This week’s readings were all about digital storytelling. Before this I had never actually heard of the term digital storytelling, though from what I have read and seen on several different sites digital storytelling is in fact something that most people engage in some way or form without realizing that a specific term, such as digital storytelling, has been attached to it. Within the several chapters I read from Knut Lundby’s book “Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories” (2008) several different social media sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube were mentioned as sites that allow regular everyday people to share their lives and stories and do so by using digital tools. Essentially, these social media sites, in their own ways, allow for people to engage in digital storytelling. And to think I have spent the last few years of my life fearing such social media because it seems so invasive and really nixes any type of privacy. However, after reading from Lundby’s book I have come to realize that perhaps such sites as social media ones, as well as other specific digital storytelling sites that have emerged are less about putting a person’s entire life online, and more about finding ways in which to share personal stories so that others may benefit and learn from them too. I have to say, I was truly inspired by the several stories I watched and listened to that were from the Center for Digital Storytelling’s website www.storycenter.org.
The Center for Digital Storytelling is one site introduced in the reading from Lundby’s book, and it is quite the site. When I first entered the URL and the site came up the most recent video posted was one entitle “Like Father Like Son – by Shaun Anderson.” In this short four minute video the maker, Shaun Anderson, provides viewer with a tribute to his father, whom he presents as his hero. Anderson focuses on the last few years and days of his father’s life, explaining his father’s importance to his own life in few, but very impactful words. This video seemed to be a very traditional example of digital storytelling, as it is an everyday person deciding to share a personal story about his or her life and doing so by making what could be termed a video essay. In fact, many of the stories on the Center for Digital Storytelling’s website are videos presenting people’s personal stories through images, film, and narration. I found it quite interesting then when I set out to search for digital storytelling sites on my own and found some that were very similar to the Center for Digital Storytelling site and others that were different.
One site that I found through my own internet search for digital storytelling sites is one that is connected with a specific educational institution. The first site I found is one that was specifically created for a Fall 2008 college course at the University of Minnesota. The site is called Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color, http://blog.lib.umn.edu/afroam/storytelling/. This site is one in which the students of this particular class post responses to class assignments, essentially helping to keep a class-wide blog, and also post their class assignments and videos of their own in which they engaged with other people. This site is really interesting because you get the feeling of how students are learning to deal with digital tools, such as making videos, as well as how they can use those skills to explore communities besides their own. In fact, the students’ final projects, which are posted on the site, all have to do with seeking out different communities of different people of color and showcasing how these communities feel about certain events, such as the presidential election, identity struggles, activism, and much more. This site is also an interesting one because it is connected with a specific educational institution, so while the students are learning practical skills and new ways to relay information and interact with other communities, their work is actually being published in a way, which allows it to be shared with people beyond the University of Minnesota community. Much like the Center for Digital Storytelling website allows others to access everyday people’s personal stories and journeys by posting and sharing their videos, the Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color website does the same.
As much as I appreciate the ways in which the Center for Digital Storytelling and Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color allow people to learn to use digital tools to create videos of their personal stories, I was really surprised during my search to find other digital storytelling sites that are firmly entrenched in creating fiction stories. One site that I found is called Myths and Legends, http://myths.e2bn.org/index.php. This site is really amazing because it lets users who register, and possibly pay, to use the site’s story creator to make animated digital fiction storybooks. The site really promotes its use in elementary school classrooms and by teachers as ways to allow younger students to write and animate stories. And as the name of the site suggests the stories all have to do with creating lore about different myths and legends, such as the one story that I looked at was about a mummy and its supernatural presence within a small town. This site is certainly focused on British schools, but it is accessible to anyone who finds it on the internet and so allows users to share their stories beyond their own communities just like the other two sites previously mentioned do as well. Now, Myths and Legends may not be people sharing their personal stories in impactful ways, but I think this site has many of the same goals that other digital storytelling sites have, which means this site is considered to be digital storytelling, even if just fictional digital storytelling. Fictional digital storytelling though, certainly has an appeal for younger children, and is a way to make sure these younger children learn to use digital tools as well.
Whether the stories being told are fiction or non-fiction, digital storytelling is still a useful tool for many different people, and one that many people do not need specialized equipment or programs in order to participate in. And I think that is a wonderful thing.