Stories that work with the sound turned off

photo cc by Mooganic via Flickr. Thanks Which personal storytelling forms work well with the volume turned down?
This question’s inspired by opportunities presented by ‘A Wall is a Screen‘, kiosks in public places and public shopping-street screens like the one in Cardiff city centre, pictured by Mooganic.

If you know of ‘silent’ short-form’ visual personal storytelling forms that passers-by find engaging enough to stop and watch, please let me know in the comments or by emailing melynmelyn at gmail dot com. I’ll share them in a future post. Thanks.

By the way, using the RSS button, you can subscribe to the posts in this blog and read them in your newsreader/feedreader.

Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 25 June 2008. Since I wrote this Buzzfeed has refined this form by their use of subtitle and by making videos square so they don’t rotate when you move your phone. (GM:2 December 2017)


Hyperaction launches Storywalks tomorrow morning with a walk and picnic in Torfaen, south Wales. On their website you can download a printable PDF routemap (here’s an example) and free mp3 podcasts of the stories to listen to along your way.

Loading up your portable device with stories and heading off to the countryside clutching a map is a great idea and Hyperaction’s experience in such community-led projects shines through and is sure to contribute to the success and hopefully the future expansion of the network of Storywalks around Wales.

Making Space workshops using more accessible digital storytelling tools

post-it I’ve always been puzzled by this paradox:  people get so many new skills by making their first digital story …. yet most people only ever produce one digital story. It was  Jenny Kidd, whose PhD subject was Digital Storytelling at the BBC, who drew my attention to this.

The team at University of Glamorgan (called South Wales University since 2013) has been exploring lowering some of the barriers to continuation by devising forms that use widely-available online
production tools and social media tools.

Carwyn Evans, Lisa Heledd Jones and Susie Pratt of BBC Wales and University of Glamorgan held a workshop in Aberystwyth just before DS3 where they led a group of people through how to upload photos to e.g:
and how to add comments to photos. They also incorporated some ‘old
media’ like the PostIt and pen, thus:

At DS3, I saw a dozen people all huddled around a massive poster print of Aberystwyth prom, scribbling on PostIts. The mix of the photo and different people’s reactions to it is really nice.

Some audio comments were also recorded:

Tools like voicethread, photobucket remix, flickr, etc. are great levellers because all you
need is access to a broadband-connected web browser and a simple capture device. Of course, there are factors other than technology influencing continued media expression, but I believe using re-accessible technology will reduce one of the barriers to continued authorship. Also, the social networking capacity surrounding these Web 2.0 tools can engender a continued sense of community beyond the kick-off face-to-face workshop(s).

I think Making Space is a fascinating project and, already, the participants’ testimony at DS3 convinced me it’s a worthwhile direction in which to head.

By the way, the team is also exploring other areas via ventures such as:

Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 17 June 2008. Because of the age of this article, not all links still work. I’ve left them here so you can search on the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive.

Job in Toronto – murmur hiring

Dear friend of [murmur],
Shawn Micallef sent me an email this morning saying that [murmur] is looking to hire an executive director to help move the project forward. He asked recipients of the mail to pass it on, so here it is:

“[murmur] is looking for an inspirational leader.  We’re seeking someone passionate about community, cities, and storytelling to guide and grow [murmur]’s collaborations and projects.

The director will be responsible for managing and producing [murmur], and leading its expansion through writing grant applications, securing commissions, and cultivating relationships with potential funders.

On the “producing” side, this means taking care of stuff like:
– Recording & editing stories
– Installing signs
– Giving workshops
– Managing volunteers and interns
– Responding to lots of email inquiries
– Coordinating with suppliers
– Writing & sending out occasional newsletters
– Attending conferences and festivals; sometimes presenting
– Organizing events
– Writing grant applications and project proposals
– Managing budgets and books

On the “cultivating relationships” side, this means (among other things):
– Establish new contacts and projects in Toronto, nationally and internationally;
– Develop strategies to raise funds to expand the project;
– Seek out potential sponsors and donors, and tapping into networks;
– Conduct ongoing research for new fiscal strategies and opportunities.


