Elements of Digital Storytelling
My grandfather came to this country the first time when he was 14 years old. He and his brother bet the neighbor boys that their father made the best apple jack (a liquor made from apples). They both brought a bucket and when both buckets were empty, my great-uncle fell off a fence and almost gouged out his eye. My grandfather felt so bad that he ran away from home and stowed away on a ship for America and that is how he got to the country.
As you can see, the same story has more impact in a digital format than just reading the story.The use of pictures, voice, movement, and inflection among other things, bring the story to life even more than just hearing or reading the story. That is what digital storytelling can do for stories. Digital storytelling allows us to connect on a different level than just reading or hearing a story. Henry Jenkins, “each media platform creates it’s own relationship between the storyteller and listener,” Storytelling Part 1: Change of Storytelling from storytelling on Vimeo.
Storytelling connects us to our past, it connects us to other people. It tells us who we are, it shows us what we want to be. It can show us a cause to fight for, or what we have missed or how much we have in life. Weather it is traditional storytelling or digital storytelling, storytelling impacts our lives.
According to Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal, he “says science backs up the long-held belief that story is the most powerful means of communicating a message. And that scientific “results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.” This is in part why stories are so powerful and how it can change our view on the world and even how we act.
In fact, according to The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains by Leo Widrich “stories (are) how we think. We think in narratives all day long, no matter if it is about buying groceries, whether we think about work or our spouse at home. We make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation.” I know that I make up stories and scenarios of conversations in my head that rarely happen. I think I do this in order to be prepared for different situations.
In our post-modern society we fill up our free time with entertainment. We used to entertain ourselves as a society by visiting with friends and telling stories. Now, we watch stories others have written and performed in television and in movies. We hear about our friends lives from facebook posts and twitter. We watch you tube and spend time watching stories that way. People even use digital media for reading books.
In some ways we are more connected to the world than ever before, but less connected in other ways.
I love the genre of storytelling. I had a teacher at my University who was a storyteller. Now, I am not talking about someone talking about their life if you could get him off topic, but he was a storyteller. You may wonder, how is that different from a parent or a friend telling you a story of what has happened. Stylistically, it is very different. Professional storytelling is an art. A storyteller can capture your attention the same way a very intriguing movie can. A storyteller uses their voice, and body movements to catch your attention and draw you into the world that they create. An effective digital story can be as engrossing. The use of music, soundtracks and voice inflection and the correct video or pictures can make a very effective product.
Storytelling is an art form, the same way digital storytelling is an art form. The center for digital storytelling is just one of the resources and ways to learn how create and share a digital story. The featured story on this site, is very artfully done. It reminds me of another art form called slam poetry that is a performance type of poetry but now because of technology, it is the basis for a television show on HBO and you tube has numerous videos of slam poetry, professional and amateur. These poems, in of themselves are an art form and with one of these slam poems set to picture or a video it would be a classic digital story.
Although many websites that I found say that digital storytelling is mainly a short video telling a story with pictures, music, a story or video. I think that is too limiting a definition. I think that when a story goes from just written or just spoken into a digital format with more than one way of connecting to the content it is digital storytelling.
Gottschall, J. (n.d.). Why storytelling Is the ultimate weapon.
Co.Create. Retrieved February 11, 2013, from
Institut für Theorie, Zurich University of Applied Sciences and
Arts. (2010, July 1). Storytelling part 1: Change of
storytelling. Vimeo. Retrieved February 11, 2013, from
Mayo, J. (2013, January 1). Stand up. YouTube. Retrieved February
11, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Slam poem; I’m taking my ball and going home (Scott). (2010,
September 17). YouTube. Retrieved February 11, 2013, from
Widrich, L. (n.d.). The science of storytelling: Why telling a story
is the most powerful way to activate our brains. Lifehacker.
Retrieved February 11, 2013, from