Code system 09-03-2011

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Published on: 09/03/2011

Can be found in this word doc.

Memo’s analysis compressed

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Published on: 09/03/2011

General remarks

  1. Three versions of the research question for the field analysis:
    1. What is the variety among neighborhood story websites?
    2. Or: What’s the variety among story websites with (among other things) neighborhood stories on them?
    3. Or: What meaning do neighborhood story websites have among websites for vernacular creativity (or among story websites)?
  2. Inclusion / exclusion criteria for taking a story website as a exemplary case.
    1. This depends on my analysis question. Maybe I could introduce story websites broadly and then zoom in on story websites with a limited locality (city or smaller) for my analysis. Could it be that all the sites that are made by Mediamatic (the Geheugenvans) are disticntive from the rest of my cases? Then I could also isolate them and propse a study among these cases. Just a hunch.
    2. The stories are not about a neighborhood or city, no locality, instead stories on the website are about other topics (national womens day) or have another scope (country-wide). This is no sharp distinction: the latter may contain stories about or positioned in a neighborhood. Neighborhood story websites containing the broader topics seems a little less obvious.
    3. Maybe I should make a distinction between audio, film and text (with photos). I could put that in the variables. I don’t think I want to exclude any of them.
    4. Maybe I miss creativity in some cases: archiving (digitizing and unlocking) is not an act of citizen creativity (or is it?). Read some of Burgess again: the contribution and creativity of ‘ordinary’ people is central in her theoretical framework on cultural citizenship, so I shouldn’t pay too much attention to examples which lack (one of) those two aspects.
  3. Went from open to axial coding with the codes ‘involved at startup’ (added roles) and ‘aims’ (different scopes), maybe more to come (e.g.’linksmemory sites’). I made extensive notes on these processes.
  4. Public participatory history and vernacular creativity in Burgess: what is the difference in the Sharing Stories literature? Look up, because my cases have both.

About the codes

  1. Code: Type of stories
    1. I do not say anything here yet about the ‘lower-level’ categories (topic, emotion, street, etc.). For now I keep it to the five abstract types of stories (personal testimonies, historical stories, autobiographical stories, daily life fragments and sets of images). This is from the data; the theoretical background for these types (they are not completely mutual exclusive right now) still has to be checked (Olick, Ferri and others).
    2. I have to find out what folklore means with respect to my types of stories.
    3. Nice quote from the verhalenbankbrugge; this might be something to use on the types of stories. “De synchronische registratie van betekenisvolle gebeurtenissen, in het geheugen en/of in schriftelijke vorm, is de noodzakelijke voorwaarde voor het spoor dat in de geschiedenis zal blijven bestaan. De gelijktijdige registratie heeft zijn tegenhanger in de diachronische dimensie: ook het herinneren en het herschrijven van historische gebeurtenissen volgt de logica van wat sociaal-culturele betekenis draagt (Hastrup 1992: 1-13). “
  2. Code: Methods
    1. I should explain Digital Storytelling, Life Writing and Oral History; they are all ‘real’ methods, or at least more or less clearly defined.
    2. Also remember to do something with the editor (the one who writes the story or the one who edits an incomming story)? Hidden here also is the role of the commenter
  3. Code: Affordances
    1. How far do I go here? There is heaps of affordances.
    2. There seems to be a couple of levels of interactions (comment-like things). Stories are in no case directly publishable on the site. Right now I see these dimensions for comments:
      – on the story, below the story
      – guestbook comments in general
      – guestbook comments with a dropdown-topic list
      – who knows requests in general
      Some of these have to be sent by mail, others can be done at the website straight away, so you get a matrix (4 x 2)
  4. Course: a lot is unknown
    1. Change in ownership, in aims,
    2. Spontaneous new stories, new comments
    3. new projects (interventions to gather stories)
    4. just readers
    5. upgrades website
    6. continuity: intervening professionals, backdrawing professionals, overtaking volunteers, new particpating institutions, financial support, support wrt infrastructure (software)
  5. Code: LinksMemory sites – Different types:
    1. buurtwinkel,
    2. joods monument,
    3. countrywide (memory virtual, etc): Like the Historical Memory of Spain (mostly about the Franco period.
    4. songs and stories for kids (memory virtual),
    5. personal story blogs (the 95 year old lady)
    6. With memory sites I mean sites which have something to do with stories about the past or the present.
  6. Code: Aims
    1. difference archival (saving) and historical (interpreting)
    2. Have to remember that the aims might not be explicit on the websites, but are excplicit at one of the launching partners in either one of the three roles..
    3. I use only the aims that are provided on the website up till now (see for example Berit’s Storyhood document).
    4. What about unforeseen effects?
  7. Code: Collective memory
    1. a growing collective memory IS NOT a growing awareness of the local history?
    2. the first involves more the human memory and the local history tends to move towards historical sites (although it claims to be about cuture as well (Wikipedia)
  8. Code: involved at startup
    1. Interestingly enough the Memory of Heemskerk started with one person (Erwin SMit) from the social welfare institute De Welschap. So he is the ‘real’ initiatiator.
    2. Another thing is that the request for funds contains more aims than are written on the website.

