Learning from Family Mysteries
Method: Interviews, Grounded Theory
Given the importance and social significance of passing down family stories to each generation, why do important family stories not get told? How should designers of digital family storytelling platforms address missing or incomplete parts of narratives?
Drawing from the results of an interview-based, practice-oriented inquiry, we argue that non-telling should be considered an important and integral part of family storytelling. Our findings show that non-telling is not simply silence. Non-telling allows family members to observe protective and discretionary values essential to the identity-making and relational goals of family storytelling. We also show ways that a person’s reticence is situated and may change over time. In our discussion, we provide design strategies for family storytelling technologies to make room for silence and incorporate the values, purposes, and practices of non-telling.