Saturday, July 21, 2007

Schank: Chpt. 3 - Understanding Other people's Stories, Pgs. 56 - 83

Most of this chapter deals with conversational storytelling. Schank begins with a personal story that has two reactions that are 180 degrees apart. He goes on to say that "People only hear part of what is being told to them." His point is that people only pay attention to what interests them. He hypothesizes that: "Understanding, for a listener, means mapping the speaker's stories onto the listener's stories."

Schank later contends that people are all different and have different stories stored in there experience bank, and ask two questions to themselves: (1. ) "Are there any events in my memory where I had a similar goal for a similar reason?" and, (2.) Do I have a story in memory where the main goal is the same as that being pursued in the story I am hearing?" Shank then goes on a 17 page (pp63-78) example of how people will index their own stories and draw them out in conversation.

Schank then defines index construction and understanding. He states that one reason all tell stories is to indicate to the listener that we have understood what he/she just said. He offers a 'strong' hypothesis: "...that most of the time we are just looking for stories to tell back. We do this by extracting indices to find stories we already know."

The summary of this conversation-oriented chapter is that: "We can not learn from other people's stories. In getting reminded of our own stories, ones which, of course, have more poignancy and more rich detail than the ones we are hearing, we tend to get distracted into thinking more about what happened to us." Another major point given by Schank is that listeners don't listen at all if the stories they are hearing don't have the richness of detail and emotional impact that allows them to be stored in multiple ways in their memories."

Personal Assessment: Schank made and substantiated some key points regarding paying attention to the listener both while a story is being crafted and during the telling.

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