Why stories?

We are surrounded by stories. And a large part of our decision-making is based on stories: A friend told you about her experience with a service provider. You remember how she tried to call them and had to listen to “please hold the line” and the same tune over and over again. Or you read about somebody praising the living conditions in a suburb where the rent is low and commuting to work is still feasible. So you start thinking about it.

Stories like these influence our decisions. This is also why advertising holds such power. An ad is like a compact story.

But not all stories make an impact. In their book Made To Stick, the authors Chip and Dan Heath explore why some stories stay in our memories and make their way around the world, while others don’t.

Stories for a better Burma

We love the concept of changing the world by stories (not by guns) and obviously the idea was not too far-fetched to apply it for the benefit of Burma. The Storytravelers showed us an amazing way to use storytelling for promoting a form of traveling that is aware of hidden details.

But wouldn’t we run the risk of reinforcing inaccurate impressions that tourists get on holiday in luxury hotels, in beach resorts, and on golf courses? We certainly need to complement their stories with those of locals – locals who are able to identify the issues and who are independent, assertive, and safe enough to speak out. So we decided to present both aspects side-by-side: the front and the back side of the scene.

What makes a good story?

We have tried to adapt the concept of Made to Stick to our requirements. Let’s see how far it gets us:

1. True

The story must be real.

2. Simple

The story must not have any extra, unnecessary information.

3. Concrete

The story must enable us to visualize the unknown.

4. Emotional

The story must be about people.

5. Unusual

The story must tell us about something we don't see every day.


These are of course only guidelines. If we receive a good story that doesn’t match these criteria, we will probably have to modify the criteria.

If a Burmese writer designs a story in reply to a traveler’s report – or vice versa – it will most likely be more like a factual report than a personal experience.


Enough theory?

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Photos: racoles (top), slideshow: antwerpenR (1), digitaldemocracy (4), Rusty Stewart (3, 5)