My theme this summer is about Change and Transitions. I am very interested in using a poem called, "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon as a part of my dissertation project. It has been widely applied in the world of digital storytelling and used as an inspiration for many others. This is one of many examples available. I particularly like the use of this poem as inspiration as it does address who we are in relationship to our past histories and how those fit into the larger story of our identities and purpose. In other words, they are about the transitions we experience as a part of becoming who we are.
I used three criteria in order to critique this particular digital story. First I looked at the media grammar. This element includes many different elements. I was disappointed that such a personal story did not include the voice of the author. I believe that by simply using the poem as captions to the photographs, some of the personal voice was lost. I would have loved to have heard the author's inflection and emotion in this piece as I believe it would have added a level of empathy on the part of the viewer. The photographs were excellent--in particular the photograph of the hands was exceptional. That one persuaded me to want more from this. I wanted to know more about these people, this family, their history. I did not particularly care for the music. It did not seem to be the best fit for this story. It's springy rhythm did not really speak to ideas like patriotism or spirituality--some of the deeper themes of the story which were undoubtedly important and even essential. I would have chosen differently.
So, while I was not particularly impressed with the use of media grammar in this story, the story was told with great economy. The photos were chosen carefully and were perfect illustrations to her own I am from poem. The pacing was very good--each slide was just long enough. The viewer had time to read just as the slide advanced. I feel like I know this person to an extent. I don't know how well I know her--because without a human voice, the production feels stilted and a bit distant.
My fundamental issue with the overall production is the lack of transitions. The slides simply switch. The music starts and ends abruptly. It is jarring--much like reading a student's writing when there are no transitions employed. I would have loved to have seen this storyteller experiment with transitions to see if the story was enhanced through the use of them.
Overall, I would call this a great start at digital storytelling. The foundation is solid but I'd like to see some elements enhanced and added to really create something powerful for this storyteller.