Digital Storytelling

 

Digital storytelling is way people are using technology to tell stories, some are personal and some are fictional. It’s a relatively new concept, with people constantly creating new ways to share stories. Generally these stories are less than 8 minutes long and use a range of different techniques from flashing images, to emotive music, to interactive segments to emotionally connect with their audience. Individuals use whatever means they want to create their stories, from iMovie, Windows Movie Maker to more sophisticated Final Cut Pro. They publish their stories over the Internet, via YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest and podcasts.
New media and digital technologies are giving people the opportunity to approach storytelling from different perspectives. People are using non-traditional story forms, such as non-linear and interactive narrative as I’ve found in my research.
Sound of My Voice : This was the first 12 minutes of an American psychological thriller directed by Zal Batmanglij about a supposed cult. Like most movies, it uses footage and dialogue to convey the story, however there was one thing about this trailer that made it different to others. It was interactive, at certain points in the trailer a magnifying glass appears and viewers can click on it and either choose to learn about whatever they were seeing, whether it is was a hand clap or a bottle of water. The other option is to discuss it, where viewers are invited to discuss whatever is happening in a forum that pops up when they click “Let’s discuss”.
This was a really interesting way of storytelling. I think the strength of the clip lay in the fact that it was able to interact with viewers and encouraged them to give feedback and connect with other people who were watching the same clip.
The 12-minute trailer is made up of a series of long shots and looks like it could have potentially been made on a very low budget, however the music adds a strong ambience which promotes the sense that something is not quite right. As a viewer, I felt on edge watching it, unsure about what would happen next.
I found that one of the drawbacks of this clip was its length. Although it had techniques in place to draw in viewers, 12 minutes was a little bit too long to sit there and watch something. Saying that though, I found this new way of creating an interactive movie trailer very interesting. I think this is probably a very effective way of storytelling because you are getting people involved in the movie which means that they are less like to forget and they will probably form a positive opinion of it because it is so different.
Beat girl: This is a prime example of digital storytelling. Its one of the short pieces I watched; only going to 35 seconds. I think this is one of the strengths of the piece, that fact that it could convey what it needed to convey in such a small amount of time. It meant the viewers were not going to lose interest.
This story was about a girl’s life. It was made up of a lot of quick snippets of footage, which had been pieced together along with an emotive beat to create a story about fashion, love, romance, music, friends and partying. The strength was definitely in the smooth editing of the footage. Within 35 seconds, the viewer received a really detailed summary of what was going on this girl’s life.
The story relies entirely on the beats of the music and the quick images to maintain the storyline. There is no dialogue to explain what is happening and I think this is something that makes the clip unique, the fact the no dialogue is needed. Although potentially dialogue could have added more meaning to the story, however I don’t think it was necessary.
This style of storytelling is perfect for YouTube, as a short video captures an individual’s attention without taking up too much of their time and boring them. This montage style of storytelling is very effective in conveying a story.
Takethislollipop: THIS WAS DEFINITELY AN EFFECTIVE WAY OF STORYTELLING! First off, I would like to say how scared this made me! For anyone who hasn’t already done it, head to http://www.takethislollipop.com/ .
This website works as a Facebook application which customizes a Facebook stalker to your profile. Although you understand that you have allowed the application to access you information, it is still scary to see someone else logged in as you, scrolling through your photos and friends. If you weren’t worried about your online privacy settings before seeing this, you will be after!
This was a relatively short video, about 4 minutes. The strength of this clip lays in the editing, the stalker seems even more menacing due to footage being cut and repeated and cut again. Furthermore, the sound in this clip adds to the menacing feel! It warns you at the beginning that the volume is meant be loud for maximum emotional effect and this is very true.
The music and the footage carry movie smoothing through the story, however it’s the images of yourself that make you feel that ultimate creepiness. The only downfall I would say to this clip is that it can only be viewed once. Once you know that it’s about, the effect of the movie is lost on a person. Also someone who has Facebook can only use it. Saying that though, it was like nothing I’ve seen before and I’m definitely going to be looking into my privacy settings.
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Infograph

Here is my attempt of an infograph illustrating my strengths and weaknesses!

