The final product in digital storytelling is a tale where the imagination, that listeners previously employed through oral traditions, is now visualized through digital medium. At its heart, it should have a compelling tale and/or whimsical story, and fully engage audiences. On the surface, then, DST simply seems like oral stories with elements unique to a digital format (sounds, video, photos, computer effects).
Digging deeper, DST also contains elements that can be exciting and depressing at the same time.
One of the more exciting possibilities that DST opens up is the democratization of story-telling. You no longer need a fine arts degree/background to produce your story. In this vein, it is similar to what digital cameras did for photography…now everyone thinks they are an Amsel Adams or an Annie Liebovitz (see: the near-extinction of Photo labs and stores.) Count me as one-and I actually can take some nice pictures on an old Kodak with 4 megapixels-but I am not a Liebovitz. Still, exciting and groundbreaking digital storytelling will eventually surface as word spreads, separating the wheat from the chaff (and that’s worth the chaff!) One depressing aspect of all this is that I see imagination suffering. When I listened to old tales as a kid, I used to let my mind roam free. I didn’t want to see images or movies from a book I wanted to read. Can you blame me? Although it’s hard not to picture Ian MacKellan as Gandalf, I am glad I had the chance to read Lord of the Rings before the movies (ditto for reading Casino Royale). Digital Stories, however, are inherently someone else’s story and message that I am simply to absorb.
So, moving forward, I hope to see DST as a way to get inside the mind of a creator, perhaps an artist. Like Hollywood storyboards, or comic books, the editing process and evolution is just as exciting to experience as seeing the final product.
Good clip on how Spielberg approaches his visual framework: spielberg on storyboards