Please get in touch if you:
– Know the project, like it, and (personally) are excited to help in its expansion;
– Have experience being in charge of stuff;
– Are personable and a great writer;
– Are motivated and self-directed, a decision-maker and problem-solver;
– Want a flexible schedule (meaning generally you can decide your own hours, but sometimes there’s stuff that needs doing on weekends);
– Are organized and good with deadlines;
– Are very comfortable with the web, and technology in general;
– Are in Toronto but available for occasional travel;
– Are okay with the idea that your salary is dependent on your fundraising abilities.

The ideal candidate probably also reads a bunch of blogs, lives downtown, rides a bike and/or TTC, and has a cellphone.


Our director will be working from the Centre for Social Innovation, on Spadina Avenue near Queen Street.


This is a part-time contract position for now, probably 3-4 days/week and $18-20/hour to start depending on your experience, increasing with your fundraising success.


Please email a CV and references to gabe at

We are looking for someone who can start as soon as possible, June 30th at the latest.  Please contact us by June 16th.”

DS3 Festival of Digital Storytelling – cribsheet

DS3 panel day 2

I’ve just returned from the DS3 Festival of Digital Storytelling at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. It was another successful festival, following on from and expanding on last year’s DS2. People had travelled from all over Wales and Britain. I met delegates from Belfast, USA and there was someone who’d come from New Zealand too.

Day1 – Thursday 5 June 2008

academic session panel

A Public Voice – Digital storytelling, narrative and pedagogy. By Prof. Hamish Fyfe & Susie Pratt, University of Glamorgan; Karen Lewis, Lisa Heledd, BBC Cymru Wales
Karen Lewis set the context of the research that’s being done with AHRC support. Hamish Fyfe gave a description of storytelling across the ages and said Digital Storytelling lets people explore their “possible self”. Doing this and learning new skills means “the process of DS making often leaves people feeling more positive” and he argued in favour of a link between DS + community regeneration. Suzy Pratt shared research she’s conducting and showed the importance of “connecting” in ensuring sustainability of Digital Storytelling. She’s working with Lisa Heledd and Carwyn Evans on storytelling linked with social media via an exciting new website called Making Space. The Aberystwyth pilot is worth looking at.

Because of a meeting I needed to go to with the National Screen and Sound Archvie, I unfortunately missed some of ‘The Play Ethic – Pat Kane’ and ‘Narrative Forms – Case studies with Steve Bellis & Tony Pugh, Yale College Wrexham’.

There was a great Open Mic and Mac cabaret session at the bar that night. The mix of personal storytelling and watching Digital Stories worked really well. It was a kind of ‘Frey Cafe with films’ evening.

Day 2 – Friday 6 June 2008

Gilly Adams

Gilly Adams (freelance Story Circle specialist) – Telling Stories.
I enjoyed Gilly’s presentation more than any other in DS3. She spoke of the Gift Culture of Digital Storytelling where no money changes hands but the currency is the generosity of grace in sharing stories. The person who hears the story gains two benefits:
1. they get a unique glimpse into the heart of the teller
2. they can often say: “hey, that’s about me!” and they get to reflect on that revelation.
An example of generosity Gilly gave was that of someone who comes to a DS workshop with a story in mind but, having heard the stores other people tell, they sometimes change their mind and say: “Actually, I want to tell you this….”

Jason Ohler

Jason Ohler (University of Alaska) – Digital Storytelling in the classroom.
I’d been particularly eager for DS Cymru to invite Jason Ohler to speak at this year’s Festival and, having heard him speak, I was glad he’d come. He shared his experiences of working in classrooms throughout Alaska and his insistence that _story_ be at the heart of everything that’s done. A digital storytelling friend of mine, Barrie Stephenson, says he’s been using Story Maps – one of Jason’s story-generating systems – after hearing him speak at Sedona some years ago. That’s something about Jason’s style: he shares all kinds of practical tips that can be re-used in workshops.

