Common Craft

Commoncraft.com is a Website that provides ‘easy’ explanations to difficult concepts through animated videos that last no more than three minutes. These videos use custom, hand-made shapes with pencil and colors, then animated throughout the video-presentation. The Website also offers customized videos as well as a vast supply of free custom shapes downloads so users can build their own. Its Know How page offers instructions on how to make your own ‘craft’ video from using their own cut-outs and videos, to guides for script writing, all for decent amount of money if you go with the basic plan.

According to Christy Dena in The Writer’s Guide, Craft Part I, “Writing for new media requires that writers understand elements such as interactivity, micro lengths and digital media affordances.” The people behind Common Craft are aware of how interaction can help not only with the process of learning but also with retaining the information; by making the videos short and using clear language instead of jargon, these videos are easily displayed in a wide variety of platforms, as well all can be shared with different social media.

For example I saw the video for “Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)”, they managed to explain a complicated topic such as APIs in an easy way to understand the subject in less than three minutes. Not only the video’s narrative script is easy to grasp, but also the hand-made shapes and animation contributes to the overall understanding and gives us a feeling like we draw them ourselves.

 

References

Dena, C. (2007). Australian council. Retrieved from http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/writersguide/craft,_part_one

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Field Trip: TED Talk – Jonathan Harris: The web as art

TED Talk – Jonathan Harris: The web as art http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_harris_collects_stories.html

Jonathan Harris, a computer scientist, uses his programming skills to capture stories from the web and from all over the world, yielding rich results in storytelling with an anthropological sense, and a duty to document—and preserve such stories.

From our readings, “Web 2.0 Storytelling, Emergence of a New Genre”, authors Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine concur that Web 2.0 has forever changed the way we tell a story. No longer is a story told to a passive-receptive audience. We all make that story one way or another. “Stories now are open-ended, branching, hyperlinked, cross-media, participatory, and unpredictable” (Alexander & Levine, 2008, p. 40).

Harris takes advantage of this open-ended, branching cross-media by extracting every two to three minutes with computer programs “bits of information” from recent blog posts with occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. The result is an amazing library of phrases and images that each one not only tells a story, but also represents someone’s life out there.

One of his projects, “Happiness”, where he interviews people from a small Himalayan town about what is happiness, the stories he gets as a result each is unique and inspiring.  After he interviews them, he takes a picture of them, a picture of their hands, and a picture of them making a silly face.  These three poses each one represent what Svensson refers to his article “knowledge and Artifacts: People and Objects”, as something tangible that “symbolizes a lifestyle” (Svensson, p. 87), where the picture of their hands for example, tells the individual’s life by just looking at them.

Harris with his projects and his approach to recollect information on the Internet has revolutionized collecting and archiving procedures. Jenny Newell’s article, “Old objects, new media: Historical collections, digitization and affect”, she states in page 289 that “[H]istorians are as yet more often users than creative producers of digital historical material”, where some historians are suspicious of utilizing new technologies to for “research, teaching, and publication”. Jonathan Harris’ project, “The Whale Hunt”, is a fine example of how new technology can be applied for research, teaching, and publication for collecting, archiving, and storytelling for future generations.  Harris built this “framework” or “webinar phase”, where one can build the story based on several parameters like images, date, and action level, resulting on a different told story based on the parameters selected.  Just like in real life.

 

References

Bryan Alexander, A. L. (2008, 23 October). Educase review online. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/web-20-storytelling-emergence-new-genre

Svensson, Tom G. (). Knowledge and Artifacts: People and Objects. Museum Anthropology, 31, 85-104.

Newell, J. (2012).  Old Objects, new media:  Historical collections, digitization and affect.  Journal of Material Culture, 17(3), 287-306.

 

Day One Stories

This week’s field trip was Day One Stories, a site sponsored by Prudential where people tell their story about their first day of retirement. Although the main purpose for the site is to promote the insurance company services on retirement, the way they do it is by appealing to their audience. Several videos and audios count touching stories about individuals on their first day of retirement. Carefully done with appealing music, plot, images, and video, each piece successfully connects the audience with the storyteller and feel immediately identified.

Each storyteller embodies their story as they tell it from their hearts.  They are not reading, they have no script. The way they narrate their lives makes you feel as if you are sitting next to them having a cup of coffee. Because they feel what they are saying, the voice doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that it’s not narrated by a professional voice-over, there is no need to: they talk with rhythm that goes according with key scenes during the videos. As Jack Maguire states in his book “The Power of Personal Storytelling: Spinning Tales to Connect with Others”, when you feel what you are talking about, embodying your story, “[C]hances are you will still be speaking naturally because your voice will proceed from your full being, rather than merely from your heart” (p. 184).

Maguire also mentions “key” scenes, parts of the story that you re-create either in words or images and they represent “stones” in the plot that give the audience “perceived needs and cues; the circumstances surrounding the telling ocassion; and the influence of the physical setting” (Maguire, 1998, p. 139). In the video narrated by Hermann Bouska, as he narrates his story, he asks himself what is it that he always wanted to do but he couldn’t do as he was working. Now that he has retired, he sees this as a “new beginning”. As he is saying these words, the next scene in the video is a white garage door slowly opening, as if representing his life now: a blank slate opening to a new beginning that he will have to discover. This key scene helps Hermann say a big concept about his life ahead with less words.

References

Maguire, J.  (1998).  The Power of Personal Storytelling.  New York:  Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.

Prudential (2012). Day One, Hermann BOuska. Retrieved from http://www.dayonestories.com/#/hermann

StoryCorps

This week’s field trip was to StoryCorps http://storycorps.org/ a nonprofit site where anyone can produce, upload, and share any storytelling revolving in our lives. As Maguire’s book points out, this site truly displays that “inner” storytelling we have inside.

The first story I heard was “What has happened to the human voice?” http://storycorps.org/listen/studs-terkel/ by Studs Terkel, about his search of a human voice in one of main US airports.  His voice, as stated in Maguire book, is a voice that “proceeds from one’s being” (Maguire, 1998, p. 180). I then proceeded to listen “I’m so thankful for everything you’ve done” by Tracy and Sarah Johnson, about a mother and daughter-in-law whose daughter and wife was killed in Afghanistan.

All stories people talk with their heart. They are not only professional storytellers but professionals in life, with moving, touching, real situations that move listener’s emotions. “Just as a personal tale must be true to our selves to ring true to our listeners, so must our storytelling voice be natural—or true to our being—in order to move our listeners in a lasting way” (Maguire, 1998, p. 180).

Every story inspires; storytellers embody their story because they lived it and they want others to learn and benefit from them. It’s not memorization, but I envision them with their eyes closed as they speak and having each scene they narrate briefly displayed in their minds, making it easy just to report what they are actually seeing.

References

Maguire, J. (1998). The Power of Personal Storytelling. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.