Focus on digital storytelling

LIZAHN WENTZEL

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology hosted South Africa’s first Digital Story Festival, which provided a platform for academics and non-government organisations (NGO) to learn digital storytelling techniques from some of the world’s foremost practitioners.

The festival, which was held at CPUT’s Bellville campus, focused on people, stories and museums.

Other workshops also focused on photo-based storytelling and innovative techniques for helping people to find their stories.

Joe Lambert, founder of the US-based StoryCenter, was the keynote speaker for the event. Mr Lambert said the idea of making digital stories has become an international literacy movement.

“There is an international community of people who are working with others, teaching the skills of making stories from people’s lives, by using internet communication technologies (ICT),” he said.

“Digital stories are a powerful way for ordinary people to create and share life stories as short videos,” said festival co-organiser, Pam Sykes of Digital Storytelling South Africa.

“They are used as a teaching tool in schools and universities, as advocacy and fundraising tools for NGOs and in museums as a new way to engage with history,” Ms Sykes said

The festival coincided with the final meeting of a European Union-funded project called StoryAbroad, explained co-organiser Daniela Gachago of CPUT’s Centre for eLearning.

StoryAbroad collected diverse stories from Europe, Africa, North and South America, which they shared at a meeting in Cape Town.

“For the past year a global consortium has been working to gather stories by young people living, studying and working away from their home countries,” said Ms Gachago.

Mr Lambert, from San Francisco, said he was impressed with CPUT and its attempts to further ICT. “South Africa has moved well into the 21st century and will soon be a leader in ICT development,” he said

Mark Dunford from the University of East London said this was a well organised and professionally curated festival.

“The venue allowed us to use stories made through StoryAbroad, interrogating the making of stories across a diverse partnership and learn from colleagues,” he said.

“This was the first time that people from both the academic and the NGO world interested in storytelling gathered to network. We are hoping that this event will become a regular opportunity to share our experiences,” said Ms Gachago.

Ms Sykes and Ms Gachago hope this event will assist in creating a platform for continued engagement around digital storytelling in South Africa.