Brief Professional Update

February 5, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Career | 1 Comment
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Last Friday I had my first encounter with my self-employment coach – I am only now beginning to realize HOW much work it all is going to be, yet I have to take one step at a time… I am still undecided whether it wouldn’t be wiser to get a part-time position – but unless you want to be a secretary, it is difficult to even find interesting vacancies that one can apply to.

This week is dedicated to prototype building: In order to realize my digital storytelling project, I need to have a few stories to put on display. I am lucky to be in touch with the folks at reflect.at – their project leader/creative director/facilitator gave me a few pointers today to help me find the proper direction.

Also, I received a nod from a professor for media studies to be my adviser on a planned doctoral thesis. The title changes daily – I have three weeks to finalize the focus. Here is the title of the day: User-generated Video. Von Viral Video bis Digital Storytelling.

I am lucky to be able to build on excellent work in a related field that has already been done by Lenina [um – may I link to your thesis or would that expose your identity? btw, the contents are only available via Google, but the index file only says ‘test’] and I still think she should tour a few conferences with her research which she hasn’t done yet.

Visual Enactment of Web 2.0

February 13, 2007 at 8:21 am | Posted in Web 2.0, Webfilm, Youtube | 5 Comments
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A colleague forwarded this to me: A brief explanation of Web 2.0, provided by someone in charge of Digital Ethnography at Kansas State University. Being a technology lecturer herself (my colleague), she missed the importance of technology in this bit. I’m not too fond of the Youtube title The Machine is Us/ing Us, as I am currently bored by both the luddite and the transhumanist stance (but I guess I would resent any stance towards the web 2.0 hype, for the sake of being one). Also, it’s becoming fairly buzzwordy at the end. Nonethless, I thought it was pretty cool how they used text interfaces to bring across their message.

At least it doesn’t have the bad musical score of the first post by jutecht to which it is a video response.

N.B. This is my #100 post on this blog!

The 2nd digital story telling (DST) workshop

December 9, 2006 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Webfilm | 1 Comment
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The second part of the DST workshop today focused on the actual production of a digital story. We worked on PCs, using Microsoft’s Photostory. Microsoft sucks, of course, yet this program is fairly handy when it comes to putting sound, photographs and titles togetherquickly to create something that’s very close to a film. Ideal for webfilm, actually. The sound recording quality is poor (and might be worse if you have a bad microphone), but since the auditive quality goes down the drain on the interweb anyway, it cannot do much harm.

I had a total of six hours to create the story and no story board prepared. Considering these circumstances, I think I managed to splice something reasonable together. Just disregard the semantic level – I had to come to a close at one point, so it ends with an inredibily cheesy message. Of course I didn’t mean it that way.

:::::::What’s going on here? I’ve tried for the first time to used the embed object tag copied from youtube (worked fine on blogspot) – but the movie doesn’t appear on the page, instead the tag keeps dissappearing from the CODE each time I save it. Is youtube no longer PC in the blogging world or what’s happening here?:::::::::::

Well then, here’s the link to the video.

:::::Thanks to Lenina, I figured out how to solve the problem: Simply paste something like [ youtube=http://youtube.com/w/?v=aPKvEb0Y8u8] into the editor (not the source code editor). I’ve entered a space following the first square bracket (to display the snippet) which you need to delete, of course.:::::

Speaking of cheesy message: I did not pick the cover foto for the movie! Who knows how youtube comes up with these. I intended it to be a picture of the Scottish sky (= first picture in movie).

ADVERTISEMENT! The workshop was arranged and given by Manuela and Jonny of REFLECT & ACT, an NGO that was established to bring digital story telling to the youth, to teach them to reflect 0n the choices they make.

Digital Storytelling

December 1, 2006 at 9:24 pm | Posted in Teaching English | Leave a comment
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After four hours of sleep I got up today to attend a “Digital Storytelling Workshop für MultiplikatorInnen”. I am not so sure whether ‘multipliers” would be used in English, don’t have access to the OED at home and all other dictionaries only have entries for the mathematical term. The underlying idea is that a Multiplikator is a person who spreads a message to many other people, in particular through teaching, lecturing, training and education (which ever concept you prefer 🙂 )

Digital storytelling is deeply rooted in American culture and also a recent trend in youth empowerment (which, too many Europeans, certainly to me, is also a deeply American concept; although Baron Münchhausen who pulled himself out of a swamp by his own hair was a European, we are not immediately inclined to think favourably about putting the emphasis on empowerment, especially self-empowerment; I suppose we are more likely to blame the state if things go wrong 😉 Maybe this means that we are whimps, but at least we have a running social security system – ok, the German pensions office is going to go broke some time soon, but who could anticipate that people would just not mate any no more 🙂

According to Wikipedia, DST is “a grassroots movement that uses new digital tools to help ordinary people to tell their own ‘true stories’ in a compelling and emotionally-engaging form. These stories usually take the form of a relatively short story (less than 8 minutes) and can involve interactivity.”

Some people think of it as the re-emergence of oral cultures, giving it a positive connotation (a newly romanticised Rousseauism, you could say), others keep lamenting the tragedy represented by the fact that the only way of making learning appealing to the younger generations is by transforming all learning material into bright, interactive images.

I don’t really want to take sides with either of these views – although I certainly disapprove vehemently of the notion of education as entertainment, or edutainment, if you like; I’d actually be rather inclined to think of education as the painful act of self-transformation. Or as my colleague Paul once put it (in reponse to students who thought that a topic was boring): “If you’re bored, then that is actually your problem.”

There is a small venture in Vorarlberg at the moment consisting of 2 two 4 people trying to bring Digital Storytelling to Austria and this region in particular. It originated from a drug prevention project, and their main focus is currently on young people.

Either way one thinks about DST, I must give this project credit for generating amazing stories with disavantaged and marginalized youth. The project’s name is Reflect and Act, any you can find some of the stories that have been created so far on their website.

I like their claim: “100 und Deine Geschichten” – “hundred and your stories”.

They also hosted the workshop which took place today. There was a little bit of instruction on shooting pictures for your digital story in it – here are just two of the pictures Greg and I took. Poul, whom I’ve mentioned before, coincidentally stopped by s well (he’s in the “domestic violence” shot). Greg is also an adviser on the Reflect and Act Team and he uses DST in his English lessons (btw, dig his outfit ;-).

Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling

Here are some further DST resources:

Reflect and Act, Vorarlberg, Austria

Center for Digital Storytelling, California, USA

BBC Wales, Digital Storytelling, Wales, UK

Afterthoughts: To me, DST is also another attempt to prevent an increasingly illiterate populace from being no more able to reflect and express themselves. Mind you: I am apparently not thinking of illiteracy which results from the lack of access to education (in the way that we would find it in developing countried), I am thinking of the arising illiteracy in the industrial country’s gadget users whose language has succumbed and been stupefied by the limitations of the devices they use. What to think of a generation in which *bussiknutsch* (German chat lingo for something like “huggles and kissies”) is considered a legitimate and appropriate expression of affection.

EDIT: I just stumbled upon an “English to Text Lingo Transl8ter”. I’ve made up a message to illustrate these effects of gadgets on the range of expression – and orthography and spelling:

Original: Hi Greg, I really appreciated the Digital Storytelling Workshop. Thanks for being there, see you on Monday

Txt lingo: Hi Greg, I rly appreciated d Digital storEtLN Workshop. thx 4 bn ther, c U on mon.

Good thing is it also has a retranslation function: lingo to English;-)

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