Learning to Drive


After doing a simple Google search for digital stories, I found myself on a website called DigitalStories.org.  The website defines digital storytelling as “the art of turning a personal narrative into a multimedia experience.  It can combine music, video and/or still images with your creative voice.”  The website has a collection of videos that were created in workshops, of which the participants were primarily senior citizen.  I decided to select a digital story from this particular website because I feel that it clearly demonstrates the way in which average people are able to use this medium to tell their own stories.  The participants in the workshops, who did not grow up with the same technologies that I have, also demonstrate the ease with which digital stories are can be created today.

The digital story that I chose to analyze is titled “Learning to Drive,” and was created by Anne Levine in a Spring 2007 Digital Storytelling Workshop for Seniors.  Judging from the stories that we viewed last week in class, “Learning to Drive” seems like it was made with a very traditional take on digital storytelling.  The creator, Anne Levine, narrates the entire story accompanied only by a musical composition that helps to hold the piece together.  After listening to several other stories in my search this week, I feel that most digital stories need some sort of musical accompaniment in order to keep the viewer engaged in the piece.  Pauses in the narration and the use of still pictures often require more stimulation to keep the audience fully interested.

“Learning to Drive” is a relatively short story, with a running time of 2 minutes and 46 seconds.  After listening to several of these narrative digital stories, I am beginning to think that short, concise personal stories make some of the best.  This particular story makes use of only still pictures, and therefore the short length of the story keeps me engaged with the pictures and does not give me enough time to get bored.  Although Levine only uses still pictures, it is not simply a slide show.  The creator has used zoom features to keep the still photographs entertaining for her audience; I would, however, have probably liked this story more if she had utilized other techniques to break up the stillness of the photos.

Overall, I liked this story because of its concise nature and the simplicity of the story.  Learning how to drive is a topic that most people can relate to, and this story utilizes the art of storytelling to present any experience many people have had.  Although “Learning to Drive” could be enhanced by some other simple techniques, the audio and visuals are not overdone and allow the story and pictures to speak for themselves.

Category: W2: Digital Story
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2 Responses
  1. meggleston says:

    I agree with your comments, especially the comments about keep it short and concise. The use of zoom is also a good technique to be remembered.

    I would add to your comments: tone down the music. Also, this is incredibly bland and boring. She could really break this up and grab interest by injecting a little humor. The monotone kills any interest someone might have.

    Thanks for showing this one. We learn from it. Mike E

  2. tgoodwin says:


    As I look at this piece and think about how we watch video, you are right on when you talk about the music. The one overarching trend that I see in these pieces is movement. There must be movement, aural or visual, to keep the piece going. This is also true for news pieces or even the “faux” news programs- the ones usually on msnbc late at night tracing down a murder suspect. If you watch those carefully you see that they do in fact use the same photos over and over, but how they move that image on the screen is what is different.
    In this instance the image zoom is a positive technique in her piece.

    Overall I think perhaps the piece suffered from a lack of resources and as Mike mentioned, her voiceover could have delivered a bit more personality. This is a good example to learn more about the process and how you can take a simple topic and create a digital story