Headless ds106 Week 3: What Mean Ye Digital Storytelling?

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Now we enter the third week of the open ds106 Digital Storytelling course— aka Headless ds106. Guess what, if you are just stumbling across this you can join in without being “behind”– see Learn more…!

If you are brand new to ds106… Having exited bootcamp, or jumped over the fence. we now start with some questions about just what storytelling is. And guess what, we will not tell you any answers. Nor do we want you to come up with some stuffy definition. We do introduce ideas about the shape and influence of stories, that should be part of your thinking as you start creating more and more media. There is some arm twisting to spend time commenting on other people’s blogs.

If you have done ds106 before, so you know the answer right? Please write it out double space… just kidding. Maybe you can offer some feedback for others and reflect on maybe how your own concept has evolved. Or take on the challenge our friend Bryan Alexander likes to ask- what is not a story?

This Week’s Creative Inspiration…

bill watterson

A Cartoonists Advice created by Gavin Aung Thang in the style of Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes.

Storytelling! Storytelling! Storytelling?

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by gogoloopie

Storytelling… it’s part of the title this course, and you likely have some idea what it means from your own experiences. This week we will explore storytelling as a framing of what you will be doing for the next 13 weeks in Headless ds106. You will try to hone your own understanding of what the Digital part adds, and try a few creative exercises. As always, there are Daily Creates to be done this week. And this is where we will ramp up what is expected to be an active participant in this course (commenting on the work of others and engaging in discussions via Twitter and Google+).

You have all gotten over the wall ds106 Bootcamp, so you know the drill here– we outline all of the things we suggest you to be working on this week, which is capped with a link to your weekly summary reflective blog post on your own site.

Are you ready to create stories? This is the launch point for the rest of the journey.

What Comes to Mind for You?

What do you associate with the word storytelling? Before you do anything this week, use this as an opportunity to put down in words what your current concept is. There is no right or wrong answer here- this is to set up your current concept of what story means.

Do not go look anything up online — We are looking for your ideas. Just write a blog post to represent a starting point to outline what storytelling means to you. More like an association exercise than a, academic treatise. What comes to mind visually when you think of the word? Think about what the word brings to mind: images, places, people, sounds. Who do you recall as telling you memorable stories> How would you describe the idea of storytelling to someone else?

Then, expand on what it might mean to introduce the word “digital”? What changes, is different, or is the same? What do you see or think of when we say “digital storytelling”?

Organize this as a post in your “Thoughts and Ideas” category (or something equivalent). You will return to this later.

The Shape of Stories

Next, review the video below from author Kurt Vonnegut where he describes the structure of stories. It’s a great overview about the shape of stories, and we want you to apply those ideas to a story you know. And take note of his style of telling a story about storytelling.

After watching this video, write a new blog post and explain a story that you’re familiar with in terms of Vonnegut’s approach. Pick a movie, TV show, book, poem song, etc. The idea is to outline the shape of that story in a visual and descriptive form. Use some kind of media to do this, make it drawing or video or whatever you like. Be creative!

Here’s a bonus infographic where graphic designer Maya Eilam applied Vonnegut’s ideas to a number of familiar stories.

In addition, find an example of something you have seen recently on the internet or elsewhere that you might describe as a digital story. It need not be just be a video. In your post about the shape of stories include a description of what you selected and why you would call it a digital story (do not forget to link and/or embed).

See also this explanation of how the arc of storytelling relates to brain chemistry, and the two key emotions are created by powerful stories– distress and empathy:

Yes, But What is Digital Storytelling?

By design, in ds106 we refuse to give you a canned definition of digital storytelling. Do you crave a definition? Try Wikipedia

Simply put, digital stories are multimedia movies that combine photographs, video, animation, sound, music, text, and often a narrative voice. Digital stories may be used as an expressive medium within the classroom to integrate subject matter with extant knowledge and skills from across the curriculum. Students can work individually or collaboratively to produce their own digital stories. Once completed, these stories are easily be uploaded to the internet and can be made available to an international audience, depending on the topic and purpose of the project

Does Wikipedia’s article capture a meaning for you?

We consider the entire arc of this course as not an answer to this question, but an ongoing inquiry. Keep this in mind as you move into the creative portions of this class. What makes this thing a story? or part of one? What works about it? What does it tap into?

The New Digital Storytelling by Bryan Alexander

The New Digital Storytelling by Bryan Alexander

Educator, writer, futurist Bryan Alexander has written a comprehensive guide to the kinds of digital storytelling we explore in ds106, The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media.

Bryan has shared chapter 4 available for ds106 students as a PDF — include this in your growing understanding of what defines digital storytelling.

A conversation with Bryan Alexander (Fall 2012)

Links mentioned
A few references mentioned in the conversation:

Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine discuss Web 2.0 Storytelling (ds106 January 2011)

More linkatorium stuff….

Appreciating Past DS106 Stories

Part of what makes ds106 special is that you’re part of large, ongoing community of digital storytellers of all past participants You get the added benefit of being able to look at the past work in the class as a way to better understand what digital storytelling can be. Explore the work of past ds106ers from any of the reosurces:

Pick one or more stories and write a blog post about it. Why do you like it? What makes it special? What makes it a digital story? Is there an arc to the story? Might it be part of a larger story or does it work on its own?

