Category Archives: museums

Telling Truths, Changing Minds – digital storytelling evening

As a round-up of digital storytelling activities in south Wales, it’s hard to beat this event TELLING TRUTHS, CHANGING MINDS in Cardiff, Wales, on Thursday, 29 November 2012.

It’s been organised by the CommsCymru network for communications professionals in Wales and it’s open to all members of that CommsCymru network (joining details below). The event is all about the ‘practice and tactics for making effective comms narratives plus the latest applied research from experts at our national centre for storytelling’.

The programme is impressive:

  • Professor Hamish Fyfe of the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling at the University of Glamorgan will be hosting the evening.
  • Lisa Heledd-Jones of StoryWorks will share some of her digital storytelling work in the field of health and wellbeing.
  • Matt Chilcott of the digital inclusion project Communities 2.0 will talk about that project.
  • Bridget Keehan will be ‘Questioning the Purpose of the Arts in Prison’.
  • Chris Morgan – Mogs – of GEECS will discuss how storytelling can be used in digital inclusion.
  • Dr Pat Ryan will look at the improtance of story times in Welsh museums, archives and libraries.
Chris 'Mog' Morgan
Chris 'Mog' Morgan’s background is in digital storytelling and community based multi-media work. He has worked with a wide variety of community groups in Wales and Europe on projects from music and film making to animation and web design.

I’m really looking forward to this event. If you’re not already a member of the CommsCymru network, you can get details of free membership at www.commscymru.info and of how to register for this free event from commsprofession@wales.gsi.gov.uk

5.45 – 7: 30 PM Thursday, 29 November 2012
The Zen Room, ATRiuM, Cardiff School of Creative &
Cultural Industries, University of Glamorgan, Cardiff CF24 2FN

Digital storytelling admin

I’ve just been speaking on Facebook with south Wales digital storytelling and community video practitioner Sandra Anstiss. She’s venturing into the private sector making stories with owners, marketing staff,customers etc. and she was asking members of the Facebook DS Working Group for advice about consents and copyright.
I’d say there are three or more issues here…
1. The stated consent of the storyteller and featured subjects;
2. Some form of evidence that any third-party assets are OK to use (other people’s pics, music, etc.); and
3. Something that says who owns the finished digital story entity.
Once these are established, it becomes possible to license the story’s re-publication elsewhere, either exclusively or – as in the case of Creative Commons – non-exclusively.
In terms of a project’s ethos, due consultation and consideration will need to be given to sensitivities around possible hurtful comments online etc. YouTube comments can be cruel.
I wish Sandra good luck with her new venture and – adding a disclaimer – I do emphasise I’m  not a lawyer, so it’s best to seek professional advice.
P.S. sorry for the really boring headline to this story

Displaying digital stories

If you’re looking for ways of displaying your project’s digital stories, here are two examples to consider. I’m working for the BBC at Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru in Wrexham this week and in the BBC Cymru Wales ‘cube’ tent on the maes (Eisteddfod field) there are two video displays that may be of interest to digital storytellers. .

1. Casgliad y Werin – The People’s Collection – a kiosk showing videos and artefacts.

2. Clip Cymru touchscreen for viewing video clips. This uses touch technology developed for explaining ongoing Election results.

Culture Shock! museums and galleries digital storytelling conference 29 Sept 2011

It’s always a treat to hear about a brand new digital storytelling conference. And here’s some news of a new one one this autumn in the north-east of England.

Culture Shock! is one of the biggest digital storytelling projects in the world. At the time of writing they’ve published 560 stories on their website and they’re holding a major conference at Live Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on Thursday 29 September 2011 – Culture Shock! 2011.

The conference programme looks really interesting: Alex Henry, project co-ordinator at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, talks about the Culture Shock! project itself; Barrie Stephenson of Digistories answers the question ‘What is digital storytelling?’; and there are sessions called ‘Digital Storytelling – why bother?’ and ‘Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy’.

Breakout sessions include ones about exploring hidden histories through digital storytelling; using the story circle to engage participants in the process; using the form to support lifelong learning; and the ethics of digital storytelling.

Registration is open now. Tickets cost £50 which includes refreshments and lunch.

