Autumn strides to center stage now — the leaves are starting to turn, the first frost snapped into the air, they’ve (finally) switched on the heat in the dorms, and this cold I’ve been fighting all week just broke into my lungs. Ah, the turning of the seasons.
This week we’re looking at ds106 — an abbreviation that has a few digits on DS9 and DS12 — the “ds” is short for Digital Storytelling; the 106 is the course number from the University of Mary Washington, from which the project originated.
First, let’s take a look at what Digital Storytelling is. Like most cyber-related concepts, it’s slippery and gray-tinged, elusive like holding onto static, tricky to pin down. As ds106 points out, “[definitions are] rather vague about the details surrounding this emerging genre of narrative.” At its simplest, most basic form, digital storytelling is a story told digitally.
Which is a definition delightfully vague and — I think this is a key word — open.
It’s open to be whatever you want it to be – to whatever I want it to be, to whatever we want it to be.
Because that’s the beauty of the Internet, right? The openness. The possibilities, the platforms for creation. The Internet takes “If you build it they will come” and knocks that saying clean out of the ballpark [pun enthusiastically intended], and even transforms it into something more like “If you want to build it, they will come” — it is the era of crowd-sourcing/-funding, after all. Kickstarter, open source software – the Internet is built on a democracy and a freedom the likes of which we’ve never really seen before.
“If you want to build it, learn how, interact with those who have already arrived, and when you’ve got it built more will come.”
Not the most concise of slogans, but hey. It works.
So rather than asking what digital storytelling is, perhaps the better way of asking is, what digital storytelling might be. What it could be. What we, as individuals and collectives, might make of it.
ds106, then, is perhaps a natural response to the digital frontier: providing a space for a community to grow and interact and exchange ideas — and most importantly, to create.
To help sustain a creative community, ds106 suggests assignments in a number of categories: audio, video, web, writing; perusing the assignments, my eye caught one for fanfic – be still my transformative fiction heart.
ds106 also runs The Daily Create. These are roughly 20-minute projects designed to encourage people to create art on a daily basis. Because it’s pre-made, The Daily Create is an excellent tool for those who want to create but don’t know what to create. I also think it’ll be great for overcoming creative blocks (writing, art, etc.) — their brevity, challenge, and random (but purposeful) nature could provide a nice break from a project that might be in a rut, allowing oneself a bit of rejuvenation and perhaps a fresh perspective.
Check it out, get yourself involved, and be sure to share your work!