War Stories, Live!
By Steve Portigal at 1:14 pm, Friday June 07 2013

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This past Monday was the Interviewing Users book launch party. It was a fantastic good time. The room was filled beyond capacity with people happily diving into yummy beer, wine, snacks and desserts. We gave away 20 free copies of the book, and had the first-ever live War Stories.

It was fascinating to see how these stories, originally written for the web, changed when told aloud to an engaged crowd. Each storyteller seemed somewhat surprised that their stories produced laughter, with several folks beginning by disclaiming “I’m not going to be funny” only to produce that reaction from the group. Real human stories that involve screwups, frustration, surprise and conflict can be funny even if it’s not something we wish on anyone else. There’s a humor of recognition and also the humor that comes from the way a story is told. And they all did a great job at telling their stories, not a skill to be taken for granted. I was so impressed!

Our storytellers:

  • Kelly Braun, Senior Director, User Insights and Analytics at Walmart.com who told Pictures are language independent, about shooting fieldwork video and inadvertently getting the money shot.
  • Diane Loviglio, CEO & Co-Founder at Share Some Style told Interrupted Interview, a reminder that participants are part of larger systems that we don’t have insight into when we’re recruiting them.
  • Consumer insights professional Carla Borsoi told A dirty diaper sitting in the mud, where she encountered the outlier that illustrates a greater truth.
  • Tom Williams, Principal of Point Forward dispensed with his original story (Go With the Flow) and instead told a (richly detailed) story about an interview we did together in 1998!

Also in attendance were War Stories contributors Jon Innes (Beware of Trap Doors), Rachel Wong (Subject Matter May Be Inappropriate) and Vanessa Pfafflin (DDoSed in Vegas).

See also Susan Dray’s take on what the body of War Stories has revealed for her.

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photos courtesy of Tom Williams/Kate Edgar

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2 Responses to “War Stories, Live!”

    congrats on your book launch party, steve! wish i could have been there — denise lee yohn

    Comment by denise lee yohn 06.08.13 @ 4:39 pm


      I would have loved that!

      Comment by Steve Portigal 06.08.13 @ 6:02 pm


      I would have loved that!

      Comment by Steve Portigal 06.08.13 @ 6:02 pm


    congrats on your book launch party, steve! wish i could have been there — denise lee yohn

    Comment by denise lee yohn 06.08.13 @ 4:39 pm