Category Archives: technology

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 http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/jomec/ 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.

Learn how to shoot for the web and edit video archive mashups

Welsh media trainers Cyfle have two tantalising training courses which are open for registration now:

1. Archive Mashup
Learn how to mix diverse archive video clips and sounds.
A part-time course beginning 26 March 2012

2. Shooting for the web
Learn how to plan, script, shoot, edit and upload footage specifically for the web and mobile devices. Using Sony EX3 cameras, the trainer is Simon Walker. A three-day course from 12-14 March 2012

For details of course fees, application and selection process, go to Cyfle’s website. The courses are held in Wales.

Digital Storytelling Pod Ep01-How to make a DS on iPad with Barrie Stephenson

This is the first episode of a new monthly audio podcast for digital storytellers: Digital Storytelling Pod with Gareth Morlais.

Podcast feed: Audio RSS (MP3) dspod-ep01.mp3

Barrie Stevenson of Digistories sums up his experiences of using iPad v2 to help people make digital stories. This interview was recorded in Aberystwyth, Wales, June 2011 when the version 2 of the iPad had not long been introduced in the UK.

Shownotes: links
Barrie Stephenson – http://digistories.co.uk
. Links to Barrie’s other projects can be found on this site.
DS6 – http://digstocymru.ning.com
iPad – http://www.apple.com/ipad/

The next episode will feature Cheryl Colan.

The audio is released under Creative Commons license:
Creative Commons Licence
Digital Storytelling Pod Ep01 by Gareth Morlais is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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.

Rami Malkawi needs people to make a digital story with his new prototype

Rami Malkawi is a Jordanian University of Glamorgan PhD researcher and he needs our help to try out his new wizard-based digital storytelling prototype for learning.

The tool works on most computers that can have Adobe Air and Flash installed and is a step-by-step digital storytelling ‘machine’.

The 30MB executable file is available from this SpeedyShare link or by clicking the link at the bottom of the first post of Rami’s blog.

The tool’s wizard guides users through the Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling in a user-friendly way. Camtasia screen-capture software has been used to publish additional video tutorials on the blog. These guide users through the steps needed to make a digital story with this tool.

Rami’s now at the test/refine stage and I know he’d really appreciate hearing back from people who download and make a story with the tool. You can use the Comments form on Rami’s blog to do this. These comments and the stories made with the tool may form part of the evidence for his PhD Thesis.

In Wales, Communities 2.0 GEECs are among the testers; I’m looking forward to making a story with the tool; in Jordan, Rami’s conducting face-to-face trials right now.

All Rami needs now is for people around the world to download, make a story with the tool and give feedback. If you make a story, please send me a link too so I can highlight some here.

Rami’s project blog.
More about Rami on this blog.

Digital Storytellers from Italy and Jordan in Wales

I shared my journey to the DS6 festival of digital storytelling, with Simona Bonini Baldini and Rami Malkawi. I’ll never forget the excitement in the car as we rounded the corner of Aberystwyth’s side streets and caught our first full-on view of the sea crashing onto the West Wales shore. A magic moment. As I promised in my last post in which I reviewed DS6, here’s some more information about their respective work in the digital storytelling field.

Simona Bonini Baldini
Simona Bonini Baldini

Simona’s work in Umbria, Italy, links personal reminiscence of various locations with that Region’s extensive home movie archive. Simona was delighted to meet two other women from Italy who had made the trip to Wales at the invitation of experienced Welsh digital storyteller Steve Bellis of Yale College Wrexham. This all goes to show that we sometimes have to travel away from home to meet others who share our passions. Simona says she was delighted to meet people at DS6 whom she’d first met a year ago at DS5. She’s now looking forward to visiting the Cardiff Story museum – a concept that was being developed when she last came to Wales. She says she was really impressed by StoryWorks’s approach to developing bespoke approaches when working with diverse groups of people as this is something Simona is keen to do back home in Italy too.

