Category Archives: japan

DS8 digital storytelling conference review 2013

Digital storytellers from as far afield as Japan to Norway and from Egypt to Canton gathered together in Cardiff on 14 June 2013 for the DS8 digital storytelling conference.

The host, Karen Lewis, co-director of the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling thanked the sponsors – the Arts Council of Wales  welcomed everyone on behalf of DS Cymru and introduced the first guest speaker. (All speakers’ biographies are on the DS8 site)

Mandy Rose
Mandy Rose

Personal factual participation & collaboration are themes running through Mandy Rose‘s Video Nation, Capture Wales and academic career. Speaking of her time with BBC Video Nation, she said: “I think the veto we gave Video Nation diarists to opt out of having their video shown was a first at the BBC.”

Mandy was one of the leaders at BBC Cymru Wales who set up and ran Capture Wales digital storytelling. It was 12 years ago that the first training workshop in Wales happened, led by Joe Lambert and Nina Mullen of CDS. Mandy credited Daniel Meadows, seconded from to BBC Wales, for his vision. For example, citing how Daniel ensured Capture Wales was more than just a broadcast project, how important it was that people took a copy of their story home with them from the workshop and how inspiration came from Mass-Observation, early radio documentary makers and from Ivan Illich’s ideas in Tools for Conviviality.

Mandy Rose is now senior research fellow at the Digital Cultures Research Centre, University of the West of England. She’s studying and instigating globally collaborative interactive real-life projects. She ended by challenging traditional broadcasters to engage with emerging participative video content forms and projects.

Pip Hardy
Pip Hardy

Pip Hardy was a memorable guest speaker at DS6 in Aberystwyth. I’ll never forget the digital story she showed back then of an anguished nurse told to fit a catheter in a dying patient because it would be “good practice” for him. In DS8 Pip tacked the ethics of digital storytelling at DS8. Attribution, no-derivative3, non-commercial Creative Commons licenses are the ones @PilgrimPip uses for Patient Voices. Pip screened an early Patient Voices digital story about a ‘closed’ circumcised Somali woman in a maternity ward, and then led a discussion about ethical issues raised in it.

Other morning breakout sessions were: David Frohlich Mobile Digital Storytelling for Development. Grete Jamissen/Suzana Sukovic – Digital Storytelling in Education; Rose Thompson  – Digital Storytelling: Medical Education for the Google Generation. Of the last in this list, Mike Wilson @profmikew tweeted: “Rose Thompson on how Internet as narrative vehicle has changed power relationship in clinical situations. Patients taking the lead now.”

After lunch, there were two further cracking guest speakers and I attended an inspiring breakout led by an old friend….

Darcy Alexandra
Darcy Alexandra

Darcy Alexandra began her presentation by showing powerful protest films from south and central America. One of a silent protest by relatives of family members who had been ‘disappeared’ and another by a film-maker from El Salvador who returned to her village to film a survivor of a massacre there some years ago. She then spoke of her work in the Republic of Ireland with people who were waiting in an asylum centre for their cases to be heard in court. She showed a film by a Serbian visual artist Vukasin who spoke with palpable sadness of not being able to be there at the end of his mother’s life after she warned him not to return to his home as it wasn’t safe for him. As in the case of many refugees and asylum seekers and others moving from one country to another for their won and their families’  safety,  when Vukasin’s mother died he was not even able to attend her funeral.

There have however been two uplifting outcomes for Vukasin today:  he has ” received leave to remain in Ireland, and completed an MA in Visual Arts.” Do watch Vukasin’s digital story.

Yasmin Elayat
Yasmin Elayat

“What if we can get a country to write its own history?” The energy of young Egyptian video-makers and social media commentators was carried into DS8 like a flag by #18daysinEgypt’s Yasmin Elayat. She spoke of their use of social media in sharing the story of the revolution in Egypt by the people protesting. Tools like Mozilla Popcorn Maker help to add contextual metadata to each story when presenting unfolding events. And there were some stories I hadn’t heard before: like the lovers who met after making fleeting eye contact across a crowded Tarhir Square; the image of charging military rushing the photo journalist who captioned it ‘the image that nearly took me’; and the motorcycle-riders who rode where ambulances couldn’t reach and skidded into tear gas clouds to rescue the injured.

