Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Digital Storytelling and my possible new adventure with it

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Today’s Blog Post

Digital Storytelling and my possible new adventure with it

“Digital Storytelling” is new, yet very old if the word “digital” is left out.

Yesterday I attended a workshop in Kingston, Ontario that presented the idea of Digital Storytelling to the group of Administrators for Volunteers. These folk are from many different groups in their area and all have a task to recruit and maintain the volunteer base that come to work with their organizations.

Placing an ad in the newspaper for volunteers doesn’t produce much as far as responses are concerned. Hiring an ad agency to produce a colourful clip for volunteers to respond to by way of TV… often doesn’t produce much either.

But placing an ordinary – NON ACTOR type – in front of a small video camera and asking them to tell why they like to volunteer, and what the organization has offered them by way of volunteer satisfaction, will produce a real experience for the viewers. Many respond when their friend tells them what a good experience they have had at the hospital or community agencies.

In our case we are looking for volunteers that might help in the work of the CAC (Citizen’s Advisory Committee) at the Parole Office. The work that is done is simple and straight forward… to listen to staff and clients with times of interaction… then to make any suggestion that might come to mind after the interaction.

The CAC Observes, Liaises and Advises when called upon. We are the community group that monitors the work that the Government does with Offenders in prison and Ex-offenders in the community. Our goal locally is to assure that we do all we can to work toward a safe community. Stability is another word that makes sense when we are doing our work.

Now finding people that might like to help is sometimes difficult.

But in our situation telling people the deep satisfaction that you receive in building toward a better community is not ‘official’… it is personal. And personal matters to another person.

Wikipedia suggests that… quote

"Digital storytelling" is a new term, arising from a grassroots movement that uses new digital tools to help ordinary people tell their own 'true stories' in a compelling and emotionally engaging form. These stories are usually short (less than 8 minutes) and can be interactive.

The term "digital storytelling" can also cover a variety of new forms of digital narratives (web-based stories, interactive stories, hypertexts, and narrative computer games). It is also sometimes used to refer to any type of film-making, and is now often used for advertising and promotional work for both commercial and non-profit enterprises.”
End quote

Now the Digital Story could be very positive or the reverse – negative to the max!

The recent G20 problems in Toronto presented a whole new problem for police and especially for Politicians. Stuff happened on the streets that was not so good when tempers flared and full scale riots took place.

The huge problem that compounded the G20 episodes was that ordinary people did on the spot Digital Storytelling as the marches and protests were going on. They then fired these up to the Internet for the world to see. Things that were happening that were anything but what the Politicians and Police would like the world to see – we seen immediately.

But it didn’t stop there. Others in the world of digitalization have ‘borrowed’ the uploaded videos and then incorporated what they want from that video into their videos that they then publish.

The G20 lives on and on. The actions of some that took part were and are relived over and over again.

That all has been rather negative for Toronto and also our Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who I am sure, would like the G20 story to die soon.

But negative is not what I see as a possibility for volunteering. As bad as some of the rest has been – this can be a tremendous help to offering solid stories about great volunteering experiences.

In a world with a huge amount of negative press a little bright light can go along way.

Yes I am considering taking a new step into the world of Digital Storytelling with my CAC volunteer work locally.

But won’t it have to be approved by some great authority in all things official? Won’t someone have say in what you say?

My answer to these questions is another question… “Who can tell me what I have an experience about or what my experience should be?”

It is my experience.

Now if we are afraid of what the shared digital experience might be – it may well be because we have treated volunteers badly. It may well be that volunteers are caught into own “G20 Experience” within their organization.

You will not be able to control them. Try stopping them or try ordering them to be quiet… and they will simply quit and go to tell their story some where in a very bad way.

Many organizations have done just that – treated people poorly and then suffered the rebuilding back of confidence in their group.

I believe that we have a good opportunity to provide a digital story for the world to see and hear. In that past as I share the amazing things that we have witnessed through our local CAC working together, people have been blown away. But up to now that only happens when I meet someone – face to face. What are the possibilities if the story could be told over thousands of times, again and again, even when I am sleeping?

I think there is a real possibility here to change the scope of what we are doing as volunteers… and make our community even more safe.


~ Murray Lincoln ~

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