About Jean Burgess

Associate Professor Jean Burgess is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (http://cci.edu.au) based in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology and is a Chief Investigator on the Community Uses of Co-Creative Media research project.

Appropriate Approaches to Online Community: An Experiment

I’m pleased to be posting this on behalf of Pip Shea, a designer, artist and PhD student here at QUT whose work is closely aligned with our Community Uses of Co-Creative Media research project. Pip has been developing these booklets as an experiment in translation across academic and community contexts, and it’s fantastic to see the first of them out in the wild!

From Pip’s original post:

Appropriate Approaches to Online Community is the title of the first booklet in a series of critical guides I have been developing for community artists. It is an experiment that attempts to translate some of my PhD research findings. The booklet was inspired and informed by a period of fieldwork at CuriousWorks.

The guide explores multiple aspects of making online community networks, so that practitioners might develop appropriate Internet practices – network solutions that take the specific needs of individuals and communities in to consideration. The guide promotes critical approaches to online community building, to encourage the continuation of creative practices beyond community arts projects.

Get the PDF at the original post

Christina Spurgeon talks Co-Creative Communities

In advance of our Co-Creative Communities Forum which is coming up at ACMI in Melbourne on 8 November, Christina Spurgeon (who is the lead investigator on our research project) was interviewed by the QUT Creative Industries Faculty for a short promo video, which is embedded below.

By the way, if you’d like to join us in Melbourne for the Forum, get in quick as tickets are going fast!

Major event announcement: Co-Creative Communities Forum and Lab

The Community Uses of Co-Creative Media research team has been very busy over the past several months conducting background survey & interview research with key project stakeholders, as well as completing the Digistories sub-project –  a broadcast distribution experiment conducted in collaboration with 31 Digital and well worth a blog post on its own at some stage soon.

A lot of energy has also gone into planning for our first major project event, which combines a future-oriented public forum with a workshop/lab-style activity targeted specifically at selected co-creative community media practitioners looking to improve knowledge, gain skills and develop new partnerships.

Details below, please pass them on to all who might be interested!

Co-Creative Communities: Storytelling Futures for Community Arts and Media

Thursday 8 November – Friday 9 November 2012

Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

How are community media and arts organisations responding to the challenge of digital convergence? What is the role of storytelling and storytellers in this evolving landscape?

This two-day event brings together storytellers, broadcasters, filmmakers, artists, cultural workers, activists and researchers to discuss the challenges and opportunities that digital convergence and participatory media present for communities.

Thursday 8 November, 8.30am – 5pm

Broadcast Yourself?

Find out how public and community media innovators are responding to the challenges, changes and potential of participatory media. Speakers include Sue Schardt (Association of Independents in Radio, USA) Cath Dwyer (ABC Open), Jodie Bell (Goolarri Media Enterprises), Kath Letch (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia) and Indu Balachandran (Information & Cultural Exchange).

Impact Effects Evaluation

Leading researchers, practitioners and activists discuss the different models and best practice principles for working with communities to help tell their stories and creative positive change. Speakers include Sam Gregory (WITNESS, USA), Mimi Pickering (Appalshop, USA), Andrew Lowenthal (EngageMedia), Dr. Lachlan MacDowall (University of Melbourne) and Change Media.

Platforms & Publics

Explore how arts and media organisations are connecting with communities across new platforms, and how they might harness the power of next generation broadband. Speakers include Feral Arts, Assoc Prof. Jean Burgess (QUT), Colin Griffith (Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation) and Helen Simondson (ACMI).

Storytelling Futures

We consider the enduring appeal of storytelling, the role of the storyteller and storytelling institutions in a changing media landscape, and the importance of community-based storytelling. Speakers include Prof. John Hartley (Curtin University), Scott Rankin (Big hART), Jesse Cox (All The Best, FBi) and Elias Nohra (CuriousWorks).

To book tickets to the forum and to download the full program visit the ACMI event page.


Friday 9 November, 10am- 2pm

A half-day lab for selected participants to workshop new projects; receive feedback, advice and support from our national and international speakers; participate in peer-to-peer mentoring; and make new connections across community arts and media.

Participation is via application. For more information on how to get involved or to register your interest in the lab, email digitalstorytelling@acmi.net.au

This event is presented by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and the Queensland University of Technology with support from the Australian Research Council, the Australia Council for the Arts, Goolarri Media Enterprises, Swinburne University of Technology, Curtin University, 31 Digital and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia.

ACMI will also be hosting a Digital Storytelling express workshop in conjunction with the forum on Saturday 10 November, 10am – 5.30pm. More info at the ACMI website.

Public storytelling at the Smithsonian and beyond

Helen Klaebe is one of the Chief Investigators on the Community Uses of Co-Creative Media project, and she has just returned from the last leg of her five month Queensland Smithsonian Fellowship, which was awarded in August 2011. I asked Helen to pass on some reflections on her trip as it relates to our research project, and here they are – enjoy!

