If you Google for ‘digital storytelling’, the top links focus on training in storytelling and multimedia tools ( e.g. http://dsi.kqed.org/index.php , the best of this bunch) and it’s hard to find public free databases dedicated to distributing heritage and cultural histories. So I did a bit of digging.
Please comment with more examples if you have them.
1 Digital storytelling & community archiving sites
A database for small heritage archives and community groups.
It costs quite a bit to sign up to it: http://commanet.org/English/C_What_you_need.htm
Cultural Objects in Linked Environments. This is a demonstration project, aiming to enable community groups/schools to tell stories using cultural images. Partners vary from schools to villages to museums across Europe.
An online community for sharing digital stories. The description sounds great but the site seems to be offline.
Schools can upload digital stories if they are within the National Education Network (UK broadband consortia)
Community groups can currently upload stories to Moving Here, not just the groups that were part of their Routes to the Future project, which has added 400 more stories from more migrant groups.
2 Generic tools that allow community & learning groups to create their own websites:
These tools are easy to use. However, your own story site wouldn’t easily be connected into a wider community that is about the history of places and cultures. (Comments are invited on whether or not this matters.)
http://lotsofbigideas.blogspot.com/ is a good example of a community blog, allowing refugees to post & share ideas & experiences
http://pbwiki.com/ Wikis can also be useful for making freeform hypertext stories.
http://elgg.net/ You can use a variety of tools to run your own learning network. ELGG Spaces is a new service that means you don’t have to download the software to your servers.
Drupal with CivicCRM is the best for a large Community website and has extensive audio and video uploading facilities.
For families’ to share information and their history/stories
Flickr, YouTube, of course, are also good distribution sites. Flickr isn’t just photos but can be for writing projects e.g. http://flickr.com/groups/nycwp/discuss/162532/
Ubuntu seems a good open source Operating System, especially if you’re doing projects with underfunded groups and other countries, because it’s available in many languages and there are 14,000 packages all with no cost (seems hard to believe).
Today was ‘One Day in History’, a campaign by History Matters to get everyone blogging their day for it to be archived in perpetuity by the British Library. See http://www.historymatters.org.uk/ Interesting how, with the internet, history is so much more about everyone’s story, and the mundanity and specificity of life. The idea is that precious grand narratives can be woven out the billions of threads of banal information because it’s all tagged and searchable. It’s all part of the British Library’s programme to archive websites, because of course they change constantly, so if we don’t capture screenshots of the future form of publishing at regular intervals masses of information will be lost to posterity. Well, I thought I’d log my day’s blog in my own blog too, so to speak, with apologies for its banality, because it might raise some interesting thoughts about how we live, record, remember and narrate our history:
The morning was more autumnal than usual – I went in the garden to take photos of snail trails snaking over the greenhouse roof, pumpkins and orange ivy.
Megan (6) told a stunning story over breakfast, that she had dreamed up. It was about how the gods had become one from many. An explosion in the clouds killed all the gods but Ineks. The skeleton of Hirajo fell on Ineks and he struggled for months to push it off. Then he dug and dug and dug a hole in the clouds until he reached down to earth. When on Earth, he met some children and they changed his name to Imax and introduced him to computer games. It descended into less mythical territory and dragged from that point on. Then she went off to school skooting down the hill at 1 minute to 9. I worked for an hour, building a website allowing mapping of places for creative and cultural learning. (Coming soon on http://www.playce.org.uk/ ) But I took most of the day off work to help my daughter’s school on a day trip. Class 2G are exploring two linked topics, buildings and the Great Fire of London. On the way in, on the bus, we noticed that the concrete octagon behind County Hall was being demolished (at last), spotted the Houses of Parliament, saw a Japanese couple being snapped in full wedding regalia in front of Westminster Abbey (who are they kidding!). The children had been talking about how Whitehall had been a giant palace and how Trafalgar Square had been a big courtyard of stables for it.
In the National Gallery, after an early lunch (essential for little ones) we looked at 17th century Dutch paintings by Pieter de Hooch, Molenaer, Rembrandt and Italian paintings e.g. by Crivelli, noticing materials, patterns and details of buildings. I’m afraid the lady that ‘took us round’ could have been more sparky and alert to the children’s desires to give their own interpretations. I can’t help being critical as it is my profession. The children did manage to squeeze in some great observations though. (‘Why is there a flying gold pole in the sky?’) Afterwards we made drawings, trying to sketch the lines, shapes and patterns, not just the people and animals.
We had a quick look at buildings and materials in Trafalgar Square, including the bright white marble of Alison Lapper Pregnant by Marc Quinn on the ‘fourth plinth’. Then we took the long bendy bus back to school.
A little later, back at home with tea, I worked some more at the computer and Megan watched a DVD. Her hilarious screams of laughter reassured me it was OK to work. My husband cooked dinner – baked sweet potato and moussaka – and we ate together. As we’d been looking at paintings and buildings, including those beautifully lit domestic Dutch interiors, I couldn’t help looking at our house in terms of light, perspective, pattern and detail.