Rami Malkawi
Rami Malkawi

Rami Malkawi is a PhD research student at University of Glamorgan. Since I last wrote about Rami, his work on a step-by-step digital storytelling wizzard has matured from concept to working prototype. It’s a DS Machine aimed at educators who want to use digital stories as a way to help their students learn. Rami has built the application in Flash on the Adobe Air platform.

This means it will work on both PC and Mac. I was delighted at DS6 to see Rami discussing a trial with Mog and Angharad Dalton of Communities 2.0. Eventually, after initial testing, Rami will release his digital storytelling wizzard to a wider audience, so watch this space for news.

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.

Hacio’r Iaith – hacking the Welsh language

I spent Saturday in Aberystwyth at Hacio’r Iaith – the second annual Welsh-language code camp. Highlights included:

  • A fantastic one-hour crash crowd-sourced creative session aimed at translating newly-out-of-copyright Welsh poet Gwilym Deudraeth’s work into multimedia, digital stories and more. This session was very  well facilitated by Carl Morris of NativeHQ. Here’s a summary of the work, including a ten second video based on Deudraeth’s englyn about Gandhi which took me twenty minutes to make and publish using Zoom H2, JayCut and YouTube.
  • Meeting some enthusiastic people, including Telsa Gwynne, who translated Linux Gnu into Welsh, and her husband Alan Cox, a Linux pioneer who’s been someone I’ve admired for some time.
  • Witnessing the launch of Umap in Welsh – by Rhodri ap Dyfrig and partners in the Gwlad y Basg –  which offers Pynciau Llosg (Trending Topics) and  a feed of Welsh-language Tweets.
  • A viewing of some of Harry Meadows’s work at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. This was a duck’s eye view on a CG stream outside London gliding past picnickers and peacocks on the banks.

As the day came to and end I was startled by swirling black clouds of thousands of starlings coming to roost under Aberystwyth pier as the sun set, bathing Cardigan Bay in an orange glow.

Trafod | Discussions

Photo by Bryn Salisbury, diolch.

Digital storytelling in the cloud

The ideal solution for a touring digital storytelling project, using existing, available digilabs at community centres, libraries, schools, colleges, etc. would seem to be to use web-based editing applications. This would remove the need to install individual programs or to have carrier bags full of training handouts for different combinations of pre-installed software.

I’ve been discussing this recently with Umbrian home movies specialist Simona Bonini Baldini, who’s just returned home to Italy after spending the summer with us at the BBC here in Wales.  Simona too liked the idea of editing in the cloud. One of her must-haves though was the ability to help digital storytellers to make broadcast-quality videos. When Simona tested cloud-based video editing apps, she discovered the snag: uploading broadcast-quality moving-video rushes for a digilab-full of digital storytellers would take too long. Even at Standard Definition, not HD.

My hope though is that – as broadband speeds in Wales (and Italy) increase in future – all this will become practical someday. After all: every cloud has a silver lining.

The best digital storytelling opportunity ever?

Spanning the UK and Cape Town, University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre is advertising a Research Fellowship in Digital Storytelling. This could be the best digital storytelling opportunities I’ve ever heard of because:

– you’ll get to model and produce digital story forms that are most suitable for the intended local audiences/producers/participants by working with ethnographers and technologists
– you’ll work in the UK and Cape Town, along South Africa’s Wild Coast
– you’ll benefit from work already done by the university’s StoryBank project in India
– you’ll get to work with Prof David Frohlich, pioneer of Audiophotography and a former HP Labs Europe innovator
– it’s a well-funded post
– you’ll be making a valuable contribution to the global digital storytelling community

In the email from Prof Frohlich, he said the person appointed would work on a project:
“designed to scale up the StoryBank system in South Africa, with a view to bringing out a mobile digital storytelling toolkit for NGOs.”

Closing date for applications: 24th June 2010
Interview board: 9th July 2010
Salary is up to £32,620 p.a.

Because of the way the University of Surrey’s Jobs website is configured, I can’t give you a direct link to this role, instead, I’d ask you to look about halfway down this page: https://jobs.surrey.ac.uk and click on the Research Fellow in Digital Storytelling link.