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Cultivating your Craft in the Digital Age

Published on Friday, May 7, 2010 by

so09_net_neutrality_internet_mapI have seen the term digital story telling with increasing frequency on the Web.  Actually digital story telling has been around for a long time, maybe almost as long at the Internet when users began to see it as a powerful tool to share stories.  Digital Storytelling is defined by various groups and individuals as follows:

Gail Matthews-Denatale and Jamie Traynor define the term “digital story” as being most strongly associated with a 3-5 minute video produced by someone who is not a media professional, typically constructed as a thought piece on a personal experience that is important to the author.  (4/30/2010 retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI08167B.pdf )

Wikipedia refers to digital storytelling as an emerging term, one that arises from a grassroots movement that uses new digital tools to help ordinary people tell their own ‘true stories’ in a compelling and emotionally engaging form. These stories usually take the form of a relatively short story (less than 8 minutes) and can involve interactivity.

The term can also be a broader journalistic reference to the variety of emergent new forms of digital narratives (web-based stories, interactive stories, hypertexts, and narrative computer games).  (retrieved 4/30/2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_storytelling)

Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights. Tell your story now digitally. Leslie Rule, Digital Storytelling Association

Sites such as the Public Broadcasting Service and British Broadcasting Company offer resources from their websites, such as lesson plans to teach and support digital story telling.    Unfortunately if you live in the US it seems that you can’t watch the videos.   The website describes digital stories as  short, personal, multimedia scraps of TV that people can make for themselves.  These are further described as:   There’s a strictness to the construction of a Digital Story: 250 words, a dozen or so pictures, and two minutes is the right length. As with poetry these constraints define the form (e.g. a haiku is a poem written using 17 syllables, and the 14 lines of a sonnet are written in iambic pentameter) and it’s the observation of that form which gives the thing its elegance.

Edutech wikipedia states that digital storytelling refers to a variety of emergent new forms of digital narratives, e.g. web-based stories, interactive stories, hypertexts, narrative computer games, audio and video podcasts, etc.

According to Joe Lambert in his “Digital Storytelling Cookbook and Travelling Companion” document, a good digital story must contain seven elements.

  1. Point of View – Who is the narrator and why is he/she talking to us?
  2. Dramatic Question – Desire – Action – Realization
  3. Emotional Content – What are the emotions associated with your narrative?
  4. The Gift of your Voice – What does your narrator sound like?
  5. The Power of the Soundtrack – What music sets the mood for your story?
  6. Economy – Keep it short and succinct.
  7. Pacing – The rhythm of the story helps set the tone  (retrieved 4/30/2010 http://www.storycenter.org/cookbook.pdf)

The Center for Digital Storytelling states that it’s an international non-profit training, project development, and research organization dedicated to assisting people in using digital media to tell meaningful stories from their lives.

The site Primary Access provides information on the tools needed to create a digital story.  A few of the tools that you can use to create your digital story include podcasts, video sites, a Rebus which is:  Rebus (Latin for ’by things”) is a written story that uses pictures as parts of the text.

Some examples of digital stories include Bramble Town, The Moonlit Road, and This American Life.
From the professional to the amateur there is an opportunity for us all to use the tools of the Web; videos, podcasts, blogs, and wikis to create digital stories.

2 Responses
    • Thank you for the informative article. This is an aspect of storytelling I’ve wished to get into further. It is nice to have a definition of the art, even if it’s only there to break :).

    • Cathy,
      Yes thanks for the info with links. I started some of this on a limited basis with kids when I was teaching technology some years ago. I think maybe we should explore this idea more as writers.

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