What is a Digital Story?
Digital stories begin with what we would typically call “story telling.” Digital media gives us a tool to contextualize our life stories in ways that can include video, photographs, documents, and other artifacts from our lives. Digital stories are typically short, lasting anywhere from five to ten minutes. They are personal and often poignant elements of our lives as told by the storyteller and enjoyed by the audience. They tend to be emotionally engaging. Anyone can create a digital story, and they can be shared with anyone. When digital stories are created and shared by a community or group of people, they in unison tell a collective story about the lives, struggles, celebrations, and stories of a broader history and set of experiences. Digital stories, as they are based in personal stories and local contexts, can often provide a different way of understanding our lives and stories within a community than those stories we read about in more formal histories such as those found in “textbooks” and published writings. This is particularly important for people, families and communities who have been marginalized or trivialized, and left out of the stories and histories not captured in more formalized publications.
Why Create Digital Stories
The most important reason for creating digital stories is that they help us to capture key moments and events in people lives. Those moments help us to understand the significance of key events at the personal level, but also give us insights and perspectives that help us to better understand the larger movements and events in our history. The digital stories produced in the “Call Me Lawrence” project will focus specifically on issues of diversity, the lived experiences of diverse members of our communities, and the challenges and struggles that are part of those personal and broader community histories. Digital stories are also important to produce for the following reasons:
- The production of digital stories is an important act in itself; to produce them (even if they are not shared) is an act of empowerment (my story matters);
- Digital stories give us a tool for people to understand the lives of people who represent diverse communities;
- Digital stories provide us with a way to come to know the significance of personal lives when we no longer have the story tellers tell us;
- Digital stories create a way for us to share stories from different community contexts and different moments in time;
- Digital stories provide us with important tools that can enhance how we teach about issues of diversity; and,
- We can use digital stories to document the successes, struggles, celebrations and challenges of our lives, families and communities.