We are proud to announce the initial beta release of NarraFirma, a web application for participatory narrative inquiry (PNI). My husband Paul and I have been working on the software since August of 2014. NarraFirma is still not done – not the way we’d like it to be done – but it’s time to tell the world about it.
Why did we build NarraFirma? Because readers of my book told me they wanted it. I spoke to many people who wanted to get started with PNI and weren’t satisfied with the tools available to them. Also, many people told me that while there were tools they could use, there was still a chasm between reading about doing PNI and doing PNI.
So my husband and I created NarraFirma to address those issues. First, NarraFirma is an integrated tool set for participatory narrative inquiry. You don’t need to cobble together something that works from three or four separate tools designed for separate tasks. NarraFirma is PNI in a box.
Secondly, the NarraFirma box has a little bit of me in it. I designed NarraFirma to give you lots of help as you work your way through a PNI project. As you make plans, it asks you questions. As you make choices, it gives you recommendations. As you carry out your plans, it nudges you to keep careful notes. I believe that this support will help people to succeed in getting the most out of PNI, especially as they carry out their first PNI projects.
Does NarraFirma have limitations? Yes, plenty. Because it’s integrated, it lacks some of the depth of applications that support only one part of a PNI project. For example, you can make more complicated surveys with SurveyMonkey, and you can make more complicated graphs with Tableau. But with NarraFirma you don’t have to learn extra stuff you don’t need. Also, NarraFirma is in its infancy. In time, with luck and support, we hope to add more functionality so that it can meet a wider variety of needs.
If you like NarraFirma (or just the idea of NarraFirma), please tell other people about it; consider donating via PayPal to support NarraFirma development; and think about using NarraFirma for your next PNI project.