Goldilocks and the three-headed dog lollipops

With the rise of what has been dubbed ‘Web 2.0,’ there is now a widespread amount of interaction through the use of the internet. Of course there are easier ways of doing this, like being an editor on Wikipedia… As long as you know enough information. There have also been an increasing number of ways to do so through use of multimedia. Through the use of media such as video, and through outlets such as YouTube and Vimeo as well as any other way to embed videos on webpages and converse with people, everything is so much more accessible. ‘Digital storytelling’ utilises this development in technology, encouraging people to collaborate by using the internet as a tool.

Let me offer you some examples, with commentarial feedback.

1. Take This Lollipop

This is a very confronting video showing how easy it is for people to access the information you have on your Facebook page. I was really suspicious at first and I didn’t use my real account, but a fake one my friend and I had made when we were 14 for gaming purposes. Anyway, to ‘take the lollipop’ you have to give the site access to your information and friends list. It shows all of these details in a video that depicts a creepy hacker dude in a basement who uses any information you included about your whereabouts to find you. It actually shows Google Maps of where you may have indicated that you are. Didn’t make sense for the fake account though. Neither of my friend and I have been to Ringwood, and if either of us was, I really don’t think we would be using this fake account to play games.
All in all, I think that it was a very inventive way of utilising participation. The fact that the user has to allow for the information to be used, already emphasises how easy it is for a website to fool someone into thinking something is safe. It really hits home what people can be capable of. I like the use of establishing shots and how emphatic the hacker’s face was. It was good that the hacking seemed so effortless. The music and the lighting also helped to portray the hacker as being sinister. I also think the progression of the story was very clear. From scrolling down the Facebook page to going onto Google Maps, it is a really obvious set of movements and lets the audience know exactly where the hacker is headed. For me, there were no weaknesses in this story. None at all. I mean, they’re using Facebook to advertise that Facebook is dangerous, by using settings from your Facebook account. The message is clear and the story is obvious in its attempt to convey this message.

2. Pottermore

I had ‘liked’ the Harry Potter page on Facebook and for a while they were posting a lot about something called ‘Pottermore.’ Clicking on the link took you to a site with a countdown and owls flying everywhere. It was all very mysterious and wondrous. What it is, is basically an online version of the book but with extra elements of fun! Yay! As well as including extra text and thoughts from J. K. Rowling, it also has being able to experience the story as a journey with Harry Potter himself. From collecting currency and house points, to brewing potions and casting spells, the ‘reader’ can essentially live the books. Considering the fact that this was released a significant amount of time after the last instalment of the series, it is a good way to reprise the popularity. I would consider this a more Web 2.0 version of the series, making it more appealing to younger audiences. Taking in elements of gaming as well as fantasy, it allows young people to also enjoy reading. The biggest audience of Harry Potter would now be in their 20s and possibly 30s, seeing as the first book was released in 1997. It is also a good way to make more money, utilising this new technology of e-books but with fun! The only negative is the possible takeover of e-books. It probably won’t end up being a big problem, buuuuut considering the fun bits of Pottermore, all other e-books are preeettty borrrring.
Overall, it seems that all that Pottermore is, is a different medium for the same story but with the incorporation of fun and exclusivity. Not being an avid reader myself, I would wonder how dedicated a Potter fan would have to be to already own all the books, but still pay again for this experience. I would also wonder if people would purchase the online story with little to no knowledge of the story, that is the new target market of young teens. I guess I’m just kinda iffy about how popular it could be if you take all of these variables into account.

3. Goldilocks

A series of videos filmed entirely on Apple‘s iPhone 4 and iPod, Goldilocks’ first episode features the demise of two of what I would assume are the central characters. There is no dialogue until the very end, but a lot of dramatic music as well as quick cuts and use of a fish-eye lens. I must be a bit late, seeing as so many of the episodes were already released onto Vimeo. Buuuuut, I have gathered as much to have concluded that by downloading the App, as suggested at the very end of the video, would allow the viewer to “be the first to see what happens next.” This element of exclusivity is a very new concept. The fact that you can be one of the first to see something because you have access to a specific type of technology, is an idea that stems from the use of several types of technologies. I don’t know anyone who uses Vimeo much but, the invitation to use your phone to be involved in a more personal way. What I mean is that, phones are much more personal than any other type of technology we would use on a daily basis. Being downloaded as an App has perks for the supplier as well as the downloader. They can use it to track information on the phone or device that it is downloaded onto as well as send alerts to the owner. By giving an incentive to downloading the App, this team has inadvertently asked for information and permission to be annoying, without actually having to be straight forward about their intentions.
I guess I would say that the strengths would be that there is a secret marketing tool but the weakness is that it’s probably illegal in some minuscule way. But otherwise, it is an interesting perk of having the App and it works as a semi-marketing-esque way of becoming well-known. This of course, all takes out of consideration, the fact that it is a pretty interesting story so far. The story itself is interesting as there are very obvious loose ends and it’s progression lies solely on whether you as the viewer chooses to download the App or wait for the episode’s eventual release on Vimeo.

4. Away We Happened

American phone company AT&T together with YouTube filmmakers, Wong Fu Productions created a webseries called “Away We Happened.” The series relies on the participation of viewers and a voting system. After filming the first episode and including some uncertainties and/or cliffhangers, the voting was open for a few days before filming commenced for the next episode, with six episodes in total. The story progresses as a direct result of what the majority of viewers have voted for. While the decisions are ultimately up to the filmmaking team, it is a very active use of newer technologies, including YouTube as a way to circulate and attract viewers. While YouTube itself can be a digital storytelling medium, this inclusion of viewer input takes it to a whole other level of storytelling. It is no longer completely dependent on the writer. It also builds some sense of rapport between the two parties’ input. It allows the viewers to feel involved and leads to higher willingness for audiences to want to participate and to want to view the next.
So, it really is just a good way of both getting ideas and maintaining a relationship online. Giving the audience some sense of control also gives the audience as a whole, almost an equal-ish contribution. This form of collaboration is essential to the ideal of how digital stories are produced. Entertainment for the people, with the people, by the people! The only problem I can see with this specific example is that considering the conventions of the love story it is telling, people will usually sway a certain way  in voting to achieve an outcome that will climax and end at certain points with certain situations being explored or ignored. Other than conforming, I think this is a pretty inventive way of being lazy in terms of story writing but proactive in terms of production time.

As you can see, digital storytelling is a very powerful medium. Not only does it incorporate elements that appeal to all types of audiences, allowing for all kinds of interaction and collaboration. Using media like film makes the story more visual and despite removing some aspects of imagination, allow for a different type of imagination that also includes the consideration for sound and the progression of the story. E’erbody workin’ in unity, bro. Making use of the technologies available to us to tell stories that are there to interest and entertain us and to teach us lessons. Oh, the magic of technology, how your progress has changed the way we tell stories.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

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