The Strength of Weak Ties

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Two Tracks of Meaning

I've just recently completed a round of digital storytelling workshops in Texas. One critical attribute of digital storytelling that beginnners should understand is the relationship between the personal narrative and the script. In classic digital storytelling (there are certainly other interpretations), an author begins with a personal story (the narrative) of between 2-4 pages. This narrative is then reduced, or distilled to its essence, to form a script of about 3/4 to 1 page, double-spaced. The objective is then to build the story back up with the inclusion of the other multimedia elements (still frame imagery, video). The intent of this process is to develop two tracks of meaning, 1 auditory (the voice over of the script) and then one visual in an nature (the images and video). This double track system is what I believe makes a digital story such a powerful medium for communication, as both can be very emotional.

To create that emotion in the visual track, beginning digital storytellers should avoid illustrating their story literally. Outstanding digital stories use visuals to create deep emotion, and this can be accomplished by entering the emotion as a search term in Flickr. This is a natural for the tagging system of Flickr and works very well. For example, if I wanted to convey an emotion of loneliness, I would enter loneliness into the search box of the Creative Commons Attribution pool, and then be sure to click on the Most Interesting filter, which dramatically improves the quality of the photography. I might use this image of a sailboat (hey, it's from my photostream, imagine that!), this picture of a chair, this bench, or this shot of windows. Because I'm in the attribution pool, I'm sure that I can use these in my story as long as I include the Flickr screen name in my digital story, typically in the credits at the end of the digital story.

Excellent digital stories incorporate two tracks of meaning. Be sure to work with your students on the distillation process of narrative to script, and also strongly consider having kids convey emotion with using specific emotional search terms in image resources like Flickr.


  • At 10:49 PM , Blogger Miguel said...

    Dave, love to get your feedback on this conversation...



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