Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Voice for the Voiceless- Digital Storytelling

Good day to you!

This past week I have been doing a great deal of thinking on storytelling. Truthfully, in our EC & I class this week's topic had very little to do with communication technologies or social media; It was about good storytelling. For thousands of years people have been telling stories for a variety of reasons. These include a moral lesson (like a fable or a story for a religious text), entertainment (Star Wars), expression (songwriting), teach us history (The murder of Medgar Evans in Bob Dylan's "Only A Pawn In Their Game and many other reasons. All good storytelling has the following traits in common:
- the story has a clear message
- the story, while perhaps about a specific story, has universal meaning
- has "familiar" elements (we can relate to the story as it might be similar to a story we previously had heard
- says something in a unique way. The author is able to say something that has not quite been said like this before.

This last point is key to good storytelling. Think about it? We are surround by "stories" daily. I appreciated Alan Levine's presentation last week and I liked that he included commercials. One commercial was about a product and the benefits of that product and other one had little to do about the product, but it told the story of a shy boy getting ready for a speech. I can see why Alan selected both, but to me the more human story of the shy boy was more effective. To me, that boys story is all one we can relate to and in turn it has a deeper, almost subliminal impact. I remembering watching an interview with George Lucus in which he stated he did about a year and a half of research on "stories" while working on the original script for Star Wars. He went back and studied legends, and old stories (i.e. King Arthur, Hamlet) and based his story on archetypes (ie. the hero, the rebel, the mystic, the evil presence) from these stories. Even though the story was futuristic, he wanted the audience to feel as though they already knew these characters so they could relate to them(Long ago in a galaxy far, far away).

The concept of digital storytelling is an interesting one. As Danielle Degelman mentioned in her blog, "Children are full of stories".
It has been years since I worked with little kids, so I appreciated Lisa K sharing her class blog
It is true that kids have their own stories and what they say are delightful. I appreciated reading about someone's basketball team or helping grandma.

Digital Storytelling is all about expression and finding a voice. Years ago at an Apple Distinguished Educators meeting in Quebec City I worked with a group on a digital storytelling project. It started out as a photo safari, where we took pictures and then put them together to tell a story. While we were taking photos, I came across a poster for a missing child. The poster made me think about children, rights of children and forms of abuse (i.e. abduction). Our photo project than became seeing the world through a child of abuse's eyes. The project was probably one of the hardest things I had to do, but it did not start out that way. No one told us that was the subject we had to take on, but it happened on our journey and became the journey.

To me the biggest significance of digital storytelling is it empowers and gives a voice to those who sometimes do not have a voice. Many artists are not necessarily eloquent with words or do not quite fit into normal society. It is the very fact that they are often outsiders that makes them want to look for new ways to express themselves. I feel proud that I have selected doing a MOOC on Songwriting as it is a way for giving someone a voice and by studying songwriting.  I hope to not only become a better writer, but to help give the tools to my students to help give them a voice.

For my own songs, I worked closely with filmmaker Brian Ganong to create a music video for every song on my album. The videos were meant to reflect the meaning/feeling of each of the stories contained in each song and in their own way were examples of digital storytelling. Here is the video Brian made for my song, "Every Step". The song was written eight years ago while my wife was pregnant with our first child. I used to sing and read stories to my daughter Lily while she was in the womb. I had such love for someone whom I had never met and so I was moved to write this song. I feel Brian was able to capture that love and playfulness in his video. His video is really special as now Lily is almost 8 and we have another daughter, Maggie. Even though they are growing up, that special love that I have for them has grown. From feedback I have received (from parents and non-parents) they too can relate to the words of the song.

My daughter Lily as a little baby
Lily is now almost eight! Other than getting bigger, she has not really changed that much (she is still a sweet kid)!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful video and song!! Every time I watch a family video, I get a tear in my eye....and this one did just that! That's the power Digital Storytelling has on people. Imagine what it has on one's learning....So amazing...Thanks for sharing!!