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4.3.1 Insights into cultural assets from digital storytelling

The discussions raised in my research using digital storytelling sessions gave a high degree of insight into the lives of those who participated, and their views on what culture meant to them, and to the town. Research into digital techniques argues that such methods act as a way of capturing the more authentic voice of participants, assisting in de-marginalisation of groups and facilitating the recording of stories that otherwise risk being lost, or unshared (Murthy, 2008, Gómez Cruz and Meyer, 2012, Ozkul and Humphreys, 2015). Some participants in my research used images as prompts and brought these in to share as part of discussions.

The participants created eleven outputs, comprising eight audio recordings, and three pieces of illustrative collage to accompany the recordings. Several recordings addressed memories of particular events, including an unexpected encounter with a celebrity and their role in laying a wreath for a Remembrance Parade. Some stories were very personal and expressed in individual ways. One participant wished to mark her memories of a family member with music, imagery and poetry combined whilst another recounted a connection with a particular building through her story of learning of her first pregnancy. Within the audio recordings a fondness for Paisley as a place was expressed, with great knowledge of different areas of the town and attractions within it (previously and currently). Items of note included parks, bowling greens, dance halls, swimming pools/ baths, as well as places to eat and drink and the local football ground (see online portfolio for more detail and original pieces which illustrate this).

Listening to the life stories of participants was fascinating, with some people recording their friendships with group members and family links, and others recalling famous characters of Paisley past and present. A degree of negativity towards some changes was expressed, for

example in retailing or loss of facilities which had closed or moved elsewhere, but generally still positive in “more good things than bad” and the discussions after recording prompted many more friendly interactions among myself and the participants and sub groups of participants themselves. This experience echoes the findings of Sarkissian et al (2010) and Miles and Ebrey (2017) who immersed themselves in community life as part of research; when not recording it felt like I had been accepted as a member of the group and my work was moving into more of a participant observation territory; this was not the objective of my research, but this sort of informal chatting does help develop positive relationships. I preferred to let the participants take a lead, according to their preferences, therefore the recordings which I gained were not all carried out to a professional standard, and basic editing (to deal with sound levels) was required. Establishing rapport with some of the participants presented a challenge in some groups, although the format of some of the group sessions attended, with tea and cake, helped put people at ease some potential participants were not keen to record, but happy to chat. In one example, recording a natural conversation presented difficulties in sound levels whilst several people joined in, even with the correct multi-directional setting on a microphone. It does, however, give a flavour of the friendly atmosphere of the group setting, and the way in which the group work. In my experience here, some of the recordings were more akin to mini focus groups who started off with one topic and discussed this, rather than a planned interview or storyboarded recordings, which means that some editing to extract a more comprehensive narrative is required to form if that is the intended aim of the output (see example in online portfolio, entitled Roar chat).

The limited amount of time available for sessions means that it is not possible to follow up on recordings, which would have been beneficial in some instances as a sense of connection had been made but the participant did not have the confidence to record. These levels of participation imply different degrees of digital confidence, familiarity and preference among participants. Whilst the research methods used did not explicitly aim to deliver full structured training on how to use the tools for future projects, participants gave informal feedback that they had learned new skills; using kinaesthetic learning methods and learning through doing and play (after Gauntlett and Holzwarth (2006) was therefore beneficial for some participants, and the organisations where I carried out digital storytelling have since been involved in further creative projects; Roar have a beginners tablet class (Roar Connections For Life, 2017), and Star have been working on a creative film project (Star Project, 2017). This is an example of the application of facilitating participants in moving

from being digital consumers to digital producers (McGillivray et al., 2015a), and influencing the experiences of participants across different creative skill disciplines (Skains, 2015).