Life, Education and Information Overload

This week there were two readings for the final week of class. The first was “The Tigger Talk: On LIfe, the Process, and Everything” by Brad King: The Appalachian Geek. He starts by writing “grades don’t matter,” which honestly nearly made me fall out of my chair since my mom was a teacher and in our house, grades did matter.

Instead King says, it’s the process that matters because in failure we learn. He mentions that 10 years from now not many of us will remember our friends or what happened in each of our college classes. Instead, we will be working hard, staying in and being too tired to make those important decisions in life.

Let’s move on to talking about Eeyore. Yes, you know the type. That one person who is all about sadness and drama. King talks about who these people and why they became that way. Hopefully you don’t travel down the same road. King’s post reminds us that life isn’t about the big events, it is all about the small events. What’s more, we don’t have control over these events. Yet, we do have control over how we see and how we react to such events. This leads us to the idea that we all want to be Tigger. We want to think positively and move through life thinking about the process, instead of the grade.

The other article I read was “10 Questions for Journalists” by Matt Thompson. I’m going to cover just a couple of them since you really should click the link and read the article in its entirety.

#1 – Are we making our community feel better-informed or merely distracted?

Here Thompson discusses how the design and layout of a page are essential to whether the community will be distracted or if the page can work to inform. Deliberate choices are important.

#2 – How important is this for our community and why?

This brings up the important question of immediacy vs. importance. Here Thompson labels local traffic as cheap, or the one-night-stand traffic. He instead wants a relationship with his visitors; for his visitors to see the value.

#3 – Are we chasing the largest story, or just the latest story?

The larger story is more important and respond to actual events, instead of just time.


The data in storytelling

This week I looked into how I can utilize data, interactive databases and data visualizations to make my digital storytelling blog better. In terms of using data, I struggled to find any numerical data that would describe digital storytelling or any specific numbers that note the significance of storytelling beyond a few research articles. So instead, I am going to experiment with the idea of how storytellers are using data in digital stories. I read a few interesting blog posts about how storytellers are not just including data in their stories, but exploring how the data about a topic can become the story. In addition, I am going to search out specific digital stories that use data as a large component of the story in order to see if my audience finds this type of story more interesting or engaging.

In terms of interactive databases, the field of digital storytelling actually has a lot to offer that I could utilize to reach more of my audience. I’ve already actually shared a few of these on my digital storytelling blog, such as the holocaust museum survivor database. A few resources I will use are Mashable, Econsultancy, and a Huffington Post media blog. Showcasing more of these interactive databases will help me enhance my topic blog because they are incredibly visual and can help attract more eyes to my blog. These more media-driven databases will enhance my blog more than visually. These types of databases are becoming more popular, which can assist me in gaining a bigger audience.

I did a lot of reading this week about data visualizations and digital storytelling. Most of the articles I read said to focus on context. This video gave great advice for how I could use data visualizations on my topic blog.

Then I explored a project conducted by University of Colorado journalism students on digital storytelling. This project highlighted interactive infographics that are told in the form of a story. While showing these data visualizations may help enhance my blog, the idea of context is important to include as well. Thus, I’ll be using the interactive stories, as part of a post. The other part of a post will be a video digital story concerning the topic of the interactive web story. For example, for a interactive web story about Pakistan drone attacks and kills, I will supplement the post with a video digital about the same topic that is more personal in nature. This way I can enhance my blog though data visuals, while remaining true to the original concept of my blog.

Data, Data, Data

No, I’m not talking about the kid from the movie “The Goonies.” I’m talking about data-driven journalism.

This week I read “Data-Driven Journalism Trends for 2014” on Digital Amy’s blog. She gives her top 5 trends for 2014 starting with sensor data. Sensor data comes from devices that contain sensors such as a running watch or your fridge. This is an upcoming trend because we expect to see sensors in more and more products. “All these devices contain tiny bits of data that in aggregate can be quite eye opening of bigger societal patterns and trends of what is happening in the world today,” the blogger writes. Often sensor data helps third party entities or manufactures to gain information about the consumer and it’s a guess as to what sensor data will be used for in 2014.

