Connected Pro-D


Web 2.0 – Story Telling By the Flickr of the Global Campfire

Posted in ECI 831 by tchcruiser on November 11, 2009
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The magic of beautiful Spanish lake in this British Columbia summer landscape Explore

Originally uploaded by Jacques Daigneault

I chose this picture to frame my entry about digital story telling as it symbolizes to me what story telling is about – sharing experiences with others in a safe environment, with others around you willing to take in your story, and in turn having that story re-told and added onto around other “camp fires” or dining room tables or today – computer screens, with others totally unkown to you.

Story telling is a giving over of your lived experience to others to learn from and find connection to and then to pass it on. It is the ultimate and perhaps the oldest of “green” acts that encourages and demands a recycling of common and familiar settings, plot lines, characters, endings and lessons learned.

The fact that we now do this with computers makes it no more less so than in times past when it was done entirely by word of mouth and memory. In fact, digital story telling has shifted back into a necessity to re-mash and re-mix and share it again with an audience to keep it relevant, personal and connected with the context of the community it is being shared with. This has always been done in story telling – characters name change, the age changes, the location changes, the action taken slightly different to account for regional quirks, but it is done in a way to make it recongnizable to those hearing the larger human story that is woven into the details.

I think what makes web 2.0 tools and story telling different is that it now relies primarily on a visual form of telling the story. In the past, sitting around this fire, you would only have needed to hear the story being told to you, or read the words of the story as you sat in your deck chair…. but now, we are sharing stories with predominantly pictures and video as the main form of “words” and the story comes from being able to read what the images are saying about these common human themes. Visual story telling does have some benefits, however, even though you may not be able to do it by the warmth of this fire!

Visual stories, I feel, allow you tell longer, complex stories in perhaps less amounts of time than it would take to tell the story in written or oral form. I also think that it allows for more layering – adding in oral, written text, music, movement, etc which makes the message more compelling. Digital 2.0 forms of storytelling also allow for many times to replay and take it in – and each time you take in the story, you may get different things from it.

I also think that the potential size of the audience you are sharing your story with in a digital world also impacts the story. When you are sitting around a campfire such as this, you are intimatley connected with your audience – you can see their facial expressions and sense their emotional connection with your story. You can see and hear clearly if they are connecting with you and you can adjust your story telling style instantly as you get this feedback. I wonder if this makes a difference in the kind of story you tell and how you tell it when you are so close to the audience and do not have to wait for feedback – if you get any feedback at all. Sometimes, although published to a world-wide audience, your story may not even be “heard” by anyone, or at least anyone who cares enough about you to listen.

I also think about how the “distance” from your audience that a digital story teller has may have some positive benefits in the sense that if you are not as personally connected to the audience, it might allow you to feel more free to take risks in your story telling. I am guessing this may be the case and is why we see so many publishing and sharing their stories with the world via the internet today.

I think that the availability and ease of web 2.0 story telling tools makes everyone capable of telling stories and it is no longer exclusively for those who have good memories, know many languages or can read and write – as it once was. Although we spend less time sharing stories around a campire such as this, we are still sharing and telling stories, only now we are doing this increasingly by the glow of our screens and the flickr of images on the internet, rather than the more intimate settings invoked by this image.

11 Responses to 'Web 2.0 – Story Telling By the Flickr of the Global Campfire'

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  1. Alec Couros said,

    I really love this piece:

    “Story telling is a giving over of your lived experience to others to learn from and find connection to and then to pass it on. It is the ultimate and perhaps the oldest of β€œgreen” acts that encourages and demands a recycling of common and familiar settings, plot lines, characters, endings and lessons learned.”

    Do you mind if I use this in an upcoming workshop I’m doing?

    • tchcruiser said,

      HI Alec- please feel free to use what ever is useful to you. I am honoured that you found a tid bit that could be helpful and thought-provoking πŸ™‚ Thanks for passing the post on to others.

      • starkg said,

        I love that piece as well – very poetic!

      • tchcruiser said,

        Poetic? thanks!!! πŸ™‚ I guess I find ease in the written modes of expression – my video work might not be so “poetic”!!! πŸ™‚


  2. Great post. I love the ending sentiments. I, too, believe one of the great powers of web2.0 is that anyone can tell their story, and they can tell lots of stories! I look at my daughters anime video mashups. She puts a lot of effort into finding the right music to set the mood, edits the video to tell the story of the song, adds in a few text screens, and tells her story.