Infographic

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An App Adventure

Click link to watch - “There will be more Smartphones than Humans by the end of this Year”
Did you know that by the end of this year, there will be more smartphones than people on the planet?! How crazy is that? If you’ve got time watch the video above and it will give you some statistics, which you might find surprising. Such as by the year 2016, there will be more than 10 billion smartphones in the world. And according to Cisco, by 2016 two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be from videos, increasing 25-fold between now and then. Mobile network connection speeds will increase as well, according to the company.
If you don’t understand the appeal of a smartphone, you’re either Amish or been in a coma for the past 10 years. But I’ll give you a run down just in case.
Smartphones have changed the way we communicate. For business people, smartphones have obliterated the feeling of being tied to your desk or home so as not to miss that important email or phone call.   They are a way to maintain convenient access to essential data—proposals, schedules, contact information, business news or the stock market.
A smartphone is everything you need in one. It allows you to access all multimedia so entertainment travels with you. They store and display pictures and videos and even entire feature-length movies. They take pictures and capture video, and have the ability to play MP3s—sit back, relax, and enjoy your favorite tunes while traveling or during breaks.
You do all this through APPS. Apple introduced apps in 2008 and since then, they have revolutionized the mediascape. These applications range from hardworking business tasks to entertaining games and everything in between. With thousands of apps available to download in a range of prices, there’s sure to be something that will appeal.
In March 2012, Apple announced they had 500,000 app available to download through their app store for iPhones. Similarly, Blackberry announced that they had developed 99,500 apps, which were available for their Blackberry smartphone.
Smartphones have become man’s best friend. You can’t really blame people for being a reliant on their phones when your phone can do everything for you. In a practical sense, they can manage your banking, act as a GPS, act a diary, act as a heart monitor, as a camera and the list goes on. They are a personal assistant that fits in your pocket. You can shop online, book cabs, and interact with friends through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr and newer Apps like Snapchat. And they provide entertain through free games, like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Chicken and the Egg and Subway Surfer.
However, that isn’t to say that there aren’t cons to being too reliant on a piece of technology. Have you ever looked around your group of friends and realized that despite putting effort into organizing to catch up, everyone is sitting on their phones, compulsively scrolling through Facebook and what not. Surely this is a downfall that people are exhibiting antisocial behavior because they are obsessed with their phones.
Being reliant on technology isnt a good thing but it’s a part of life living in the 21st century. I suggest trying to live without your phone for a day. You would struggle with directions, communication and time management. And you would be really bored.
However, I don’t think the cons of Apps outweigh the pros though.  Too put it simply, they make life so easy!
Although I could list every app I’ve used and say what I liked about them, I wont. I have picked a couple I like and I’ll tell you briefly whats so good about them…
Westpac Online Banking App: Have you ever tried to split a bill when you’re out and some annoying person only has a $50? Or having you been unsure how much money you have in your account and don’t want to embarrassingly try to buy something you can’t afford? I’m sure you have. These are everyday annoying problems but with this App, money has been made easy. At dinner, everyone just transfers one person money and they pay on their card. It’s exact and so much easier than messing around. You always know what’s going on with your money, giving you mobility to do what you like!
PT> ie. Metro’s Public Transport App:  This is a necessity for me, as a uni student who catches public transport multiple times everyday! Generally the App is quite helpful, although the actual Metro train system is shithouse (for lack of a better word). The App is easy to use, you just type in where you are and where you want to go and it gives you the route and how many minutes until departure. Too easy!
13 Cabs: Nothing worse than being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be and 13Cabs line is all banked up. This App makes booking a cab much quicker and tells you when a car has been assigned to you and gives you a map of that car en route. For safety reasons as well, it is helpful because you have the car’s ID number saved to your phone from the booking.
Snap Chat: This is a new App and a really fun way to stay in contact with your friends and family. You can send a friend photos for up to 10 seconds and then the image disappears. Its really fun if everyone gets onboard and it’s generally a day brightener to get a picture of a friend. Not exactly a necessity but quite entertaining.
Apps make life so easy…why not get onboard?
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The eBook Phenomenon!

