When I lived in Ardfert, County Kerry, in the Republic of Ireland in the mid 90s, I remember a radio programme called ‘Queueing For A Living’ in which the presenter Paddy O’Gorman sought out queues of all kinds and recorded conversations he had with those waiting. From laundrettes to prison waiting rooms, there was something about the stories that came out of those everyday situations and people spoke of things I hadn’t heard many people speak of on radio before.
I think Professor Hamish Fyfe of University of Glamorgan would have enjoyed that programme too. I’m looking forward to attending his inaugural professorial lecture this evening at the Glamorgan Business Centre, University of Glamorgan, Trefforest CF37 1DL.
Hamish is a fellow member of DS Cymru and the University of Glamorgan and BBC Wales are collaborating in research into forms of digital storytelling and participative media. I last heard Hamish speak formally at the University at the conclusion of The George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling 2007 Research Seminar series on 14th June 2007. In that seminar, “Habits of the Heart” Storytelling and Everyday Life, he compared digital storytelling with the Mass Observation movement. He showed half a dozen digital stories and a 1930s Humphrey Jennings film. You can read the text of that lecture here (pdf file).
It’s fascinating to have the bloodline of what we’re doing in digital storytelling today traced by Hamish from Surrealism, though Mass Observation, via the radio ballards to a new book by Joe Moran called ‘Queuing for Beginners’. Moran (as does O’Gorman) revels in the everyday, routine and the ordinary – but not in the negative sense of these words.
And Hamish (as does Moran) wants the everyday and the ordinary to be taken more seriously by academics and by the mainstream. Because I think we can learn a lot by paying greater attention to the stories people tell in their digital stories.
Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 13 November 2007.