Doing this project was a learning experience for me and it clarified certain things, as well as raised questions.
Creating a Joe Lambert style Digital Story is actually quite challenging, and contrary to what I previously believed, allows for quite a bit of creativity and personal touch. It requires reflection, self-awareness, and a journey into your thoughts and emotions.
In creating Part 1 I gained a new respect for Joe Lambert’s ideas. In order for me to actually create the product, I had to think about how I understand myself and how I can help the viewer understand how I understand myself. His formula impels the maker to recognize an arc and communicate it. In doing it I realized that without knowing it, I already had an arc on this part of my life living in my mind.

An interesting difference in Part 2 on social media, is that social media creates context. We see the reactions of connected individuals, and it puts the creator’s thoughts and feelings into a real world setting.
Part 3 came off as the most awkward to me. I did it solely for experimentation purposes. I wondered if each piece of social media content were explained with voice-over, would it be valuable or shed unique insight on the storyteller? For some reason, it came off as the least honest and sincere. Perhaps because the voice-over almost seemed defensive as it was a response to what had already happened.

Overall it seems that Part 1 came off as the most positive because it allowed me to explain my thoughts and experiences, and only required context in in my own life and mind. It seems difficult to dislike someone if you understand why they think what they think. Part 2 displayed content within a social context which offers some honesty. Part 3 seems mostly reactionary and less natural, almost aggressive or propaganda like. I explained to people how to understand my social context.

My questions going into this project:
1) Does social media tell a story?
2) Can an individual voice-over in social media create insight, or become a tool? Does the voice-over validate the content or confuse it?
3) If social media cannot tell a story simply by being, can we use it to piece together something valuable and honest in an individual mind? Is it self-aware? Is it too self-aware, to the point of fabrication?

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Project #3

I am still in brainstorming mode for my final project in Visual Research Methods. My ideas are tentative but are as follows:

(With all of these ideas, I would like to incorporate the role social media or one of its platforms has played)
1) I will do my own digital storytelling project, and tell a story that involves why I became a vegan OR a meaningful experience I’ve had with it through the physical and/or emotional journey OR a moment when I’ve felt proud of myself and my actions due to my beliefs. I will include social media experiences, which are relevant in creating the story.  

OR

2) I will do a digital storytelling project on someone who I know and admire who is a vegan/environmentalist/nature lover, and what it means to them to respect the natural world. I will possibly base the story around the company or person’s Instagram handle or a hashtag.

OR

3) I will do a digital story telling project on one of the big social media platforms (twitter, facebook, Instagram etc) and veganism. This would also involve a section of my personal story, but perhaps will be more focused on the cause and the platform.

Still considering how I would like to do this and what I will need.      

Through this week’s reading, I considered Digital Storytelling in relation to Digital Humanities and based on what I read, I believe that digital storytelling serves as a useful component of Digital Humanities in its organization and validity. This belief is based mostly on the two websites we looked at, but also explanations of digital storytelling in Joe Lambert’s “Digital Storytelling” text book.

The first part of this is the accessibility of digital storytelling. On the ds106 website it is communicated that digital storytelling is very accessible and the first step in the instructions is to “design and build” an online identity. As a generalization, I believe that the majority of people in the US already have one. As internet and social media use increase, I believe people are constantly building and adjusting their online identities. I think in most cases this identity is an extension of the self, or maybe is a reflection of how the user sees him/herself. This would perhaps make step 1 very easy and the rest is simply following the formula.

On the ds106 website the Digital Storytelling course’s objectives include developing the skills to use technology as a tool for “networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression.” I compared this to the HASTAC website’s page on digital literacy in the classroom, where the internet is described as somewhere where the answer to almost any question is less than a second away- but we must learn to decipher what is true and what is false. Digital literacy is “a mental framework one develops through practice- a simultaneously personal and collaborative skill that one must constantly hone in the midst of our computer-mediated lives.” Digital Storytelling assists the person either creating or analyzing in understanding the necessary filters in making sense of the endless content on internet, and allows them to create with the tools the internet offers.   

