One of the sessions from the Global Voices Community meeting that I highly appreciated was the discussion on visual storytelling by GV Executive Director Ivan Sigal. The discussion looked at how new information and communication technologies and online platforms can be maximized to present narratives in new ways.
The emergence of the internet, social media, online communities, and wider access to new gadgets and technology among wider sections of the population have led to the blurring of the distinction between audience and producer and paved the way for the flowering of user-generated content.
Much of the content on the internet take off from older technologies like print and film which are by and large linear forms. The book is linear spatially: you flip its pages until you reach the end. Meanwhile, the film takes you from one scene to another in a linear sequence as the time passes by.
New technologies are making it possible to transform how we perceive and tell stories in the sense of being not only more visual but also interactive and non-linear.
Users can interact with content that they themselves produced. New tools make it possible to manipulate each frame with their own url addresses and tags, making it possible to begin anywhere in the middle of the visual story.
User-generated photo sharing sites are some of the most common interactive visual storytelling platforms on the web. Some of the more basic and intermediate-level tools that do not actually need coding knowhow include:
Cowbird.com – which defines itself as a public library of human experience and a simple tool for telling stories.
Vine.co – a mobile based app that helps create looping videos.
Zeega.com – which helps create interactive videos from content available online.
Korsakow.org – a downloadable program that helps create interactive and immersive films through vast databases, or a collections of shots.
Klynt.net – a tool for creating and publishing mash-ups.
The website netstories.org /tools feature a list of more tools that can be used to visualize stories and engage audiences online. Examples of visual stories can be accessed at thewhalehunt.org, docubase.mit.edu, nfb.ca/interactive, and pbs.org.
Amidst the overwhelming flood of banal information and images online that bombard us every day, Sigal said that these tools can help us reaffirm the importance of stories. Visualizing stories can help reclaim knowledge from the sound and fury of sensuous surface details circulating online and map our way through cyberspace.