Yesterday Alan Levine, aka cogdog, gave a presentation on 50+ Ways to Tell a Story using Web 2.0 technologies. The presentation was excellent as it introduced us to a variety of tools available online for telling stories. The power of Levine’s presentation was the way he told and retold the same story about losing and then finding his dog, Dominoe, using the different tools.
Alan himself wonders about what people walk away with after the presentation other than a long list of tools. He emphasizes that it is not about the tools and in the course of the presentation, it became increasingly clear that if you don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the shear number of possibilities out there, something important shows itself as the same story is told and retold: you begin to see that the medium in which a story is told determines the content of the story; the story itself changes by virtue of the form through which it is expressed.
This is a significant and important insight. It not only forces us to attend to the myriad Web 2.0 modes of digital expression that are open to us, but also, and more significantly, to ask how these modes impact the content we create, engage, critique and experience.
I could imagine an assignment for a class that points students to the 50+ Ways wiki and asks them to choose a mode of digital expression that most effectively and powerfully presents their content and then requires them to reflect upon the choices they made. This would encourage a critical engagement of the question concerning how form impacts content and content, form. One would need to emphasize that to divorce the question of form from content is impossible; that the more attentive one is to the intimate, complex and reciprocal relationship between form and content, the more effective, powerful and meaningful one’s expression becomes.
After the presentation, we had a panel discussion (see picture above) that touched only the surface of the issues raised.
Check out Cole Camplese’s post on the event: http://www.colecamplese.com/2009/05/cogdog-visits-psu/