In my house, we’ve always had mountains of books. And when I say mountains, I mean it. We have multiple bookcases in each room but they can’t hold them all, there are stacks of books all over the joint. My mother is a librarian and she has (sometimes forcefully) passed on her reading gene to the entire family.
But about five years ago, she got a present. A Kindle. This was shocking and although you’d expect her to reject it like the literary purist she is, she actually embraced it. Through this piece of technology, the stories became cheaper, easier to hold, portable and all in all easier to read! The phenomenon of eBooks is encapsulated in this one statistic realized but the Association of American Publishers, that claims that in 2011 eBook sales rose by 116% while paperback sales fell by 33%!
Amazon introduced the Kindle into the market in 2007 and it was quickly followed by the Barnes & Noble’s Nook in 2009 and the iPad in 2010. The popularity of eBooks grew with remarkably, Barnes & Noble reporting that they sell three times as many eBooks as regular print books and Apple dominating 22% of the eBook market with their iPad. Similarly, Amazon reports that they are selling more “Kindle books than all print books – hardcover and paperback – combined” which is quite shocking considering how popular Amazon.com is when it comes to buying books.  A recent blog post by Bite the Book called Show Me the Data! Where are the eBook Stats?claims that “Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Google accounted for 130% of the eBook market!”
So what’s so good about eBooks? For one, they are interactive, you can see how far along in the book you are as well as being able to bookmark pages and move to selected chapters. They also give readers the opportunity to read books at a lower cost. eBook readers are relatively starting at around $100 and also if you are looking to read a classic novel, most of those are free! Sounds pretty good to me.  They are easy to lend too. There are online clubs called BookLending.com and Lendle.me where thousands of users trade eBooks for Kindles and Nooks.
There are a lot of advantages to eBooks but also there are some downfalls. The therapeutic nature of picking up a book, reading the back cover and flipping the pages is lost with this technology. With societies massive shift towards eBooks, bookstores have hit some rough times. Most famously, the international company Borders had to file for bankruptcy and had to close 225 of its 642 stores last year.
On a personal note, I find that eBooks are simply easier to use. Search engines like Google Books makes university work a breeze. It’s a sad thing to say, but the thought of visiting a library, manually looking for a book and then having to search through the book for relevant information sounds so tedious! Using eBooks means that you can instantly access a book and find the pages you want through a keywords search. Sometimes I imagine what life would be life without this sort of technology…. and I really don’t like that thought.
The eBook phenomenon had revolutionized how we do things in the 21st century. Just like most new technology, it has changed how our habits.  The concept of interactive books means that we are reading quicker and learning quicker. Library cards and borrowing books seem like a thing of the past, the eBook has made sure that everyone is able to access publications from their own homes, from comfort of a computer or smartphone.
Sources:
http://onlinebooks.wikia.com/wiki/Ebooks_-_the_democratic_publishing_phenomenon
http://www.etudes-francaises.net/dossiers/ebookEN.pdf
http://digitalpublishingaustralia.org.au/2012/04/05/lies-damned-lies-and-ebook-statistics/
http://bitethebook.com/2012/03/30/show-me-the-data-where-are-the-ebook-stats/
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Sleep – QR code

