In my last media studies blog I spoke about the inequalities and challenges that exist for freelance digital storytellers. I specifically addressed Brandon Stanton and his Humans of New York Project (HONY), to highlight the fact that even the most successful, may still have encountered and/or still do encounter, challenges with Freelance work. Today I want to move aside from the challenges faced by the storyteller and instead discuss how beneficial digital storytelling can be for the everyday person. Digital storytelling is as a method that breaks down boundaries between people who may not ever have contact with each other usually. It is a way to unite individuals, creating a community narrative across the world via a range of platforms such as blogs, websites, or social media, using images, video or sound.
The HONY project is perhaps one of the most recognised and obvious example for digital storytelling across the globe. However, taking it down a notch, there are hundreds and thousands of examples of digital storytelling, just as impactful and influential as HONY. Social media platforms are the most common way for people to share their stories everyday. People can ‘share micro-videos’ (Clemons D 2014) of the Olympics via Snapchat to people all over the world. Individuals can create mass movements and communicate stories via Twitter with action campaigns such as #freethenipple or #heforshe. You can share videos and vlogs through platforms like YouTube, Vine or Vimeo and become a citizen journalist. There is a stack of platforms out there giving each individual with very basic internet and tools a voice. Whether that story is shared with a group of 10 or 1,000,000, the story is out there.
Camelia Gradinaru released a journal article in 2015, outlining how technology is such a huge part of our lives now, it has become an “important instrument through which we can construct and manage our identity. The discursive nature of new media accentuated the importance of storytelling” (Gradinaru C, 2015). Any person, who has access to the internet can create their story digitally and disseminate that publicly. Online communities and social media platforms are giving people a place to voice their story and what an incredible power that is.
Moreover, from the everyday citizen of the world, digital storytelling is a very useful tool in education. In 2013, young Chilean students used digital storytelling to explore the changes with engagement between Chile with the Antarctic. This case study highlights and suggests that “citizen engagement with critical scientific data and decisions affect the future and is more pertinent than ever” (Salazar J.F and Barticevic E, 2015). These students via digital storytelling methods, are contributing to conversation much bigger than just their local communities and that is really exciting.
To conclude, digital storytelling may have inequalities for those who choose to make it a career. However, I believe the positive affects that come from the power of digital storytelling from both professionals and everyday people, lead to a positive and collaborative discourse the world over. Storytelling is engrained in humanity and this new method is just as valid and critical to society than ever before. It allows individuals to break down inequalities, to have a shared voice, to collaborate and to be innovative. Thanks to the internet, the scope of storytelling is bigger than ever before and that has allowed for incredible outcomes such as Chilean students contributing to scientific data or mass movement discourse leading to social media campaigns. The internet is a serious platform for the everyday human to break down inequalities around the world through storytelling.
Here are some further videos on the importance of digital storytelling:
Clemons, DC 2014, ‘Fostering Diversity Through Digital Storytelling’, Public Relations Tactics, 21, 4, p. 9, Health Business Elite, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 August 2016.
GRADINARU, C 2015, ‘Digital Storytelling as Public Discourse’, Argumentum: Journal The Seminar Of Discursive Logic, Argumentation Theory & Rhetoric, 13, 2, pp. 66-79, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 August 2016
Image, retrieved from <http://wponlinesupport.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/online-community.jpg.>
Salazar, J, & Barticevic, E 2015, ‘Digital Storytelling Antarctica’, Critical Arts: A South-North Journal Of Cultural & Media Studies, 29, 5, p. 576, Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 August 2016.
Stanton, B 2016, Humans of New York, retrieved from <http://www.humansofnewyork.com/about>