Possible correlations

  1. Possible correlations (to check later with the code matrix browser):
    1. Historical stories (code: type of stories) go hand in hand with participating archives and libraries (code: involved at startup). There are exceptions (GvO).
    2. (Obiously, but also to test) Certain aims go hand in hand with certain types of stories.
    3. Most of the digital story websites are not interactive (no comments in one of the four options described elsewhere).
    4. I think on average Digital Stories are less ‘light’ than textual stories, or in other words: the Digital Story Websites are more serious (emotionally impressive) than the neighborhood story Websites. I have to dive into this, because I think it has to do with the mainly ‘daily life character’ of neighborhood websites and the more autobiographical character of DIgital Story Websites (compare milehighstories with the Memory of East.

Research question and design – dissertation Burgess

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Published on: 27/02/2011

I scanned through Jean dissertation and found out there is a strong relation between her questions and design and that of mine. I have to look at it more closely, but here follow my first notes/ quotes:

Research question:

  1. How are the everyday practices of vernacular creativity remediated in new media contexts, and with what implications for cultural participation and cultural citizenship? (…)
    1. What are the characteristics, affordances and constraints of the new media technologies and platforms that are marketed to and used by ordinary people to produce, distribute and consume creative content?
    2. In what way do these technologies and platform remediate everyday practices of vernacular creativity?
    3. Who is using these technologies and platforms, in what contexts, and what uses are being made from them?
    4. Does the practice of vernacular creativity in new media contexts constitute the practice of cultural citizenship, and if so, in what form, and for whom? (pp. 19-23)

The four subquestions are arrived at by the theoretical insights in chapter 2 and 3, but I put appended them here in order to compare them to my preliminary main question  and subquestions:

  1. How and why does everyday citizenship* manifest itself within a community of practice like the Memory of East?
    1. How did the concept of everyday citizenship come about, what are its core constituencies and which factors influence it?
    2. Which groups and processes are constituting the community of practice?
    3. What and how are the members learning of the separate groups within the community?
    4. What is the relation between moments of everyday citizenship and what is learned within the community?
    5. What is the relation between factors like engagement, competence, reflection an safety with the manifestation of everyday citizenship with the community of practice?
    6. What roles do the neighborhood and the story website play in the manifestation of everyday citizenship within the community?

* Everyday citizenship (Hermes, 2008, among others) is close to Burgess’ cultural citizenship, although I have to scrutinize this more. For now, I note that: ‘good everyday citizenship’ entails participation in conversations in a reflexive, empathetic, respectful and accountable way. And ‘full cultural citizenship’ entails active cultural participation.

If I look at the questions above, I am interested in how participants (in real life: face to face or in digital life: story to story) in these communities  interact and what this interaction does with them. I would say that is focused at a micro-level. Burgess seems to operate more on a meso-level, but like I said, I have to look closer into this.

Burgess studies two cases with textual analysis, participant observations and ‘industry analysis’ (subquestion 1, Burgess: social and economic conditions). I am planning about the same. I will probably add interviews and my ‘industry analysis’ is hidden in question number 6. Interestingly enough, I am working on a field analysis which is a zoomed-out version of this question:

  1. What is the variation among neighborhood story websites when it comes to aspects as initiative, aims, type of stories, affordances, course of the project and links?

I will interweave that in an article together with the theoretical perspectives that one can have on these cases. See e.g. this post with a concept abstract.