There was a great question at the end of Yasmin’s session, about the fragility of archives. Greece’s national broadcaster has just closed, said the questioner. What happens to these videos and stories if social media sites go under? This is a safeguarding question I’d like to explore some more. Especially considering how precious these artifacts are if the challenge is for individuals to collectively write their own history.

Aske Dam
Aske Dam

I’ve known Aske Dam of IMA Norway for some time. He came to observe an early digital storytelling workshop I worked on with post-graduate students of Cardiff University’s JOMEC with Daniel Meadows and the rest of the Capture Wales team. Aske’s also worked extensively in Japan and is highly-respected by the people I know there. His breakout session was a call for communities to use local cinemas and cinema technology to share and respond to each others’ digital stories. Instead of showing PowerPoint slides, Aske made his presentation using the DLP (Digital Light Processing) digital cinema format on Chapter’s cinema projector.

Because I’m so interested in hyperlocal media, I was delighted when Aske showed examples of Japan’s early rural local cable TV broadcasts. Farming prices were chalked onto a blackboard, with a black-and-white camera pointing at it. Presenters dialled into the local police station live on camera and asked the officer if there had been any accidents today. Local stories were written by local people and then acted out live on TV by professional touring drama companies. Every piece of content was relevant to its local rural audience.

Aske also spoke of the importance of local radio after disasters like Japan’s 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident in 2011. When mobile phone and other communications networks were down, lists of the survivors and those who’d been killed were drawn up in shop windows and local reporters would read the names on radio.

Other afternoon breakout sessions were by one of Britain’s busiest digital storytellers Alex Henry  about using iPad technology to capture memories of Newcastle’s heritage. And Carlotta Allum spoke about her Stretch Story Box project.

The afternoon was brought to a close with thanks to the organisers, speakers, sponsors (Arts Council of Wales) and a look ahead to an evening of storytelling later on at Chapter, Cardiff.

I’d summarise the theme of DS8 as being about citizens’ use of social media and digital storytelling in documenting events truthfully and in seeking justice.

This Wales digital storytelling conference review is something I’ve done every year. Because it’s so dark in the hall, I do apologise to the speakers for the poor quality of my photos.

If you’d like to read previous years’ reviews, here are the links:

DS7 (2012);  DS6 (2011); DS5 (2010); DS4 (2009), DS3 (2008) and DS2 (2007). Unfortunately, the record of DS1 is no longer online.

Designing a New Media Forest of Japan

The whole world remembers the 3.11 March 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.

Japanese participatory media research group MELL Platz is conducting a public research seminar on 10 December 2011 at the Tohoku University in Sendai, in the area which was so badly affected by the tragic events.

It’s called “Designing A New Media Forest of Japan: From Civic Generated Narratives and Memories of Post 3.11.”

The event begins with a workshop for participants to share their narratives and memories of the 3.11 east Japan great disaster.
This is followed by a panel discussion about the future media ecosystem (the Media Forest) of Japan after 3.11.

On the platform will be Kenji Kai (Sendai Mediateque), Martin Fackler (New York Times), Shin Mizukoshi (Univ. of Tokyo). Chairing the session will be Kuniko Sakata (Tohoku Univ.) and Kiyoko Toriumi (Univ. of Tokyo).
There’s more information on the MELL Platz website.
via @shinkeugri

Read also about some of the innovative projects of the “Media Exprimo” Shin Mizukoshi group.

Tokyo: New Horizons of Digital Storytelling

Every year, Media Exprimo and University of Tokyo organise several seminars looking at different forms of media expression and participation in Japan, Asia and beyond. Click on the Japan tag of this blog for background.

Digital storytellers with an interest in digital storytelling’s international perspective will be interested to hear about this year’s grand event: Mell Expo 2011 in Tokyo on the weekend of 19 & 20 March 2011.

There are sessions giving an overview of media literacies in Japan, one which includes a presentation by Media Exprimo’s Shin Mizukoshi of University of Tokyo and other renowned experts entitled ‘Global Alliance and Local Media Biotope’.

