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2.4.3 Digital storytelling

The availability of more affordable technology, including mobile phones and tablets with integrated cameras make it easier to use social networking sites incorporating video and photography to tell stories, to the extent that it is ‘changing how we visualize intimate cartographies though shifting camera phone practices’ (Hjorth, 2013, p.113). Digital mapping combined with imagery can ignite geographical intervention and real changes on the ground; Hall (2012) cites the example of the New York High Line where the mapping of changes in the structure by a firm of architects generated public interest and lobbying for creative interventions in this (now widely recognized, but at the time disused) edifice, echoing this sentiment below:

“Inevitably, the complexities of using film influence how we as engagement practitioners think about listening to and presenting stories of difference, growth and change – and how we think about how we ourselves are part of the story” (Sarkissian, Hurford and Wenman, 2010, p.144)

Pietbruno (2013, p.1268) describes the study of YouTube videos as ‘virtual ethnography’ and stresses the importance of video archives for the archiving of intangible heritage. This would tie in with the terminology used by Lee relating to ‘soft assets’ of cultural heritage (Lee,

2009), where it is not just the physical buildings which are important to the culture of an area, but also the people and traditions.


Locative based services (LBS) can be used to include an element of geography into social media (Trower, 2011, Hjorth, 2013, Hjorth and Pink, 2014). Tweets can be geo-located when the location feature is enabled by the user, and services such as FourSquare and Yelp actively encourage users to regularly ‘check in’ and review businesses based on their experiences, accumulating points or status through gamification activities as you may become ‘mayor’ or ‘Duchess’ of a business or neighbourhood through continuous engagement with the service. The geolocative element of social media is often an opt-in facility where the user must actively choose to share their location, although once activated in some services customers must then opt out of sharing, which is easy to forget especially if users are less digitally literate or are just beginning their experimentation with social media. Photo sharing services such as Instagram allow geo-tagging of images and video and exploration of media from that location and users are encouraged to use tags wisely in services such as YouTube and Boomerang to increase engagement.


2.4.3.1 Methods: Digital storytelling in this research

The digital storytelling in this research gave participants the option to use video, audio and paper tools to record their stories, which were made accessible through blogging and social media; a variation on the methodology employed in Digital Commonwealth (McGillivray et al., 2015b), developed as appropriate for this research.


In order to explain the research workshop idea, I devised a participant information sheet in plain English, which acted as prompts for conversations and recordings:


“The researcher is looking at culture in Paisley and what this means, so you will learn how to create a digital piece of work that looks at this topic.

Topics might include:

My local group, what we do and why I like it

History, heritage and architecture

Sport and active life in Paisley

Parks and nature

Music, theatre and dancing

Cinemas, films and digital

Books, poems and writing

Art and craft

Fashion and design

Paisley events and festivals

My Paisley my culture”


This is a direct extract from my approved participant information sheet. Chapter four details the results of the digital storytelling outputs, including the approaches adopted by the participants and an explanation of the findings.