Constructing and sharing memory – Stillman and Johanson

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Constructing and Sharing Memory: Community Informatics, Identity and Empowerment
Editor: Larry Stillman and Graeme Johanson
Date Of Publication: Sep 2007

Some notes from the introduction (scroll down there):

  1. At first glance it looks like the it is written from the perspective of institutions: libraries, archives and museums.
  2. But it (intro) is ‘self-critical’: e.g. curated objects become ‘museum objects’  which are not the same anymore as they were, when being made or used; some aspects are over emphasized and others missed. (p. xvi)
  3. The curators are controlling the kaleidoscopes creating a dialectic between knowledge systems. (p. xvii)
  4. The curators work is inherently mis-portraying and the only defence is humility. (p. xvii)
  5. ‘(…) humor with an edge, is often a way of building community’ (p. xix)
  6. Definition of civil society: ‘(…) uncoerced collective action around shared interests, purposes and values.’ (p. xx)
  7. ‘Participation creates memories, individual and collective, and is shaped by memory, manifesting public and private textures of experience and reference, the textures which are refracted through memory institutions.’ (p. xxi)
  8. This last quote misses something, I believe. Without going too much into what refract might mean exactly here, I would say that there are also other platforms which refract these textures.
  9. In the book itself, there are examples of that, I think.
  10. One of the papers in the book is Amsterdam Communities’ memories (Jan Vos and Eric Ketelaar), a project started by the Amsterdam City Archive called New Amsterdam History.
  11. I have to check the other papers on

Concept abstract 1st article

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Published on: 21/02/2011

(from the sandwich writing with Nuria)

With the arrival of social media like blogs and community sites, clusters of stories about neighborhoods or city districts are becoming a common phenomenon. Residents gather stories and share them online, where people can read them and leave comments. Theoretical concepts used in previous literature shows the impact these creative communities have on cultural citizenship. A systematic analysis of the field yields a definition of neighborhood story websites, as well as the variation in certain dimensions among them. The variation is related to the theoretical concepts in order to formulate research questions. These will be further elaborated on by relating them to two specific cases of neighborhood story websites in Amsterdam.

Added on March 17th:

  1. Wrt the second last sentence: add ‘how’ later.
  2. Wrt the last sentence: ‘what’ comes out?

Notes on the meeting 11 Feb

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Published on: 17/02/2011

Some notes on the meeting of 11 Februari.

  1. Within Cultural Studies there is not many middle range theories.
  2. Symbolic Interactionism is also something Liesbet relates to my research.
  3. The role of institutionalized projects (or not) maybe (one of) the thread(s) in my dissertation. There are institutions, professionals and volunteers in which the professionals are the pivot. I hesitate whether I want to this way.
  4. My remarks in this post about strategies to find cases might be pointing towards results.
  5. The question in this post is a good working-question but it might change according to the findings.
  6. The genres like archives, histories, stories, information etc. are overlapping.
  7. The national culture might influence the kind of main-genre that is to be found (but I am not sure whether I will find enough to prove that, although I might find enough to use the word ‘sugest’).
  8. Add an 6th aspect to the analysis list: to which (type of) site does each site link?
  9. ‘Empirische trechter’ (empirical funnel?): the field analysis produces sensitizing concepts that I will apply to my cases. I believe this funnel is applicable to both the analysis of the field as well as to the two cases, but on a different level (don’t know yet how to express that difference, though).
  10. Liesbet mentioned three possible articles (might change of course): 1) the field analysis, 2) zooming in on the two cases in Amsterdam (wrt the 6 aspects), and 3) what happens with the people and the neighborhood? (among other things: inclusion/ exclusion, volunteers/ institution, …).

Developing towards a matrix – a case: The memory of East

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Published on: 11/02/2011

Soon I will have more than 50 (100?) cases of neighborhood story websites (or closely related to that).

When I have defined which cases are included and which are not I can analyze the variation within the included ones. Maybe that is the research question:

What kind of variation can be found within neighborhood story websites (or participatory public history or websites of vernacular creativity)?

Define: story (begin/end, events/related), neighborhood/district, (how does the locality relate to the story?)

What about differences in different countries?

