Digital Storytelling and Digital Humanities

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.  

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11 comments
  1. I found it interesting how you discussed that digital storytelling seems to be more accessible for anyone to use it as a tool. That is also something that I found to be contrasting with my understanding of digital humanities. Due to the fact digital humanities is within scholarship and academia although it is attempting to broaden the understanding of scholarship, digital storytelling appears to have the potential to reach more people. That accessibility creates individuals who are able to become “makers” and also to be a part of this larger field that has been implemented on a global scale.

    • Yes it seems that Digital Storytelling can reach many people whereas DH does not in the same way. DH seems more of a theory making tool, which is of course valuable, but DS empowers individuals who don’t have access to traditional academia and DH scholars. They seem to be related but are on different ends.

  2. MP:me said:

    Your distinctions here are reflected in my comment on your DS project. DS need not be academic, although it is self-aware. DH IS academic even if it strives for new forms.

  3. jo0oshhhh said:

    I like how you compared the two websites. I was initially more adverse to the ds106 website due to the fact that the class has no formal instructor. But after reading and listening to the other sources for this week I think opensoucre education may have its place in academia.

    • I agree. I think strong implementation of the digital is important for academia. That being said, classroom instruction, and a formal instructor, are very valuable and I think always will be.

  4. I like your proposed investigation of Twitter. There are some very intriguing and very possible intersections of ease of access and academic knowledge to be found, I think.

    • Agreed. Of course it has a different type of value than classic academia. I think classic academia will always have enormous value in society because of its logic and depth, but I do think social media, and definitely Twitter, do a great job of providing easy insight into a person’s consciousness, and self-awareness. I think it would be interesting to study.

  5. elysiagr said:

    I really like your point about digital storytelling providing a filter in a content overloaded world. While I have a lot of hesitations about Lambert’s case as a whole, the workshop environment did sound very inviting. And the products it produces, despite not always being exceptionally engaging, did display a focus that is often absent from dominant forms of user generated content.

    • yes, I also think Lambert is very rigid which makes the product lack a certain “realness,” but maybe a benefit is that it is easier to study. Finding a method to study individual Youtube users is probably challenging because everyone is doing different things, but DS is formal so it possibly easier to measure. But of course it must leave people behind because not everyone participates and some people just don’t like that type of creative structure.

  6. I agree with you that ease of access is/should be valuable to academia. A lot of the DH articles were about how DH can be quite exclusive and might even be becoming more and more so. And just for academia in general there’s a concern about increasing access to information and classes, especially because of rising education costs.

    • Yes good points. I do think that traditional academia, which has always been somewhat exclusive, does have a place, but I don’t think that means we can’t be open to things changing. And it seems like scholars should be curious about this. It’s a whole new terrain that is yet to be explored, as it has not happened before. Sometimes it seems that strictly traditional scholars are just very interested in hiding away and keeping things the same. I’m not sure if this is sustainable.

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