Read more stories about Culture Shock! on this blog…

Culture Shock! 2011 flyer

DS6 digital storytelling conference review 2011

For the UK’s digital storytellers, a trip to Aberystwyth Arts Centre has been something of an annual pilgrimage for some years now. DS6 took place on Friday 16 June 2011. In keeping with previous years, here’s my review of the day.

Angeline Koh

First on the DS6 stage was Angeline Koh of Singapore-based Digital Storytelling Asia.

I first became aware of the interest in digital storytelling in Singapore when I wrote this blog post entitled 6,000 Storytellers four years ago.

I could tell from hearing Angeline speak just how much of an inspiration Denise Atchley – wife of the late Dana Atchley – had been.

Angeline says digital storytelling is still quite young in Singapore and the surrounding area. She’d like to see a huge growth in the form, especially in schools. After witnessing Angela’s determination and dedication, when it comes to doing this I’d say: “if anyone can, Angeline can”.

Pip Hardy

I was bowled over by the presentation made by Pip Hardy of Patient Voices. I’d briefly met Pip and her partner Tony Sumner at the previous evening’s welcome meal (thanks to Alan Hewson, director of the Arts Centre for that). The stories Pip showed on Friday drove home the power of personal storytelling in changing people’s attitudes to the way they deal with others in their day to day work. The emotion I felt as Pip showed the digital story by a trainee male nurse who reflected on being instructed to insert a catheter into an 80-year-old woman who was very close to death “because it’ll be good practice for you” will stay with me for ever. It was such an important story to tell and yet such a difficult story to watch.

If this field of stories guiding health policy and behaviour is of interest to you, see also this Aberth blog post about how storytelling is saving hundreds of lives in Welsh hospitals.

Lisa Heledd Jones (L) and Karen Lewis (R) of StoryWorks

The first breakout Session I attended was about StoryWorks and was presented by Karen Lewis and Lisa Heledd Jones. The sensitive way in which these experienced practitioners tailor experiences in consultation with the people they’re working with is what shines through for me. Full declaration: I’ve worked closely with Karen and Lisa in the past with Capture Wales.

Not all the work they do results in a classic two-minute digital story, for example they described a project called ‘Dads Who Care’ about foster dads which resulted in a PDF e-book which had many thousands of downloads which goes to show that modelling the format to suit the audience yields optimal results. Anyone who’s organised a digital storytelling workshop will know how difficult it can be to recruit participants. So it was interesting to hear Lisa say that, if individuals can see lasting good for others from the story they tell, StoryWorks have found it much easier to find volunteers to share their story.

Julie Gade

After lunch, Julie Gade of Story Field stood up to speak. Julie’s based in Copenhagen and her organisation works for companies and organisations who want to find out what their customers / clients / passengers / patients / etc really think about their products or services. As Julie said: “What people say they do isn’t always what people actually do.” One of the ways Julie’s company likes working is to give people cameras and ask them to record how they interact with the product or service, then edit the rushes into a short video story. This was a refreshing take on digital storytelling.

Joni Ayn

The final breakout session of the afternoon I attended was about Hyperlocal. It was hosted by Joni Ayn, editor of Llandaff News. The parallels between digital storytelling and hyperlocal news sites are interesting, especially when you consider the geographically-related stories of Murmur, Postcode Stories (whose creator Nicky Getgood was in the audience). There was an interesting strand of discussion around individuals’ ‘rights’ to tell a community’s stories, as opposed to capitalising on existing community frameworks.

Surprisingly, this echoed with my experiences when I worked with the BBC’s Cipolwg ar Gymru project. Some participants expressed an interest in telling a story about their village, yet when asked if that was the story they wanted to use for their digital story, they said: “Oh no, I’m not the right person to tell that one.” I don’t know whether or not this modesty in being reluctant to act as spokesperson is uniquely Welsh.

My own view as someone who runs two hyperlocal sites – AbergelePost.com and BaeColwyn.com – is that every single bit of help is welcome. After the session, the person who made the point promised to put me in touch with someone in Colwyn Bay who might be able to help with that area’s stories.

