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portrait of Beth Daley

Beth Daley

Editorial Adviser , Europeana Foundation

Webinar watch again - digital storytelling and the truth about being human

Europeana Communicators recently held their first ‘Solve-It-Session’ webinar on digital storytelling. Here, we look at the topics and themes that came up and share the recording so you can watch again.

Our guests 

Our first guest was Dr Federica Bressan, who is the power behind the Technoculture podcast - a series of one-on-one conversations with experts in the fields of technology, art, and science. 

Up next (in a change to the advertised programme) was Dr Susan Hazan of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, who told us about Visualizing Isaiah. This project that sought to find out how providing context to the biblical Book of Isaiah by presenting it online alongside digitised contemporary objects changed people’s perceptions of the Book. 

What does it mean to be human? And what do we believe in?

Storytelling, whether it’s digital or otherwise, is all about making connections between people, or between people and ideas. Federica told us that the question Technoculture is trying to answer is ‘What does it mean to be human today?’ Susan talked to us about trying to find out what people believe - do we believe what we see online? Does providing historical context change what we believe about the Book of Isaiah? So, both projects have at their heart an idea about truth and the essence of being human.

Linked in with the idea of truth is trust. There’s an awful lot of content on the internet. There are a lot of podcasts, a lot of ‘noise’. Federica says that her approach to cutting through that is to produce the podcast that she wants to produce. ‘You shouldn’t be too eager’, she says. ‘Trust is earned over time. You have to be consistent and believe in the product that you put out there. You believe in what you do and you are transparent and you’re loyal. You’re consistent.’ 

Susan says that the results of the Visualizing Isaiah project are encouraging. Nearly everyone was prepared to suspend their disbelief when presented with historical contextual objects by a museum that they trust. For example, 75% of people were convinced that the David mentioned on a stone inscription held by the museum could be the same David that is referred to in the Isaiah text. Susan says that the results showed that, ‘The trust people have in a museum, we believe, can be transposed into the virtual.’

So how can we connect with people?

The idea of connecting people with each other and with ideas came back up in the participants’ questions on how to engage audiences in a podcast or how to encourage local communities to join in an online activity. And again, the answers came back to the concepts of truth and trust - find what is relevant about your activity to your audience, and provide what they need to be able to get to it. So, if you’re making a podcast, you don’t provide just the podcast, but a ‘cloud of items’ around it like transcription text, summary, timed links, more audio or video or pull quotes. And take it to where your audience is - that might be on social media, or it might be at local community groups. Make use of connections that already exist between other groups or organisations and your intended audience. And use your project partners or podcast guests - provide them with ready-made material to share with their networks. Federica even shared some of the tools she uses - see below!

Watch the edited video of the Solve-It-Session on Digital Storytelling.

Continue the conversation

If you want to know more about these projects, head over to the Europeana Communicators LinkedIn group!

And if you’re coming to Europeana 2019 in Lisbon, look out for Federica and Susan, who will both be there! If you’re not, or you can’t wait until then, check out the links below.

Useful links

On Technoculture and podcasting

Technoculture is available on the Technoculture Podcast site, on iTunes, on Spotify, on Soundcloud,on Facebook, and all major podcasting apps.

Watch the Technoculture intro video and a behind-the-scenes making-of, and see the episode with Europeana’s Harry Verwayen, then check out a preview of episode #1 from the new season (launch date 30 September 2019).

Check out two examples of Technoculture episodes with complete ‘show notes’: Michael Matlosz and Brigitte van Tiggelen.

Find out about the ‘Preserve this podcast!’ project at the New York Public Library.

And take a look at the free online tools that Federica mentions in the webinar: Headliner, Kapwing and Squadcast.

On Visualizing Isaiah

Visualizing Isaiah presentation slides by Susan Hazan.

Explore Visualizing Isaiah and examine The Great Isaiah Scroll online.

Read more about ‘The Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The Tangible and the Intangible of Heritage Education in E-Learning and Virtual Museums’ by Susan Hazan and Anna Lobovikov Katz.

More Solve-It-Sessions

Introducing interesting people, useful tools and asking thought-provoking questions, Solve-It-Sessions webinars are part of Europeana Communicators’ bid to support communications professionals to promote digital culture in action.

A quick and easy survey following our first webinar and a comprehensive debrief between the organisers have given us some really useful feedback on what to improve upon next time. We think interaction and opportunity to participate and share expertise are what makes a webinar really special. So, look out for more of that next time!

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