We want stories. We love stories. Stories keep us alive.

“We want stories. We love stories. Stories keep us alive.” (Lambert, 2010)

Stories are told in many ways, whether it is done with intention or without. It could be portrayed visually, verbally, physically and most of the time it disperses meanings. It is meaningful, and when it comes to a purposeful and intentional telling of stories, there is definitely some planning going on in the background.

Digital story telling is one way to tell stories with the aid of gadgets that we have in this present day. I realized that I have been “curating” stories on social media and it is not at all something new for me. I have been watching stories crafted by friends on Instagram and I find those stories to be informative and I get to peek at how they are doing back home. It is also one way for me to catch up with what I have been missing out. By planning photos or videos to post, which sequence they should go and adding some filters, I have unconsciously curated stories for my friends on Instagram to “watch”. I want to tell a story, I want them to know what I have been up to in the States (currently). All of this becomes a routine and telling stories seems so natural and I guess this is what we do as human beings. We want to celebrate, heal and remember when we tell our stories or the stories of others (Lambert, 2010). Or at least we want people to know that we exist, matter and are relevant.

Harvey Milk digital story is presented in a simple manner. I do like that it doesn’t have a background music and there is only the voice of the narrators. It did move me as the focus was on Milk’s life and images of him doing things while he was alive. I guess if a background music was added, it would distract my focus on the storytelling. However when the narrating shifted to a different narrator, the story telling isn’t as powerful as the first part. Therefore I think it is important to be consistent, especially when doing a digital storytelling in a group.

The second video that I watched is “Newcomers Club of Richmond”. The narrator in this digital story telling has an enthusiastic tone and this kept me listening to the information until the end of the video. I love how the images are zoomed in and emphasized on newspapers clippings as it helps me to read what’s written while listening to the narration. The selected background music is subtle and that compliments the images displayed and the narrative. I’d definitely like to apply this technique in my digital story-telling.

The last video that I watched is “FYS Education”. Similar with the video on Harvey Milk, this video doesn’t include any background music. I’m starting to think if this is what the students learned from their digital story-telling class and if they are following advices given by their professors. I personally love the content of this video as it talks about the orphanage in Cambodia, the orphans and how these students from the States experienced life in this setting. However, there is one part of his narrative that is strongly biased or inappropriate when he said “there were a lot of aspect that were disgusting” when describing an open air market that he went to. That statement was accompanied by a photo of a slaughtered pig. Why do I find his statement to be inappropriate? He was commenting on an open air market, in a rural area located in a third world country. For the locals, such sight is common and I believe this kind of gross image can be found in an slaughterhouse in the States. Furthermore, throughout his description of his life with the orphans, he had been using a very neutral and hopeful tone and when he changed it while describing the open air market, it just does not fit in the whole picture/story.

Based on all three videos that I’ve watched, I notice the importance of keeping my story consistent and with a hopeful tone in order to create an overall constructive message. Maybe it is also a good idea to minimize the audio in my digital story-telling to lessen distractions from the narrative and images. Finally, I can’t wait to create my own soon

Description is Key

Digital stories are a great way to present your audience with information that they typically would not encounter. Digital stories use a mixture of pictures, videos, audio, and film, to provide the audience with vivid imagery of the topic. My favorite part of a digital story is the audio because it can really shape the message or moral that the audience takes away.

After watching the digital story about Harvey Milk, I was really impressed by how detailed the storyteller was and the way she chose to narrate the story. The story starts off with background information and continues through a timeline, showing what Milk had accomplished overtime. I learned a lot about the LGBTQ+ community and the backlash they faced, especially during the time Milk was running for office. I had never heard of Milk and accomplishments, but after watching this story, I can describe him and speak to his character.