I first met Joni Ayn at DS5 and her Llandaff News was an influence when I decided to produce sites about Abergele and Colwyn Bay, so I was delighted that Joni ran this breakout at DS6.

Other breakout sessions throughout the day were run by Hannah Nicklin and Mog and Angharad Dalton. I was sorry to miss these, but these presenters kindly agreed to let me make an audio recording, so I can share here what I learned after listening to the mp3.

Patient Voices storytelling mandala slide by Pip Hardy
Patient Voices storytelling mandala slide by Pip Hardy

Pre-conference meal for speakers, generously hosted by Alan Hewson, Director of Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

Apart from the formal sessions, DS6 was a good chance to catch up with digital storytelling activities from some of the attendees. Here are some of the updates:

– Barrie Stephenson of DigiStories has been successfully using iPad to create digital stories using iMovie on iPad. Barrie says he’s focusing mainly on training trainers nowadays.

– Gwion Llwyd and Rhian Cadwaladr of Cadwyd and Galeri Caernarfon were in Aber. Gwion finds the defaulting Ken Burns effect on iMovie on iPad frustrating. They’re planning some exciting projects.

– I met Tash from Breaking Barriers Community Arts, who told me about some work they’ve been doing with Mind.

– Daniel Meadows is still teaching digital storytelling at Cardiff University. He’s also preparing for a retrospective of his work at the Bradford National Media Museum. Daniel and I spent some time remembering documentary photographer Tim Heatherington, who was sadly killed in a mortar attack in Misrata, Libya. Daniel knew Tim well; I’d only met Tim once when we started learning about digital storytelling together at the Elan Valley workshop in 2001.

– Steve Bellis of Yale College Wrexham is setting up a new ambitious pan-European digital storytelling partnership project.

– other people I was delighted to catch up with, albeit briefly, included Kate Strudwick, Katrina Kirkwood, Karl Greenwood, Prue Thimbleby, etc.

As I drove home to Cardiff from Aberystwyth after DS6, I enjoyed the company of Simona Bonini Baldini and Rami Malkawi. I’ll say more about them soon on this blog.

If you’d like to read about DSCymru’s previous conferences, here are the links:

DS5 (2010).
DS4 (2009), DS3 (2008) and DS2 (2007) too. Unfortunately, the record of DS1 is no longer online.

Digital storytelling on the high street

Wouldn’t it be great if you could pop in to get some expert help and make your own digital story while shopping in town? Well, during August 2010, if you’re lucky enough to live in Newcastle in the north-east of England, you can.  Culture Shop is Culture Shock‘s empty shop arts project which not only screens digital stories but also offers expert facilitation for people who’d like to make their own digital story. Some take their own photos to tell their story; others choose from a range of artifacts from museums and galleries of the  North East England.

I visited Culture Shop while we were visiting my wife’s friend Grainee in Newcastle this weekend. Grainee told us about the project and offered to take me to see the shop. I was bowled over – every high street should have a place like this to screen and produce digital stories. Culture Shock never ceases to impress me and their Culture Shop is fab.  What better way of increasing digital inclusion than a drop-in like this?

Exterior Culture Shop, Newcastle UK

Cath Walshaw of Culture Shock with a Roman helmet

The Cardiff Story digital stories

I went to the screening last night at the Atrium in Cardiff of 13 new digital stories, made to be exhibited at The Cardiff Story – a museum about the city which opens in autumn 2010.

The stories were broadly all on the theme of the views about Cardiff of people living in the Valleys of south Wales. They’re a collaboration between The Cardiff Story, University of Glamorgan’s George Ewart Evans Centre of Storytelling, Cardiff Council and the AHRC.

Only 13 of the stories were screened last night but they’ll all be exhibited at the Cardiff Story later in 2010, and on their website. What’s remarkable about this is that the stories were all facilitated by one hardworking superwoman: Mari Lowe.



Mari drew groups of people from common communities of interest or area together to share stories. Then she worked by responding according to individual needs and within resources – often one-to-one to help everyone complete their story. She says she learned a lot about this way of working from Katrina Kirkwood who works with Breaking Barriers and has worked with Rhondda Lives. The storytellers were invited to the screening of their stories and a bus was organised from the top of the Rhondda Valley down to Cardiff, stopping along the way to pick up storytellers.
Further screenings are being organised in towns and villages in the Valleys.



