Thursday, May 2, 2013

Telling a Global Story – Final Project

For my final digital storytelling project, I took an in depth look at how digital storytelling is prevalent and used by students who study abroad. This project reflects a core theme of the class, which is looking at how academic work can be translated into the digital realm.  In designing a website, I had to think about and determine how to combine the theories associated with study abroad and digital storytelling with my audience and how to showcase students’ stories that reflect their time abroad in combination with the questions raised throughout class such as how authority, authenticity, and ethics of using new media and digital technology change the way meaning is made and identity is constructed. To conclude the project, I made my own digital story about my study abroad experience to Paris in 2008 hoping to both self-reflect upon my experience and share with others what my study abroad experience meant to me.

The link to my website can be found here:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Enhancing Scholarship through the Digital Humanities

For my class assignment this week, I looked at Dave Parry’s article The Digital Humanities or a Digital Humanism.  The essay discusses two working definitions of Digital Humanities. The first is that it is a field that is only about using the Internet to create and use tools to do traditional humanities based research.  Many definitions of Digital Humanities that I found online support this definition.  For example, many “What is the Digital Humanities” sections on websites such as UCLA and Stanford claim that digital humanities is unique in that it can be used to exemplify data archiving, social networking, mapping and using photos and videos for the dissemination of knowledge for academic research. In following this definition, the Digital Humanities is used to conduct research efficiently and in a modern way.  Parry in the second definition, claims that the Digital Humanities allows people to use digital technology to transform the very nature of what it means to practice scholarship in the humanities.  In this way, Digital Humanities is not just using computers to look at humanities based texts, but offers a new way to understand traditional humanistic subjects that could not be possible without digital tools.
My digital storytelling video this week shows the first definition of digital humanities and how digital technology alone has not altered the way we use and understand the humanities.  For example, mapping, archiving, and social networks, which is unique to the definition of digital humanities still exists in the traditional humanities (academic books). The ultimate question my video asks is how can the digital humanities be used to enhance scholarship that is already done? If I had longer then 20 minutes in class to do this project, the next step I would take would be to find ways to show how a deeper level of understanding and reflection shows how community building and voice is established through the digital humanities and how that alone is unique to the field. For now though, I think this is an interesting debate to reflect on.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Digital Storytelling

            While reading “Knut Lundby’s book “Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories,” I was struck by a quote in the beginning of Chapter 2:

“Starting from paintings made on cave walls, humans represented ‘their world’ and in order to do that they had to ‘invent’ tools for painting and systems of meaning making for how things should be represented and the symbolic nature of such representation” (21)

The first time I looked at examples of digital storytelling, I kept on thinking how innovative and original this was.  I had never seen or heard (before this class) of the word digital storytelling and was captivated by the idea that people would create videos detailing their life events.  However, like the quote says, humans have been expressing themselves through art and storytelling for quite a while and as ‘new’ as digital storytelling was to me, what I had to understand is that it wasn’t people expressing themselves that made me stop and think, but what was new to me was the way technology was adapted to create and construct these projects. Today’s digital age provides us a variety of digital tools such as YouTube, social media platforms, and computers that give us the ability to see videos and pictures and through editing software and incorporating music and voiceovers, provide the ability to enable people to comfortably express their inner thoughts and emotions. Through digital technology, people’s personal stories were given a new breath of life that was fueled by intimacy.  Digital storytelling solely through the new ‘invented tool’ of technology made these projects different from other modes of public expression.

The digital storytelling example I decided to use from the book is Telling Lives from  I decided to go with this example because when I clicked on the link provided in the book I was met with a notice stating:

"The Telling Lives website is no longer available. Telling Lives was part of the BBC's social media output from the early 2000's (along with Video Nation). These sites focused on "digital stories" where members of the public made short films about their personal stories and experiences. The Telling Lives project ended in 2005. The Telling Lives website was closed in 2011. It was no longer being updated and the quality of the online video no longer meets current technical standards. The filmed stories have been added to the BBC archives"

After seeing this message my first thought was to close my browser and find another digital storytelling project, however the bottom of the message caught my eyes. “It was no longer being updated and the quality of the online video no longer meets current technical standards”

How could someone’s personal stories and experiences that reflect the growing power of digital technology not meet current technical standards?  Lundby’s book asks us to question how digital tools are used to bring these stories to life. Although I understand that the reason the site was closed is because since the early 2000s advances in technology made it so the quality of these videos did not live up to what we are used to in 2013, I found it ironic that these videos were removed from the site because as Lundby explains digital storytelling is about engaging with the present technology that we create and use it to express oneself.