The ‘New Horizons of Digital Storytelling’ session sounds especially fascinating. It’s a panel session, chaired by Yuko Tsuchiya of Hiroshima University of Economics. The speakers are John Hartley of Queensland University of Technology, Masaaki Ito of Aichishukutoku University, Akiko Ogawa of Aichishukutoku University and Kiyoko Toriumi of University of Tokyo.

For updates about Mell Expo, do follow Shin Mizukoshi and Akiko Ogawa on Twitter. They tweet in Japanese but using Google Translate can help give a valuable glimpse into the fantastic international digital storytelling work being done in languages other than English.

With a group of University of Tokyo students on campus

Papurau Bro: coming together to fold

Papurau Bro are Welsh-language local newspapers written by, edited by, folded & stapled and distributed by community members. They’ve thrived for three decades or more and I’d say that digital storytelling in Wales has drawn inspiration from the spirit of Papurau Bro.

In my current (2009) role as executive producer of I was interviewed by Rhodri ap Dyfrig for his tech blog metastwnsh. I’ve long been a fan of Rhodri’s work in screening short films via Pictiwrs yn y Pyb.

Before the interview began we discussed our shared admiration of the way Papurau Bro are made in concert by the people featured in the stories and wondered what might happen if this grassroots news movement took up video and its online publication as a way of brining the coverage up to date. I later refered to this in the interview (Welsh article, hover mouse over words in this version to get sense). And one reader’s comments seemed to endorse this, suggesting workshops be organised for Papurau Bro volunteers.

I wonder what local Welsh You Tube channels would look like. Local news, heritage pieces, personal stories, etc. Next step would seem to be for Papurau Bro activists to get together with Wales’s established digital storytelling practitioners to make a pilot.

wales photo
Photo by ohefin

Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 11 April 2009

End of workshop photo

Kani workshop

You can tell how well a workshop went by looking at the end-of-workshop photo. This one was taken at the end of the first Media Conté Workshop where media exprimo and Aichi Shukutoku University worked with teenagers in Kani, Gifu Prefecture, in the centre of Japan’s largest island.

Kani is well known for its car manufacturing. One of the leaders of Media Conté is Akiko Ogawa, who’s made two trips to Wales to study digital storytelling. She told me earlier this year there were many Japanese descendants from Brasil and other countries who had come to work in Kani’s factories. She told me she wanted to find a way of bringing these people together to share their experiences and to try and find a way of making sure these stories were more widely heard throughout Japan.

The beauty of digital stories is that the process of making one brings community members together and the end-product has a surprisingly moving quality which can catch you by surprise. The story that’s built is perfect for exhibition on TV. Greater individual expression on TV is one of media exprimo’s aims and one of the things that impressed me at Mell Expo 2008 in Tokyo was that the Japanese mass media was so open to change. They listened positively to pleas for increased reflection of different areas of Japan on national TV. Of course, centralisation isn’t an issue that affects Japan alone…

Congratulations to Akiko Ogawa and her colleagues and fellow members at Aichi Shukutoku University and media exprimo because the good news is that these stories are going to be broadcast on CATV in Kani this very weekend.

Every picture tells a story.

Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 22 October 2008.

Tribute forms

“How can people participate without  necessarily having to be centre stage?” That’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since discussing digital storytelling with a colleague, Grahame Davies, last year.

My experience of Digital Stories is that they’re usually personal. This aspect of ‘talking about myself’ raises a barrier in some people and cultures. This was an issue raised by some people I met in Japan earlier this year.

Last night, on TV, I saw a piece of video that stands as a good example of a ‘tribute form’. Look at the first 55 seconds of the video clip on this page. It’s in Welsh. It features  people who live in Bala, north Wales. They’re all praising Mair Penri Jones – a woman who’s been active and helped many people in that community.

As well as being a form of storytelling about others, rather than the self, this form lends itself well to a project where equipment is in short supply and people need to work together to make a film.

I’d be interested to hear of other similar forms.

