War of the Words #nationalpoetryday

Image of the tripod from H.G. Wells War of the Worlds

War of the Words

Now Barthes once said ‘The author is dead’
so I have to let go of my prose,
however redeeming, whatever the meaning,
it’s only the reader who knows

how words which are read (like things that are said)
can take on a whole different meaning,
as issues of who (and knowledge and truth)
depend on who’s doing the reading.

All writers will find, below each bottom line,
there’s a host of mixed interpretations,
with lots to be learned from the postmodern turn
and its crisis in representations.

As we start to unravel the roads we have travelled
which bring us to our destinations
we see how the ‘asks’ in our research-based tasks
are linked to our social locations;

but what matters more are the battles and wars
which are fought between structure and agency,
where so much depends how we manage this blend
between selfhood and who self might-want-to-be.

It’s the same for the poet and life as they know it,
reflected in all their renditions,
where words try to strive, to catch and describe
all the quirks of the human conditions,

so I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not hard to see
how research and poetry blend,
how issues of seeing, of truth and believing,
are similar things in the end,

and the skillset to write what is clear and concise
is all part of the art of creation,
whether PhD thesis or poetry treatise
they both have the same motivation.

For wordsmiths and seers and text engineers
and dabblers in quests and hypothesis,
for teams of reformers or lonely explorers
of credence and theories of consciousness,

what your words mean (and how they are seen)
is based on the world we’re all living in,
and this knowing in turn depends how we’ve learned
to interpret our social conditioning

At the end of the day whatever you say
or do to express creativity,
people will moan, and grumble and groan,
for you can’t control their subjectivity.

So I have to conclude all meaning is skewed
as we all possess unique philosophies,
and what we receive and what we believe
helps build our creative ecologies.

Our epistemology and our ontology
all affect our observations,
so you might write the words but it’s clearly absurd
to expect to rule interpretations.

Researcher or poet it’s not how you know it,
it’s all about setting it free,
because Barthes spoke true and whatever you do…
the meaning is all down to me!

 

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Digital Storytelling; not an end but a beginning

Digital Storytelling presentation slide

The first workshop introduced the craft of storytelling. We were sent away to produce a script for the second where we’d make it happen. It was bright and sunny on the outside but inside the computer lap it was turning into ‘one of those days’. Facilitator Chris Thomson must have thought it was sabotage. First there was no sound through his laptop. Despite the best efforts of an ICT technician it refused to play through the system. Meanwhile work had started on a new road. Just outside. Which more than made up for any lack of sound on the inside. We’d opened all the windows because it was so hot. Now the choice was heat up or shout out. The irony of Chris’s slides telling us audio was the most important component of a digital story and the need for a quiet location to record was not lost – that isn’t wine in Chris’s glass – honest!

IMG_0169 IMG_0170

Digital stories make great teaching tools. We all tell stories or anecdotes in one way or another. They can help explain something complex or show a different point of view. Contextualising knowledge within a story helps understanding and makes it more memorable while digital stories can be more engaging than a page of text or a report. They’re reusable and if you have the original materials they can be re-purposable as well. As you can probably tell, I’m an advocate. As well as learning and teaching aids, they’re useful development tools. To build the story you have to be critical and reflective; make decisions about what to put in and take out. Above all they’re opportunities to be digitally adventurous and creative. While the story itself can be about anything, the one rule was keep it short. Three minutes was the suggested maximum.

clock

At Hull we’re developing a digital capabilities framework for the university and I’m looking for original ways to support staff with exploring new digital ways of working. Story making offers opportunities to work with a range of artifacts and software. I often hear people say they can’t do audio or video because you need a professional studio with high end kit. My approach is DIY can be ‘good enough’. Phones and digital cameras take ‘good enough’ images and video and free software can  help you make a ‘good enough’ video. We used Audacity and Audacity Portable for recording and WeVideo for editing.

For me, digital stories tick all the boxes for learning development, digital CPD. You get something usable at the end and leave with the skills, knowledge and ideas for creating them in the future.

https://www.wevideo.com/embed/#686306411

Above it was fun. Completed stories will be showcased at the Learning and Teaching Conference in July and we plan is to repeat the workshops at School and Department level next year. Although the Jisc workshops have finished this is not the end of digital storytelling at Hull. It’s the beginning.

https://www.wevideo.com/embed/#687165951

keep digital storytelling personal

Digital storytelling is like blended learning. It fuses the traditional oral craft of story telling with 21st century technology. As TEL Teams support staff to bring VLE into their traditional f2f forms of teaching practice, so digital stories merge past and present. This week was the first digital storytelling workshop at the University of Hull. facilitated by Chris Thomson, Jisc Advisor. Details of the day can be accessed here https://sway.com/leZaeMETBElB1zVM The workshop included the following examples which show how digital media extends what was once a primary mode of communication; the telling of tales.

In My Alaska Story Julia Fuer shows you don’t have to be a video expert or use professional software. Monochrome images overlaid with a narrative offer memorable visual experiences. Click the image below to go to the WeVideo site

alaska journey

Participant/Observation is a powerful (and potentially upsetting) story from a research project in Pakistan.

Cheese sandwich from workshop facilitator Chris Thomson told a personal story which can be related to on multiple levels. Who hasn’t found themselves hungry and faced with limited options for food?

Cheese Sandwich by Chris Thomson from Curiosity Creative on Vimeo.

Rummaging around the internet I found an archived blog post by Chris. Responding to a challenge that this style of digital storytelling is too static in an internet age, Chris lists examples of more high-tech interactie style digital stories such as these:

I liked these less. The problem for me is they shift into the realm of professional digital media. I believe the craft of digital storytelling should be within everyone’s reach. Working with photographs you’ve taken, capturing video on a mobile phone, recording a narration on any personal device. As soon as you critique the common form of the digital story promoted by Chris and colleagues, saying it fails to take advantage of the affordances of the internet for interaction, then you take away the personal power we have to tell our own stories in digital ways.

Like  an open fire, storytelling taps into our collective unconscious. Stories can have multiple levels and an impact which stays with you. They can be about individual or institutional success, sharing pedagogical and other forms of practice or be a record of personal memories. The best stories will always be those about human lives and experiences. However, their greatest value is keeping the telling within the realms of our own digital capabilities and comfort.