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News about the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab

Digital Storytelling Using Twine

Gaertner and Hausknecht lead Digital Storytelling Workshop
Published by Rebecca Dowson

On February 6, 2017, SFU’s Research Commons and the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab held a workshop on Digital Storytelling Using Twine. The first half of the afternoon featured research presentations on digital storytelling by Dr. David Gaertner, Assistant Professor in the First Nations & Indigenous Studies Program at UBC, and Simone Hausknecht, graduate student in Education at SFU. In the second half of the workshop, Gaertner introduced participants to the storytelling software Twine.

The presentations by Gaertner and Hausknecht introduced workshop participants to some of the possibilities that a digital format can offer storytellers, while highlighting some questions and concerns that these digital formats can pose for individuals and communities. Gaertner discussed the intersection between cyberspace and Indigenous studies. He prompted participants to think about the relationship between the centrality of land for Indigenous studies and the “landlessness” of cyberspace, and he offered some examples of Indigenous digital artists who have engaged with this very issue.

Hausknecht then introduced participants to her work on The Elders’ Digital Storytelling Project, which runs workshops to help participants aged 55+ create their own stories in a digital format. For those who want to share their stories - passing them on as wisdom, as a legacy to their families, or as a bridge between generations - the flexibility of digital formats can create possibilities for those with different technical skill levels. Hausknecht also shared her insight into the way digital storytelling offered multiple interpretive possibilities for those sharing their stories and those viewing them.

Following questions and discussion about the role of technology in storytelling and in communities, Gaertner led participants in a hands-on workshop using the software Twine. Twine’s digital format offers users a way to create interactive and non-linear narratives. For Gaertner, remediating or adapting narratives using Twine is another way to do close readings and engage with literature in the classroom. He demonstrated this creative process by having participants build a Twine story with a poem by digital media artist and Concordia University Professor Jason Lewis. Participants learned the basics of linking text in Twine storytelling, as well as some ways to get creative – like applying a stylesheet, creating scrolling text, and uploading images. Participants took some time at the end of the workshop to experiment with Twine and think about the kinds of stories they’d like to tell.