Unknown Shonan

Kiyoko outlines the Unknown Shonan workshop processI’ve observed that working on stories in a group usually helps individuals to improve their story and I love watching how stories are improved, thanks to the group dynamics. That’s one of the reasons digital storytelling works so well as a group workshop activity.

One University of Tokyo project, called Unknown Shonan, is the first I’ve heard of that compares narratives arrived at individually with those arrived at by working in a group.

Shonan is Japan’s Brighton. It’s a bohemian seaside city about an hour by train from Tokyo. Universtiy of Tokyo researchers worked with participants, mixing historic photos with participant-taken ones where individuals are asked to make five-photo captioned narratives first individually and then in groups. They’ve already reached Phase II of the project and they’re comparing outputs at the moment. It’ll be interesting to hear the outcome and perhaps to start understanding what really improves stories when we share and discuss our stories collaboratively.

Tokyo Video Scrapbook

Tokyo and Mell Expo 2008 were absolutely mindblowing. A more considered summary of Mell Expo 2008 will follow. For now, with music by B’z, is a montage of (Ricoh) images and (Nokia N93) video clips that capture the flavour of the event and the trip. Hope you enjoy it:



Tokyo Mell Expo 2008 presentation

There’s an enigma around technology, isn’t there?  Take the mobile phone for example. We used to use just it to make phonecalls; now phones have near-broadcast-quality video cameras on board too. If only there was a way of releasing some more of the potential of technology for the benefit of society…

 Let me start with some questions about this: 

1. What motivation and opportunities could be given to people in Japan to make more use of the creative capacity of their mobile devices and computers? 2. Which ‘forms’ of Digital Storytelling would be most attractive in this country to both author & audience of the content?3. And how could this content be shared with mass audiences?

My name is Gareth Morlais and I work for BBC Wales in the UK as a producer.

Everyone has a story to tell – that’s been central to our ethos at the BBC Capture Wales Digital Storytelling project and that’s what’s led to hundreds of people in Wales learning the skills they need to make their own Digital Story which is shown on BBC platforms – web, radio, TV and interactive.

A digital story is a two-minute broadcast-quality personal story made by the storyteller themself, using their own photos, words and voice.

E.g. Richard Pugh – A Quest for Understanding

Making a Digital Story for the first time often means learning at least two kinds of skills that may be new to the individual:
1. Technical – this is the new skill which is most often cited in connection with media literacy, digital exclusion and skilling for the knowledge economy in Wales.
2. Narrative – this is usually sadly underrated.

I feel that the skills of organising and relating experience in the form of a story can be as important in the knowledge economy as the technical skills. These skills of storytelling are harder to learn than technical. Learning in a group – workshop of ten people – is what we’ve found works best.

Here’s why I feel this is important, from the point of view of the individual citizen, the audience and the mass media, especially a public service broadcaster like the BBC. This is based on our experience in Wales, but I hope some of this may resonate with the experience you have in Japan.


1. To the mass audience.
– A feeling of being reflected on the mass media.
– Fresh, surprising, diverse content.

2. To the broadcaster / publisher.
– Promotes media literacy in Wales.
– It’s a self-authored voice for all kinds of people on BBC Wales’s web, radio and TV platforms.
– Helps to spread the skills of storytelling.
– A good way of getting to know the audience and to work alongside them and with grass-roots organisations in the community. These partnerships can lead to other things too…

3. To the individual author.
– New skills.
– People report a feeling of having exceeded expectations and surprising themselves.
– A truer voice on the mass media, compared with other content made by publisher.

Here’s an example of what I mean by ‘truer voice’. Compare two approaches to a news story to show how much more empowering Digital Storytelling is, because of where the ownership of the story rests:

Case 1 – A traditional TV news story about cancer. Scientists in white coats, mother of a boy who died of cancer being filmed on the family sofa, reacting tointerview questions, leafing through family photograph album …
Case 2 – Gaynor Clifford – Castle on a Cloud – a 2002 Digital Story by the mother of a boy who died of cancer. She based her story on questions her son asked her when he was thinking about his future.

Here’s the process we’ve used to help a group of ten people to make their stories over three or four days. Finished stories are 250 words, around 12 images, two minutes long. This model has come to be know as the ‘classic Digital Story’.