    She understands metaphor, pacing, black space, sound level to make her story more compelling. I just wish someone at school would ask her to tell a story where she has to user her knowledge of the content and her ability with storytelling!

    In one class she was allowed to use a digital story and she did. Amazingly she got an A++ for her creativity. I think she also did a nice job of explaining the information. I asked her why she chose to do the digital story and her reply was priceless, “Because it was easier.”

    She got extra credit for creativity, but did it because it saved her time. There is an obvious disconnect between the teacher and his students in this case.

    I say all of this because I just hope that more teachers understand what you are saying in your post. Web 2.0 is not the answer, it’s just an opportunity to let students tell their story, their way! We don’t have to necessarily be gr8 at making stories the web 2.0 way, but we just need to be open to letting students do it! (and I’ll add we need to quit acting like it’s so awesome that they know how!)

    Thanks for writing this, and thanks to Alec for sharing.

    • tchcruiser said,

      Thanks Roland for reading my post and for taking time to respond. I totally agree with you in that we do not have to be skilled, we just have to get out of the way, and be more open to different modes of expression that are perhaps not our strength or preference. It is in our professional landscape not only to be aware but using and allowing for multiple intelligences, and with that also implies using and accepting multiple ways to express and share knowledge as status quo, not the exception. Digital story telling is just one of many ways, not to be any more “awesome” as you say, than other forms of expression. I think teachers have tended to classify anything that they personally are not good at or knowledgeable about as “creative” whether it really is or not. As computers become seen as tools equal to pens and paper, rather than something more magical or mythical, perhaps this perception will change. Until then, I hope your daughter still finds ways to tell her story, digitally, orally, with dance…. however it best fits the story she wants and needs to tell. πŸ™‚

  3. Anne said,

    Hello. I came to your blog through @courosa’s twitter. I like your starting point- digital storytelling is a continuation of storytelling that started around a fire. The only thing is that while web 2.0 tools are fabulous for creating and publishing stories, they are disembodied. Campfire stories unite. Sitting shoulder to shoulder, faces to the fire and backs to the night bring a sense of community. Most of us are one on one in front of a screen. While digital stories can be compelling, they don’t knit the audience into a community. (Virtual communities are only that- virtual! They don’t generally help you buck up a tree or bring tuna casserole when there’s a family crisis.

    • tchcruiser said,

      Hi Anne – thanks for dropping by and leaving a response. It is really appreciated. I am thinking about what you are saying and frankly, I am in agreement with you in many ways. I, too, struggle with the isolated nature of the digital community and the inability to see everyone around the circle at the same time. I guess that is what I was referencing when I mentioned about the seeing of the reaction of the audience while you are telling the story around the fire and can adjust accordingly. I think digital story telling is maybe just beginning to make us re-think our definition and understandings of what community and audience are. Do they have to be simultaneously connected with the time of the original story telling, or can they be in different times and spaces? I am thinking that the response from and within the audience/community to the story and to the story teller and their interpretation and story telling style is the most important component. The added sense of unity that comes as a result of building and nurturing community allows for this kind of support in times of difficulty and celebration and is more a characterstic of quality time spent together sharing ideas, emotions and experiences, not always a sharing of geographical space. I think that a virtual community might not be able to physically help you because of the geographical distances that separate you, but they might be very willing if they were closer :), and can still support those they care about and connect with by providing words of encouragement, helpful advice and tips. It is the best even those who are family can do at times in times of difficulty when they are separated – but it does not mean they don’t wish they could do more πŸ™‚

  4. Jeffg said,

    Well said! I moved away from Ontario where all my family is and I can recall many campfire stories being told. The stories were meant to entertain but most importantly they were meant to educate. My grandfather told the best stories, I guess his experiences guided him to share his ideas…to this day, I am not sure if all of his stories were true but they did leave a lasting impression in my mind. Thanks for hitting a chord!

    • tchcruiser said,

      Jeff, thanks for the response. I think you might also see (and agree) in Anne’s reply below that those campfire stories are also a time and opportunity to unite as a community as well as to be entertained and educated. I wonder what you think about her comment about community building and audience in a digital story telling space? I guess for me the campfire is a symbolic representation of a safe space for sharing experience where you know you will be heard and get a response. πŸ™‚

  5. busybusinessteacher said,

    Your writing reminded me about the usefulness of digital storytelling in First Nations cultures. I love the images that went through my mind as I read your post. Thank you, Bettina


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