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May 1, 2009

Online Storytelling

New digital media has opened the doors for artistic and individualized forms of expression. There are many different outlets for people to get their voices heard on the Internet. Whether it’s about race, gender, class, culture, tradition, and etc… people will always have a say and the Internet provides them that opportunity. Visual images and such as video and still photography can be used in a multitude of ways to make a presentation. Therefore, it is important that the audience or rather former audience (who are now the creators of media) learns to use videos or other media forms to enhance their content.

One great example of the former audience making great use of the tools available to create a message is Stories for Change (http://storiesforchange.net/). Stories for Change is a site dedicated to digital storytelling for communities and individuals. The site features videos created by individuals with the passion and drive to tell their stories. Some of the topics covered include, but are not limited to, drugs, domestic abuse, alcoholism, cultural traditions, relationships, and racial oppression, along with gender and class issues as well. Stories for Change is a meeting place online where you can share your digital stories, find resources to learn how to use tools for editing video, audio, images and more, and also join a network or community that have a common interest in a new media forum.

We all construct an identity of some sort when we are presented with the tools to make use of our craftsmanship and be creative. This applies to creating an account on an online social networking site as well as creating visual images to be posted online. The University of Houston has a unique program on the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. They offer some tips on effective ways of presenting stories made for the digital world. One such tip includes the 7 Elements of Storytelling, presented by the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in California, as follows:
1. Point of View
2. A Dramatic Question
3. Emotional Content
4. The Gift of Your Voice
5. The Power of the Soundtrack
6. Economy
7. Pacing
The above listed elements can be found at the University of Houston’s site at (http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/7elements.html).

Everything we do online will be tracked and monitored by a wide range of audiences. We can construct a false identity or represent ourselves in the truest form possible. However, in either case, we will have to deal with the reception we receive from our digital stories or identities whether positive or negative. We need to realize that the Internet allows us to speak up and speak out, but the same tool that allows us the freedom of expression also makes us vulnerable to criticism. I believe that is the democratic way of the Internets operation and rightfully so.