Two of the stories struck me as being really different in their approach:
– there was a story about a museum exhibit made by the donor of two family heirlooms: delicate tumblers bought and engraved at the Great Exhibition in Cardiff in 1896. This form of story is one that other museums may find useful, especially if the donor’s story is exhibited alongside the artifact.
– there was a family story made by two teenage sisters and their young mother. Listening to this reminded me of an audio story like StoryCorps’s. At times it was difficult to tell who was speaking, but I’m interested in seeing how Mari and her co-workers develop this of digital story form in future.



Last night was a celebration of stories, attended by many of the storytellers and their proud family members and friends. To give you a taste of the night, here’s one of Mari’s Cardiff Story digital storytellers Melanie, with her story ‘Happy Days’.

Happy Days from Cardiff Story on Vimeo.

Home movies meet digital stories

Do you know of examples of media forms that mix home movies with digital storytelling to add a personal-viewpoint narration to a home movie? If you do, please can you add a link to the comments below? (Don’t worry about the error message when you send the comment; I seem to be picking up all the coments OK, This is one of the joys of my WordPress comments plugin).

I’m asking the question because an Umbrian researcher called Simona Bonini Baldini is spending the summer based here at BBC Wales investigating the BBC Capture Wales model and seeing if this kind of digital storytelling method might be mixed with the rich archive of home movies digitised and stored in her Umbria Region in Italy. There’s a link to a charming home movie about Africa belonging to Simona’s own family from this page in Italian.

Simona would also like to speak with others in Wales and nearby who have ideas on this subject. If you prefer to send a direct message, please email me at melynmelyn (at) gmail dot com and I’ll put you in touch  with Simona.

DS5 digital storytelling conference cribsheet 2010

This is my look back at DS5. It’s something I did after previous conferences DS4 (2009), DS3 (2008) and DS2 (2007) too.  Unfortunately, the record of DS1 is no longer online.

Diego Vidart



At this year’s DS5, Diego VidartHistorias Digitales del Uruguay (HDUY) – gave the opening speech of the day. Diego had worked with Breaking Barriers in Wales a few years ago and now he’s  now working at the Catholic University of Uruguay in Montevideo on a USB-based video capture and editing application that enables children to capture and edit a digital story. The One Laptop per Child (OX) initiative is up and running in Uruguay. Because the OX’s processor is slow, the child will upload the assets and edit decision list (EDL) to a central server to be rendered.  The morning after, a compressed version of the video is ready to be viewed on the laptop. Diego showed a tantalising montage of stories made by HDUY participants. You can watch some at www.hduy.edu.uy. In the break after Diego’s presentation, I pondered with Chris,  a digital storyteller from the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, what sort of country Wales would be if every child had a broadband-connected laptop and was taught to make digital stories.

Culture Shock



Culture Shock
is a museums-based digital storytelling project in the north east of England. Five of its members came  by car from Newcastle to Aberystwyth. It was refreshing to meet them and hear their experiences of digital storytelling at Alan Hewson’s welcome meal the night before DS5. Alex Henry spoke on behalf of Culture Shock and she showed some powerful digital stories made by people about the difference between collecting and hoarding and the lasting impact of being bullied at school. The project’s moving from its production phase into curating the stories at museums – often alongside artefacts there – and screening the stories around the area. Culture Shock is a glowing example of how digital storytelling can be used to increase understanding between  diverse communities of people. There are some memorable stories to watch on their website:

http://www.cultureshock.org.uk/home.html

David Gunn


David Gunn  showed two  of the Echo Archive’s projects in a breakout session I attended next. The first was a map of five cities in Portugal which enabled you to click on the map and create an audio mix of the sounds of the locality: an ancient  wine cellar door creaking and slamming shut; a fado singer in a bar; someone talking about buying their first car. The second was a community-sourced soundscape of an area of Leeds called Little London.  The audio mixing software he used was outstanding. David made a statement during his presentation that took me back somewhat. He said the only stories we want to hear people in deprived neighborhoods tell are their authentic ones. Yet, if you’re a Guardian-reading, middle class Londoner, you can tell any story you like. I’m still thinking about this because it’s such a bold statement.



