The central process in case-based reasoning is the process of getting reminded. The key idea in reminding (Schank, 1982) is that when we hear a story we attempt to understand that story by labeling it in our memories. That label will often correspond to one we have used before, and will thus evoke a reminding.
Since our experience is so varied, many of our labels are quite detailed. Suppose I tell you a story which has all the details stripped out of it: "The Franklins mistreated their son and it really affected him." You might get reminded by such a story but even if you do the remindings are often vague and uncompelling. If I had given you some details, however, things change. Suppose I tell you this story: "When he was a child, Chris Franklin's parents took away his allowance for a month every semester because he didn't get enough A's. Nothing he ever did was good enough for them. Now he works 80-hour weeks and is obsessed about being perfect in everything he does." Even though this story is still abbreviated, it has enough detail in it to give you strong, concrete remindings. You might have the name of somebody you know pop into your head.
Bull sessions that last late into the night consist of chains of such remindings. I tell you a story and you get reminded. You tell your story and I get reminded. Such story swapping is valuable because it augments the conversants' libraries of cases. If you tell me a good one, I can use that next time I'm in a similar situation. By telling me a good story, you can give me a piece of your experience in a form I can use.
The Budding Sushi Expert
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