I will have to make a matrix in order to be able to compare the differences and similarities on the aspects described in this post about the research methods. I can do that in an Excel-sheet, in MaxQDA (software for qualitative data analysis) or even a wordpress blog; I am not sure yet, what would be most applicable.

It would be great if it would help me with my analysis and be available in the public domain at the same time.

Below a rather quick attempt to describe a case to see what kind of space I will need.


1.    Who took the initiative? (top down, bottom up,…)

Amsterdam Historical Museum, outreaching into the neighborhood, ‘together with residents’. Buurtonline: computerskills, get to know the neighborhood and other people.

2.    What were the aims/ expectations? (direct: history oriented, present, future stories, exhibition, participation/ indirect: social cohesion, community memory, …)

AHM: introduce the Muesum to new groups, awareness of local history, use stories for exhibition. Buurtonline: computerskills, get to know the neighborhood and other people.

3.  What are the the method? (life writing, digital storytelling, meetings, interviews, professional intervention, selection, …).

People were telling or writing life memories and daily life experiences connected to their neighborhood (the events in the stories are happening in the neighborhood). There are meetings, amateur interviews, people who write stories themselves.

4. What are the interactional affordances of the website?

Stories are clustered with themes and with keywords. This happens in a way that stories related to the story which is being read are offered on the side in a descending order of similar themes/ keywords. This is claimed to mimic the associative working of the human memory.

People can comment  on stories. Sometimes this is just approval, but other times it can be a story in itself.

5.    What is the course of the case over time? (shifts in the points above, temporary project, duration, number of story items, …)

After the exhibition in 2003, the participants wanted to keep on gathering stories when the museum wanted to archive the website. So ownership shifted towards the neighborhood. Since then students and a professional have occasionally helped organizing events.


I made some important notes in ‘looking for cases 3’ about variation in the aspects above.

Hearing ordinary voices: cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital stortelling

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Published on: 10/02/2011

Jean Burgess, Hearing ordinary voices: cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital stortelling, Journal of Media & Culture Studies, vol. 20, No. 2, 2006.

Cultural Studies and Participatory Media

The paper starts with the mentioning the growth of interest in consumer participation in media culture.  A sub genre that has developed within this discourse is the democratization of technology discourse. The later is converging with economic discourses because of the upcoming of what Leadbaeater has coined ‘productive leisure’. Jean argues that cultural studies should pick up this development. The question is where to direct ‘our critical attention’ (p. 202).

Fandom is introduced as an (old) example of the growth of ‘textual productivity’ compared to ordinary (mass) media audience. Nowadays cultural value is more and more determined by cultural consumers then the cultural elite. Moreover, their cultural products are being fed back into the source media (p. 203).

Something like this also happens in the memory websites I am studying with one big difference: the source media as a whole body  is also determined by the cultural consumers (I also noticed this in this post). I do not think that Burgess elaborates on this in this paper (or is it her whole argument? see below*); something to pay attention to writing my article. It is often said that the old media is still needed to become famous by getting attention by new media (Mike).

(Mike) One of the important questions that comes up in both mass media-controlled and citizens-controlled popular media is in- and exclusion. I made a note that DIY-practices like my cases are also prone to this powers, because of the natural (?) dynamics of groups involved (who produces is also heard by certain people and they might produce themselves etc.). I asked myself: how to intervene in DIY-practices – how to keep the self-fulfilling excluding process out? – as a teasing question in order to remember this topic. This is related to ‘who is heard, and to what end?’ low on page 203.

Everyday creativity or the creativity of everyday life is introduced next with help of a quote of Certeau. He states that in the official imaginary creativity is only an exceptional event, but in reality is happens all the time ‘invisible’ to our eyes. Burgess writes that this distinction between ‘the official’ and and ‘the everyday’ is becoming unclear nowadays. First, because ‘the everyday is now ubiquitously part of the production logics of the ‘creative industries”. Second, ‘cultural production is now increasingly part of the logics of every day life, as in blogging or photosharing’. Third, there is a tendency of ‘the ‘radical subversion’ position (…) resistance to the alienating and deadening effects of passive consumerism’. (p. 204)

We should be aware of choosing the ‘radical subversion’ groups as our territory ‘in which we can look for the spaces where ‘ordinary’ people van exercise meaningful agency’ (p. 205). That what starts as a anti-passive consumerism can easily become elitist and in the worst case ‘the stuff of consumerism itself’ and get involved with advertisements and commercial media culture. Moreover, with the Lomography-community example Burgess shows that ‘the resistance’ is directed towards dominant photography professionalism, but the participants are no amateurs or participants in the periphery of photography. They are ‘too professional’ to be ‘ordinary people’ in this field.

