Tag Archives: digital storytelling

Fresh: two articles published

Two articles based on our collaborative work in the Storycircle project (Goldsmiths, completed July 2013) have just been published in March, Digital citizenship? Narrative exchange and the changing terms of civic culture, in Citizenship Studies, and News in the community? Investigating emerging inter-local spaces of news production/consumption in Journalism Studies.

In Digital citizenship we explored the possibilities for new forms of ‘digital citizenship’ currently emerging through digitally supported processes of narrative exchange. Using Dahlgren’s (Dahlgren, P. 2003. “Reconfiguring Civic Culture in the New Media Milieu.” In Media and the Restyling of Politics, edited by J. Corner, and D. Pels, 151–170. London: Sage; Dahlgren, P. 2009. Media and Political Engagement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.) circuit of ‘civic culture’ as a model for exploring the interlinking preconditions for new acts of citizenship, we discuss the contrasting outcomes of research at three fieldwork sites in the North of England – educational (a sixth form college), civil society (a community reporters’ network) and social (a local club). Each site provided clear evidence of the elements of Dahlgren’s circuit (some depending on the intensive use of digital infrastructure, others predating it), but there were also breaks in the circuit that constrained its effectiveness. A crucial factor in each case for building a lasting circuit of civic culture (and an effective base for new forms of digital citizenship) is the role that digital infrastructure can play in extending the scale of interactions beyond the purely local.


In News in the Community we examined the emergence of new, inter-local spaces of news production and consumption, drawing again on our extensive fieldwork and interviews with community reporters trained by a community reporter organisation based in the north of England. Practices of news production and content generation are focused on people’s own communities and they are underpinned by an ethos of production, which is grounded in a critical consumption of news and collective processes of skill acquisition. Through an analysis of motivations and practices, we account for the values that sustain community reporter communities and discuss how such practices, while emerging from the place of local community, also extend across wider communities of interest. It is suggested that an evolving practice of skill sharing and mutual recognition could potentially stimulate the regrowth of democratic values.

ICA London 2013 and MEDIA@LSE 10 year anniversary

ica2013-aristeaThe photo on the left represents the materiality of ICA London 2013 – a small bag, an umbrella, the book, the identity card and notes, are the things I brought back from the conference on Thursday night last week. Our panel was The materiality of voice, chaired by Nick Couldry, and I talked about online content curation experiments in the Storycircle project – although the printed programme stated otherwise. Sigrid Kannengießer (University of Bremen) talked about Digital storytelling and empowerment of sex workers in South Africa; Richard MacDonald (on behalf of Wilma Clark and the Storycircle project) presented findings from a school-based digital story circle in the North of England, using a digital geomapping platform to save war memorials (Crossing time and space: geohistories and narrative exchange); Cigdem Bozdag (University of Bremen) explored love stories in Sharing Migrant Stories Online: The Case of a Moroccan Discussion Forum in Germany; and finally Hilde Stephansen (Storycircle, Goldsmiths) as respondent, talked about action research as a methdological choiceIt was a good panel and we got some intriguing questions – Sonia Livingstone asked about the ethical and ctritical dimensions of research practices of digital storytelling, in other words, whose stories we choose to talk about. And Knut Lundby asked about the materiality of technologies – which made me think and briefly talk about the mundane everyday reality of  failures and breakdowns, when setting up a digital infrastructure in the project.

Discussions about failures and making mistakes seem to have become popular lately, not only in media studies circles. Mark Deuze (U of Amsterdam) who presented a show/ paper (which I found very disturbing, although most of the audience seemed to have fun, which I found even more disturbing) at the 10th Anniversary event of MEDIA@LSE on Sunday 16th also talked about how ‘making mistakes is OK’ as allegedly people are shifting from homo faber to homo ludens (another idea gaining in popularity in media and cultural studies, or is it actually in marketing?). But there are clearly other more interesting takes on the matter, like Margaret Atwood about sewing yellow coats and falling off horses; and of course the Queer art of failure, by Halberstam. And Richard has just shown me this video by artist Jeremy Deller.

There was a lot of productive stuff that came out of the LSE event, and I’m still writing up my notes, part of which I intend to post here.

Telling the story of the stories: imaginaries and materialisations of digital engagement

Change of title and abstract for my ICA London paper, 20 June. I will present work that I’ve done in the Storycircle project (in case you were coming to hear about queer referential metaculture, I will still answer questions).

Paper 1. Telling the story of the stories: imaginaries and materialisations of digital engagement

Aristea Fotopoulou, Goldsmiths, University of London


This paper presents findings from action research conducted with a civil society media organization in the North of England. It examines how, in collaboration with staff in the organization, we planned and implemented the development of a digital infrastructure, which aimed to facilitate sustained digital engagement and narrative exchange. The development of a digital infrastructure was envisioned by the organization to enable a long term process: one of ‘telling the story of the stories’. The paper discusses how the aim of connecting communities of reporters and their stories was supported by a redesign of the website and by experiments on content curation and ‘community tagging’. The paper also reflects on some challenges that the organization and our fieldwork met. For example, the web design needed to be complemented with a programme of training and of building  the skills required for these digital experiments in community engagement to be successful. With limited resources and whilst operating within a sector-wide context of funding cuts, such training was difficult to happen. With focus on the potential and the hinderances of materializing voice, the paper discusses the project as an attempt to create a wider network of community reporters. The emergent story circle is contextualized within both the realities of limited resources and the broader narratives and imaginaries of digital engagement. As such, the paper provides a balanced account of the interplay between material contexts and these narratives, and suggests that both these need to be considered as conditions for sustaining voice.

Digital storytelling & body mapping workshops

As part of VDay Sussex 2012, and in conjunction with the LGBT History Month, Elizabeth Mills and myself will be running a series of body mapping and digital storytelling workshops, using various media ranging from paints and pens to digital art, film and music.

We invite LBTQ identified women to participate in the three workshops and create these body maps and digital stories. The workshops will take place at the University of Sussex on Wednesday 29th February, 2-5pm, Friday 2nd March, 2-5pm and Friday 27th April, 2-5pm.

Continue reading

Creating the future? QR codes + new forms of storytelling

There is something retro about the concept of ‘storytelling’ and I prefer it to the concept of immersive experience when it comes to new media forms, not least because I find that storytelling has an essence of duration, playfulness and process to it. Of course these are edgy, perhaps for some even superfluous distinctions – after all Henry Jenkings in his Transmedia Storytelling 101 blogpost ultimately thinks of storytelling as the means to an end (an experience):

Continue reading