I always get inspired whenever I watch a presentation from the TED website. After watching a presentation by Johnathan Harris on collecting and telling stories, I feel that there is a great opportunity for changing the way we collect information. Specifically, I was thinking of how to change the way we do surveys and come back with a way to really tell a story from the results of the survey. You’ll have to forgive me for my stream of consciousness here, but I’ll try to at least bullet-point my thoughts.

  • Create a list of questions just like you would any other survey — say a generic survey on available online resources provided by the library
  • Have the participant create an avatar — no restrictions on the avatar, just point them to a webpage or software that allows them to create an avatar (I’m still trying to find a free/no-registration avatar website… )
  • Instead of rating things on a scale from 1 – 5, create a slider bar that represents the scale of the response. For example, a question could ask “How happy are you with the current set of online resources?” And the scale could start off at “highly depressed” and go to “I’m so happy I nearly wet my pants!”… (or perhaps something more professional if you feel.) If possible, the range should also have a color variation going from blue to red (based on a rainbow scale.)
  • Depending upon the anonymity needed for the survey, you could also track such things as the city, state, and/or region of the respondent. Maybe see if you can capture the environmental variables — hot/cold; cloudy/sunny; day/night etc…

The results of the survey should do at least two things:

  1. Tell a story
  2. Allow the reader of the story to interact

To see a sample of what I mean, you can visit another Jonathan Harris site called We Feel Fine. I’m hoping that I’m just scratching the surface of this idea, and can actually come up with a prototype of this survey method — and then sell it to a big vendor like Thomson Reuters or LexisNexis!!.