The blogosphere

This week I’ve started following quite a few blogs that address my topic of interest, and a few that I just thought would be fun to follow. In this post, I’ll give you an idea of what can be found at each site and what information can be gained. I’m not going to cover everyone, as that would make this post way too long, but the blogs I follow are in the sidebar so feel free to take a look.

First up is actually three sites: the Center for Digital Storytelling, Story Center Blog and Center for Digital Storytelling YouTube channel. Obviously this website, blog and channel  address my topic of interest and, better yet, this site already acts as a hub for professionals, hobbyists and other interested parties. This blog and website fulfills needs in multiple ways, including:

  • Rediscovery of listening and creation of first person stories
  • Promoting the value of a story in order to bring around compassionate community action
  • Custom project and public workshop assistance to spread the word/idea of digital storytelling
  • Being a hub for stories about activism, storytelling and coming together

The website, blog and channel do well in giving people a voice and teaching people how the power of personal voice can cause change. The one thing the website could do better is explaining what a digital story is on the homepage. This would create more understanding for first time viewers. Due to the specific niche this blog fills, it is hard to identify gaps where a competitor could improve. This site is definitely the leader in digital storytelling, as it has existed since the 1970s. The one thing my blog will offer that is different is a more academic-oriented perspective related to how I’m interested in what modes influence persuasiveness in the digital story. The Center for Digital Storytelling is more focused on actually teaching people to tell their stories. The organization has a good social media presence. Here are some stats:

  • The YouTube channel has 715 followers
  • The organization’s history video has over 4,300 views
  • Their Twitter account has around 4,000 followers and the organizations tweets regularly (more than once a day)
  • The organization uses all of its social media platforms to share actual digital stories

Another website that relates to digital storytelling is This I Believe, a public dialogue about belief — one essay at a time. This site encourages youth and adults to share brief audio essays about their daily lives, or their personal story. While this site may not seem to be as oriented to my topic as others, think again. One of  my favorite essays on this site is Always Go to the Funeral, where it is included with the audio version where the author speaks the story and the written version where you can just see text. I can assure you that if I had just read the written version, this essay would not have spoken to me nearly as much as the audio version. It’s the authors tone, inflection and emotion that makes this essay what it is and that is the main strength of this website. This website’s key features include:

  • Bringing together people from all walks of life to share what they believe in
  • Giving people the opportunity to form a community where they can share deep opinions
  • Shares the history of past public figures and what they believed in

This website does have gaps in relation to my topic, as it does not have widespread interest into the multitude of modes used in digital storytelling. However, it is one of the websites that gave me the idea of how to create my experiment for my thesis because of how it splits audio and text versions online. As this site only deals in audio essays, there is a place that competitors could fill if they chose to use other modes. Yet many of the sites I’m covering have developed such a niche audience that competitors are not a huge problem. The site does use other social media to build an active community as shown:

  • Their Twitter account has over 2,000 followers
  • Their Twitter account uses history to attract new followers, but also does a great job of using present events to relate back to a story

The last blogs I’m going to discuss are a group that do not necessarily help in the research of digital storytelling, but do show how the art of storytelling continues to evolve in many ways. Three sites/blogs I like to visit for content, but also for the story they portray are: PostSecret, Spotted: DC [Summer] Interns and Behind Every Name a Story.

PostSecret — for those of us who are not aware — is an ongoing community where people send in anonymous postcards that confess a secret. PostSecret has become wildly popular and has about 554,000 followers on Twitter. This site solve a big problem for its audience; the ability to share a secret without anyone knowing who you are. It is a different type of digital storytelling as it involves less modes, but each postcard secret is a story and many are a call to action. This new way of storytelling touches people emotionally with just words written on a postcard, and that simple idea has built an active and supportive community.

Spotted: DC [Summer] Interns is a blog where DC residents submit the embarrassing and rude behavior of interns in hopes of changing the absurd behavior of interns, but mostly just for a laugh. This blog is a bit different than others I follow because of how inactive it is a good portion of the year, yet springs to life during the summer. This obviously affects the blog’s ability to keep a constant and big audience. Their Twitter profile has over 2,000 followers, but DC is a big place so that number is quite low. That’s a place where the site can improve, but it does well in building the community that it has. The blog has loyal followers and does receive high engagement based on all the stories residents share. This blog is a good example of how online digital storytelling doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to be entertaining.

Behind Every Name a Story is an online archive of essays depicting survivor’s stories of the Holocaust and part of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This site has changed a bit in the last few years, but it used to have more digital media aspects in terms of audio essays and some video. I find this site interesting to digital storytelling because of how this field is now expanding into covering those areas of history where the technology wasn’t set up yet. The stories of the survivors are powerful and one thing the site does well is creating related links and map links to each survivor so you can see where they are talking about or head to a relative or resource that relates to their story. Yet, these stories may interest more people in the museum setting if they were more digitally oriented. This site is still a work in progress as the museum collects more stories, yet the site is off to a great start with all the history the museum is able to share using media.

As I mentioned, I follow quite a few other blogs. Take a look at the ones I haven’t discussed and let me know what you think. And, I’d appreciate any suggestions on other blogs or sites I could follow that related to digital storytelling.


One comment

  1. This is excellent and very complete. I think taking the time to think carefully about this as you have here is a really important step in creating a blog. Definitely check out all the resources from Nieman – their narrative journalism stuff is great.

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