After searching the archives, I was able to find a few videos from the Telling Voices project.  The specific video that I ended up watching was “Learning to Drive” by Sheila Ogden.  In this video, Sheila narrates her history, revealing that she grew up listening to her father who said that women shouldn’t drive and in consequence of these words, she did not drive until her husband, when she was 53 years old, got fed up driving her around and forced her to learn. Her voiceover of her retelling her experience learning to drive is e highlighted by a montage of photos of cars, people, and things on the street. Yes the quality of the film was poor, the size was small, and lacked fancy editing, but this example of digital storytelling successfully uses images and narration to present a period of time in this woman’s life. Digital technology was “invented as a tool” here to show how anyone at any age with any amount of talent can participate in public expression and I do not think this lesson can be outdated.

Unlike the Telling Voices project, which was strictly about using one’s voice for public expression, when I searched for my own digital storytelling example to compare, I found that many sites were educational resources.  In using digital storytelling in this way, many platforms utilized digital storytelling to teach young kids to write stories, were developed from university funded projects and targeted students, or general tutorials on how to make digital storytelling projects. In this way, digital storytelling is a way to jazz up boring PowerPoint presentations as one can use interactive maps, music, videos and photos to bring a lecture to life. For example, the digital storytelling project The Reality of Television found on Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling ( is a lecture about television. Like Learning to Drive, The Reality of Television uses a voice over while a montage of photos play.  However, the tone of the two projects was very different. While Learning to Drive was a personal reflection, The Reality of Television was an objective outlook on the historical evolution of television. While this shows that digital storytelling can be used in many ways, both examples show how technology has opened up the doors for people to engage directly with their projects and showcase certain aspects that might not have before been possible. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reflections on the Intersections of Feminism

            For our group documentary project, Pablo, Sydney, Monica, Theresa and I intended to make a documentary that defines our own interpretations of feminism. In completing this documentary, we had to confront and ask ourselves not only ‘why are we feminists?’ but how our identification as a feminist intersects with our race, sexuality, gender, religion, and academic achievement.  In looking at each of our unique answers and personal stories, we highlight differences in interpretation through our conversations with one another.  The documentary ultimately brings to light that there is no one definition of feminism. Instead feminism is a complex and dynamic concept, which changes with our own experiences.  Our intent in creating this project is to ultimately create a truthful depiction of what we consider reflections on the intersections of feminism.

To make this project, we interviewed ourselves and two other individuals who are not part of our class.   By interviewing each other, this project gave us the unique opportunity to be insiders on a piece of work.  Because a majority of the content was provided through personal anecdotes and conversations that we had with each other, this project became a self-reflexive discovery of how our own backgrounds influenced our decision to be feminists. In this way the documentary is not only a reflection on feminism as topic, but also the relationship we as filmmakers have as our positionalities reflect the notion that the type of feminist action we participate in is influenced by our personal backgrounds and struggles.

To bring outside voices to our project, we also interviewed two other individuals, Monica and Theresa’s stepdad who did not consider himself a feminist and a feminist professor at CGU who teaches economics.  We specifically chose these interviews to provide counter arguments and to provide a depth to our trajectory, as we saw how intersections of feminism are not unique to ourselves, but is something that appears across diverse backgrounds.

When we started this project, we each had personal opinions on how we should regard feminism.  Some of the questions we bounced back and forth included looking at depictions of feminism in nontraditional fields, seeing why/why not some people consider themselves feminists, how feminism relates to one’s personal background and how one conducts feminist activism?  I appreciated that our documentary stayed away from typical and stereotypical depictions of feminism such as over-sexuality, but instead focused on the internal struggles people experience and made these thoughts visible through a visual medium.

Fortunately, even as a group of 5, we collaborated extremely well together.  We each played a role in interviewing people, interviewing each other, finding clips on YouTube (which we ultimately cut out), editing, and conceptualizing ideas. Over the past couple of weeks we have regarded the documentary different from ethnography in part because of its classification as an art form.  Pablo found a quote by Gloria Anzaldua that broke everything we had brainstormed: ideas regarding identity, inner struggles, societal connections, awareness of feminism, activism and protests, into one larger context. As a group, we analyzed this quote and framed our interview questions around the message portrayed through Anzaldua’s words. Inspired by the WE CARE documentary, we chose to read the Anzaldua quote out loud as a group at the end of the film.  The reading of the quote out loud synched with a montage of images that represented our identification with feminism symbolizes that the issues that the quote references affect us all, yet in differing ways.  Through using the camera to examine the Anzaldua quote and our self-reflexive interviews, we aimed to focus specifically on how our relationship to feminism derives from individual yet mutual experiences.