Response to A Road Travelled

Many of our readings for our Digital Storytelling class focus on techniques, tools, technology, etc, but this week, our reading was a bit different. It told a story, by the workings of  Joe Lambert. This 3rd chapter in Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community relates how he ended up where he is with StoryCenter and all of the projects, and individuals, that brought him there. While the story itself was pretty interesting, how he met and worked with so many individuals over the years that helped to change his ideas and his framework, the way he tells his story and how he defined what were the important themes within his journey are what caught my attention.

Lambert spoke about his time in Texas with his family, specifically bringing up his white heritage within a growing southern community. He brings up how his parents inundated him with social justice ideas as the nation was changing oral history. The shift in the 50s-60s from telling fantastical stories to telling stories about one’s own experiences was a particular reflection of the changing times. The nation was now involved in itself, people wanted to connect with other’s stories in new ways. Hearing about someone’s journey would help you to find your own voice. Seeing someone else’s struggles would help you find the strength to fight through yours. The years after WWII and during the communist uprisings brought people to look more inward for their fantastical stories. Finding other people who were struggling was a sense of comfort and it helped communities and isolated groups to come together, whether they had a shared background or not. Lambert experienced this firsthand as musical artists began singing of the struggles of life and the adversity of the world at large. Seeing this sort of development first hand helped to develop his sense of story identity, as well as the people around him.

The way Lambert talks about his theater business and finding inspiration within what Apple was doing helped to bring him into digital storytelling and his work with workshops. Discovering this new technology and the infinite ways it expanded the world, especially the world that he was involved in with travelling stories, had a tremendous impact on him and his work. No longer was storytelling a mere static idea, that of course was elaborated on and perfected in the theater, but it was something far more tangible now. Stories could be integrated and used in any manner of ways, especially with the rapidly developing technology that they had at their fingertips in California. This multi-modal experience could be used to enhance the way that people shared their voices, the way that people connected on a very basic level.

From what we had just 30 years ago, technology has boomed and grown in such a rapid fashion that it has created its own culture, community, and fundamentally changed the way that we interact with each other and the world at large. Lambert’s story about finding this connection and teaching people how to use it to make their stories accessible and interesting, by creating the Digital Storytelling Cookbook, it is just one of these stories. The infinite possibilities of technology and computers enhances our world in ways that we may not have even come up with yet.

Lambert’s chapter ended with a very meaningful message, about how overcoming silence is its own rebellion, how finding your own voice within a enormous community can help not only you, but others with your experiences. Hearing similar experiences and stories from people who are going through the same thing you are is such a powerful statement and helps a lot of people to keep going on the path, to help them overcome adversity.

The creation of digital storytelling was the creation of an impressive form of culture that has helped us grow as a larger world community, to help us spread our voices.

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