Is digital storytelling really storytelling? Does it need to be?
Over at Kathy Hansens excellent blog, A Storied Career, she posted a very popular video thats floating around the Internet. Its a visual explanation of the financial crisis. I truly enjoy Kathys blog and think shes one of the few quality and consistent bloggers for storytelling out there.
I disagreed, in this case, that the video was storytelling. Regarding the video and digital storytelling, my casual comments I left were:
Its fun to watch.
Its a great video experience.
Its a way to understand a complex subject.
It should be seen by many people.
Its something that I am glad that I watched.
Its something that deserves attention.
It doesnt need to tagged as storytelling to make it valuable. It stands well on its own as a powerful video that serves a good purpose. It has value as art in its use of video.
If everything is storytelling, then nothing is storytelling.
Its not storytelling.
A hammer is no less a valuable tool just because its not a screwdriver.
This video doesnt have to be storytelling in order to still be excellent.
And it is excellent.
Kathy, you have illustrated the a real issue: Just what is storytelling?
For me, storytelling takes people. I have videos on YouTube of me doing storytelling, but the videos are *not* storytelling. They are video records of my storytelling and they pale by compare to the video quality and technique of the above video you posted.
We do a disservice to both storytelling expertise and video expertise by not treating each to its own unique charism and definition.
I can talk about the financial crisis by retelling (speaking) the stories of others or using world tales to illustrate the meaning. A program of these stories, used to frame the video above, would be a powerful evening of conveying an idea through the dual communication methods of storytelling and video.
If I had to attach a shelf to a wall, I would have different tools to choose from based on how I wanted the shelf attached. I could use a hammer, screwdriver or glue gun, for example. Each is a different way of getting to the same goal.
If I had to talk about the financial crisis, I could choose different tools based on how I wanted the audience to understand the issue. I could use oral storytelling, writing, video or dance. Each is a different way of getting to the same goal.
I shall stop rambling now.
Lets stop calling all communication storytelling. Lets recognize that there are many ways to get a message out and storytelling, the one-to-one even-in-a-crowd oral technique (or ASL), is one very exciting way. Lets not dilute everything into one single pool called storytelling. Lets value the many ways to express story.
Having practiced and taught the art of storytelling for many years, I think its the most effective and cost effective way to communicate. However, I know that all art forms (video included) are equally important contributors to the conversation.
By the way, add Kathys blog to your regular reading. Its that good.