Storytelling and story have been a part of the human experience before even Homo sapiens were the dominant species. Stories were found in the caves of Cro-Magnon in the form of cave paintings. Histories have been passed down through time by many cultures through stories. Professor Brian Sturm UNC Chapel Hill (2007), in his lecture Storytelling Theory and Practice says that stories are a way to think about information and how to organize it. He continues by saying that information can be organized using characters and a sequence of events that are all tied together to convey emotion and develop community. The information is the thread and the story is the fabric. The story then makes the information accessible. Stories are everywhere and part of everything we do. Stories connect us to each other and can build connections between teacher and student. As I sat through in-service the past couple of days I found storytelling deeply ingrained in our sessions. On Friday morning we were even asked to create a digital story using iPads and the iMovie app for creating a movie trailer on Bristol Bay School District’s vision now and in the future. Our story grows, changes, and continually has to be retold as administration and teachers come and go. There we were beginning our morning another day of in-service and off we went to create a digital story, coincidence I think not.
To me the essential definition of digital storytelling is a story that is told through the use of technology. In a lecture by Carolyn Handler Miller called Digital Storytelling: Something Old, Something New she compares digital storytelling with traditional stories and defines digital storytelling as follows:
In this lecture, I’m going to be examining the roots of today’s interactive narratives, tracing them back to ancient times, and discussing what we can learn from these early forms of human expression that we can apply to contemporary forms of interactive storytelling. I call this new form of writing digital storytelling. By that I mean stories that use interactive digital media to tell new kinds of narratives – ones that are highly involving and immersive, and over which the user has some amount of control. These narratives are supported by various digital platforms, such as the Internet, video game consoles, mobile devices, and so on — at least eleven different technologies and platforms in all. I even include such things as “smart toys” and virtual reality in this category.
A story is a constructed work that depicts characters caught up in a series of dramatic events, depicting these events from their inception to their conclusion. Stories can be conveyed through printed or spoken words, by actors on a stage, or by moving images on a screen, but they always contain a plot and characters, have a structure, and involve conflict of one kind or another. Stories are not necessarily works of fiction. They can also be about true events and real people. For the purposes of this lecture, I am defining “narrative” as the telling of a story. Thus, “narrative” and “story” are virtually interchangeable.
In a digital story there are seven elements:
- point of view this will define your story
- a dramatic question this will be the hook to capture the attention of your audience
- emotional content provides the connection to your audience and can be felt through images, tone, music…
- voice in a digital story it is more than likely your own voice recorded in the story
- soundtrack the music and sounds that contribute to your story
- economy the use of only the elements necessary or less is more
- pacing that provides the rhythm or timing of the story (Barrett 2011, Strum 2007, Miller 2008).
In its simplest form a story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Many of these features are common to both traditional and digital storytelling.
The things that make digital storytelling unique were highlighted by Jenkins (2010) he says storytelling is changing stories with the ability of creating digital stories and their availability. The multimedia world is changing the experience of storytelling with the world web interconnection enriching the experience of storytelling. Storytelling is now available over every available media platform. Traditional stories that were built around a sequence of events is now built around characters in the online story. The online story is a new space for storytelling changes the orality and linear perspective of the story. There is now an open space for even more independent film makers to create and have the exposure they need. Even social media is providing a platform for digital storytelling as individuals with smartphones share their experiences in real time. You can now share the things you like to do or collections to the public. There is a new audience for learning and teaching connecting communities. Even political events that once were held secret in countries like Iran, Syria, China are being exposed to the world. In one of the videos in Jenkins series this was compared to Harry putting together Dumbledore’s army to stop he who shall not be named. Another uniqueness to digital storytelling still in the experimental stage is the participatory or as Jenkins calls it the collective storytelling. Even we are experimenting with it in our class. I really never thought about collective storytelling and it took me a bit by surprise. When I first thought of a digital story it was something that was broadcast and watched not changed. The digital story today then ever before is more interactive and many can contribute to it or even edit it.
Barrett, H. (2011, June 3). Digital Storytelling. Dr. Helen Barrett’s Electronic Portfolios. Retrieved February 11, 2013, from http://electronicportfolios.org/digistory/
Handler-Miller, C. (2008, June). Digital Storytelling: Something Old, Something New ELMCIP. ELMCIP | Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice. Retrieved February 7, 2013, from http ://elmcip.net/critical-writing/digital-storytelling-something-old-something-new
Jenkins, H. (2010, August 23). How new media are transforming storytelling in four minutes [Web log message]. Retrieved Aug 20, 2011 from http://henryjenkins.org/2010/08/how_new_media_is_transforming.html
Strum, B. (2007). Storytelling Theory and Practice [Video File]. Retrieved Feb 2, 2013