Digital Storytelling

There are more ways then ever to tell a story these days. Digital storytelling is the way of the future and enables us to tell our stories in more interactive ways then ever before. I examined three digital stories for this post which were all vastly different, yet equally effective.

First of all I had a look at the website Take this lollipop. This is an extremely unsettling experience that I do not recommend if you are home alone at night! First of all we are presented with the image of a lollipop, upon further inspection you can see there is a razor blade within the lollipop…charming! The slogan on the page reads I dare you, well now how could I refuse?! So I went ahead and dared to click on the lollipop, I was then asked to connect with my Facebook account. At first I was hesitant, I don’t like to connect my Facebook page with things I’m not 100% sure about, but since this is a uni task I felt reassured it was safe…If I get hacked I’m coming for you RMIT!

After connecting with my Facebook account I was presented with a video. I started to wonder if this was such a good idea after I was shown a creepy looking man staring at a computer screen and typing ferociously. The camera panned away to reveal he was looking at…yep you guessed it, MY Facebook page! EEP! I continued to watch (while reassuring myself I had locked all the doors). The man seemed to be getting restless while he looked through my pictures, scrolled through my newsfeed and hovered his mouse over pictures of my friends. Eventually the man has had enough of just idly stalking me, he gives a very unsettling look towards the camera and heads for his car. Suddenly a web map appears pinpointing my where-abouts. If I had felt unsettled before it was nothing compared to this! The man continues to drive as the video ends…and I am left feeling decidedly violated.

I think this was an EXTREMELY effective video, not only is it voyeuristic and very creepy but it is also quite accurate, you don’t know who is looking at your Facebook page right this moment; and with all the information we tend to put up there about ourselves who’s to say some psycho couldn’t track you down if he so desired? This video definitely made me think twice about what I’ll be putting up on Facebook in the future! On the other hand the story can only be watched once and while it is unsettling we obviously know it is a pre-recorded video and we’re in no real danger.

The next digital story I looked at was Bear 71. Bear 71 is an amazing story wherein we are told the tale of a bear in the Canadian prairies who is tranquilized and tagged, then named Bear 71.

Through voice over and video we are shown how the bear is snared and then relocated to the Canadian Rockie mountains. Bear 71 says “think of us a refugees” which gives us a personable insight into how these bears are uprooted from their homes and shoved into new foreign locations.

The bear tells us of her various struggles, such as crossing the railroad safely, where according to the voice over 17 grizzlies have been killed since the year 2000. The bear tells us how her life changed when she had her cubs, and how in order to survive being a bear sometimes you have to live by the motto don’t do what comes naturally.

Tragically at the end of the 20 minute documentary Bear 71 is struck down by a train. This was particularly heart wrenching after getting such a personable feel for the bear through voice over and video footage of her. Through a continued voice over Bear 71 ponders over how her cubs will survive without her.

I found the experience of Bear 71 to be really inspiring and amazing. Bear 71 is a true account of a bear that was monitored by wildlife conservation officers through from 2001 – 2009. It is an eye opening experience to go through the interactive digital story, where you are also presented with a map of where Bear 71 lives, you can click and see footage of surrounding wildlife, such as Grizzly Bear 114, Wolverine 09 or Deer 325.

Overall I feel Bear 71 is extremely effective in delivering its message. Giving the bear a personality and voice over makes us relate to its story that much more. It truly is a moving experience. I also found this nifty infographic on the blog website which people are encouraged to post to their blogs or social media sites.

The only problem I encountered was that I found it hard to navigate to certain parts of the documentary/voiceover If I wanted to skip through. Also when I clicked to read the story of the bear (which is effectively the text of the voiceover) I couldn’t scroll up and down to read it properly, I tried it in two different browsers.

Apart from that I think Bear 71 is a masterfully effective and emotive story that is told in a way that makes you think and effectively tugs at your heart strings.

The next Digital Story I looked at was called Welcome to Pine Point (link). Welcome to Pine Point tells the story of the community of Pine Point, Northwest Territories, Canada. A town that has been totally destroyed and shut down over the last ten years. The interactive story started out as book but developed into a digital storytelling project from there.

Using vintage video footage, old high school photos and new footage of former town residents Welcome to Pine Point manages to capture the essence of the town in the interactive story fantastically.

The story visits historic news events that effected the town immensely, such as the landing of the Russian satellite Cosmos 954, which crashed into nearby Yellowknife and was quite an event for everyone in Pine Point (story here). The town’s high school, Matonabbee School, also burnt down in 1980.

The interactive story was really effective at painting a portrait of what the town was like, it was beautifully nostalgic and to me portrayed a lovely, romanticized vision of community in a small town. I did wonder if it would be as successful at engaging everyone as it was with me, lots of people will not care about some old, small town closing down, and therefore It may lose viewers at that point. I still found it to be an enjoyable viewing experience though!

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