1. Recruitment. Always the most difficult part. Showing existing Digital Stories in a community setting is most effective. We apply principles of diversity in selecting Digital Storytelling workshop participants.

2. Briefing. Letting storytellers know what to expect in a reassuring way.

3. Storycircle. A whole day in a group working on and offering help with everyone’s story. No computers today.

4. Everyone records their story.

5. Introduction to the computers and equipment.

6. Taking digital photos and scanning images from own personal collection.

7. Editing. Learning to use video editing software to synchronise images with the audio recording of their story.

8. Sharing the stories at an end-of-workshop group screening, via a personal DVD copy and by publishing on web and TV.

‘Classic Digital Storytelling’ is evolving and new forms have emerged from it. We still consider them to be Digital Stories if they meet these criteria by Lisa Heledd and Mandy Rose:
1. A strong story; a clear narrative the audience will engage with.
2. Transferral of skills.
3. Ownership rests with author.

Here are some examples:

FORM 1 – Shoebox story
Can be made in one or two days. Shorter, based on objects brought to the workshop in a shoebox.
E.g. Alan Jeffreys – A Dog’s Life
FORM 2 – In the Frame
Images from disposable film cameras. Storytellers react (unscripted) to photos they took. A powerful tool for citizenship.
E.g. Mel’s campaigning piece about her school
Selma Chalabi facilitated this story as part of ‘If I Were and AM’ – an AM is a Welsh politician.

FORM 3 – Archive
In the Rhondda Lives! project, BBC Wales partnered with Valleys Kids charity and National Screen and Sound Archive to mix personal storytelling with archive film of the Rhondda Valley. This is an attractive way of releasing new value and exposing archive footage, artifacts, etc. Attractive to museums as well as TV companies.
E.g. Gillian Thomas – Hiraeth

FORM 4 – Mobile Story
Outline history of and show examples of experiments with mobile phone forms. These Welsh-language ones are from a February 2008 workshop for a youth programme called Mosgito:
Abi – Bywyd ar y fferm – about living on a farm


RhysW – Grefi yn y Coffi – about someone who plays jokes on people

FORM 5 – Sensecam
BBC Wales worked with Microsoft Research Centre to test how a wearable camera might be used. Here’s a film called Day2 I made about my own experience of wearing the Sensecam. It’s intended as a reflective film rather than a narrative story.

We can speculate about some features of future forms. I think we’re likely to see device shrinkage, with better on-board editing functionality and more explicit linkage to location and the continuing shift to online editing and storage. The real challenges though are around motivating people to unleash the potential of what they hold in their hand and ensuring that access to the skills needed to do this are as universally available as possible.

I’d like to share some observations distilled from the last seven years…


1. Build in sustainability.
– Court and involve prospects in workshops.
– Run training the trainers sessions.
– Urge new trainers to make another story alone before beginning to train others.
– Form partnerships and offer to publish their work non-exclusively.
– Capitalise on the snowflake-effect of building partnerships.

2. Agree on your ethos, as a team.
– Ways of working with people.
– Ownership of content.
– Etc.

3. Choose performance indicators wisely.
– Acknowledge value issues around working face-to-face.
– Compare ‘cost per story’ with ‘cost per hour of TV’.
– Case studies can be powerful justifiers of spending.
– Emphasise what you do which YouTube doesn’t.

4. Recruiting participants is the hardest part.
– Showing stories in the community is the best way to recruit.

5. Story is key.
– It’s the specific, sensory-driven stuff that we connect with.
– Even if you teach the technology one-to-one, the storytelling bits work best in a group.
– You know it’s a good story if you can enjoy it with your eyes closed.

6. There needs to be a skills exchange (media literacy), so try to teach people to use something they’ll be able to go home and use again later.
– Their own mobile phone as a capture device.
– Web-based tools to edit, store and publish.

7. Have a clear plan and stick to it.
– Let participants know which media form you’re asking them to make.
– Know and state your editorial proposition E.g personal, 1st person (I, my, we…), fact not fiction, etc.
– Work as a group where possible, ensuring everyone’s devices are set up to look and perform exactly the same, as far as possible.