Hanne and Chris

Hanne Jones & Christer Fasmer (Digitale Fortellinger project, Norway) – Digital Storytelling In Norway. These were some of the most powerful digital stories I’ve ever seen. Hanne, Chris and Eli have worked with over 200 people in Norway. Their work is screened on TV, in museums and in cinemas. Two stories they showed made a deep impression: one by a young woman with Downs Syndrome talking about her life and plans with her boyfriend and another by a 101 year old woman remembering hiding because she was afraid of reading in front of a group of people when she was six years old (in 1913).

Geoff Charles, Welsh documentary photographer

I met Culturenet Cymru’s Sioned Rhys Jones and Hawys Tomos at Eisteddfod yr Urdd, Conwy, last week. As part of the National Library of Wales and funded by Heritage Lottery and Welsh Assembly Government, Culturenet Cymru is working on a project based in Aberystwyth called ‘From Warfare to Welfare’. There’re doing three things:

1. helping people to make digital stories. Young people work with older people to make a digital story of 1939-1959 recollections

2. staging multimedia conferences

3. digitising photos by Geoff Charles

I nearly fell off my chair when they told me about the Geoff Charles element. Geoff was a prolific Welsh documentary photographer. He took a photo of my brother and I around 38 years ago. There are more than 20,000 of Geoff’s photos held for safe-keeping at the National Library of Wales. You can see some of these at
Here’s the digital storytelling connection…

When the Nokia N93 first came out around two years ago (in 2006), BBC Wales was interested in its potential as a tool for people to tell broadcastable personal stories. All the members of the Capture Wales team experimented with many forms. Some of these forms went on to be adapted for public workshops. One of the experimental digital stories I made wasn’t made for publication; it was intended to explore the phone’s still image and voice recording capacity in a digital storytelling context. The voice recording quality was OK but, as you can see, there’s some distortion of the images because I needed to take photos up-close. I haven’t made the story public until now. But because of this bit of Geoff Charles Culturenet Cymru synchronicity, I wanted to share this mobile phone story with you now:


geoff charles photo
Photo by LlGC ~ NLW Photo by Geoff Charles.

Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 4 June 2008. Sorry the video’s no longer available (2017).

Signals from society

I’ve been corresponding recently with Wim Kievits who’s had an interest in Digital Storytelling for some time. He recently contacted me regarding a presentation he’s making in the Netherlands later this week. He asked what triggered BBC Wales’s interest in starting Capture Wales and asked: “Can you tell me or point out to me how the whole initiative started? What were the initial challenges (or signals from society) you encountered that made you decide to start this initiative?”

Well I can’t speak on behalf of BBC Wales but I can remember a time when it used to cost £30,000 to buy a machine to edit video. So it was expensive/exclusive to access the tool to tell stories via video. 2001 was about the time when it became affordable to edit your own video on home computers. This opened up the door to enabling anyone to be able to tell their own story using video. For publicly-funded organisations like ours, this was an important moment. Digital Storytelling is a form that lends itself to personal storytelling because:

1. everyone has a photo archive
2. everyone has a story/stories to tell

But this isn’t a case of pure technical determinism. Because, in addition to new technology, some other elements were needed. E.g.

1. an attainable ‘form’. I.e. Digital Storytelling
2. careful facilitation so that the skills of constructing such a story can be shared with groups of people.
3. mass media willing to give completed stories a platform so the stories can be enjoyed by everyone who sees them

And those are some of the magic ingredients that led to the BBC Capture Wales project.

There’s one other catalyst I mustn’t forget: someone persuasive, a convincer and an evangelist. In our case, that was Daniel Meadows, from Cardiff University.