Strongly Emergent

What comes from combining humans, computers, and narrative

Me or Your Lying Eyes

First there was the big show, and then Toto pulled the curtain back and revealed the Wizard. I love the arc of this story - it’s such a great demonstration of how much narrative matters. The “Jenny” story had great, great narrative power. It was entertaining, easy to believe, and easy to understand. The storytellers got millions of pageviews off of it, and earned them.

Unfortunately, that’s also millions of demonstrations that the weakest part of computer security is humans, not computers or anything in them. We want to believe, we look for excuses to believe good narratives, and we usually find them. Because of how we behave when someone hands us a beautiful narrative like that, the storytellers behind “Jenny” earned quite a bit of money - and because of the same things, scammers continue to exploit us.

We all need to sharpen our narrative skills, because if we just go right along with narratives that seem appealing, we will be exploited by people who can craft enjoyably fraudulent narratives. More importantly, developers and sysadmins need narrative skills - we have to tell our users a story, and it has to be a compelling story.