Digital Storytelling: the Tensions of Participatory Media and Institutional Uses of Testimony

Anna Poletti

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


    Digital Storytelling: the Tensions of Participatory Media and Institutional Uses of Testimony.A highly structured narrative form, "digital stories" are audio-visual vignettes of approximately 3 to 4 minutes in length which present a first-person voice over in conjunction with personal archival photographs and music edited together on consumer-grade computers and software. "Digital storytelling" is a global movement that aims to (in the words of Smith and Watson) occasion testimony and life narrative and in doing so assist "people in using digital media to tell meaningful stories from their lives" (The Centre for Digital Storytelling). Originating in Berkley California in the early 1990s, digital storytelling is a growing practice in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Europe, advocated and disseminated by government and education institutions (such as the Australian Centre for the Moving Image; the BBC; Ball State University USA) and not-for-profit arts organisations (such as Hi8us in the UK) through outreach programs, workshops and events.This paper will examine the discourses around digital storytelling, examining how the movement presents itself as "a stunningly effective means of giving a voice to people whose voices are rarely heard" (Breaking Boundaries). Digital storytelling aims to both occasion and archive testimonies from select communities who are often perceived as being under represented in mainstream media culture and normally unlikely to participate in 'art' or 'cultural' events run by mainstream institutions. What conclusions about the social and institutional uses of testimony can be drawn from this swell of activity focussed on the collection of testimony from groups such youth, migrant communities, the economically disadvantaged, and the elderly? How are such uses realised in the growing online digital storytelling archives 'housed' outside the communities that generate them? In considering these issues, I will also examinpossible ramifications of digital storytelling's codification of testimony into a pre-determined narrative and formal structure on the social uses (and usefulness) of the narratives the movement seeks to bring into being.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTestimony, Trauma and Social Suffering
    Subtitle of host publicationNew Contexts/New Framings
    EditorsGillian Whitlock, Rosanne Kennedy
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Pages1pg no.18
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    EventTestimony, Trauma and Social Suffering: New Contexts/New Framings - ANU, Canberra, Australia
    Duration: 14 Apr 200916 Apr 2009


    ConferenceTestimony, Trauma and Social Suffering: New Contexts/New Framings


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