Animal Who Tells Stories

One of the issues brought up in response to my last post was that we, as humans, are really poor at statistically evaluating risk. We’re really good at remembering spectacular stories, or relevant anecdotes, but we’re really bad at taking numbers in the abstract and turning them into guides to behavior. And this isn’t just […]

Why do we write?

I’ve spent some time over the past couple days thinking about why Infinite Jest annoyed me so much. I went and read several gushing reviews of the book, as well as interviews with Wallace where he explains what he was trying to do. Part of what Wallace was apparently trying to convey was that life […]