The Art of Digital Storytelling

Guest blogger: Mercedes Bell

“the medium is the message.”

— the great Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan

More than a century ago, German composer and operatist, Richard Wagner, strove to transform musical drama into a “gesamtkunstwerk,” or “total work of art.” His controversial ideal called for the subordination of music to theater, which he felt to be the superior artform. While Wagner’s radical ideas did much to irk many of his musical contemporaries, the flawed concept of the “total work of art” has had a tremendous impact on the practice of storytelling.

Today, digital storytelling tools could become this generation’s “gesamtkunstwerk.” We say this because today’s audiences have access to enormous amounts of highly specific, interactive content online. (We’re talking about the technology used to build the New York Times’ Snowfall project, not your Facebook timeline.) So if you’ve got a story to tell, you can afford to start dreaming–there’s never been a better time to find ways in which to enrich your work with multimedia storytelling tools.

What is Digital Storytelling?

Simply put, the art of digital storytelling is all about telling stories using digital media. For example, a student may want to create a digital story using a video camera and simple video editing software to discuss a major event in their life, or even their own family history. Digital tools empower us to bring a new and vibrant dimension to our stories and the ways in which audiences experience them.

Of course, with so many tools available, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. In addition to effectively relaying your story to a wider audience, digital storytelling can convey a sense of innovation and mastery of several different creative tools on the part of the author/creator. Below are a few examples of how digital storytelling tools are making a difference today.

Digital Storytelling in Primary and Secondary Education

The University of Houston provides an excellent resource for using digital media in educational storytelling. The primary goal of the site is to show students and teachers how digital storytelling can be used to augment various educational activities. In addition to tools and other relevant pieces of information, Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling showcases several digital storytelling projects, such as The Reality of Television, which uses digital video to explore the effects television has on life and society.

The National Writing Project and the Pearson Foundation are currently collaborating to find out how digital storytelling can help students improve their literacy and writing skills. Together, the two organizations have been hosting workshops and professional development programs to help communicate the educational benefits of digital storytelling throughout the country. This great documentary produced by the Pearson Foundation provides a glimpse at how powerful digital storytelling can be as an educational resource.


Read More …

influence, reputation and infotention

Influence and reputation – and to add Howard Rheingold’s infotension… those are the new buzzwords around. Very interesting and intriguing concepts. Wish I was at the Future of Influence Summit! what a great lineup of speakers and intriguing ideas!

What are they?

Influence: simply put, according to my understanding of that new term, influence relates to who is influential now. Before the digital age, media such as newspapers and power and wealth all created influence, hence wielded political power and also affected how society worked and changed. Now, influence is based on blogs, Twitter and new media that is created by the masses. This is affecting politics, society and also economics and marketing strategies.  They are called the Influentials or Influencers.

“Increasingly, we primarily find content through aggregated influence. In other words, influencers use Twitter, blog, Delicious, Digg, Reddit etc. to highlight the content they find most interesting. Collectively these influencers make this content highly visible, driving at times massive traffic to articles.” [Ross Dawson]

“Social media is all about human relationships, about how we shape our view of the world based on our peer communication. The extraordinary breadth of information and opinion that we are exposed to today, combined with the ability to converse, means our own opinions are often driven more by peers than traditional sources.

In fact this shift to the social means that media is becoming far more about peer influence than information and reporting.” [Ross Dawson]

Reputation: how influential you are depends on your reputation and credibility.  It is now known as the Whuffie  which  is “the measure of reputation used in Cory Doctorow’s sci-fi novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Since we don’t have any other good words for describing collectively assessed reputation, whuffie has gained traction as a description of this phenomenon.”
Read: The Whuffie Factor and watch the video here.

Infotention: “a combination of ways of thinking and digital tools such as intelligence dashboards, news radars, and info-filters. A combination of attention, information, and intention. Applied infotention. Trained and untrained infotention. And especially mindful infotention” [this is the link to the announcement of the new term] and this is Howard’s concept map of the idea.

communicating with digital natives

On short notice I was asked to make a presentation at Pine Manor College in Brookline, MA,  August 27th. The meeting was a collaborative meeting between faculty from New England Institute of Art and Pine Manor College.  I talked about communicating with digital natives.  It was more of a lively discussion and it was GREAT to talk to peers since we all are basically the digital immigrants. 🙂

This is the graph I made to begin the discussion.  Of course there is much more to digital natives that I did not include here, but that is for another discussion.

Based on this graph of the current ‘learning nature’ of our students, here were my initial questions were based on current challenges teachers face:

  • Do digital natives think differently?
  • what are the ways we can communicate digitally to digital natives?
  • what type of digital media do they know as opposed to what students know?
  • do those students who have the skills for gaming and texting also have the skills to use new media?
  • how do we try and instill in them the soft skills – ceativity, innovation, discipline, communication, socialization, team work etc. in such an environment?

We have challenges there but we also have opportunities:

  • we are all in a learning phase
  • we are in a transitional period between old ways of teaching and new, which will determine the future of teaching [because after that, the digital natives will take over and it will be they who are the teachers of the future]

buzz words

blogtopia – blogistan – moblog – converging technologies – mashups – locative media – social media – social networking – micro blogging – socialmedia metrics – semantic web