8. Lower barriers to entry by adapting your plan to offer a choice of forms.
– Have a toolkit of forms. E.g. story in one weekend, story in an hour a week over six weeks, etc.

9. Ask people to use their own stuff in their story.
– This makes it personal and avoids rights problems.

10. Diversity really works.
– In the make-up of the people in the group (age, background, etc.)
– In the range of story subjects
– Avoid themed workshops, e.g. for ‘people with depression’.

11. Document, refine and share your ways of working.
– E.g.

12. Finally, once again, story is key.


When technology meets storytelling via skillful facilitation in a group setting with mass media hungry to show the results – heaven!

I’ll end by addressing the three challenges I set out at the beginning of my presentation:1. What motivation and opportunities could be given to people in Japan to make more use of the creative capacity of their mobile devices and computers? This is an appeal to the representatives of grass-roots community organisations of Japan who are in the audience today. I’ve shown examples of Digital Stories and how making one can have a powerful effect on the individual author. Can you see ways in which Digital Storytelling might be able to help you achieve your organisation’s aims? Can you find ways of linking up with other organisations, trainers and broadcasters to set up a project of your own?2. Which ‘forms’ of Digital Storytelling would be most attractive in this country to both author & audience? Well I’m not the best person to answer to this question, because Japanese culture and values are new to me. But what I’ve just done is to show you examples that have worked in Wales and on BBC Wales. And I hope that’s triggered some new ideas of what might work here in Japan and other Asian countries.3. How could this content be shared with mass audiences? This is a challenge to the broadcasters and mass media companies in the audience. One thing I can say about Digital Stories is that showing them to your audiences is a great way of demonstrating greater relevance in this fast-changing landscape.Whether or not you decide to get involved in this, these are exciting times. The fact that organisations like Media Exprimo, Mell Expo, MoDe, Japanese Universities and grass-roots organisations and broadcasters have come here to Mell Expo 2008 to investigate how the technology of Japan can be harnessed for the good of the people is a great thing. And I wish you every good wish on this exciting journey.



My background is in radio social action broadcasting, in public service broadcasting at the BBC and with commercial broadcasters in Wales (Coast FM) and in Sri Lanka (TNL Radio)

Before Digital Stories, there was BBC Video Nation (1993) which pioneered self-authored, personal storytelling in the form of video diaries. I didn’t work on this but I remember the good impression this made on me at the time.

In 2001, I heard Daniel Meadows of Cardiff University speak at the BBC. He showed his digital story Polyphoto. This is the point at which I decided I wanted to be part of this project because it was the first time I’d seen a format for personal storytelling where the author chose the story, visuals and actually edited it themself.

Daniel Meadows had made Polyphoto at the Center for Digital Storytelling in California, in a workshop run by Joe Lambert. This was at a time one of the pioneers and founders of digital stories passed away: Dana Atchley. Dana’s digital story Home Movies is one of my favourites.

Daniel came on secondment to the BBC as part of a partnership between BBC Wales and Cardiff University. BBC Capture Wales was born, edited by Mandy Rose – one of BBC Video Nation’s founders. Joe Lambert and Nina Mullen were invited to come to Wales to run training the trainers sessions. That’s when I made my first story and joined the new Capture Wales team as a trainer and as producer of the website In 2005, I became the project producer and started a personal blog called Aberth Digital Storytelling –

Our strategy has always been to try make Digital Storytelling a sustainable proposition in Wales. We always planned to run fewer and fewer workshops ourselves as more and more community organisations began offering Digital Storytelling opportunities. Examples of Digital Storytelling projects in Wales include Breaking Barriers, Yale Centre for Digital Storytelling, Coleg Sir Gar and Canllaw Online.

BBC Wales planned to stop running monthly workshops one day and that day came at the beginnin of April 2008. Two of our team have moved on assignment to the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling at the University of Glamorgan, where the production activity and innovation continues with the aim of setting up a Centre for Excellence in Digital Storytelling there. Back at the BBC, the focus will be on offering to publish the stories that are being produced around Wales.

