Digital storytelling is a relatively new term which describes the new practice of ordinary people who use digital tools to tell their ‘story’. Digital stories often present in compelling and emotionally engaging formats, and can be interactive. The term “digital storytelling” can also cover a range of digital narratives (web-based stories, interactive stories, hypertexts, and narrative computer games); It is sometimes used to refer to film-making in general, and as of late, it has been used to describe advertising and promotion efforts by commercial and non-profit enterprises. One can define digital storytelling as the process by which diverse peoples share their life story and creative imaginings with others. This newer form of storytelling emerged with the advent of accessible media production techniques, hardware and software, including but not limited to digital cameras, digital voice recorders, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker and Final Cut Express. These new technologies allow individuals to share their stories over the Internet on YouTube, Vimeo, compact discs, podcasts, and other electronic distribution systems. One can think of digital storytelling as the modern extension of the ancient art of storytelling, now interwoven with digitized still and moving images and sound. Thanks to new media and digital technologies, individuals can approach storytelling from unique perspectives. Many people use elaborate non-traditional story forms, such as non-linear and interactive narratives. Simply put, digital stories are multimedia movies that combine photographs, video, animation, sound, music, text, and often a narrative voice. Digital stories may be used as an expressive medium within the classroom to integrate subject matter with extant knowledge and skills from across the curriculum. Students can work individually or collaboratively to produce their own digital stories. Once completed, these stories are easily be uploaded to the internet and can be made available to an international audience, depending on the topic and purpose of the project.
The most important characteristics of a digital story are that it no longer conforms to the traditional conventions of storytelling because it is capable of combining still imagery, moving imagery, sound, and text, as well as being nonlinear and contain interactive features. The expressive capabilities of technology offers a broad base from which to integrate. It enhances the experience for both the author and audience and allows for greater interactivity. With the arrival of new media devices like computers, digital cameras, recorders, and software, individuals may share their digital stories via the Internet, on discs, podcasts, or other electronic media. Digital storytelling combines the art of storytelling with multimedia features such as photography, animation, text, audio, voiceover, hypertext and video. Digital tools and software make it easy and convenient to create a digital story. Common software includes iMovie and Movie Maker for user-friendly options. There are other online options and free applications as well. Educators often identify the benefit of digital storytelling as the array of technical tools from which students may select for their creative expression. Learners set out to use these tools in new ways to make meaningful content. Students learn new software, choose images, edit video, make voiceover narration, add music, create title screens, and control flow and transitions. Additionally, there is opportunity to insert interactive features for “reader” participation. It is possible to click on imagery or text in order to choose what will happen next, cause an event to occur, or navigate to online content. Additionally, distinctions may be drawn between Web 2.0 storytelling and that of digital storytelling. Web 2.0 storytelling is said to produce a network of connections via social networking, blogging, and YouTube that transcends beyond the traditional, singular flow of digital storytelling. It tends to “aggregate large amounts of microcontent and creatively select patterns out of an almost unfathomable volume of information,” therefore the bounds of Web 2.0 storytelling are not necessarily clear.
Another form of digital storytelling is the micromovie, which is “a very short exposition lasting from a few seconds to no more than 5 minutes in length. It allows the teller to combine personal writing, photographic images or video footage, narrative, sound effects, and music. Many people, regardless of skill level, are able to tell their stories through image and sound and share those stories with others.” Telling a digital story combines a narrative, whether it be fiction or non fiction, personal or general, and digital media. Digital media includes imaging, video, sound and all other forms of media then can be portrayed visually, the most simple of digital stories can even be a power point. The point is to convey a message through imagery, which a lot of times can be more effective then if just conveyed through sound. In my opinion a digital story can even be told by some social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, where you are constantly posting images accompanied by captions in order to portray the story of your life. “A story can be as short as explaining how you misplaced your keys this morning or as long as a multivolume autobiography”, the wonderful thing about telling a digital story is that there really are no rules. Like any story you want to capture your audience so it is important when telling a digital story to “sell your story, as a write, filmmaker, dramatist, you as often as not ask yourself what stories compel me and where might I find a profoundly dramatic story”.