Digital Storytelling: An Interactive Adventure.

For this task I worked with classmate Dan to produce a choose-your-own-adventure, non-linear youtube video. We were inspired by this blogpost which puts into words a girls struggle when forced to choose between two men: one representing time and the other money. Dan and I reconfigured the storyline, stylising it to have a more comical, satirical feel. We decided that three videos would be produced: one whIch introduces the storyline and then at the end of that video two annotations would appear which link to another video, continuing and concluding the story in the way which the viewer decided.

We filmed and edited the whole thing in one evening and given the time constraints, the outcome was fairly good (if you ignore the fact that my acting skills make Kirsten Stewart look outstanding).

We took note of the various digital stories we had researched, and tried out something new. Neither of us had produced a non-linear YouTube video before.

We both promoted the video on our personal FaceBook pages and on Twitter (using the #netmed hashtag). Internet fame here we come!

 

My Favorite Digital Stories

So, I just finished reading Kristi Barnett‘s first twitter horror movie, ‘Hurst’. Actually, I’m not sure that ‘reading’ is the right word- because it was also a visual and audio experience. I watched, read, listened to and viewed the digital story- I consumed it. That’s what I love about all these new innovative developments in digital storytelling… it’s all about consuming the multifaceted media.

Screenwriter Kristi Barnett Breaking New Ground, Preparing to Unleash a Horror Experience ... on Twitter

‘Hurst’ follows the story of @KarenBarley who is sent to Croham Hurst for her job but is faced with supernatural obstacles. Her experiences are recorded through twitter updates, pictures, audio recordings, foursquare check-in’s and camera phone recordings. It takes place over 3 weeks, and through this time, the character Karen Barley replied to tweets, interacting with her followers.

I think its a novel idea and was executed fairly well. I was surprised at how much I got lost in the narrative, at times I was genuinely scared (good thing I watched during daylight). I can understand and appreciate how consuming it in real time as it unfolded would have been a different experience but unfortunately for me I consumed it in one hit, scrolling up and down, having multiple browsers open and often losing my spot on the twitter page. On top of this, most of the links didn’t work so I had to copy the URLs into a separate browser. It would have been great to be able to expand the tweet and view the image or video embedded into her twitter page (however I have a feeling twitter developed such plugins after 2011). Still, I really enjoyed the project and was inspired by it.

 

 

Another digital story I consumed was ‘Take This Lollipop‘, created by Jason Zada. It is a interactive horror short which uses the Facebook Connect application to access the users Facebook information and thrust them into the story, making the viewer feel as though they are being watched or sought out. Viewers watch as a creepy old man sits in his barn-like home at his desk, browsing through their Facebook page. He then discovers their location and leaves his desk to seek that person out. It’s pretty scary and realistic. I think it’s a good way to teach Facebook users that the internet is a public place and that stuff like this actually happens. There is minimal interactivity but there still remains a strong sense that viewers are a part of the story.

 

 

The last digital story I consumed was a non-linear, interactive series of YouTube clips. Created by Michael Gallagher, the Totally Sketch channel uploads new sketch comedy videos weekly. This particular example, ‘You Stole My Boyfriend‘ is from the choose your own adventure series. A girl has just discovered that her best friend is dating her ex-boyfriend and it is up to the viewer to decide whether she should act happy or annoyed, the viewer clicks an option which takes them to a video that follows the action and so on. It’s a fairly silly series but still quite funny. I often find myself going back to the start to explore the outcomes of different choices. It’s a light watch (in a subtly disturbing way) and the user interactivity makes it stand out against other YouTube based sketch comedies.

Creativity and Changing the World

In a world where technology is at our fingertips, it’s becoming easier for us to rely on these mindless objects to satisfy our creative needs. In turn, it’s harder for us to apply ourselves offline. Everyone can relate to those times where we favour Facebook over an important assignment. I relate well to what John Cleese says in his lecture on creativity. I almost always gravitate towards completing trivial tasks I know I can get done before tackling those more complicated and more important tasks. So, how do we get creative and apply ourselves?

According to Cleese we need space, time, confidence and humour. From a writer/producer, this is intriguing and valuable advice but then again apart of me keeps thinking that there is no formula to cultivate creativity. Everyone is different. I feel most creative when I’m sitting on a bus… without my iPhone, that is.

Steve Johnson suggests that good ideas come from a slow hunch. Over years a hunch will develop and collide with other hunches- hunches that belong to other people. So good ideas come from the collaboration of separate minds and their thoughts, apparently.

My point is, everyone has a different opinion of where good ideas come from.

Comparing Search Engines: Google VS. Duckduck go VS. Instagrok

Today, as I was surfing the web, I found myself daydreaming about being in New York once again. Brooklyn in particular. I decided to research ‘Tourist activities in Brooklyn’, using three different search engines to see what I would find. I’ve never really used Duckduckgo or Instagrok before so it was interesting comparing the results.

Google
Due to familiarity, Google is probably the easiest to use. The search yielded ‘about 5, 110, 000 results’ in ‘0.28’ seconds. Nifty.
The thing I like about Google is the suggestions that pop up as I type a phrase into the search bar. I enjoy discovering what popular searches are because it helps me to find (what I assume are) the most reliable results. Google suggested that I search for ‘attractions’ or ‘top attractions’ for more results.
Google lead me to a great website, that has intensified my desire to visit NYC: http://www.visitbrooklyn.org/

Duck Duck Go
Duckduckgo was a pleasant surprise: easy to use, yielded relevant results and also offered suggestions. The top search result was VisitBrooklyn again. Duckduckgo suggested that I search for reviews. If I were non-hypothetically planning a trip to New York, this would be useful. There’s very little recognizable disparity between Google and Duckduckgo.

Instagrok
Wow, this search engine is not like the others. It’s interface is a bit confusing, and the search didn’t direct me to the kind of thing I intended to find. Instead of taking me to travel websites immediately, it gave me facts about New York. It’s a fun site if you’re interested in delving into a topic, but not if you’re looking for quick search results.

And the winner is…

Google!

Duckduckgo was a close second but Google wins on account of its ability to infer what I want to search before I type it in. Google is also a good site to keep as my homepage because it connects me to News, Mail and Youtube.

My New Youtube Obsession

Some of my favorite things in the world are Comedy, New York City and YouTube. I spend hours at a time watching Vlogs, shorts, trailers, reviews, how-tos, fails and more. Recently, I discovered a web series, created by two female New-Yorkers, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. It’s called Broad City and it gives an insight into what it’s like to be a single and somewhat dysfunctional female 20-something living in the Big Apple (my dream future).

It’s hilarious.

Unfortunately, the camera work and direction isn’t too flash but I can look past that seeing as the two girls pretty much wrote and produced the series more or less on their own. Plus, it’s super quirky and awkwardly funny.

I give it 7/10.
They haven’t posted an episode for about a year now but they’ve been doing a bit of promo stuff lately so I have a feeling that a revamped new season is in store… I’ll definitely be on the look out for that.

Check it out!