In 2001, only Capture Wales was helping people to make Digital Stories in Wales; now, there are over 70 organisations in Wales that are doing it or have been funded for a project that involves an element of Digital Storytelling. Almost 700 people have made their Digital Story with BBC Wales and, if you look at all projects around Wales, the figure’s well over 2,000. I think this kind of planned sustainability with inbuilt self-redundancy is a remarkable model for a broadcaster, and I’d personally like to see more of it.
Gareth Morlais, Cardiff, Wales,  April 2008



“0.16% of YouTube users upload to YouTube” (Heard in a presentation about media literacy by Ewan McIntosh. From the Guardian, May 2007)

“Watching a digital story is a little like taking a walk on a dark night past a house where the owner has left the curtains open and the lights on – you get a special glimpse of life inside.” – Gilly Adams, Capture Wales, at a meeting with Digital Storytellers in Cardiff, March 2008

“Right now there are more than 300 million people around the world watching video content online. It’s a fundamental shift that completely democratises our business.” Peter Chernin, News Corp. (Heard in a presentation by Jon Gisby. From )

UK media regulator OFCOM defines media literacy as: “the ability to access, understand and CREATE communications in a variety of contexts”. I think it’s great that the word ‘create’ appears.

University of Tokyo’s Shin Mizukoshi’s definition is even better, because it speaks of individual authors, and is explicit about the fact that one needs both the equipment and the skills to create: “Activities for independent communication via media in an information society, and the technologies and knowledge that support these activities” – .

Significant developments since 2000 – broadcasters welcoming content from audiences, social media like YouTube, online applications, increase of capture resolution of small devices (Nokia N93, Zoom H2, etc.), embedding content in many places, etc.

Media Exprimo, Japan

Back in 2003, BBC Wales organised an International Digital Storytelling Conference. Two of the many attendees travelled to Cardiff all the way from Japan to be with us:

1. Akiko Ogawa, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Studies on Contemporary Society at Aichi Shukutoko University and
2. Aske Dam a Norwegian participatory media specialist who has worked extensively in the Far East on developments in mobile technology.

This wasn’t the last time I met Akiko and Aske. They’ve both maintained a lively interest in Digital Storytelling developments in Wales. In fact, Akiko has returned to Wales twice: she came to a Digital Storytelling workshop we ran in Cardiff and she returned last year with a group of six or more other Japanese academics, engineers and broadcasters who are part of a group called Media Exprimo (

The members of Media Exprimo who came to the BBC with Akiko were:

  • Ryuko Furukawa of TV Asahi
  • Hajime Hasegawa of Meiji Gakuin University
  • Takuichi Nishimura of National Institute of Advanced Industrial Scence & Technology
  • Tomoyuki Shigeta of Tama Art University
  • Tomiokiyo Sunaga of Tama Art University
  • Matsui Takako of University of Tokyo

As well as Capture Wales, the group also visited Cardiff University, Breaking Barriers and projects in Denmark.

In a few days time, I’m making a trip to Tokyo to take part in Mell Expo 2008 ( and it’ll be great to meet these people once again.

Another member of Media Exprimo I’m very much looking forward to meeting for the first time is Shin Mizukoshi. He’s written some insightful pieces about populating the space between personal and commercial uses of communicative media with a new lively public space. In 2005, he defined media literacy thus:

“Activities for independent communication via media in an information society, and the technologies and knowledge that support these activities” – .

Some of his work has been written jointly with Aske Dam as part of the MoDe project.

I love it when senior academics ask the kind of ‘what if’ questions about the significance of the fact that we can now carry around a really powerful all-in one broadcasting device in our hands. And not just the ‘what can we do with this?’ questions, but also the ‘what could we do to extend the device?’ and ‘what kinds of motivations might persuade individuals to exploit the full power of what they hold in their hand?’ kinds of questions.

At Mell Expo 2008 next weekend, I’m looking forward to showing the work the BBC Capture Wales did using computers, mobile phones and other devices. Most of all, I’m looking forward to finding out from Akiko, Media Exprimo, MoDe, etc. about the exciting work that’s going on in Japan in the field of media literacy, digital storytelling and ensuring people have  access to a voice on the mass media.

I’ll post updates on this blog over the coming days.