Digital Storytelling

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Confessions of a podcaster

By Digital Storytelling October 20, 2009

Long-form, narrative radio—that’s the kind of radio many of us dreamed of doing when we started in the business, before so much of it, for reasons both economic and stylistic, became four and a half minute chunks of airtime filled with cribbed wire copy and bad phone tape. Both the great radio and the mediocre get turned, often auto-magically, into mp3 files. Those files are then shoved up on a server somewhere for you to download to your PodBerry or whatever. And this, they will tell you, is podcasting. Or maybe they'll be a little more truthful and call it "time-shifted" radio. I sometimes call it "recycled" radio. Don't get me wrong. Recycling is good for the audio planet. It's great that you can stuff hours of potentially quality stuff onto a minuscule machine, encase it in a sweat-proof nano-sheath, and then listen to Diane Rehm while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. (Remember, the p-o-d in podcasting stands for "Portable On Demand.") But that's it? Seriously? That's all we are going to do with this amazing new medium for engaging unsuspecting audiences in unexpected ways? Read more » Read more

Interview with Mitch Epstein: Images of “American Power”

By Digital Storytelling October 5, 2009

In September, photographer Mitch Epstein spoke by phone with us about his project “American Power,” which was highlighted in Granta’s summer issue. Epstein has worked as a fine art photographer and a photojournalist, as well as a director, cinematographer, or production designer on several films. While “American Power” was not done as a commercial news narrative, it is rooted in story, and Epstein had some interesting things to say about how images do and don’t work as narratives. Here are some excerpts: “With photography, I think one can suggest narrative. But it is not the same as literary storytelling. I think that I do maybe more storytelling and develop a kind of more definitive narrative with the way in which I put my pictures together as exhibitions and books. That’s part of what excites me about books. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The way in which the pictures get strong in their sequence does indeed lead you through an experience. And you have to arrive at a final point.” “An individual photo can suggest a narrative. It can imply a narrative. They’re better in a way at articulating questions than they are at delivering answers.” Read the full interview. Read more

Picturing the cost of power

By Digital Storytelling October 5, 2009

Mitch Epstein’s "American Power" depicts the landscape as political narrative. The American photographer, who has chronicled cultural complexities in India and Vietnam, now homes his camera in on dissonances within his own culture. The subject of "American Power" is energy in America—its production, consumption, and unintended consequences. And embedded in the terrain of the images is a critique of American power in the other sense of the word—its destructiveness and contradictions. Like an unflattering mirror, Epstein’s pictures reflect back the troublesome realities that the exercise of American power can create. Read the full essay. Read more

Could World of Warcraft be the new War and Peace?

By Digital Storytelling October 1, 2009

Whether Pacman or Halo first introduced you to video games, calling them “high art” might stretch the sensibilities. But boardwalk nickelodeons led to movies like The Godfather —could a similarly radical transformation be underway with games? Narrative journalism draws many of its core principles from novels, films, and short stories. Elements like character development, scene-setting, and a narrative arc work whether the tale is true or made up. Games, however, are different. "There are characters and stories in games, just like there are characters and stories in linear media, so it feels like you’re dealing with something that’s in the same ballpark,” says Chris Swain, associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Games Institute. “But I actually believe that they’re very different.” Read the full story. Read more