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Digital Storytelling – A Movement in the Making

The Center for Social Media welcomed Stefani Sese, of the Center for Digital Storytelling, who led a discussion on the growing role that digital storytelling has in advocacy campaigns. She initiated the discussion by defining digital storytelling as "something between slideshow a PowerPoint presentation, and a documentary."

The Center for Digital Storytelling provides training to individuals to produce three-minute digital shorts that focus not so much on the technology or production technique, but on a good, powerful story driven by narrative and personal life experience, an approach that is rooted in theater and storytelling traditions. The projects are made possible by new, "DIY" digital media tools that make it easier than ever for advocates to tell their important stories and make their messages for social change heard. They also serve as an introduction to media literacy, as the training helps the public to understand how elements of a media piece can fit together to produce a powerful message.

The Center has partnered with people and organizations from around the globe to produce these digital stories that become evocative elements to larger campaigns. For example, a piece produced in partnership with EngenderHealth puts a human face on HIV in Africa. Other projects tell of important, and sometimes painful, moments of our nation’s history (Sacrificios), while others have helped social work organizations to open a dialogue on difficult subjects like the pain of being in foster care (Breaking Free).

The production is simple, often integrating only still shots of photographs, voice and music, but the emotion behind these narratives is profound. As Sese reflected, "What makes this process work is that it is a movement – it is a form of witness."