User Stories


I presented my blog to my writing circle last week. The feedback; who is this blog actually for? They challenged me to write a set of user stories to make this clear. After much procrastination I realised that the blog was, more of less, for me. A chance to yell at the clouds. And there is little point to that. But I think I have something to say and I think there are people that might find what I have to say useful—maybe even interesting. Here I present to you, dear reader, my user stories.

Brief Interlude: What are you Talking About?

But first, as this is academia and not software development, a brief interlude on what user stories are. There is a movement in software development called agile or scrum. I won’t go into the messy details here other than to say this is a way we run many of our teams at Institute for Positive Psychology and Education. The bit I want to talk about is the dedicated focus on end users of the content we produce. To do this, we write short (1-2 sentence) stories about a particular person and what problem they would like solved. The team then sets about solving that problem. For example, we might consider the problem of a education minister who is unsure whether to increase the number of selective high-schools. We then go about conducting research that could inform that decision.

My User Stories

  1. My reader is a social scientist who worries they aren’t smart enough. They read their bosses impenetrable prose and worry that their simple writing will never achieve this level of ‘elevation’ (good, I hope it never does!).
  2. My reader wants their work to impact people. They want to do research that people can use, not research that merely sits in some journal few will ever read.

This is me. My writing still drips with false complexity, with affected sophistication. And I wonder if any of the people I research could read what I write and apply it to their life in some tangible way. Maybe as I try to wake up from this social science stupor, I might have something interesting to share with you along the way.

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