Digital Storylab, Denmark
First experiences from a Nordic digital storytelling (DS) project have shown how the involved youth reconfigures parts of the DS mindset among other through their experiences with social media. This paper presents and discusses a project called “Stories from the North” involving researchers, facilitators and young participants from Denmark, Iceland and Norway producing digital stories based on Digital Storytelling (DS) developed at http://www.storycenter.org. The project is based on a common curiosity around the authentic dimension in the story work in DS and the often one-sided and glorified stories on social media (SoMe). Analysis of the first project phase, show us how the youth experiences with SoMe, challenge the applied DS thinking. The analysis raises questions for further debate, such as how individually or how collaborate can a DS process be, and how online presence may play, as well as awareness of other important elements.
1. THE PROJECT ‘STORIES FROM THE NORTH’
The vision of our project Stories from the North (also referred to as the Nordic digital storytelling project) is to let people create, share & tell life stories through so called Nordic Storytelling Labs and an online digital storytelling platform. The project involves researchers, facilitators and young participants from Denmark, Iceland and Norway producing digital stories based on the method Digital Storytelling (developed at www. storycenter.org/).
The project involves from Denmark: Digital Story lab and Aalborg University, Research centre for Video. From Iceland: Reykjavíkur Akademían. And from Norway: World Wide Narrative and Oslo Metropolitan University. Additional information on the partners is available on our Nordic Digital Storytelling Platform (nordicstorytelling.com/).
Thanks to funds from The Nordic Culture Fund and The Nordics (www.nordiskkulturfond. org/en & www.thenordics.com), we have reached our first goals in the project. Young Nordic people have joined Nordic Storytelling Labs and we have developed a version 1.0 of the Nordic Digital Storytelling Platform (nordicstorytelling.com/) for authentic personal stories told by mainly young, but also other ages, from Denmark, Norway & Iceland. Our next goal is to enhance this Nordic Digital Storytelling Platform and create a version 2.0 focusing on interconnectedness in the online community, through the development of
sharing options and dialogue crosswise, as well as develop the distributing options to extend knowledge around the platform, and create awareness and knowledge sharing about the Nordic within the Nordic countries and in an international perspective.
Our analysis of the first project phase, show that the platform is being used internationally, though in a small scale, given the short time it has been online. Our work with volunteering graduate students laid the ground for a design idea based on a “message in the bottle” concept, for sending stories and providing incentives for others to create their story, through visual communication at the platform. With extended funding we will, increase the Nordic Storytelling Lab activities in the different Nordic countries to broaden the story landscape in the platform and thereby expand the insight into various Nordic perspectives, such as identity, culture, food, traditions, love, favourite places and common Nordic stories, all with the personal storytelling perspective in focus.
The project was at first established based on the partners’ common curiosity about the young people’s view of the Nordic region in 2017-2020 and an increasing need to create and share authentic stories from local areas in the Nordic countries. All partners have worked individually with the internationally recognized method, Digital Storytelling, and wish to work together to integrate and develop the method in the Nordic region.
The idea behind the project ‘Stories from the North’ is developed at a start-up meeting in Reykjavik/Iceland, where the partners met in 2017 to develop ideas on a common Nordic project that could investigate a number of themes at the target group and explore a new democratization approach for young people.
Besides this, digital media, and specifically video, are rapidly evolving within all forms of communication. It is expected that 80% of all internet traffic in 2019 will consist of video. One tendency to see is that companies and organizations increasingly use user-generated videos as part of their overall video strategy.
Young people are often front-runners when it comes to creating content online, however the stories they distribute online have a tendency to be produced without a genuine reflection process. With the Digital Storytelling method, the project aims to gather the youngsters in an intentional and facilitated reflexive process where they create stories together in workshops. Furthermore, the stories young people distribute online often presents a one sided and glorified version of themselves. With the Digital Storytelling method, the project aims to support sharing of authentic versions of people stories. We were curious of the reflection process behind these productions and how Digital Storytelling can support authenticity around young peoples’ stories.
In short, the method Digital Storytelling is a process where the participants create a 2-3 minute authentic digital story. Everyone can participate regardless of cultural and social background, IT skills or age. The process of telling something personally experienced, expressing it visually and finally sharing it with others can provide a space for change processes, empowerment and development in various arenas.