Vernacular Creativity and New Media

In the cases of the memory websites in Amsterdam there is no question of resistance as far as I know. When it comes to professionalism, I am not sure. There is one participant who is a history teacher, so he gets close. But I think on the whole the involved people are ‘amateur enough’.

Burgess introduces the phrase ‘a politics of ‘ordinary’ cultural participation’ and how it might articulate with ‘democratization of technologies’. She quotes Atton (2001) [READ] who explores ‘some aspects of popular media production and its intersection with everyday life’ with respect to personal homepages. Atton uses the term ‘everyday cultural production’ which according to Burgess draws our attention towards ‘access, self-representation and literacy, rather than resistance or aesthetic innovation’ (see above) (p. 206). The dignity of everyday lives can thus be expressed by using ‘vernacular communicative means’.

‘Vernacular creativity’ defines as follows. First, the word ‘vernacular‘ is used nowadays to

‘distinguish ‘everyday’ language from institutional or official modes of expression’ (p. 206).

Burgess calls McLaughlin’s theory of vernacular theory the bedrock of her study of vernacular creativity. The researcher needs to be committed to empathy and respect for the ordinary cultural formations, but also towards the research participants. This is an important topic that crossed my mind, thinking about myself as a researcher conducting participative observations. I was afraid to have to pretend to be like this (which is impossible), but I admire the participants for their empathy among themselves, which makes me empathetic to them. Maybe I should check out McLaughlin when I think and write about my data collection methods and the role of the researcher.

Burgess uses ‘creativity‘ as defined by:

‘the process by which available cultural resources  (including both ‘material’ resources—content, and immaterial resources—genre conventions, shared knowledges) are recombined in novel ways, so that they are both recognizable because of their familiar elements, and create affective impact through the innovative process of this recombination.’ (p. 206)

I am not sure what to think of stories within this definition yet….

Vernacular creativity‘ than becomes:

‘a productive articulation of consumer practices and knowledges (of, say, television genre codes) with older popular traditions and communicative practices (storytelling, family photography, scrapbooking, collecting).’

And the vernacular includes the experience of commercial popular culture. In the neighborhood story communities this would mean:

  1. consumer = neighborhood resident
  2. practice = living in the neighborhood
  3. knowledge = know stuff about people, things and events in the neighborhood
  4. popular traditions  = photography, collecting news paper articles and images,  writing diaries, …
  5. communicative practices = storytelling, reminiscence, …

Burgess adds that the

‘term [vernacular creativity] signifies what Chris Atton calls ‘the capacity to reduce cultural distance’ between the conditions of cultural production and the everyday experiences from which they are derived and to which they return (Atton, 2001).’ (p. 207)

This last remark makes me suspicious (again, see above*) that commercial popular culture is expected to play a (minor) role here. I do not see how that fits in with the neighborhood communities I am studying, unless the neighborhood is defined as ‘popular culture’. Maybe I have to read Atton and I surely have to read on to find out how the Sharing Stories (also about the neighborhood) fit in this definition. Maybe I should also check possible synonyms to ‘vernacular creativity’, like ‘everyday cultural production’, ‘everyday creativity’, etc.

Digital Storytelling as Vernacular Creativity

What is digital storytelling?

Although digital storytelling is sometimes used generically, here it is defined more narrow as follows:

Digital storytelling is a workshop-based process by which ‘ordinary people’ create their own short autobiographical films that can be streamed on the Web or broadcast on television. (p. 207)

In this sense it can be understood as:

  1. A media form.
  2. A cultural practice with the following characteristics:
    1. relations between textual arrangements  and symbolic conventions;
    2. technologies for production and conventions for  their use;
    3. collaborative social interaction in local and specific contexts.
  3. A movement designed to amplify the ordinary voice, by:
    1. remediating vernacular creativity;
    2. legitimating it ‘as a relatively autonomous and worthwhile contribution to public culture’. (p. 207)

Furthermore digital storytelling combines:

  1. Ethic values by offering people ‘on the wrong side of the digital divide’ democratic access to new media technologies with …
  2. an aesthetic that aims to maximize relevance and impact by applying some formal constraints: maximum 2 minutes, script maximum of 250 words as voice-over and about a dozen images. The voice-over in the storytellers unique voice (personal narrative) offers ‘narrative accessibility, warmth and presence’, which gets priority over other aspects of the digital story.

