“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.
Here’s news about four new Cardiff local websites I’ve just started developing…
I’ve been running two hyperlocal websites in north Wales for a couple of years now.
I started writing about growing up in Abergele online in 2001. Then a Cardiff local blogging explosion in 2010 inspired me to take things up a notch and move the site to wordpress at http://www.abergelepost.com. I’ve been so pleased with how this site has turned out, thanks largely to our contributing editors David Huges with 63 posts, Dennis Parr with 14, Nigel Hinton with 8 and John Bowman with 3.
My second site is a Welsh-language one all about my birthplace Colwyn Bay. http://baecolwyn.com has been a project which has enabled me to pilot proofs of concepts in the Welsh language. This is really important to me as there are 50+ papurau bro (community newspapers) in print form, and this fantastic volunteer-led energy needs the tools to be able to migrate online too.
Learn what it takes to create powerful and engaging video journalism – technically and editorially – from multimedia journalists who have made hundreds of short films for the Guardian.
Dates: Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 January 2014
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.
SoundDelivery is an organisation led by Jude Habib which does fantastic media work in the community. I was recorded one-to-one at DS8 by Andrea Protheroe for SoundDelivery and I’m grateful to her for sending me the piece on Audio Boo. She said: “Very much enjoyed the conference and my first visit to Cardiff. Hope to return next year.”
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.
They say Storybird harnesses “the power of great art to stimulate creative thoughts and writing and could be used in any language”. Well, now Storybird is working on a soultion. It would be great to see, for example, Welsh-language stories being made and shared on this platform.
The Guardian also gives honourable mentions to the Book Creator app and to Puppet Pals, Sock Puppets and Strip Design where students can design and make their own comic strips.
Following on from the success of DS7 last year (CDS, Cowbird, Historypin), DS8 will be held at Chapter Arts in Cardiff on Friday 14th June 2013.
A wide range of attendees is expected: from practitioners to researchers; from community workers to students. Proposals are invited to present either an academic paper or to run a workshop or a break-out session.
Deadline for submissions of 300-word abstracts is Friday 29 March 2013. Please send them to Karen Lewis whose email address is klewis (at) glam.ac.uk
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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