Storytelling and new media narrative

Part II - The Art of Storytelling


Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning and Creativity. Learn more about Jason's book about digital storytelling and new media narrative in education. Read reviews, peruse the table of contents, or purchase the book. Would you like your copy "signed at a distance?" Then contact us to receive a bookplate you can add to the inside cover.

Orchestrating the Media Collage. This article appeared in the Feb-March 2009 issue of Educational Literacy, and addresses the many skills we need to be literate in the digital age, including the ability to tell effective stories.

PART II - The Art of Storytelling

Hello and welcome to the story part of digital storytelling!

If you are reading this page, you are probably in one of my digital storytelling workshops, or are simply looking for resources about storytelling in education. Whether or not you are in a workshop, feel free to use any materials you find here.

Storytelling in four parts. I have divided my storytelling resources into five parts, each with its own web page. Each part can be accessed through the menu on the right.

I assume you have limited time and resources to spend on incorporating digital storytelling into your curriculum. That is why I tend to think in terms of low budget projects that can yield high academic and creative returns in a short amount of time.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Living in the Storytelling Age

What does it mean to be living in the Digital Age?

  • On a technical level: we are bathed in bits.
  • On an emotional, humanistic level: we are immersed in stories.

In other words, the Digital Age has unleashed the Storytelling Age for all of us.

The Many Ages of Story Media

Storytelling has been with us for thousands of years, but during the age of media it has taken on new expression and new meaning. I think of media-based storytelling in terms of three ages, or, to put it in more modern parlance, three versions:

  1. Floor top media - Version 1.0 (1950's - present). Otherwise known as traditional mass media. Large media companies told stories to us and for us through broadcast TV and radio, and print publication. You have heard the saying, "the power of press is reserved for those who can afford one?" For many years individuals had limited access to "the press" and therefore created very little story media.
  2. Desktop new media - Version 2.0. (1980's - 2003). Then sometime in the 1980's came the possibility of people (rather than just corporations) creating "new" media (video, digital stories, music, etc.) with personal computers. But the promise and reality have been very different. I have been helping people tell digital stories since the days of Apple IIe's (early 1980's), and I can tell you that until recently it has been difficult, expensive, and required a sledge hammer and a wizard to pull it off. The net result is that while it was possible for individuals to create new media, very few did. Most of us were left to dream about the day it would become possible.
  3. Laptop new media - Version 3.0. (2003 - ??). In the past few years everything has changed. The very expensive, difficult world of new media has become so inexpensive and easy to use, that anyone with an average computer and a very small budget can produce quality media. For the first time ever, we can make the kind of media we have been consuming since version 1.0 of the story media revolution. The same way that word processing made writing accessible to anyone, new media version 3.0 is making media development widely available.
  4. Palm top, wearable new media - Version 4.0 - (2009? - ??). In an era of smartphones, iGlasses and other light, portable technology that records, edits, and integrates into the flow of everyday life, digital storytelling on the fly has become a normal extension of what we do. We hold these new media machines in our hands, we wear them, we network them easily with the Cloud and each other. Storytelling in our natural state. Our new technology simply amplifies this.

    What will the next storytelling age look like? And the one after that?
    Transmedia- the new normal. A key component of this age is "transmedia." We will discuss transmedia later, but for now, the key components are: using a number of media and media channels to create, maintain and tell a story. Thus, stories are made of books, Twitter, Facebook, comics, TV shows... the list goes on. Many aspects of the story experience are involved in generating a transmedia story, including fan involvement, balancing a need for story structure with a more organic, flexible approach to narrative, and being able to accomodate new media as it emerges.

Distribution has undergone radical transformation as well. It costs media companies millions to distribute a video signal. Now, anyone with a digital video camera and a reasonably robust Internet connection can do it.

All about access. Keep in mind that not everyone has digital tools and Internet access - the digital divide is real. But also keep in mind that suddenly lots of people do. One of the newest indicators of social equality, along with access to food, water, shelter, education and economic opportunity, has become access to digital resources. Those who do not have access to the digital resources they need to tell their stories are disadvantaged in real and important ways.

Bottom line: A number of very important points emerge as we head into the era of laptop, palmtop and wearable new media:

  1. The Digital Age has produced the Storytelling Age.
  2. We have shifted from the consumption based storytelling culture of the age of floor top media to a culture that listens AND tells stories. Studies are emerging that show that well over half of the teenagers who use the Internet are using it, among other things, to share original digital creations.
  3. The era of mass-customized media-based storytelling has finally come of age. We can now tell stories in our own language, in our own way that we can distribute using our own at-home equipment.
  4. The greater part of innovation comes from consumers, who stretch what the technology will do, and in the process, reinvent art, expression and the nature of creative content on an on-going basis.