Once upon a time, there was a very sleepy Princess trying to learn Journalism Media Law.  The magical book that gave her all the answers she needed was so dry and wordy with theory that every time she picked it up so feel into a deep sleep.
She has tried everything; reading it at home, reading it in class, reading it outside. Nothing worked! She was perpetually napping (this could be related to an iron deficiency) and soon, she was going to be tested on Media Law! The time was quickly approaching so she was getting very nervous, after all “Contempt of Court” was not going to learn itself.
So one day close to the test, a tiny fairy suggested she use the enchanted RMIT library to study. At first, the Princess was skeptical but desperate times call for desperate measures so she packed up all her belongings and set out for the far away library.
It was wintery outside, so cold she thought her fingers were going to snap off. However, as soon as she reached the library she found it was toasty warm. Rejoicing in the warmth, she found a quiet place to read and absorb facts from her magical book. The combination of warmth and the ever-so-boring book put her straight to into a partial coma. She dozed for 2 hours then heading home.
Conceding defeat, the Princess drank a lot of coffee and did what she could. The test came around quickly and, although I’m sure you were hoping for a miraculous result, she barely passed with a 60%.
Better luck next time, Princess.
Here is the not-so-magical spot:Image

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28/08/2012 – The Day the World Went Mad

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Thanks to my Google Reader feed, this article from The Guardian struck my eye. The title, ‘The day the world went mad’ really captured my imagination so I clicked it and BAM, I was confronted with some really scary facts about climate change.
George Monbiot claims that the 28th of August this year marked the day that he saw the world going mad. Personally, I think it is the media who is leaving out important stories but he makes some valid points about what we, as a society, are missing out on and how the world is living in denial about our changing climate.
On the 28th of August, it was announced that a record Artic ice melt had been recorded. This means that global climate change is proceeding much faster that scientists had thought. Monbiot is outraged that this story barely made the news and in its place was a story about where Britain’s new runways and airports should be built.
Here lies the irony, the question of whether they ‘should’ be built never arose and there was never any connection made between the increase in emissions of greenhouse gases from the new airports.
Another event that occurred that day was a national convention for the Republican party in Tampa, Florida, USA. It was delayed a day because of the severity of the hurricane Isaac. The Republican party is renown for denying man-made climate change and according to Sally Kohn’s article on salon.com, most of the major figures who spoke at the convention deny that man-made climate change is happening. Most prominent denier, Senator James Inhofe went as far as to say that, “The global warming movement has completely collapsed.” Inhofe has actually insisted that climate change was made up by Al Gore, Michael Moore and Hollywood.
According to a study published in the journal Nature and James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, climate change is responsible for the lengthening of the hurricane season in the United States and increasing the severity and frequency of hurricanes. And a survey by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010 found that  “97 out of 100 scientists agreed that man-made climate change is real”.
Its hard to ignore the irony of the situation. Man-made climate change hindered a Republican convention where they deny climate change from running on schedule. And its very hard to not agree with Monbiot. He makes some great points about how the society is denying what is right in front of our eyes.
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Social Media can Make History

I watched yet another documentary today on social media. It was called “Clay Shirky: How Social Media can Make History”. Shirky makes the big claim that this generation has seen the ‘largest increase in expressive capability in human history’. He follows this statement with examples of how the internet has change the way information is disseminated among the public. The development  of communication started with the creation of the printing press in the 1400s in Europe. In turn other forms of communication sprung up such as telegraphs and telephones, recorded media through photos and movies and finally television and radio. Shirky says that the internet manages to encapsulate all of these forms of communication and more. It is a resource that can host all types of conversation from individual one-on-one discussions to widespread, transnational forum communication with just a click of a button.
With the use of the internet, citizens who were previously just consumers via watching TV or listening to the radio can now be producers. It has given people the freedom to broadcast what they see as it happens as we can see through examples like the earthquake in China and on the website mybo.com. Individuals are now empowered and to an degree, they are journalists, documenting changes in the world before other forms of traditional media can.  According to Sohail Qaisar’s article on www.techni.com, more than 600 million users worldwide are active on Facebook today. And approximately 200 million people are active on twitter and another 100 million use LinkedIn. And what’s more shocking is that none of these social networks even existed at the beginning of this decade. While these figures may be mere statistics for many people, the impact of social network goes far and deep as we can see through citizens documenting uprisings in the Arab Spring, disasters like the earthquake in China and Japan and through political campaigns like the http://www.mybarrackobama.com which allowed people to give feedback about their views and discontentment. Social media has created a platform for people to express and broadcast themselves on a transnational level, something that has never been capable before this era of technological development.
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The City of the Future

