On Friday 26th June, we were at the first Digital Humanities Conference organised by the University of Derby to present the multiple narrative approaches we are adopting in DRY Project, with a specific focus on digital storytelling.
It was an interesting day, during which we were able to share tools and ideas with colleagues from different disciplines, and to explore what digital methodologies can offer Humanities.
When Professor Neil Campbell – in the introductory speech of the day – summarized the fundamental concepts of Digital Humanities, he mentioned three aspects that fit very well in the overall approach of DRY Project:
• being always open to exchange knowledge between disciplines and expertise;
• looking for new ways of doing research;
• breaking structures down by being critical and innovative.
Recurring themes during the day were ‘collaboration’, ‘dialogue’, ‘engagement’ through digital methodologies, and our paper – presented by Dr Antonia Liguori (Loughborough University) and written in collaboration with Dr Liz Roberts (UWE) – starts from this main idea of using the Digital Storytelling as a form of engagement.
Digital storytelling is one of our multiple narrative approaches that we are using to enhance a deeper level of public engagement, to raise people’s awareness, to democratize the debate by listening to excluded voices (excluded from the arena, both for the topics we are talking about – and our main topics are drought, water scarcity, water management – or sometimes because of the use of technologies).
Even if we are now only at an early stage of our public engagement activity, we are already aware of the ‘power’ of digital stories to reveal unexpected connections across different communities of interest, places and time periods; especially if these stories are published online and spread on the Internet through Social Media.
The main questions from the audience were related to the methodology itself: colleagues were keen on knowing if our workshops have always the same structure, how we get in touch with people, how we work to produce digital stories, if participants are comfortable to share their memories in public.
During the Q&A session, we proposed also a deeper reflection on both the aspect of this methodology: the process and the outcomes.
Digital storytelling – as process – in DRY Project is a form of engagement that enables people to share personal stories and to produce new knowledge(s).
Digital Stories – as outcome of that process –are not for propaganda or for making a campaign; the process is to engage people, the outcome is to learn from them and to give them the opportunity to choose their decision.
The paper presented in Derby gave us a chance also to reflect on how storytelling might impact policy and influence the decision making process, via supporting information to enable decisions and to turn evidence into advice, taking into consideration the power of digital media as a chance to reach so many people at a time.
And of course digital stories, when published on the Internet, enable an open debate between lay and expert knowledge(s). And the Internet is the ‘place’ where different languages become closer if we use and share messages with the same media.
Read the abstract of the paper “Digital storytelling and place-attachment: a ‘lens’ through which to analyse people’s values in the Drought Risk and You (DRY) Project” by Dr Antonia Liguori and Dr Liz Roberts