Digital concept of ‘space’ and ‘spaces’ as it

Digital Storytelling isn’t only about the transfer ofknowledge but furthermore it is about a movement made in order to amplify asense of community’s voice – according to Burgess (2006:1). Therefore, everyonecan contribute to it. Digital storytelling is a universal and modern way oftelling a story, heightened by the use of images, sound and music. Theinspiration behind my story was my identity, the fact I am half English andhalf Scottish – two very different British identities. This fitted comfortablyinto the brief of the concept of ‘space’ and ‘spaces’ as it was about the’space’ that is Edinburgh, where I spent a lot of time as a child. I tell thestory of how I was forced there as a child by my mother, memories of mygrandparents and then vivid descriptions of the city with images that my sistershot. This essay will explore digital storytelling and the effects of amateurmedia and then go on to reflect on my own story.

 When defining digital storytelling Lambert (2013:4)references three spectrums practioners find useful when defining practices. Thefirst is the collaboration between storyteller and the audience – what thecreator wants the audience and grasp from the story. Regarding my story, I wantedthe audience to feel the nostalgia reflected in my work through my storiesabout my grandparents and the image of my siblings and myself with them. Also,myself overcoming my battle with identity and seeing that Edinburgh can be ahome to me as well as the one I already have. My intention was for the audienceto grasp the sense I had come to a realisation by the end of my story, thatpart of me belongs in Edinburgh too. The second revolves around the “literaryvoice” or the tone of the piece. Like I previously referred to, I wanted mystory to connote ideas of nostalgia therefore the tone of the piece seems to beone with nostalgic qualities. Moreover, it is rather reflective, as I amreflecting on who I really am as a person.

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And the third is the form in which thestory takes, in regard to digital storytelling this is in a digital form, suchas some sort of film. Alexander (2011:1) has the belief that digitalstorytelling has the power of “combining personal life and digital technology”.I am inclined to agree that as it allows anyone to share any aspect of theirown personal lives, it give people the courage and platform to share theirstories, as it did for me. With the growth of platforms such as YouTube, it hasallowed more and more people to share their stories. According to Gauntlett (2011:2)”Making is connecting because acts of creating involve… as social dimension andconnects us with other people.” When creating my digital story, I saw this tobe true, as we all created something that stirred up a conversation – mine morespecifically about childhood and identity. These are topics that are relatableand allow a connection to be made with my other creators and the audience. YouTube has opened up a whole new wave of amateur media,this can be seen as a positive force, but also, by some, as a negative.

It hasallowed absolutely anyone to post their own personal opinion online. This canbe a dangerous concept as any extremist views can be shared and spread to alarge audience – there is not much of a filter on what is suitable to share.Even if the extremist ideas are taken down and removed there is always somecopy and the recollection of it being there, continuing to be shared. Becauseof this, a rise in amateur media can be seen as a danger.

Digital storytellingis now open to everyone who has access to the internet. YouTube videos areconventionally “self-coaxed’ stories, in which the story isn’t forced out ofthe storyteller, it isn’t exposed by anyone else. It is their own story.

Thumin(2012:8) believed that “the concept of discourse of self-representationcontains a valorisation of experience which has a therapeutic function.” Forone, the therapeutic function it possesses is that it allows the storyteller totake a weight off their shoulders, therapeutic to share experiences andemotions. Furthermore, it also can be therapeutic for the audience, as theycould have gone through a similar experience and are able to connect with thestoryteller. Thumin goes on to state that it also has a “democratic function”meaning that who tells which particular stories can be related to power andauthority. However, I aminclined to disagree with this. With this rise in digital storytelling anyonecan tell any story, I don’t see it as anything to do with social status orpower. The lowest and neglected in modern society have as much of a voice asanyone else on the internet – stories can get shared across the world. I don’tsee Thumin’s point having much ground in the modern technological world.

 According to Jenkins(2009:110) the world was ready foramateur media in the form of YouTube. “They already had communities of practicethat supported the production of DIY media.” This means that there was alreadya pre-existing community for this platform, so it was necessary for it to comeinto the mainstream. There is a need to share in the form of amateur media, thecontent is so vast and everyone has a use for it. It can be used foreducational purposes, to learn new skills e.g. cooking, exercise and also mostcommonly entertainment purposes.

My digital story was more on the spectrum ofentertainment as it had little educational value and was more a snapshot intomy life – used for entertainment. Keen (2008:2) however, sees amateur media,similarly to others, as “flattening our culture” and also “blurring the linesbetween… expert and amateur.” From this he means it is devaluing media culture.If anyone can be a creator then it makes it less unique. For Keen, there shouldbe a clear distinction between amateur and expert so that they aren’t seen onthe same spectrum and aren’t judge in the same ways. However how do we define expert?What does make someone an expert in media? If it is just education then thatseems unfair, some have natural raw talent and shouldn’t be devalued just ifthey do not have a degree in the subject. Perhaps amateurs should be viewed onthe same platform as experts, as we can judge the talent of amateurs withlooking at expert’s work as a guideline. I don’t think amateurs should be asshunned as Keen is suggesting.

