Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
On digital storytelling.

There's a funny thing about spending as much time as I do thinking about digital storytelling. I, for one, do not believe that digital storytelling needs to be interactive. We've had interactive fiction before – anyone who has ever read a choose-your-own-adventure book has experienced it. Interactive storytelling need not be digital storytelling, and vice-versa.

So what, then, is digital storytelling? I believe that Lord of the Rings or The Phantom Menace both qualify as digital storytelling – tales told using digital techniques and forms. That the critters may have been sculpted in a model shop makes no difference; it's the bringing them to life using digital means that triggers the 'digital' adjective. And yet this idea does not properly contain what it is that fascinates me about the phrase "digital storytelling".

To me, what's exciting about the phrase may not even be that it's digital. I'm excited by the notion of using other means than simply placing carefully-chosen words in sequence. I'm fascinated by the idea of multimedia storytelling, by the idea of making new hybrid works of art. I had an idea a long time ago about how to create an installation performance poetry piece by setting up a dozen TVs and VCRs with carefully choreographed video clips. Nothing too extraordinary, in and of itself, but at the time it seemed much more interesting than some of the spoken-word performances I've seen. How can blending of recorded art and live art revitalize each other? Can it be done in a manner that isn't hokey? Even Laurie Anderson, she who many consider to be the closest thing to a respectable multimedia artist, often strays into the mire of intellectual pudding.

What's fascinating to me about weblogs is how they actually embody many of these same principles. You see audioblogs, like the ones that Jish and Min Jung have done, and even videoblogs. The idea of people publishing online diaries of any form is a great and wonderful thing. What else can we play with?

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