The second trend was a growing use of d3 for mapping. Mapping data continues to be a hot topic and with Data Drive Documents (d3), this looks to continue. She uses this awesome Wired article to explain how more people, especially journalists will use d3 in the future.

Trend three is all about libraries, which we know I love. Instead of physical libraries, these are data libraries and should be helpful to all of us. There is a growing number of data libraries, although that’s not terribly surprising as collections of media are becoming more popular. It’s much the same with digital storytelling, which you can read about on my What’s Your Story blog.

Trend four looks at JavaScript, HTML5 and jQuery. Now if you haven’t worked with these three before, you are in for an interesting year in 2014. As more developers and web gurus begin to use these three in combination, interactivity and intuitively are really going to see an increase on many websites. HTML5 already fascinates me with how it encompasses and alleviates issues from previous coding languages so I can’t wait to see what these three can do together.

The last trend deals with analysis and meaning of the data, which is fantastic because sometimes it seems like journalists are a bit scared of actually explaining those statistics they included. I definitely agree with Digital Amy that we want to see the beautiful infographic or display, but we also want to know the meaning behind what you’re showing us.

That was the only reading for this week so this was a short one. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.



Based on class readings, experience with social media and interest in digital storytelling, I have a good understanding of the social media demographics and motivations of my audience. The demographics of a digital storytelling blog are interesting and have a slight spilt. There are two groups that really share an interest in digital storytelling — high school and college students and academics. There is also a third emerging audience for digital storytelling and that is PR and marketing professionals. I know less about this audience, as it is less popular.  The list below explains these groups more specifically and notes their motivations.

High School and College Students:

  • Demographics: Between the ages of 15 – 28. Predominantly white, African American or Hispanic. Most have, will have, or are pursuing a college degree. According to Pew, there are equal numbers of this age group in urban, rural and suburban. From my own research and Pew data, there may be a slight difference in numbers for the rural students, which could be due to a digital divide issue.
  • Motivations: High school and college students are only lightly motivated to have an active interest in digital storytelling. These users are more passive because digital storytelling — whether they realize it or not — is a part of their daily life. These users are constantly online and bombarded with media images and videos. According to Pew, 97% of 18-29 year olds are online and about 90% use social media. Social media is a popular place for digital stories to appear, especially on YouTube. This part of my audience is more difficult to motivate to follow a blog, so a better strategy for this group is to seek students who are already familiars with the concept of digital storytelling, possibly through a class or workshop.


  • Demographics: Age is difficult to pinpoint, but it is likely to be younger academics. These academics are from all over the country, although here again there are more likely less rural academics who are invested in this topic. For example, urban and suburban schools are already much more active in digital storytelling over rural schools. For example, the University of Southern California has a digital storytelling academy with backing and funding from different departments.
  • Motivations: Academics are obviously motivated to pursue digital storytelling because the topic originally emerged as an academic field. Numerous colleges have courses or events related to digital storytelling. In addition, it is becoming more important for professors to understand and to be able to use media, especially in fields related to the arts. Again, because digital storytelling is so immersed in society, academics have become motivated to understand digital storytelling in order to be able to teach the idea.


Strategic social media (Facebook)

Mainly my social media strategy this semester has centered on my blogs and Twitter, but this week I am going to outline my strategy for Facebook. Currently I use Facebook daily, both personally and professionally. Personally, I rarely post status updates unless I have something of actual interest that can be posted. I’m not the type to post a picture of my meal or to post selfies. I more consistently use it to get updates from other people or organizations/companies. Professionally, I am the administrator of a public library Facebook page. I post daily, if not more than once a day. The library has over 1,000 followers and with our multitude of programs and events, there is always something that needs to be sent out to the audience.

Since I’m more focused on Twitter and my blogs since I think they can do more for my personal brand and for my interest in digital storytelling, my strategy for Facebook is going to be fairly simple. First, I am going to seek out groups/pages that relate to digital storytelling. Specifically I am going to look for groups that I couldn’t locate on Twitter. In addition, I will be posting status updates more frequently and in relation to posts on my digital storytelling blog. This is important because when I release my survey for my thesis I am using social media as a way to get the word out. Posting more frequently now will help  me gain more survey participants down the line.