 In a way, my story was one that was self-coaxed, the story Itold was my decision to tell. However, Smith and Watson (2001:51) used the terms “coaxers” and “coercers”meaning a person/institution provokes us to tell our story and this does alsoapply to myself. I was coerced into telling my story because I had to do so tocomplete my assignment, although I did have the choice as to what kind of storyI told. Coaxing, can allow the audience to see and hear a truth. However, as itis forced there is a chance a complete truth is not being presented as it wasnot the choice of the individual to share the story. This can be said for allform of amateur media, we don’t know if a truth is being portrayed aseverything can be edited and filtered, the truth can be masked.

In regard to mystory this isn’t too relevant, I told a story that didn’t require any maskingof the truth, it was simply a pleasant story about childhood. So, in my case,being coaxed simply just encourage me to tell a personal story from my lifethat I would not have produced solely on my own.  In Smith and Watson’s text ‘Reading Autobiography’ (2001:59-62)they talk in regard to there being different autobiographical ‘I’s. The first’I’ is the real or historical ‘I’, according to Smith and Watson this is thecreator of the story, the real person who produced the story. In regard to mystory that is myself.

A characteristic of this ‘I’ is that this ‘I’ has morestories than just this one, they have a full life of stories. They are the realphysical being – which is me. The second is the narrating ‘I’.

This is the ‘I’that is available to the audience, the voice narrative in the voice over, inthe music and in the images – the storyteller is this autobiographical ‘I’. Thenext is the narrated ‘I’. This is the main character in the story, theprotagonist.

Again, in my digital story this ‘I’ is myself, however it isn’talways me at my current age. At the beginning of the story my narrated ‘I’ is achild. However, by the end of the story I am talking about myself at my oldercurrent age, still being the narrated ‘I’.

Finally, there is the ideological’I’. This is a concept of “personhood”, you and your story is a product of theperson you are. This can involve, the era, nationality, culture, ethnicity,family etc. My story, as I have previously put, is clearly about my identity,my nationality. I am reflecting on what it means to be English and Scottish.The ideological ‘I’ is part of our identities. The where and the how has a bigimpact on digital storytelling and that is what Smith and Watson are trying toput across with this particular autobiographical ‘I’. I reflect this veryclearly in my digital story.

 My digital story could have been improved. I could havedrawn more attention onto the images that reflected my words by using slowertransitions between images. I could’ve also slowed the dialogue down slightly,included more natural pauses that give the audience a chance to contemplatewhat they are watching and think about how it can relate to their own lives. Inparts when I was describing Edinburgh it felt rushed, which wasn’t what I hasintended, I wanted emphasis to have been brought to the beauty of the city, notfor this to have been rushed through. Despite this, I do believe the beginningof my story was a strength as it began with a hint of mystery. Why was I beingbundled into a car, where was I going to? This seems more gripping than analternative beginning where it was clearer cut regarding what my story wasabout. Moreover, the ending of my story was one that was self-revelatory,something that Lambert (2013:4), sees as being one of the seven key componentsof a digital story. I was ‘aware of a new insight’ by the end of the story,that I could belong in both Edinburgh and at home.

 Overall, digital storytelling has a considerate amount ofpower in the modern age. One of its strengths is that anyone can tell theirstory – allowing a variety of opinions and views to be heard and not just from expertsin the media. It has the power to stir up a conversation, the fact that anyonecan be a creator means stories become more relatable to the everyday person,they can make an impact on a significant amount of people. Platforms like YouTubeare challenging other types of media, such as television. An increasing amount ofpeople are getting their entertainment and news from YouTube now, it ischallenging the mainstream television media. The practice of amateur media isonly going to grow and grow, as more people can see how easily accessible it isto them. It may, in the future become the new norm for the majority to betelling digital stories.

Bibliography   Alexander, B. (2011) The New Digital Storytelling. Santa Barbra: Praeger.

Burgess, J. E. (2006). Hearing ordinary voices: Cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital storytelling. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 20(2), 201-214. Accessed Monday 15th January 2018 from http://eprints.qut. Gauntlett, D. (2011) Making is connecting.

London: Polity. Keen, A. (2008) The cult of the amateur: how blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today’s user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values. (rev.

ed.) London: Nicholas Beasley Lambert, J. (2013) Digital Storytelling.

Capturing lives, Creating community. New York: Routledge. Smith, S and Watson, J.

(2001) Reading Autobiography. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press Thumin, N. (2012) Self representation and digital culture. Basingstoke :Palgrave MacMillan      


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