How to look at digital stories (as a genre)?

Next, Burgess goes into the content of the stories and the meaning for the tellers and for society, first by introducing her work with the Youth Internet Radio Network. Among the themes of the digital stories were feelings of boredom, lack of opportunities, isolation, but also ‘aspirational’ ambitions for the future as well as ‘a strong sense of place-based cultural identity’. Some examples follow of which ‘Gift’ (Jenny’s early pregnancy) lingers longest.

Looking from a textual analysis (= synonym to qualitative content analysis, I assume) perspective to Jenny’s story would probably, among other things, yield:

  1. Jenny is constructing her identity,
  2. it is a strong narrative of self-actualization,
  3. it relies on the clichés representative for dominant discourse of femininity, family, etc.

But Burgess warns us that this approach is disrespectful for Jenny and also mis-recognizes the nature of text itself. I would paraphrase Burgess as follows. When we [I believe as researcher] look at a digital story, we do not really ‘know’ what we are looking at and, thus, how to look at it. That is, because we have build up a repertoire of tools to celebrate or critique popular culture based on years of input and processing of ‘standard’ popular culture. And ‘Digital stories are a very different kind of popular culture’ than we are used to, because they:

  1. are not part of ‘commercial’ culture and
  2. are not part of a discourse of a dominant institutions.

In other words, the authors are no consumers nor victims of documentary or reality television. They are relatively autonomous citizen-producers.

Putting the research perspective on hold and letting the stories come in as they would for any other viewer, the stories themselves ‘tend to be deeply felt, poignant and gently humorous’. There is no luxury to play with self-representation; the stories ‘are in general marked by their sincerity, warmth and humanity’ (p. 209). No tricks of ellipsis, wit and irony. I wrote down the word ‘authenticity’ as well, as a characteristic for the stories. The researcher should be warned: do not make the mundane cool and do not reduce the ordinary people to categories that fit in with his or her researchers interest [based on the scientific subculture or imagery?].

[Mike: The culture in traditional popular culture is made by a commercial party to become popular and, more important profitable. The higher the popularity, the higher the revenues. The word popular is, among others, used for:

  1. widely liked or appreciated.*
  2. fit for, adapted to, or reflecting the taste of the people at large.*
  3. favoured by an individual or limited group.**

*popular. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved February 23 2011 from

**popular. (n.d.) Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. (1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003). Retrieved February 23 2011 from

Regarding the remarks about digital stories above, the first and second definition are not applicable. The third definition (from the UK Dictionary), though,  is the one that we can use for stories like that of Jenny (interestingly enough the American Dictionary does not contain the third definition).

The word popular thus has a collective and a individual dimension. In the former, networks and the peers within it surely play an important role, but in the later not necessarily. Through the authenticity of a story a viewer can (identify with the teller and) be affected and say something like ‘I am a fan of this story’ [possible in my cases]. Conversely, the story in question is popular to this particular viewer.  This could be called ‘popularity by authenticity’, as opposed to popularity by fantasy (tricks) and peer pressure (networks).

Maybe I should have a look at the word culture too, but first I want to finish this summary.]

Where to put digital storytelling in the field of access to media power?

Digital storytelling is not the holy grail when it comes to unequal access to media power. Burgess mentions two drawbacks:

  1. The distribution channels are limited and often remain under the control of the institutions that provided the workshops and
  2. The combination of the constraints of the institutional setting and the sociality of the workshops process, shape the cultural practice in such a way that the range of ways to represent the self becomes predictable. [is there information/ research on this range?]

Burgess notes that despite these drawbacks the participants (‘often on the wrong side of the digital divide’) do get acquainted with computers and participatory media. They are not likely to become participants in the other new media cultures like (the ‘loudly celebrated’) blogging, computer games and fandom. In the context of the question of engagement digital storytelling becomes something worth considering.

