Those of us who have worked in software for a while will have heard "That's what we asked for, but it's not what we needed".
We tend to think about the solution we're building rather than understanding the problem we're solving.
An expert will often use an analogy or a metaphor to explain the underlying problem domain. But when we start designing the system, we talk, and think, about the system as an abstract solution. We discard a useful tool for understanding and alignment.
At RiverGlide, we have seen code reductions of up to 90% when using a metaphor that fits. A good metaphor is also easy to share without losing any understanding.
In this talk, you'll hear about memetics and metaphor from the psychology research viewpoint. You'll hear examples of projects that diverged wildly in their understanding, and some reasons why. And you'll hear examples of how the right metaphor can make a complex problem into a trivial solution.

Outline/Structure of the Talk

This will be a #noslides talk, giving a practical demonstration of the power of multi-sensory, engaging storytelling.


  • How do we end up with divergent understandings?
  • What are the consequences?
  • Introduction to the idea that all human knowledge is built from metaphors.
  • Examples of how our early metaphors shape our lives.
  • Introduction to memetics, and how ideas are passed between minds.
  • Case Studies - The Librarian, the Purchase Order Clerk, and the taxi ride contract.

Learning Outcome

Participants will come away with a new model of learning and understanding that they can apply to the way they approach problem-solving in their teams.

Target Audience

Anyone involved in solving problems

Prerequisites for Attendees

There are no prerequisites. Some of the initial stories will be very familiar to those with a few years of experience.

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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