Six features of the digital story we helped people to make as part of the BBC Capture Wales and Cipolwg ar Gymrudigital storytelling project, which ran from 2001-2008 at BBC Cymru Wales were that the digital story is:
a video of about two minutes duration
2. a personal, usually true, story written and voiced by the individual storyteller
3. a “considered narrative” (Daniel Meadows) usually scripted by the storyteller (c250 words) or proactively told, not reactively in response to a media professional’s questioning
4. illustrated with 20 or so of the storyteller’s own photos or images – sometimes including a short video clip – edited together by the storyteller to make a moving visual narrative
5. may have original music or a relevant sound recording laid over the voice
6. recorded in a workshop with other people who share their own stories and learn from each other
Other definitions and descriptions of digital storytelling and the digital story include:
Everyone has a story to tell. All over Wales, people are making Digital Stories about real-life experiences and each story is as individual as the person who made it. Each Digital Story is made by the storyteller themself, using his or her own photos, words and voice.
“June 5 1944: The call has come at last. We are on our way to the greatest invasion ever, feeling very cool and collected. I pray to be given the strength to go through this like a man and not loose my nerve, and hope that I may return to my little family who are so dear to me.” – John Emrys Williams
This is how my Taid (Welsh for grandfather) began his diary entry on that dawn of the day of the Normandy Landing in WWII.
He was a signalman on board HMS Diadem and he kept a diary about his life on the ship which I’ve published and maintained online since 2001 at http://www.aberth.com/diadem/
Although Welsh was his first language, he kept the diary in English. This may be because he was taught to write in English rather than Welsh at school; or it may be that keeping notes in languages other than English during the War wasn’t allowed. I wish I’d asked him while he was still alive.
What’s been both surprising and heartwarming has been hearing from the children and grandchildren of others who worked on this ship. You can see links to their stories on the right hand side of the page.
Taid received the Russian Convoys medal from the Russian Embassy on August 14 1992. He passed away April 7 1994. He was 86 years old.
Tomorrow’s a big day. The former members of the BBC Cymru Wales Digital Storytelling team are coming back together to meet at Daniel Meadows’ house in Monmouth. The reason is to celebrate the marriage of Carwyn and Lowri. I’m really looking forward to it.
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 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 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 FrohlichMobile 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 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.
“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.
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.
What if people’s stories and photos about places on Facebook could be more easily be found and navigated? That’s what Nicky Getgood (@getgood) of Talk About Local and I mused about between presentations at #DS7.
One of the hyperlocal sites I edit – AbergelePost.com – is a lively local history site with committed contributors. When I set the website up, I did what many hyperlocal editors did and set up a supporting Facebook page. A few months ago, a new Facebook group about Abergele was created. This group is a much more lively forum with many users exchanging memories and photos of the town.
The difficulty with Facebook is that it’s hard to navigate this content in any way other than spooling back in time in a linear fashion.
So my question is this: how can the stories and photos about place on Facebook that members post be more easily be found and navigated?
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
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Cheryl Colan is a digital storyteller and trainer from Phoenix, Arizona, USA. I recorded this interview with Cheryl in Cardiff, Wales, July 2011. She was in the UK leading a Digital Storytelling summer school with Study Abroad Britain. She’s led digital training groups to Australia and her motto is Trust Your Story.
It’s International Women’s Day today. This year’s theme centres on Empowering Rural Women. So today’s the day I want to talk about a digital storyteller I met in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in December 2011. Premila Gamage works at the Institute of Policy Studies, Colombo; in her spare time she’s taking the tools of digital storytelling to rural areas of Sri Lanka, encouraging people to tell their stories, publishing them online and helping people realise the dreams they outline in their stories.
I’d been was introduced to Premila via email by Sarah Copeland who’d met Premila because they were both studying at Leeds Metropolitan University. So Premila and I made arrangements to meet at her office in Colombo.
I could tell straight away that Premlia was a person with a strong social conscience. She’s been investigating digital inclusion and her speciality is Policy. Bearing in mind the evidence that digital storytelling can bring about policy change via health-related projects such as Patient Voices and Story Works in the UK, using such personal accounts in Sri Lanka sounds like a promising route to ignite social change.
Premila told me that she and her fellow digital storytellers have set up Lanka Community Information Initiative – LCII.org – which works with “marginalized and disadvantaged communities to access new and old communication technologies to enhance their quality of life.”
Here’s an example of one of LCII’s digital stories. Umesha Lakshika gives a glimpse of life for students of the Prabhavi Resources Center, Werankatagoda, Ampara, Sri Lanka. The resource centre consists of a library, Nenasala (ICT centre and digital inclusion project) and classes.
I spoke with Premila via email earlier today and she said:
“At the moment we are working with Macaldeniya school and community – a very remote area in a tea estate – the most deprived members (of the Tamil ethnic group in Sri Lanka) are Estate Tamils. With the generous support of CILIP (Charted Institute of Library and Information Professionals) in the UK we built a library for the school and community. We finished with the first phase of the project – and opened the library. The next phase will be introducing DST for these people as we did in the other projects. We are desparately trying to find some support to carry out the second phase – the DST!”
International Women’s Day only comes around once a year, but the work that Premila Gamage and LCII does all year round in the poorest rural areas of Sri Lanka is really inspiring. So if you feel able to help, please do get in touch with LCII.