[This is where I made a note about a niche (or a bridge) between digital storytelling (as a practitioners method) and ‘the other new media cultures’ (with no guidance at all). For now I coined it ‘digital life writing*’ (scholared it; only had 2 hits, 1 interesting**) to emphasize the fact that it is about text and not about film. I am not sure whether this term is a good idea, but, if I look at the characteristics of digital storytelling given above, there are (only) the following differences:

  1. It is not a film, but a text with one or more photo’s and because of that:
  2. It does not have to be a workshop; it can also be one person interviewing another or a individual.
  3. Institutions play a minor role; only as a start up. Volunteers (residents) give the helping hand.
  4. The collective (as opposed to blogging) platform is more or less owned by the community (volunteers are responsible), it clusters and it invites.

* As a cultural collaborative practice and – in the cases I am studying – with the neighborhood as context.

** Had a look at the dissertation of Ronald Tully: An Exhibitionist’s Paradise: Digital Transformations of the Autobiographical Impulse (2010):

“Yet, autobiography as “an intricate social network” is far removed from the Greek origins of the term autobiography. Translated literally from Greek, autobiography means “self-life-writing” or auto (self) + bios (life) + graphe (writing). At the core of this translation and definition is the notion of one person who writes to present an individual self. “

Based on this quote, I realize that ‘life writing’ is not such a good term after all. The residents in the cases I am interested in are not only writing about ‘the self’, but often about others in the neighborhood or about the neighborhood.

What are the skills and competencies involved?

Review Lundby’s Digital Storytelling, Mediatized stories: Self representations in New Media

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Published on: 10/02/2011

I’ve read Jill Walker Rettberg’s review on Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-Representations in New Media – Knut Lundby (red.) – Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, New York, 2008.

The book is about digital storytelling:

“”ordinary people” were invited to workshops where they learned to digitalise photos from the family album and combine them into a two-minute video sequence comprising still pictures and voiceover, occasionally with video between the still shots.”

For me it might be interesting, because arguments are provided that institutional interference or initiatives have their draw backs:

“if you are interested in research into how “ordinary people” find the experience of taking part in institutionalized projects aimed at storytelling, or in how concepts such as ”mediatization” and ”mediation” can help us understand the tensions between media and cultural institutions and a changing society, then this book is for you.”

At first glance, two interesting chapters: that of Hartley and of Thumin.

Revised assigment 1 PhD-Lab

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Published on: 01/02/2011

related to my outline of the article

I was worried about questions (see below) for the research part of the article so I tried to formulate questions. All these questions are more or less aims of the article, but not the research question. I still have to formulate that one.


Working title: Sustainable community memory making: two cases in Amsterdam

In this article I will offer a field description of the phenomenon in which residents of a neighborhood gather stories and share them online, where people can read them and leave comments. The aim is threefold:

1) to offer a big picture of the main aspects of initiatives like this,

>>> The question behind this is: What makes the field of neighborhood story websites in terms of similarities and differences? No need to make this question explicit.

2) to introduce the theoretical concepts with which this phenomenon has been described and

>>> As a question: from which kind of perspectives can you look at the neighborhood story websites? No need to make explicit. here I will probably talk about the different levels from Bryman.

3) to embed the two Amsterdam cases I will study within the context of the field.

>>> Where can I position the two cases in this field? Not explicit.

In the introduction will cover the broad influence of internet on society and funnel towards the local memory projects. I will mention the outline of the article: theoretical concepts, systematic analysis, embedding the two cases and proposing some interesting research questions for these two particular cases.

4) >>> This is the fourth aim! : proposing research questions. And NOT ‘some interesting’.

With respect to the theoretical concepts I have conducted some literature reviewing already. The systematic analysis consist of a search instrument with in-/ exclusion criteria and a analysis protocol. I make use of some principles of the Grounded Theory (theoretical sampling and theoretical saturation). Based on the analysis I will define regularities and exceptions  in the field, and relate them to the theoretical concepts.

The above gives me the fundaments in which I can place the two Amsterdam cases (Geheugen van Oost and Geheugen van West). Some concepts that might be applicable to these cases are: sustainability, resilience, trust and reflexivity. Depending on the analysis I will propose the direction in which research might be worthwhile.

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