Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) Digital Story

     Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) Digital Story

           In  searching the internet for examples of digital stories I found this from Minnesota Historical Society. Since I am a member, I was drawn to this example and examined it carefully. I was not disappointed. Several things become apparent. It was not put together by a non-technical person at MNHS as many of their articles are, but was contracted out. It was an extravagant effort that was carefully researched and cartooned. The compelling factor is the amount of historical detail that is captured under hot buttons found  throughout the story. It is a good example of a digital story. The story introduction is excellent. It combines sound, voice and visual, but then the story changes to four examples presented as cartoons with text. At this point it becomes boring. This may be a work in progress, but MNHS does not tell the viewer that. There are several changes that could increase interest. First, use voice rather than cartoon text to tell the story. The hot buttons provide a wealth of knowledge but are hardly noticeable. Highlight the hot buttons since they provide full text of the historical letter that the cartoon is based upon and other information. Read the text and move automatically through the cartoons. Next, add some historical photographs show the people quoted and to represent a trade such as milling. Include dates when describing the trade. Only four trades are offered, but there are many others in Minnesota such as mining. It is important to provide a digital format that allows the story of ordinary people to be told in a way that maintains viewer interest. This digital story falls short in this regard. We see cartoons that are connected to an original story, but the story is lost in this format.

            The compelling thing about this digital story is its hot buttons with detailed information and its potential. The hot buttons provide amplifying information and definitions which are very useful to the viewer. As seen above, a viewer can envision all sorts of improvements that would make this digital story much better. MNHS should offer this as a baseline and invite members to improve the story. I checked the MNHS web site and can find no other examples of digital stories. I’ll emailed MNHS asking why they produced the digital story in this manner and if they have any other digital stories planned.

Source: http://discovery.mnhs.org/ConnectingMN/

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

    I agree with you that the cartoons theme was very innovative, but sections on the four industries were a little long. Plus, there is a lot going on in these cartoons that may obscure the history–this may be a pitfall in having an outsider design a site like this. Also, I wouldn’t have known to find the hot buttons had I not read your post. Overall I agree that the site had a good concept but faltered in executing it thoroughly.

  2. sblaher says:

    I agree that this was a unique way telling a historical story, but I’m not sure how well it really fits into the whole digital “realm.” I suppose that the hot buttons add to the user experience more so than a hard-copy cartoon would, but it reminds me very much of the cartoon in the Washington Post (whose name totally escapes me at the moment) that each week tells of some historical event using a typical comic strip medium. Despite my hesitence over labeling it true digital storytelling, I think it is a unique and probably fairly successful way to teach people about history without boring them.