A little handy pocket guide to story-collecting for researchersAug 29th, 2011 | By Simone Staiger | Category: Knowledge Management, Tools & Methods
During Victoria Ward’s visit this year, CIAT had the immense pleasure listening to and working with a professional who has been working over the past 15 years with her company Sparknow on storytelling as a way to support organizational change, brands and knowledge work .
How the idea came about
In our lively conversations here at CIAT, in Colombia, we had the idea to develop a storytelling guide in pocket format for researchers. We were thinking about all the impressions that a researcher takes away from a trip, wherever the destination is: Amazing landscapes, surprising people, impressing sounds, curious objects from nature… What if we could motivate them to bring us some of those impressions “home”, what if we could share those impressions with colleagues? What if we could incorporate those testimonials in our blog posts, news items, and press releases in form of photo, video, sound? Wouldn’t we contribute to a common understanding of research for development challenges in a much concreter way? Wouldn’t this make our communication much livelier and richer? Wouldn’t we connect better with those colleagues and partners who we meet during those trips and with those who couldn’t be with us? The short answer and assumption is: Yes!
What we want to achieve
Our idea in working with Sparknow is to receive mentorship, and ideas on how to make this guide useful, creative, ‘sparkling’, and ambitious with a tone and style that illustrates the difference we can make. The content and presentation should convey a spirit of openness, an attitude of curiosity and a willingness to share a research process that we would like to see us learn from.
Victoria mentioned in an interview during her visit at CIAT: “I think you have a real opportunity to build on your field work. The richness of the many languages and cultures you can bring in; the richness of the imagery from dealing with such tangible products –you have colors, details, sound, experience in a very physical way—you have all the ingredients to bring back the experience from your research projects. Not just the research methods, not just what policy makers or donors want to hear, but the surprises, the things that would really tell stories from one country to the other. You have the vividness of the raw materials!
What the guide could look like
Here are some preliminary ideas on how this guide could be designed and developed, just to get the ball roling. I hope to receive many suggestions on how to improve the concept so that next year we will have the story collector guide to share with you.
Language: Initially in Spanish and English
- Print in pocket format.
- Electronic: E-book, downloadable pdf, multimedia product with links to examples, working on cel phones
- Number of pages: ????
- Ideas for the design of the guide: Use drawings, comic style, notebook handwritten style
- Purpose of this guide (we don’t want you to become a journalist, we want you to realize the richness of the impressions you could bring back and help us to tell your story in a compelling way.)
- What is a story in R4D
- From your trip to our common story: What you can do and collect
- A story as an example
You talk to interesting people:
- How to do a short interview
- Interview questions for different types of interviews
- How to take notes from an interview
- Interview using video
- Interview using a recorder
- How to take portrait pictures
You see amazing landscapes:
- How to take landscape pictures
- What objects to collect
You listen to sounds: Why and how to record sounds
- Short overview of a storyteller equipment
Ideas for the logic flow: have a one page boring report and throughout the guide convert it into a compelling story.