Digital Storytelling

In Dean Shareski’s latest post on his blog ‘Ideas and Thoughts”, he passes on the idea [with credit to Doug Peterson, ZeFrank, Stephen Downs among others] that Google Streetview and its ever growing database is an exceptional tool for storytelling.  Dean created and shared a video about his small hometown of Morden in Manitoba, which emphasizes the point about Google’s growing database – even relatively small towns have now been ‘Streetviewed’.

Dean also shares a link to a video by Jim Groom, saying that, “Watching Jim Groom’s video, was like literally like going for a walk with him.”  It was Jim’s video that really hit me with the power of Google Streetview.  Jim tells his story about growing up in a tight-knit community in Long Island.  This is a part of the world that I know almost nothing about, and yet after watching his video,  I feel that I would ‘know my way around’ if I was to go for a walk in his neighbourhood.  I feel that I’ve learned something about the culture that is associated with the place.  Now Jim’s story is not particularly exciting or interesting, although I do feel that I have learned about that part of New York.  It is the power of this technology that I have found exciting and interesting.  If this technology was used by someone who did have an interesting story to tell, it could be quite powerful.  Google Streetview allows anyone with the right technology, and a bit of time, to create engaging videos to support a story of a place.

So I got to thinking about place, and stories of place.  What place would I love to tell a story about, and share with my students?  I first Googled my house, and switched to Street View.  I thought that it was pretty cool that my property was on Street View, although not interesting enough to share with anyone.  Then I thought about one of my favourite places on this planet… the artists’ market square in Montmartre, Paris, France.  I Googled Montmartre, and sure enough Street View was available.  I had to call upon my memory from walking the streets of Montmartre several years ago, and eventually found my way to the artists’ square.  If done right, some very interesting stories could be told with the Street View images of this heavily trafficked place.

The man in the green shirt in the center of the image below is a painter by the name of Cawian Mahmud.   When I visited this square about six years ago with my wife, we bought four paintings from Cawian to decorate our newly purchased house.  It was quite interesting to me to ‘find’ him in street view, as I have often wondered if he still worked and painted in Paris.  Cawian’s story is just one of the details that could be interwoven into a Google Street View walk through Montmartre.

I doubt that my small attempt is a great example (especially since I haven’t yet made a video of the ‘streetview walk’), never-the-less, I think the power of Street View is evident.  Whether used by teachers, or by students, Street View can be used to create interesting stories about the culture of a place.

Photo Sharing with Visions and 23

In my last post, I’ve described my liking of the Visions 3-D Image Management System and its excellent features for displaying batches of photos.  The program also has great editing features as well as image creation features that allow you to create holiday cards, greetings, calenders and a variety of other neat creations.

click for larger image

click for larger image

However, it is Visions’ photo sharing feature that makes this a Web 2.0 tool for the read/write/share generation.  Visions is associated with social photo sharing web-sites Flickr and 23.  The Visions application lets you upload batches of images from your visual galleries to your on-line account with a photo sharing site.

click for larger imageHere is a screen shot of Visions uploading images to share on 23.  The next image shows the resulting 12 images uploaded to my 23 account, and now published for anyone to see [in just one click – pretty slick!].  Although Flickr is obviously the most popular photo sharing site on-line [Flickr has thousands of images uploaded every minute], I chose to use 23 as it does not require you to create a Yahoo account.  Here is a quote from the ‘About 23‘ page: “A community should be open to users of all photo sharing services and not force one to use one in particular to participate.”

My avatar in Second Life

Click the image to view images of my avatar, Rasta Telling, in a few interesting places in Second Life.

Now that I’ve created an account on 23, I’ve begun to think about educational advantages for using photo sharing web-sites.  Flickr, 23, photobucket, or many other photo sharing sites could be used by teachers or students to share galleries of images.  Perhaps my art students could use 23 to create digital portfolios of their created artworks.  I’ve liked the idea of one photo every day for quite some time.  This would be a good way for students to develop their visual skills, and their ‘camera eye’.  23 might be a good place for such projects.  Ideally, I’d like to have students share one photo every day, as well as an image of one creation every day [sketch, painting, sculpture, poem, collage, anything creative].

Visions 3D Image Management

click for a larger image

click for a larger image

I’ve been playing around with a cool 3D Image Management application called Visions made by Twins-solutions.
I like this app. It may be useful to anyone who has massive collections of pictures and photos on their computer, as I do. It allows you alternate ways to browse, view, edit and share photos.  I liken this program to iTunes for pictures. Any teacher who wants to display galleries of images to students may wish to check this out, as it allows unique ways to display and browse through image folders [much more interesting than Windows’ default].  Its most grabbing feature is its interesting variety of  ways to view multiple galleries in 3D.  However, it does come with tons of other features for organizing, editing, creating, and even sharing photos on-line.  As an artist, I’m always looking for quick and easy photo editing apps.  I will have to ‘play’ with this some more, but right off the bat, I like the 3-D viewing features.  Check out the videos on the gallery page: http://www.twins-solutions.com/video.html

click for a larger image

This application is a perfect addition to my classroom practice, as I a consistently show collections of images to enforce some of the visual concepts that I try to teach in my courses.
In the screen shot above, you can see that the Visions app allows me to have a dozen image galleries on the screen at the same time.  Simply scrolling my mouse over any image in any gallery bring up a larger thumbnail, and a double click displays the image in full size.  This is just one of many ways to view image galleries.  Image galleries can be displayed in this cylinder view, or 5 other 3-D views.

In the screen shot at the top of this post (click the image to see it larger) you can see a practical application of this program.  I have three galleries on the screen at the same time.  The left is a collection of image of Vincent Van Gogh paintings, the center gallery is a collection of images of a variety of Impressionist artworks, and the right is a collection of images of Claude Monet paintings.  This makes it quick and simple to switch back and forth between galleries and to select images from each gallery to display.   This will often be useful in order to compare and contrast visual concepts.  In this case, perhaps I want to discuss similarities and differences between Van Gogh’s and Monet’s styles of Impressionist painting.