Storytelling and Programming
As I sit in my den busily working on my latest project, a little tuft of
hair in ponytails bounds around my desk. By the time the hair has reached
the end of my desk, it has grown downward into my little two-year old, "Hi
Daddy. You wookin on you com'pootah?"
After telling her that I was indeed quite busy, she stands and stares at me
as I go about my business. She then says, "You weeding for wookin'?"
Huh? Oh, yeah, I guess I am reading since at the moment I was reading the
Java API documentation for an understanding of an esoteric library call.
She then says, "You weeding a stowy?" Hmm… how does one explain what
I do for a living? I mean, I can't even seem to explain it to my wife.
"Yeah, I'm reading a story, but the story isn't finished. I have to find
all of the parts of the story and then write a new story. The trick is that
I have to write my story in a different language…" It was at this point I
lost her, so I explained, "If my story is good, then people will pay me
"We can poot money in my pee'gy bank?" she asked.
"Yup. We can then put the money in your piggy bank," I replied.
"Din (then) we buy me peasant (present)?"
"Me wanna wook (work) un dis com'pootah. Me pay (play) game. You pay game?"
I guess I really am just playing a game by telling a story of what happens
to characters that I name things like
datarec2 and how they
interact. Telling my child that I'm a computer storyteller seems a lot more
exotic than "programmer."
This got me thinking… are we all just storytellers?
Some of my thoughts have been provoked by Chris in some of his
references to storytelling within organizations. Chris makes some
pretty interesting points on this meme. For instance:
Human beings use story to represent and understand the patterns
Granted, he is expanding on our traditional view of stories and
storytelling, but couldn't storytelling be at the heart of everything we
humans do? All actions involve a story in our heads to initiate the action.
What are you doing? I'm digging a ditch? Why?
I want to put a pipe in the ditch and then hook up the ends so I can bring water into the house.
A "computer" story, however, has two points of view: an external and
internal one. Most people are familiar with the external computer story, as
that is the one we relate to and use. The internal story is for other
storytellers, and you often have to go through elaborate temple rituals
before you are given the special key to understand that meaning.
But not always. I've noticed a lot of good internal computer stories in the
world. One we call "Linux" was began by a kid in Finland. The internal
story was so compelling that lots of other geeky storytellers picked up on
it and expanded it.
Hmm… still musing on this idea… Maybe I'm just playing with a metaphor
and not much more?
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