New Update from the Twitterverse.

It has been a few months since the last Twitter update, but many fantastic things have been happening around the world with community uses of co-creative media.

Upcoming conferences include the 5th International Digital Storytelling Conference in Ankara, Turkey from the 8-10th May.  This is a large conference with a diverse array of digital storytelling research, exhibitions and displays. Click here to subscribe to the Twitter list for that conference.

Another international event coming up soon is the 8th Digital Storytelling Festival to be held in Wales on the 14th June.

Also, there is the interesting Laundromat Project tweeted by researcher, designer, artist and educator Pip Shea.  Also, check out Pip’s free downloadable PDF booklets.

There is some really interesting research on Video4Change, and links to this work have been tweeted by researcher Dr. Tanya Notley. Definitely a link worth checking out. This is in addition to many great links from Witness, who are celebrating 20 years. The Human Rights Channel has also been nominated for a Webby.

Also worthwhile reading are the regular blog posts from the MIT Center for Civic Media, that has included blog posts about Engage Media and their work.

March saw a lot of tweeting from the Australian Arts community in relation to Creative Australia, the Australian Government’s 2013 national cultural policy. This is in addition to the future of digital radio, and government funding in the community broadcasting sector, that was also making an impact on Twitter that month. This campaign is ongoing. Make sure to visit the “Commit to Community Radio” page for further information.

These are just a few of the many things that have been happening around the world. Please make sure to keep following the @ozccmorg Twitter feed for regular updates.

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

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.

Recent Highlights from the Twitterverse.

Community Uses of Co-Creative Media’s Twitter stream has been going for a few months now, so we thought it would be a great idea to post a roundup of what is out there with digital storytelling and co-creative media practices in the wider community and around the world.

Recent highlights include a story from the well known StoryCorps, with a Kickstater campaign to fund a TV series of their animated digital stories. This looks really interesting, and the use of crowd funding is quite a fascinating idea, as it allows potential audience members to invest in the program that they will eventually watch. So, both the audience and storytellers are involved in getting it on the air.

Another very interesting piece of information is the recent post on the research of The Future of Storytellingconducted by Latitude 42 via the CBX Twitter feed. This research emphasised:

“1. How are audiences’ expectations around storytelling evolving as media experiences become more multiplatform, more customizable, and more participatory?

2. How can content creators and technologists make stories come alive, by allowing audiences to delve deeper into them or by bringing them out into the real world?

3. What are some best practices and new opportunities for the future of storytelling?”

Reference: CB Online 

Another great community project is the The Creative Recovery Pilot Project. This is fantastic. It is a 16-month initiative across three communities, including the regions of Ipswich, Lockyer Valley and Cassowary Coast in Queensland, that were hit hard by recent flooding and natural disaster in 2010-2011. It is really worth checking out, and to also see how stories have been shared on the online platform by Feral Arts called Place Stories.

One really interesting, and well publicised use of community co-creative storytelling, is the recent National Geographic collaboration with the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation. By using the Cowbird Storytelling Platform, this allowed both the magazine and the community to tell their stories unfiltered, and to share these with the world.

The Information and Cultural Exchange’s (ICE) recent blog post The Empowering Nature of Storytelling and self esteem, also shared a wonderful short summary of the Koori Kinnection Project, and the great things that storytelling has done for young people with the telling and sharing of digital stories and similar creative practices.

This is only a short collection of the wonderful projects that are out there, and we will be posting many more regular round ups and highlights of such great projects and initiatives that we come across via Twitter and other online travels.





An introduction…

“Human beings have always told their histories and truths through parable and fable. We are inveterate storytellers.” Beeban Kidron

This recent quote has really resonated with me.

My name is Elizabeth Heck, and as a PhD student attached to the ARC/Linkage Project Community Uses of Co-creative Media, I thought I should introduce myself.

Before embarking on research in this area, I was involved in short film making, after gaining my BA (Hons) in Film and Television Production here at QUT. My Honours project was a solo documentary project on Community Television, and my interest in community media goes back a long way.

Thinking back, one of my favourite media projects was as a line producer on a program called Spark TV, where I was one of a passionate team who curated short films from student and emerging filmmakers for community broadcast and screenings. We linked these short films together via animations and other creative means from local animators. We were always excited by the talent that was out in the community, and it was wonderful to be part of project that gave those short films and stories a platform to be shared and enjoyed by others.

A passion for emerging and student film & media making also led me into the field of Media Education, and after I gained my Bachelor of Education, I taught secondary Film, Television and Media Studies. It was very rewarding to see an enthusiasm for media amongst my students. One of my favourite parts of lessons was sharing wonderful discussions with my senior students about the media.

After a short time off to have my two children, I returned to QUT to further my qualifications and undertake a research orientated degree of a Master of Education. This was particularly rewarding, and further ignited my passion for media research, community media making and learning. At that time, I became the Administration Officer for the Australian Teachers of Media, Queensland branch; the professional development organisation for Queensland media educators. As part of this, I manage the ATOM Qld Twitter feed. It is a very valuable learning and professional development tool, and I have really enjoyed curating the content of that feed, for both teacher resources and learning purposes, and relevant promotion for the organisation. I do have a thing for Twitter I must admit! My last M. Ed paper was on the value of using social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, for media teacher professional development. Personally, I have learnt a lot through social media platforms such as Twitter. The sharing of knowledge and information on this platform has been incredibly valuable in enhancing my own learning experiences.

My PhD research is delving into how learning occurs through community uses of co-creative media practices, such as digital storytelling, from the workshop process to broadcast and distribution platforms at the intersection of community media and arts organisations. Digital storytelling as a means of creative expression in social learning. I look forward to researching, sharing and learning further with this project and I am very excited to be involved in this research area.

In addition to my research studies, I do very much have an interest in photography. From my DSLR to iPhoneography and Instagramming. I can’t resist taking a photo! It’s become a daily habit.

On the importance of storytelling, I thought I might pop in the fantastic talk from Beeban Kidron, film maker and a founder of Film Club, a UK organisation established to bring the joy of the cinema and storytelling to kids outside of school time. Her focus here is on film storytelling, but the overall message is universal, as to the transformative power of story and how it can ignite passion and enthusiasm with young people, in this instance, to fire great discussion, shared experience and also informal learning. This talk resonates with me, as someone who has taught film and media to young people and to see the passion  that such storytelling viewing and creating generates.

What is exciting now, is the opportunity for people in the community to make and share their own stories with co-creative media practices. To produce their own narrative and identity, impart new ideas, share, listen and learn from each other. It is an exciting era for personal and community based storytelling.

I am now part of the team tweeting for the @ozccmorg Twitter feed and will be posting regular round ups in future blog posts about what’s going on out in the Twitterverse in Digital Storytelling, other co-creative media practices and related areas of interest.

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.

Enhancing Women’s Participation in Turkey through Digital Storytelling

At last! Turkish academic Burcu Şimşek has published a detailed account of her work with Turkish feminist organisation, Amargi. The article appears in the latest issue of Cultural Science and the stories she discusses can be viewed here (this link is the the English version of the collection).

Burcu’s presentation at the 2012 conference of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association at the University of South Australia last week was one of many conference highlights.