The “digital” of digital storytelling – rant


With the start of the headless approaching, I’m gearing up to get involved as much as I can while working full time.

What got me thinking about writing this blog post was the unfortunate Tweet-delete incident where all of my tweets after 2011 magically disappeared.  1,000 posts gone, lost in a blink of an eye without my control.

I wont deny that I almost shed a tear – I looked forward to the day that I could go back and look at my tweets and laugh about my early 20’s.  Now I wont be able to.  Is such the nature of a digital medium?


If I had written down my tweets in a physical diary, it’s not as if the words could get up and walk off the page.  Sure there’s the concern of it getting lost or destroyed, but unless my home was broken into or caught on fire, I am pretty much the master of my diary’s fate.

There is a certain trust that we put into technology; we trust the websites to stay up, we trust that our content will be there, we trust that it will be easy to interact with, and we trust it to keep us safe from harm.  But why do we have so much faith when really we don’t know anything about it?

I have argued before that in order to effectively use technology you should be able to read (or at least understand) the code behind it.  I liken this to reading the terms and conditions – nobody actually does it, but if they needed to, they could.  I don’t mean that everyone should become computer programmers.  That would be like saying you need to be a pilot to fly in a plane or a mechanic to drive a car – no, but you should at least know how to buckle your seatbelt.

The act of learning how to read and write code not only makes you a better participant of technology, it makes you less of a consumer.  Which leads me into my next point – in a course that emphasizes creation, how much consumption is okay?  It’s wonderful that we are able to use fancy tools to create art, but how much of that art is really ours?  I don’t have answers for these questions and I know there are plenty of counter arguments (painters need paintbrushes, I get it), but for this upcoming semester of ds106, I challenge you to think critically about the technology you are using along the way.  I hope you take the time to learn a little more behind the scenes.


One thought on “The “digital” of digital storytelling – rant

  1. I have been reflecting on this with the start of Headless too. I have not been able to convince anyone from my world to join as they do not understand the technology. Heck, I understand the technology and am struggling with Gimp already:-) lack of digital fluency plus a full time job is just too much to make a commitment they tell me. Sad. Your questions will guide. I don’t know if you have seen this: I found it yesterday and really made me stop and think about the impermanent nature of the digital part of digital storytelling and it also made me think about the nature of story – is it a digital story only when it has a message? and is this art? look forward to travelling together on Headless13.

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