I watched this pretty shocking documentary today, called “2057: The City of the Future”. It was about as corny as they come. The caption said it was a ‘unique blend of drama and science’ but I felt that if had just focused on the science and not so much the shitty drama, I actually could have watched it with questioning the credibility of the science behind it.
Anyhoo, now that I have critiqued the drama side of the documentary, I might as well move onto what it was actually about.
I suppose it is one of those big questions that you can never answer but always wonder about, ‘what does the future hold?’. I remember on the turn of the Millennium, my Dad telling me how when he was young, he would daydream about what the world would be like in the year 2000. And now I am wondering the same thing, just 50 years on.
It raised some interesting points about the age demographic of the future. I had never thought about it but with people having less children on average than the previous decades, we will see ramifications of that in the future. The mortality rate will be larger than the birth rate. The demand for housing and employment with decrease as the larger population will be elderly and heading into retirement.
But the doco was primarily a prediction about the amount of technological advancement we will see in the next 50 years. I found some of their predictions hard to believe, but then again, I suppose everyone is skeptical of change and it you asked someone fifty years ago about computers they would have told that only the rich 10% of the world would have them.
Scientists pondered the development of traffic jam-free cities, driver-less cars, talking holographic images that move without the need of a backdrop and an inescapable digital footprint for each citizen through digital cataloging and facial recognition software.
The part I found most interesting was the changes in transportation. Cars without drivers is something you would see in a Sci-Fi movie, however now it seems quite possible. By placing hundreds of thousands of chips in the road and putting a sensor system in the front of the car that acts as its eyes, a car could navigate its way through the streets with human interference.
This all sounds very easy, doesn’t it? With the development of technologies that will run errands for us, surely we will become lazy citizens. Overreliance on technology becomes an issue as we see in the documentary, the city reaches breaking point due to one virus infiltrating their firewall.  However, Ken Gilleo writes in his article THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY – 50 YEARS AHEAD, “we have reached a point of no return with technology. The future world cannot exist without technology and would catastrophically collapse”. According to him, technology will continue to advance in the same way as it has in the past 50 years, focusing on the key criteria of making things smaller, faster, cheaper and better.
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Six degrees of Seperation

Last year, Microsoft examined its instant-messenger network of 30 billion electronic conversations between 180 million people. Its researchers concluded that any two people are on average apart by 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances.
The six degrees of separation theory can be hard to get your head so I suggest watching this BBC documentary which put the theory into practice. The idea goes that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth.
It can get really muddy when you try to think about it so an easy way to understand it is through the Kevin Bacon game that was made up by a college student in the 90s. The premise of the game was that you had to link every person in Hollywood back to Kevin Bacon. Scientist evolved this initial joke of a theory and found that it could be accurately used in real life.
In this documentary, a number of packages were sent out to random place in the world and each person had the job of sending it to someone with the hope that that person would send it on to someone else and eventually it would get to Marc Videl, a professor in Boston. Although only three of the forty packages reached Videl, on average the ones that did conformed to the six degrees of separation theory.
One that made it started off in the remote village of Nyamware in Kenya, where Nyaloka Auma gave it to her aunt in Nairobi. Margaret Owino then sent it to a friend in New York state who used to live in Nairobi, who in turn sent it to another friend in Boston. Eventually it arrived in the hands of the right person, through seven people in total.
The theory works because of human migration. People are always moving around and encountering new people. However, being so interconnected can work against us as humans. If we are just six handshakes away from everyone else, the spread of disease due to global travel and sexual relations between people becomes all the more scary! Networks are now a massive branch of science.  By studying networked the spread of viruses can be predict. Alex Vespignani from Indiana University, said “we can identify the pathways along which the disease will spread and therefore the next places to observe the cases.”
Its quite a hard thing to believe, that we are all so closely connected and that now, there is a science that can prove how small our world is getting. This is because our six degrees may have decreased to half, according to Social Media Today. A Facebook data curator  found that of everyone connected on Facebook, there was only 3.74 degrees between them. One can only imagine how much smaller it is going to seem in the years to come through the development of social media.
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Is there something wrong with my engine?

