A digital story is a video that makes use of images, footage, and sound to convey a narrative. Digital stories are not hugely different from documentaries, but they often make use of “found” (preexisting) footage and images, as opposed to original media. You can read more about where digital storytelling came from, and why it’s used in the classroom, here.
(Side note: You do not have to create a digital story for your final project! Please let me know if you’d prefer to write a final paper and I’ll happily work with you to create the assignment.)
Your assignment is to create a five- to seven-minute digital story that explains the history and significance of a particular infrastructural system. The system can extend beyond the city’s boundaries, but at least one manifestation of that system should be located somewhere in L.A.
Examples of an “infrastructural system”: the L.A. Aqueduct, L.A.’s power grid, the L.A. River, I-405, the Port of Long Beach, the Los Angeles Metro.
Your framing question, borrowed from Susan Leigh Star’s “Ethnography of Infrastructure,” is: “What values and ethical principles do we inscribe in the inner depths of the built information environment?” That is, what can the history, configuration, and architecture of your piece of infrastructure tell us about the society that built it? You can approach this question in many different ways, including chronologically, thematically, or in a non-linear fashion.
In order to create this video, you’ll need to assemble media. You can do this in a variety of ways: by recording original photos, videos, and sound; by obtaining these media from the Web; and by scanning media that you obtain elsewhere. However you obtain media, you should credit your sources fully.
I suggest that you use iMovie to create your digital video, but you may choose other options, too, such as Prezi, FinalCut, or even PowerPoint. To edit audio, I suggest you use Audacity, but if you prefer another option, you’re welcome to use that. We will learn to use iMovie and Audacity in class.
Because this is a novel kind of assignment, we’ll check in every week on your progress. In order to stay on track, you should aim to hit these milestones.
In addition to the video itself, you’ll submit a four-page (2,000-word, not including citations) written response to the framing question (“What values and ethical principles do we inscribe in the inner depths of the built information environment?”) that makes use of the theorists we read together in class, or others you’ve found on your own. Your essay can draw on and incorporate the writing assignments you’ve already completed for the class, but be sure the response as a whole is coherent.
Fair Use Guide (UCLA Library), specifically see the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Online Video
Grading Rubric (credit)
Taken as a whole, the rubric below represents 80% of your grade for your digital storytelling project. The remaining 20% will come from the four milestones that precede the submission of your final project. Each milestone is weighed equally, and you will not be graded on them, simply awarded points if you fulfill the assignment’s requirements.
|Category||4 Points||3 Points||2 Points||1 Point|
|1. Purpose of Story||Establishes a purpose early on and maintains a clear focus throughout.||Establishes a purpose early on and maintains focus for most of the presentation.||There are a few lapses in focus, but the purpose is fairly clear.||It is difficult to figure out the purpose of the presentation.|
|2. Point of View||The point of view is well developed and contributes to the overall meaning of the story.||The point of view is stated but does not connect with each part of the story, although an attempt is made to connect it to the overall meaning of the story.||The point of view is stated but no attempt is made to connect it to the overall meaning of the story.||The point of view is only hinted at, or is difficult to discern.|
|3. Dramatic Question||A meaningful dramatic question is asked and answered within the context of the story.||A dramatic question is asked but not clearly answered within the context of the story.||A dramatic question is hinted at but not clearly established within the context of the story.||Little or no attempt is made to pose a dramatic question or answer it.|
|4. Choice of Content||Contents create a distinct atmosphere or tone that matches different parts of the story. The images may communicate symbolism and/or metaphors.||Contents create an atmosphere or tone that matches some parts of the story. The images may communicate symbolism and/or metaphors.||An attempt was made to use contents to create an atmosphere/tone but it needed more work. Image choice is logical.||Little or no attempt to use contents to create an appropriate atmosphere/tone.|
|5. Clarity of Voice||Voice quality is clear and consistently audible throughout the presentation.||Voice quality is clear and consistently audible throughout the majority (85-95%) of the presentation.||Voice quality is clear and consistently audible through some (70-84%)of the presentation.||Voice quality needs more attention.|
|6. Pacing of Narrative||The pace (rhythm and voice punctuation) fits the story line and helps the audience really "get into" the story.||Occasionally speaks too fast or too slowly for the story line. The pacing (rhythm and voice punctuation) is relatively engaging for the audience.||Tries to use pacing (rhythm and voice punctuation), but it is often noticeable that the pacing does not fit the story line. Audience is not consistently engaged.||No attempt to match the pace of the storytelling to the story line or the audience.|
|7. Meaningful Audio Soundtrack||Music stirs a rich emotional response that matches the story line well. Images coordinated with the music.||Music stirs a rich emotional response that somewhat matches the story line. Images mostly coordinated with the music.||Music is ok, and not distracting, but it does not add much to the story. Not coordinated with images.||Music is distracting, inappropriate, OR was not used.|
|8. Quality of Images||Images create a distinct atmosphere or tone that matches different parts of the story. The images may communicate symbolism and/or metaphors.||Images create an atmosphere or tone that matches some parts of the story. The images may communicate symbolism and/or metaphors.||An attempt was made to use images to create an atmosphere/tone but it needed more work. Image choice is logical.||Little or no attempt to use images to create an appropriate atmosphere/tone.|
|9. Economy of Story Detail||The story is told with exactly the right amount of detail throughout. It does not seem too short nor does it seem too long||The story composition is typically good, though it seems to drag somewhat OR need slightly more detail in one or two sections.||The story seems to need more editing. It is noticeably too long or too short in more than one section.||The story needs extensive editing. It is too long or too short to be interesting.|
|10. Quality of Research (for this element, all points are doubled)||Story shows consistent evidence of thorough, detailed, and appropriate research.||Quality of research is adequate and does not detract from the story.||Quality of research is typically adequate but errors detracted from story||Repeated errors in research distracted greatly from the story.|
|11. Engagement with theory and history||Story shows consistent, sophisticated engagement with the theory and history of infrastructure||Engagement with theory and history is present, but not original or sophisticate||Demonstrates scattershot engagement with the theory and history of infrastructure||Theory and history is not present or contains meaningful errors|