– Jean

Smithsonian update
For the last decade my creative writing-based research has focused on traditional and new ways of telling stories using new media – non fiction stories about real people in real places. Oral histories have been my method of choice, and one from which many storytelling products can be produced, such as writing a book, creating digital stories, inspiring public art or curating an exhibition.

The Qld Smithsonian Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to work alongside leading researchers at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), in order to trial innovative ways of evaluating public narrative-driven Arts-based programs, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which attracts over a million visitors annually – showcasing artists, crafts specialists, and performers who tell stories about their creative practice. I have also examined how the facilitator/curator assists the storyteller – either in a ‘real’ performative setting, or through digital storytelling (video/images/blogs online) to tell their stories.

As part of my Fellowship I conducted a literature review; interviewed curators/interns/sponsors, attended planning meetings and workshops; built an evaluation model for the Smithsonian Institute (SI); produced templates to be trialled in 2012; produced a brief evaluation report on the 2011 Colombian program- including the use of video/images/blogs to tell stories; worked with SI curators on the 2012 program; conducted training in evaluation and digital storytelling, integrated evaluation models into 2012 activities; and returned for the summer Festival, monitoring evaluation and storytelling practices. Now that I’m back in Australia, we will produce a free online toolkit for organizations of all sizes that clearly explains how to better evaluate narrative-driven community engagement activities, where artists or creative practitioners are engaged in storytelling in public spaces.

Reflections on the art of storytelling – digital, interactive, live
While living in the US I became very interested in the growing public storytelling phenomenon that seems to be exploding – involving live storytelling performances with deep connections to various digital manifestations – examples include The Moth, This American Life, and Story League.

Some of the highlights of exploring ‘real stories’ re-presented in real places I experienced while in the US included: talking to ‘artisans at work’ in Bogota and its surrounds in Colombia; visiting the interactive Katrina Exhibition in New Orleans (featuring oral history interviews used to make digital stories); comparing the depiction of Thomas Jefferson at Thomas Jefferson’s farm Monticello, Charlottesville to the Smithsonian’s American History Museum exhibition; climbing through the abandoned streets that lie beneath the city of Seattle on an underground walking history tour; seeing the official 9/11 memorial and then visiting the ‘unofficial’ interactive museum where interview material works powerfully with objects; and (although fictional) in New York I was inspired by a locative, interactive performance of Sleep No More, an interpretation of Macbeth.

Storytelling is alive and well in the digital age. These examples, and the many other contemporary projects like them, show that the new hybrid, multi-platform and emplaced ways that stories can be re-presented and shared offer exciting new opportunities for storytellers, facilitators, curators and audiences.

Helen Klaebe

Mobile media and digital storytelling

As a PhD student way back in 2005, I started to notice the development of dedicated apps and websites for mobile phone-based multimedia storytelling. I also got embarrassingly excited about the digital storytelling potential of iPods – first the iPod Video as a platform for personal micro-cinema, and a little later, the introduction of high-quality iPod voice recorders. And there were early initiatives that aimed to encourage people to exploit the new video-recording capabilities of mobile phones to create micro-cinematic works, like the 60 Second Story competition and the Siemens Micro Movie Awards.

With the rise of smartphones like the iPhone as well as über-platforms YouTube and Facebook, things have obviously moved on – and sideways – quite a bit.

Because of the mid-2000s focus on ‘user-created content’ as opposed to ‘social media’, I imagined at the time that these kinds of applications might promote the relatively easy, on-they-fly curation of personal and everyday experience into micro-narrative forms, but of course things turned out rather differently from that. In the Facebook moment, the network and its logics of sharing and ambient intimacy seem to have trumped the considered narrative. (Although Facebook’s recently introduced Timeline is an interesting, accretive reinterpretation of the life story).

Anyway, of course the rise and rise of the smartphone in advanced economies and the ascendancy of mobile media more broadly have generated a whole new wave of multimedia storytelling and video editing apps. A new one that has caught my eye recently via our Twitter account is Com-Phone: an Android app (with a Symbian version) for digital storytelling aimed squarely at community applications with a particular focus on rural communities. The Com-Phone app is part of the Community Media Toolkit developed by UK and South African university partners as part of a Research Council UK (RCUK) funded Digital Economy project. From a related press release:

Professor Matt Jones of Swansea University College of Science said: “This research project aims to give insights into how social-media sharing systems should be designed and deployed to benefit many billions of people beyond the mainstream ‘developed’ world contexts. We are also keen to see how the work can impact on people poorly served by conventional social networking solutions wherever they are in the world, including the UK.”

Com-Phone looks to be a highly usable multimedia narrative application supporting the assembly and editing of photos, multilayered audio, and text to produce a final video story; and because it sits within the larger ‘toolkit’ which is designed for a range of ad hoc scenarios that don’t depend on internet connectivity or even the availablity of electricity, it comes with interesting within-community or to-the-web sharing options. An interesting new development, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the take-up is in community projects.