Shock of the Old

Shock of The Old

What is the Shock of The Old story tactic?

We can get so hooked on imagining the future that we forget to look for inspiration in stories from the past.

Never forget just how hard it is to make anything truly innovative. History has some harsh lessons for us.

"Most new things fail. Objects or actions which survive for generations must be good at serving some hidden purpose... they correspond with something deep in our nature." - Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

Tip: use this tactic to get stories from users. Or practice by taking a field trip to a museum (or junk shop).

How to use the Shock of The Old story tactic

  1. Watch your user closely. See what old objects they use and ask yourself "What story is this object telling me?"

    • What obvious purpose did this have?

    • What hidden purposes could it have?

    • Who owns it, who uses it, who adapts it?

    • How does it make us feel?

    • Does it have a symbolic or ritualistic power?

    • Does it correspond to something deep in our nature?

  2. Can you find the deep wisdom contained in the stories of how we relate to these old objects? How can you relate this wisdom the story you're trying to tell?

    For example ...

    • Dogs have been with us for a very long time.

    • Obvious purpose: guarding, hunting, companionship

    • Hidden purpose: connect us to nature, take us for walks

    • Who in the family owns a dog? Does the dog own us?

    • Feel: responsible, loved, trusted

    • Symbolic power: obedience

    • Deep in our nature: we are still animals at heart.

Credit: N.N.Taleb, Antifragile.

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