When asked the question, what is digital storytelling, I can’t help but feel anxious. There is no right or wrong answer to the question, and I find this unsettling. Digital storytelling is a method through which a story of some sort can be told, typically involving voice and pictorial aspects, but the ways in which a digital story can be told are so numerous that it makes my head hurt. It can be a personal narrative, a history, a persuasive argument; it can be seconds long, or minutes long; it can include video or just still pictures; it can involve music and voice, just voice or just music; it can have a lot of text, a little text, or none at all; it can have a linear storyline or one that is new and innovative; and it can be any combination of these things, plus many, many more that I have not included in this spastic laundry list of details. A digital story is an extremely accessible form of expression that not only can they be created by someone who has a lot of experience dealing with audio and visual technology, but often they are made by someone who just recently learned how to put together pictures and sound through a user friendly program. The sheer number of types of digital stories that appear when a google search for them is conducted points to the fact that we will probably never be able to agree on one set definition:
“Digital Storytelling refers to using digital tools so that ordinary people can tell their own real-life stories.” – Wikipedia
“Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights.” - Leslie Rule, Center for Digital Storytelling
“Digital Storytelling uses computers to create media-rich stories and the internet to share those stories creating communites of common concern on a global scale.” – Dana Atchley
“Simply defined, “Digital Storytelling” uses new digital tools to help people tell their own stories in a compelling and emotionally engaging form.” – Zero Divide
“Today’s technology allows students and faculty to tell stories in powerful ways. The digital camera, editing software, and media outlets means that anyone can tell their story.” – Mark Standley
All of these definitions agree that new technology people to tell stories in new ways, but beyond that there is no central heart to digital storytelling. Perhaps the most attractive aspect of digital storytelling is that which makes me so uncomfortable – that there is no right or wrong answer to what it can be.