Steve Bellis speakng



The second break-out I attended was by Steve Bellis and Geraint Jenkins, speaking about Rural Stories. The power of inter-generational working came across loud and clear here.

Rural Media CompanyStoryworks stand with Lisa Heledd and Gilly Adams chatting with Joe Lambert of CDS

Lunchtime was a good time to mingle and visit the stalls in the market hall, including DigiTales, StoryWorks, Culture Shock, Communities 2.0 and The Rural Media Company.


Joe Lambert of the Center for Digital Storytelling

Joe Lambert of the Centre for Digital Storytelling had led the training the trainers workshop for the BBC at which I began to learn about digital storytelling back in 2001 in the Elan Valley. Funnily enough there were three others who had been on that course at the  DS5 conference too: Karen Lewis, Mandy Rose and Kate Strudwick. After that, Joe returned to BBC Wales in Cardiff to speak at the conference which I guess you could call DS1. Meanwhile, in 2010’s DS5, Joe remembered the times when the late Dana Atchley  was touring and performing his Next Exit show, seen by many as the first ever digital stories as we know them now. Joe showed Dana’s much-loved Home Movies (Turn) film. This is a story that every digital storyteller must see. Joe showed a further two powerful stories facilitated at CDS and partners’ workshops: the first about a father who bitterly taunted his young daughter that she’d never amount to anything, just like her late mother, who’d worked as a waitress; the second by a man puzzled at his own mother’s expression of anger and of her final days in hospital. These were both very moving, well-told stories. Joe said he was impressed by the way digital storytelling has taken off in Wales and he paid tribute to Daniel Meadows for the essential part he’s played in this. As one who’s worked a lot with and learned a lot from Daniel in the past, that tribute made me feel very happy.





So that leaves the question we ask every year: will there be another one next year; will there be a DS6? DS Cymru’s Esko Reinikainen, who hosted the day succinctly and with great insight, said that depends on the practitioners. He appealed for volunteers to help with the DS Cymru Ning network and @dscymruTwitter feed. He also expressed concern at the disappearance of potential future sources of conference funding.

The enduring feeling I have at the end of DS5 is that now, nine years after the beginning of digital storytelling in Wales, 80% of those attending DS5 this year had not only made a digital story, they were now also helping others to do the same. That’s a thing that makes me feel optimistic about the sustainability of the form in Wales.

I also believe digital storytelling has an important part to play in the Assembly’s plans for delivering digital inclusion. But it does take more than enthusiasm and increased access to broadband to sustain an activity. Now that the talk here in the UK is about public spending cuts, I hope there’ll still be enough money available to keep the activity of digital storytelling alive and financially supported here in Wales.

Telling your story in a taxi cab

I’m working at the Urdd National Eisteddfod – a major European youth festival – in Aberaeron, Wales, this week. Colleagues from the BBC Welsh-language children’s news programme Ffeil have been recording viewers’ stories using an adapted London black taxi cab as an experiment here. It’s not something they’ve built themselves; it’s been hired in.

The cab contains a video camera which starts recording onto a flashcard as soon as someone opens the door and sits in the cab. Question prompts can be given either on-screen or, in the case of Ffeil,  by a presenter off-camera.This taxi strikes me as a fleet-footed story capture device. The best way to use this would be by guiding the individual through the process so they gain some element of media literacy from the process. Giving a copy of/link to  their video to the storyteller or interviewee would also be nice. If you were planning to formally broadcast or publish what’s captured, you’d be wise to ask participants to sign a consent form and let them know how the clip may be used.

With these thoughts in mind, this kind of mobile, automatic capture device is a way of giving voice to people whose voices might not otherwise have been heard. It could be used by a museum, storytelling festival, media literacy conference, TV reality show. I think it’s a booth using technology like this that’s used for the public’s reaction to Big Brother – etc

presenters of BBC Ffeil programme surround the taxi


taxi control panel


the flashcard recorder and part of the instruction panel


this is me, posing inside the taxi