Digital Storytelling

Digital: multimedia (video, animation, presentation, etc) often widely available (online, cds/dvds).

Storytelling: narration of an event, person, place that might be real or fictional for a number of possible reasons (educational, remembrance, entertainment, etc) that usually follows conventional guidelines (characters, plot, climax).

Digital storytelling: a uniquely creative form of sharing that tends to be available online for both a specific and general (since anyone might stumble upon the website) audience made by amateurs and professionals of all ages/gender/race/groups. This creative form might be entirely user generated, copied bits and pieces put together (like fan videos), recorded from a live event (presented in a constructed manner), etc.

Challenges of digital storytelling: includes accessibility, temporality vs. permanence (especially in an online environment), copyright.

Ultimately, defining digital storytelling becomes difficult because either the author or the potential viewer might label a work as a digital story while others might adhere to more rigid definitions. A digital story is a digital story depending on the eye of the beholder.

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3 Responses
  1. rsibaja says:

    I would add one more challenge: actually having something worthwhile to say. The “look at me”-ism that abounds on the web, from facebook to twitter, is ok as an outlet, but why should I care? Why should my neighbor care?

    DST should be more than someone talking about their racist parents’ past (and how much more enlightened the author of the video is)…it needs to be a “must-see” story that I can tell my neighbor about, or email friends a link to it.

  2. cjames says:

    I think you have stripped the category down to its essential elements. Since the “narrative” element is perhaps the most elastic, it’s easier to start with “digital.” I think that once we start to do anything else, we’re heading into unsteady ground.

    But I think that it is important to still ask the question, what effect does the “digital” aspect have on storytelling? How is this effect different than existing film narratives? I still can’t answer that myself, though…

    If you read my definition, you’ll understand that I disagree with your definition in that I don’t believe it is open to professionals. I make a distinction between DST and filmmaking.

    Sorry, Rwany, but I challenge your “worthwhile” comment. It’s just that there’s no way to say what is worthwhile and what isn’t – it’s entirely subjective.

    • sblaher says:

      Chris, I think I have to disagree with your statement about closing DST off from professionals. I think, as with traditional storytelling, DST definitely has room for the professional. Granted, they tend to have more resources available and can often have a more polished tone than an amateur would, but I don’t think you can completely disregard every professionally done documentary as not being DST simply because a person was paid to do it. Granted, you would have to consider their monetary gain when deconstructing the story, but you should always consider “why” a person would create a digital story, regardless of what their gain may be.