We aim to develop a Nordic Digital Storytelling Platform version 2.0, that take point of departure in a more interactive space for sharing stories. This continuation of the project also intends to extend the online community with stories from diverse perspectives and thereby support an interconnectedness and dialogue cross borders. And furthermore,
across urban areas and outskirts of Denmark, Norway, Iceland and potentially other Nordic countries. Our understanding of outskirts is a manifolded. It includes both geographical outskirts as well as an approach to “living on the outskirts” in the sense of experiencing oneself as being on the outskirts of influential cultures, fields of interest and lifestyles. The original goal of creating intercultural ‘Nordic Storytelling Labs` was to give youngsters a free and accessible space to express themselves through personal digital stories. The idea was to use the Digital Storytelling method as a tool to motivate young people to tell and report personal anecdotes, experiences and life stories from their local area and in relation to cultural relationships that they feel attached to. Based on the young people’s own ideas, the project identified relevant topics that extended from everyday hangouts to the personal space of the close family. The project thus gave the youngsters a voice in the digital media, which collects site-based personal stories and experiences for broad application across the Nordic countries, such as cultural development and conservation materials.
When asking people to reflect on their own close culture, we initiate an identity-reflection process where participant gets the opportunity and space to look at the everyday environments often overlooked in their truism. When we open this kind of self-reflection, there is also an enriched basis for reflection on other cultures and an ability to see the interpersonal similarities found among all cultures, wherever they may be. In this project, we have chosen a Nordic focus based on curiosity, but also on a common Nordic self- perception that we wish to preserve and enrich. Not to distance ourselves from the rest of the world, on the contrary, we see it as part of a broad identity base. One of the many communities that modern people feel attached to. Thus, the purpose of the project is to spread a common understanding and recognition, and through this contribute to a positive movement, which, in the long term hopefully creates a positive perception of Nordic culture. The project itself will open up several cooperatives across the north and through the platform for an interconnectedness.
In the project, the Nordic perspective is part of an exploratory process, where the project explores and identifies different place-based topics and themes that are then part of the phase of settlement, where Nordic Storytelling Labs are established and used by mainly young people. The long-term strategy is that the anchoring phase will result in a sustainable strategy to integrate the method of the various local partners and countries. This must be done by establishing a network of ambassadors from the target group and by making different actors familiar with the method and its potential for further development in future Nordic Storytelling Labs.
We have identified two target groups:
• Those who partake in workshops and produce stories for the platform • Those who interact with the stories at the platform, comment, share etc. Workshop participants:
• People living in Denmark, Iceland and Norway. The focus is on supporting the participants and their experiences with Nordic living locally and relational across (Nordic) locations in order to get in touch with these target groups, the project will identify relevant environments and institutions - both formal and informal
organisations and gathering places. Users of the platform:
• Both citizens of the Nordic countries and internationally. This target group interacts with the digital storytelling participants though the platform. Both our own social networks and homepages as well as the Nordics new platform offers a strong communication platform, for letting people know about the existence of the https://nordicstorytelling.com/ website. For example, as established researchers and practitioners we draw on an extended network of relevant people, and have through the university and other project assess to communication channels, though we also find that the Nordics base of for example embassy people may be relevant, for contacts outside our own sphere, as for example to organisations with interest in democratic storytelling principles.
A possible third target group are the organisations in contact with the participants e.g. interest groups, networks and formal educational and work-related organisations.
Specific goals in the project:
• Design, develop and implement an enhanced digital platform for sharing the stories / ‘Nordic Digital Storytelling Platform’ (https://nordicstorytelling.com/). The online platform will be used during the project’s lifetime and most likely also after the project has ended due to the partners’ interest in an continuing exchange and distribution channel for their stories, and due to the partners interest in an ongoing dialogue around their creative processes and experiences. The platform will be used in an exhibition, and after the project, it should still be available as a presentation tool for courses in Nordic schools and cultural institutions, such as museums, libraries, etc. Furthermore, the platform may be valuable as a showcase for the Nordics partners, displayed at activities at the embassies or at other Nordic organisational events.
• To establish additional Nordic Storytelling Labs across the involved countries Overall outcomes:
• Establish and support new interrelated online networks with a Nordic perspective • Involving people using the Digital Storytelling method, which allows them to express themselves through authentic digital stories
• Cultural exchange and co-creation of new and varied cultural approaches
• The good stories and experiences told by the local are conveyed to and shared with a broader audience.
• To initiate democratic processes of art, culture and daily living in the nordic countries that intend to create change through digital and social media
• Dissemination of the project and stories via a social media strategy and on different conferences and public events via the partners existing network.