You will find dead links in this exercise. Consider this as you being to build out your own collection of creations and the importance (or not) of maintaining your own digital archive.

Daily Creates

We’ll be ramping up our Daily Create activity this week. Try to complete at least daily creates this week. As always blog about them in your weekly summary- either embed the media (for photos and video) or link to them for Writing Daily Creates. You do not have to do individual blog posts for Daily creates, you can write one summary post at the end of the week. Just be sure to organize it in a category on your blog.

Telling Stories with Photos

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Gilmoth

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by kevin dooley

Look at the above photos – what story might they tell? What story might you tell with them? We think of stories often as complex narratives, but a photo can be told in a single photo or a photo with text. And the same photo might tell multiple stories.

To get some practice with telling stories with photos, try the storytelling activity below as ones that leverage the photo sharing capability on flickr to construct your own digital that uses photos as the primary medium. Try at least ONE of the photo story activities from the ones listed below, share your story, and your reflection on the process.

  • Tell a Story in Five Frames is a group in flickr that you can join to add a story that consists of only a title and 5 photos, no text. You can share it with the group as described, or just construct it in your own blog post. See an example done by Alan
  • Five Card Flickr Stories is similar in approach, of challenging you to tell a story in photos, but the photos you get are randomly chosen (based on tags in flickr). You can play with a general pool of photos tagged fivecardflickr or a new one we added that just uses photos added to the ds106 Daily Create. When you save your story on the site, it will provide you a direct link to it as well as cut and paste HTML you can use to put it in your blog (You may need to switch your blog editor yo be able to accept raw HTML in the writing)
  • Write a Story Based on Someone Else’s Daily Create Photos Find two photos from the Daily Create Photography assignments, embed them into a blog post, and write a story that connects what happens in the first photo to the second one, make it like a story sandwich, with your writing as the arc that connects them.

Commenting + Twitter (or Google+) = Participation

Now that you are familiar with publishing in your own digital space, it is time to broaden your scope of class participating by giving feedback to each other. You may have gotten comments already and will get more but its important as a community to comment on your classmates work. And as a result you will get input yourself.

In this week we ask you to be deliberate in commenting and maybe it will be infectious that you will continue to do so in this course. Try to comment constructively on at least five different blog posts form among other participants- you can scan posts from the Headless ds106 page, or if you feel like rolling the dice, use our random post picker.

Now a constructive comment is more than “Nice work” or “I like that”. It should be a few sentences, and ought to include useful feedback or ideas for improvement, or perhaps a connection to a related idea. Apply the golden commenting rule Give the kind of feedback you’d hope to receive.

And when you get comments, reply if it merits a response. Think of this as a conversation (one side conversations are not interesting, right?).

Now for fun, let’s try to insert a hashtag into your comment activity so we can trace what we are doing- for every comment you write this week, include somewhere in the text the phrase #talkingheadless106 … at the time of this writing, no one else on the entire google-able internet is using it:

no headless

And we can see how much this changes in a week.

Your credit for this week is not based on counting the number of comments you made – but how you are able to summarize your comment activity. Include in your weekly summary:

  • A summary of what you saw interesting or maybe influential in the blogs you looked at. Did you get ideas you could use by looking at someone else’s post? How did your work compare or differ from theirs?
  • A summary of the feedback you got -what was useful? Would it change your thinking? What was helpful?

As new comments come into your blog, you will sometimes need to “Approve” them in order for them to show up on your site. You should be getting emails whenever a new comments is submitted and/or needs approval. Please be sure to moderate these comments! The conversation can’t happen if it is never published!

Weekly Summary Checklist

Write up a summary of activities for the week by midnight on Sunday (February 3) in a summary blog post (and then submit that URL to Canvas). Here’s a run-down of what you must include in this week’s summary:

  • Link to blog post on “First, What is Storytelling?” what did you learn this week about your notion of storytelling? Where might it apply to your interests or studies?
  • Link to your blog post of analyzing a movie or a book based on Kurt Vonnegut’s Shape of Stories; this should include an graphic representing your own drawing of the arc. Did this make sense to you as a way to analyze stories? Include as well a summary of the digital storytelling example you chose.
  • Link to your blog post where you reviewed one student project from the in{SPIRE] site and ne from the collection of previous student’s self identified best work. Did these stories give you any insight into what a digital story is?
  • Embed or link to a post that describe the Daily Creates you did this week. How is this activity working for you>
  • Link to your blog post with your example of Telling a Story in Photos and your reflection on that activity.
  • A summary of your Comment Group activity- including the items listed above.
    • A summary of what you saw interesting or maybe influential in the blogs you looked at. Did you get ideas you could use by looking at someone else’s post? How did your work compare or differ from theirs?
    • A summary of the feedback you got -what was useful? Would it change your thinking? What was helpful?
  • Talk about week three in general: How is your experience of ds106 going? Are you feeling more comfortable with your blog? What do you need help with?

Bonus Media

Since a number of you were interested in the graphic style of the Steven Johnson video last week, you might enjoy the narrative approach of these Vi Hart explaining and demonstrating the power of doodling. We will get a chance to explore visual note taking in the Design week of this course.

ds106 in[SPIRE]