Being an RMIT student, decided to research ‘RMIT’ in three different search engines and see how much I could find out about RMIT while also completing an assessment task. You would think that search engines are relatively similar – you type in a word, it comes up with whatever is most popular and relevant.
However, I found that this was not entirely true. The page display can both assist and hinder you in research.
I started with Google because I am most familiar with this one out of the three. Google was very quick, within 0.17 seconds I had over 9 million hits at my finger tips.
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The left-hand side gives you the option of searching the web, images, maps, videos etc and uses you’re current location to make sure you are getting Australian websites or only the websites most relevant.
The middle column gives you an endless list of websites to visit. Google gave me the official RMIT website as my first option and this option also includes its own search engine to exclusive search rmit.edu.au. The next options are similarly accurate; the RMIT twitter, RMIT Uni Wikipedia page, the RMIT YouTube channel and the RMIT village and Bookshop. All of these are important sources of information for potential or current RMIT students.
The right-hand side utilizes Google Maps. It gave me a map of RMIT locations plus a little bit of information, such as enrollments (49,476 students in 2008) as well as when it was founded (1887) and a mention of our overseas campus in Vietnam.
Google suggests searches – people who have searched for RMIT have also generally searched other universities such as Melbourne, Monash, La Trobe, Swinburne and Deakin which would be help for people looking for universities in Melbourne but who are unfamiliar with the area.
Then I looked at ‘Instragrok’. I hadn’t really heard of this one before but it seems to be quite interesting and probably very useful for visual learns. Its appears as more of a brainstorm related to your topic rather than a list of what you have searched for.
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It takes much longer to load than Google, however, it gives you the option of changing the intensity of your search with the slide bar in the top corner. When it is set on ‘A’ the search function is quite vague, RMIT is surrounds with categories like ‘food’, ‘coffee’, ‘places’ and there is a large bubble relating to the Melbourne city in general. But as you slide along, the search becomes more focused on RMIT such as ‘programs’, ‘rank’, ‘service’ and ‘institution’.
The side bar give you key facts, images, videos and relevant websites, similar to the way Google does.
This search engine helps you think outside the box. It is primarily an education search engine as it helps students find and explore wider ideas and gives them good links to other information.
The next search engine I looked at is ‘DuckDuckGo’. This search engine is similar to Google, however its appears to be slightly neater.
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Like Google, it gives you other suggested search topics like “universities in Melbourne”, “Online colleges” etc. It comes up with the most relevant websites first, the official RMIT website and also the RMIT Vietnam website. It has a link to ‘tweet results’ and it allows you to search via external websites such a as Amazon and YouTube and for images via Bing and Google.
It is pretty straight-forward search engine. I like that it has a never ending scrolling functions which takes away the frustrating option on Google of having to click ‘next page’, a small difference but a noticeable improvement.
I would rank them:
1. Google
2. DuckDuckGO
3. Instragok
My ranking is in relations to my topic, however I’m sure that with difference topics comes difference a different degree of usefulness with each search engine. I would use Instragok if I was researching something I knew nothing about. However, in relation to my topic ‘RMIT’, I found that Google was the most proficient. In a fraction of a second, Google  offered maps, exclusive search engines for the official website and a lot of other useful information.
I set my default search engines to Google for both Chrome and Firefox by clicking on the drop-down arrow in the search bar (next to the URL space) and changing settings from there.
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