In my understanding of Digital Humanities, I believe certain points must apply in order for something to fall under the category of “Digital Humanities.” It must be academic, it must be intellectual, it must be organized, it must somehow study or address human culture, and it must involve the digital world. In this definition, Digital Storytelling seems to fall into the field as a way to understand stories and human lives. Digital Storytelling inventor and scholar Joe Lambert does not believe sites that are 100% user generated such as twitter or facebook have value like his digital storytelling because they often lack thought, organization, intellectual merit, and effort. Even those who disagree have to admit, these platforms are not academic in themselves and do not require any intellectualism at all. This is where Digital Storytelling is different. In the midst of our “computer-mediated lives” Digital Storytelling provides a filter and produces an intellectual product through its organization and thought. The HASTAC website also says, “Without digital literacies, manipulation becomes the norm instead of empowerment.” Maybe Joe Lambert believes that this is why we need a Digital Storytelling formula to receive a comprehensible and valuable form in the digital humanities.

I am not sure if I agree with Lambert completely but I understand his point. I would like to continue to search for the value in the overload of info that exists on social media platforms such as Twitter. Although it is a largely unintellectual hub of any information people want to put on it at any given second, I think its ease of access to any and all must have some value even to academia.  

To compare Joe Lambert's model to user generated stories, I searched the hashtag #meditate on Twitter and took screengrabs of the tweets that seemed to tell personal stories. Joe Lambert's model showed a personal relationship with a space and meditation, and its organization made it fluid and graceful. The tweets are more random and have less personal information, but give a 140character snapshot into a personal relationship or experience with meditation. I argue that they although Lambert's model is more intellectual and thought out, both forms offer insight into meditation and people. In order to better understand this, I would need to click through to the user's page and look at how meditation exists in their lives, or does not exist. In this way we can look at a picture of the user's life.

Excerpt from paper introduction:

Michael Moore’s strategies in creating his controversial and unique films bring to mind questions of ethics. I explore questions of ethics by analyzing Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary Sicko, that critiques the American healthcare system. Politics aside, Sicko is unarguably enjoyable to watch due to the humor, perpetual action occurring in almost every scene, and presence of familiar names and places making the content relevant to all Americans. This formula made Michael Moore a great success in documentary cinema, but has also earned him a lot of critics, not only based on his political viewpoints but also based on his blatant disrespect for social customs and people. Although Michael Moore’s process of creating his great films seems to be unethical, I speculate that because his message is so urgent, there is room to move the line from unethical to ethical. By utilizing tragic and real-life personal stories that exist due to American health policy, Michael Moore’s strategies are ethical to film subjects and to the United States. The stories that he includes in Sicko are so tragic and real that his antics of mitigation and interrogation are appreciated.

This clip is an example I use in my paper. A scholar has identified that in this clip, it is unclear if the blame is with the mother or the hospital, and this leads to an ethical question of Moore: Is it ethical to manipulate his audience? I argue that Sicko is not about mother vs. hospital, Sicko is about the failures of the American healthcare system. It is therefore irrelevant whose fault it is, but relevant that a young girl died because of confusion within the system of where she was covered to be treated. In the United States a child should never die because certain locations are unauthorized to treat her. This is unacceptable. Moore is therefore acting ethically in adding this to his film. Because it happened. And if the fault is with the mother in confusing the system, the point is possibly even stronger: A good healthcare system will save a young dying child even if a mother gets the paperwork wrong.

David MacDougall’s theoretic of visual engagement pushes against “the magical fallacy of the camera” and its “omniscient observation” (123) towards a filmmaker’s self-aware positionality where a “filmmaker acknowledges his entry upon the world of his subjects and yet asks them to imprint directly upon the film their own culture” (125). Moving along the grain of Rouch’s theoretic, MacDougall works to invert the anthropological structure of  “exhaustive analysis” and focuses on the part “which may stand more accurately for the whole” (126). Working within this structure MacDougall’s intervention provides a more genuine experience for the subject as the documentary is participatory and not peripherally observational: “Ethnographic filmmakers can begin by abandoning their preconceptions about what is good cinema. It is enough to conjecture that a film need not be an aesthetic or scientific performance: it can become the arena of inquiry” (128).

MacDougall’s vision and intervention bleeds into John Ellis’ section on “Slow Film’s” radical gesture of refusing montage. We assert that an American Family is a variant of a sanitized montage while Harambee’s slow film process.