What comes to mind when we discuss storytelling?
When we discuss storytelling, many things come to mind. It can be the recounting of a memory, a real-life event that one has witnessed or heard about or a completely made-up tale about an individual, event or situation. The common thread to all of these is that the person who is doing the storytelling is trying to convey not just the facts of the story, but to imbue some sense of what it would have been like to experience or witness this story unfolding firsthand. It cannot be simply a dry recounting of facts. That, to me, is simply an account of something. The word “story” itself conjures up concepts about creativity, imagination – the use of the mind to envision something you’ve never seen in real-life. But that picture is one created, in part, by the storyteller’s skill at being able to plant the seed and help “take you” to where the story takes place. At its best, storytelling is an experience that can involve a myriad of tools at the storytellers disposal – from written or spoken words, music, still or moving pictures and, in the digital age, imagery created and manipulated on the computer along with sound, graphics and other images. All of it has one goal – to tell the story in such a way that the person on the receiving end has a sense of personal experience when it comes to that story. In other words, the story itself becomes an experience for the listener – one that combines both the skills of the storyteller and the imagination of the listener to bring the listener closer to the truth of the story – the message or image or moral that it is trying to project.
Responding to the “Shape of Stories”
What’s not to love about Kurt Vonnegut. I found his discussion fascinating but not altogether unfamiliar. I am well-versed in the arc of stories and his discussion seemed similar to the idea of building action, climax, falling action, etc. although in this case I guess his discussion is a bit more character-driven (or protagonist-driven) then plot-driven. In Vonnegut’s depiction, the shape of the story is based on the fate of the protagonist. I would be surprised if a computer programmer hasn’t tried to take this theory to the next level – plugging in back stories, backgrounds, a generic plot and character names – and allowed a program based on Vonnegut’s ideas to create short stories. After all, there has been plenty of overlap among history’s best stories – Romeo and Juliet is, after all, just a tale of “boy-meets-girl”.
Drawing the shape of a story
I choose to draw up a shape of the story of Alice in Wonderland in which Alice starts off in good shape, follows her curiosity down the rabbit hole (literally and figuratively) and ends up in a series of troubles, nearly giving up in despair before ending up squaring off against the Queen. It is at this lowest point that she begins to grow again, argues with the Queen and then wakes up from her dream, finding herself back home.
Here’s how I depicted it.
A digital story
Here’s an example of a digital story – a comedy bit by Aziz Ansari. In it, he talks about how he harassed his cousin Harris by pretending to be a student in one of his high school classes and messing with other students on a community board.
This is a digital story in two ways – first, it was shared through digital media (youtube) and actually revolves around the use of the internet and social media (i.e. the school message board).
here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6tWttfqIq0
Appreciating past DS016 stories
I chose a video from the list of final DS106 projects at UMW in the fall of 2012.
It’s entitled Canada Man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXkbahKCMHk
It;s a terribly corny video (the creator himself admits it in the comments), but you can make an argument that it does, in fact, fulfill the requirements of being both a digital story and containing a story arc. It begins by introducing the main character, Canada man, and arguing that the world needs him. We are introduced to his nemesis, Panda man, and after a brief tussle, Canada man is defeated. This represents the protagonist’s downward arc. But the hero fights back by throwing Advil at his enemy, standing in for socialized medicine (I suppose that’s Canada’s trump card when it comes to measuring its place among first world nations). The enemy is defeated. Why is this a digital story? For one, it is presented digitally by being filmed and posted on YouTube. Second, it includes graphics and text that stand in for spoken words and act as both captions for the action and as bridges to the next scene. I suppose it could be part of a larger story if the creator cared enough to create one.
This is a daily create entitled “Creative Hands”. I also uploaded it to Flickr with the appropriate tags. (That has become easier). I enjoyed making this one because I was able to get my family in on it. They are creative – especially my kids and were excited to be a part of it. I also did a another Story in Photos starring my daughter Jackie. Getting others to be a part of the creative process also changes the results. I had originally wanted to have all of us holding hands or our hands stacked but my wife kept dropping things into my daughter’s palm – an olive, a fork, etc. When she dropped the valentine’s heart, I took the picture. It was uploaded with the tag tdc1129.
This one was from a daily create in which we are supposed to draw a picture with the theme “I’m Sorry”. Instead of doing a traditional sad image, I came up with this one and I liked how I was able to manipulate the image so that it seemed the boy was only partly there. I must admit I had so much difficulty saving the manipulated image that I ended up taking a picture of the screen and saving the image that way. Not sure if that’s cheating or not. Anyway, it was uploaded to Flickr with the tag “tdc1122”.
Telling a Story in Pictures
This story is called: Homework Not Done.
I enjoyed the experience of creating this because it involved my daughter. She co-created the project with me. But I think it also very clearly shows the typical procession of events that occur on most school nights, culminating with the homework not getting done. The actual execution was relatively simple. I saw Jackie doing homework with a frustrated look on her face and took the picture. Once I had done that, I had her act out the progression by posing the first, third and fourth images. The kids were relatively easy to direct. I like the last image because it wraps up the progression without either one of the kids in it – you know what’s happened simply because the work isn’t done. One of the challenges of doing these creates is that while much of the work of this class is done at the computer, this part is not. I end up having to remember ideas and then fit in the execution during the course of the rest of the day, simply when I see the opportunity crop up. I uploaded these images to Flickr with the tag ds106 but I found the site that the website pointed me too seemed restricted to only people in a certain pool.
Checking other blogs
I checked a few other blogs on the ds106 site and found a number of different things going on. On Digital Mustard (http://konarheim.com/), the blogger seemed far ahead of me in terms of his ability to create – manipulating movie posters and youtubing art project cartoons. Rhino 507 was interesting and more my speed. It showed photos of the blogger’s family in an attempt to illustrate who they are.
Recap of Unit 3
This has been a difficult lift in terms of getting all the work done. The actual creative portions of the work are fun and challenging, but the instructions and requirements can be difficult to follow (particularly when it comes to what we, as students, are required to do and not do). This Unit challenged me to find different ways to illustrate my life and forced me to become more comfortable with sites like Flickr and made me realize I have more work to do to find sites where I can better manipulate photographs and use a paint/artbox other than the one found on Microsoft’s program. The other blogs and ds106 examples of the daily creates were fascinating and gave me a lot of ideas of what to do. I still believe I managed to find ways to make my work different than the examples I saw and will continue to try to do so.