I would agree that this was a moving story, in the sense that it brought up a subject that isn’t commonly and openly discussed, but is very important. History should not only be discussed in textbooks or library books, but in conversations and stories as well. This digital story presented history in captivating and cohesive way. It made the audience want to learn more and want to really understand the subject at hand. The story was filled with descriptive language and various pictures, and had a great narrator. I would possibly change the order in which the narrator presented the story, and I would give the story a twist or moment of wonder. Overall, the story was a great one.
I also watched “Ammons Family Scrapbook”, which was a story on a family that lived in Virginia. One of the family members created a detailed scrapbook showcasing all of the family members at different occasions during the 1900s. The creator of the scrapbook chose specific moments and cut out specific people to paste into his scrapbook. The narrator does a great job of nudging us to pay attention to the nuances in the book, that are interesting and have some underlying messages.

I really enjoyed watching this digital story, because of the way it’s organized and the details that the narrator expresses. I would possibly be a little more creative with the scrapbook, if I were telling this story, but I don’t think that there’s anything missing from the story. When I create my story I’d like to use a different construction technique and I would avoid using the traditional chronological flow of a story. I would use a similar descriptive tone and also provide my audience with as much useful, accurate information as possible.

The Art of Digital Storytelling

The first digital story that I focused on was the one about Harvey Milk. I feel that through this video I learned a lot about both Harvey Milk and the Castro street community. From a video perspective I feel like it had both strong and very weak aspects. The beginning drew in my attention and I liked that my eyes had something to follow, but as it went on it became more disorganized. The story started getting harder to follow and understand when the second voice started narrating. The volume levels of the two sections did not match, making me miss part of the story as I adjusted the volume. There was also a part of the video where the pictures and audio didn’t line up; in the section they were talking about Milk’s life, but they were showing newspaper articles about his death. And then at the end the absence of visual content confused me and pulled my thoughts away from the story being told. I was unsure if it was a creative choice by the students or if something was broken. As I create my digital story, I would like to include matching visuals to my audio throughout the entirety of the video, this way it is engaging and easier to follow.

The other digital story that I want to comment on was Sitting Pretty: Benches of Hollywood Cemetery. I feel as though the content within the story was matched accurately with the video which I really liked because it gave the content more depth. I also enjoyed the mixture between self taken videos and authentic pictures from the cemetery’s history. Her voice was calm and clear making it easy to listen and pay attention, I hope to sound similar when I create my digital story. The transitions between the different content areas in her script were smooth and not forced and this also goes for the visuals she used. Although I can’t say I found this story particularly interesting, I did feel like it was engaging and that I learned a little more about the benches in Hollywood Cemetery.

Digital Storytelling Done Right?

     I picked the Harvey Milk digital journal to analyze because it appeared to be about history and the digital journal for dance and commemorative justice has historical aspects to it. I thought that it would provide ideas on how to present historical facts well. Harvey Milk’s digital journal was well made. The information presented was well organized and easy to follow. The narrator provided a lot of information. Along with the ample amount of information, there were a variety of different pictures. The pictures changed throughout the video which kept my eyes from being bored. Unfortunately, the audio malfunctioned in the middle of the video. The voice was loud and clear but then it shifted into a quieter volume which made it hard to hear. It was hard to focus on the new information and pictures because the audio was not normal. I would have liked to see more videos of Harvey Milk rather than pictures to change the dynamic of the video. Additionally, another voice could have been used so that the viewers do not have to listen to the same voice throughout the video. 

     I also watched “FYS education digital story”. The main critique I have for this video is that the narrator’s voice is monotone which made it boring to listen to him speak. However, the video had many good qualities. I liked that he made the digital story personal by describing his experiences with his job and the kids, and how he discussed the language barrier between them. He also added many photos and video clips which added a variety of visual effects. I felt like I was on his journey as he was in another country because he made the video like a personal story. I thought that the personal aspect and storytelling that this digital journal provided is what is needed for my own digital journal.

     For my digital journal, I want to make sure that it has a good amount of information that educated people but is not overwhelming. I also want to add personal elements by possibly adding interview clips from dancers, audience members and others. Also, I can add video clips and pictures from the performances, rehearsals, and from moments traveling around the burial ground. I want to make sure that the audio is good. I want to avoid a monotone voice and want to make sure that the words spoken are clearly understandable. I also want to avoid disorganization. I have to make sure all of the information presented flows and makes logical sense.

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