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On the first day of summer school, I was late to class because I couldn’t log onto the Internet in Chandler Hall.  Ironically, the classroom I was searching for was that of DS106, and forgetful me forgot to write down the room number before heading to campus that morning.  After cursing everything from the internet, Mary Washington, my phone and ultimately myself,  I decided to do what any savvy student would do when searching for a class: the ear to door method.  So then it began, a hunt that involved putting my ear up to classroom doors and awkwardly listening in until I heard a lecture that kindasorta related to what I expected the class to be about.  I’m sure any passerby thought I was the creepiest person in the world, but after standing outside Chandler 202 for a few minutes I decided to take the risk and enter the room.  To my delight it was DS106, and congratulated my ears on their good work.  I looked at the projector in the front of the room from a pedestal thinking that anything technology could do for me, I could do, well, better.

Looking back on it all it is actually really embarrassing.  I think I reached the height of my creeper alert that day listening in, but there was something that gave me the confidence to push open the door and stumble in with tardy apologies.  Martha was telling a story.

As an English major I have never been one to pass up a story, but I have also been loyal to bound books.  Technology didn’t disgust me, but I grappled with its replacement of what I observed as crucial elements of learning.  On the second day of class, this perspective was challenged. During our discussion about both the reading and lecture, Martha made a point to say “this is the direction we are heading,” and followed with some other optimistic and encouraging words that made me realize why I was so avoidant.  I was scared.  I didn’t know how to use technology, and that was largely why I cast it aside and assumed a Granny ideology. I was rooted in the good ole’ days, but, as Martha explored, the tech world was growing and if I wanted to succeed, the best choice would be to uproot.

So amidst the coding, Flickr-ing, complaining, replanting, and tweeting (which I am now addicted to) I had some finer moments and even more fun.  I know they weren’t exactly assignments, but I think my success was in responding to the This American Life episodes.  There was something gratifying about engaging in a technology with a different perspective, and I think my responses reflect how approaching something with a new lens inspires a lot of creative thought.  If I had more time, I would have responded more elaborately and even invested more into my own radio segment for the DS106 “Dog Days of Summer.”  I definitely underestimated how much time goes into something that seems so simple.  It made me appreciate the technology that I most often take for granted, and inspired me to keep working with it—even if Audacity is very, very, veryyyyy frustrating.

So what is Digital Storytelling?  I think the answer rests in that there really isn’t a specific answer apart from using media and technology to craft a narrative. Whether that narrative is a single photo, video, song, web page, blog—it encapsulates an idea that can resonate with someone, even if the author is the only one who really gets it.  In that sense Digital Storytelling is both objective and subjective—facts can be presented, but there is still room for a variety of interpretations.  That leads me to what I find as the most compelling aspect of a digital story—it is one founded on community not because of its content, but from the framework of technology and those relationships that it immediately lends itself to.

If I take anything from this class that is definitely it—that what I once saw as threatening to human interaction is actually a tool that can bring people much closer together.

My advice for future DS106ers—approach everything in this class with an open mind.

My warnings for further DS106ers—proceed with caution when taking photos for Daily Shoot and listening to TAL.  Sometimes the artsy photograph just isn’t worth breaking your camera, and oftentimes Ira Glass, though I adore his show, has many a-biases.


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