Second Act: Digital Storytelling

Last week, I presented at the General Meeting in the Graduate Center’s New Media Lab where I work on the visual portion of my PhD research. I excerpted and modified this blog entry from my post on the New Media Lab blog. In the meeting, I shared my experiences using Prezi and critiqued its limitations after praising it’s strengths. During the Q&A /conversation session, I mentioned a well-known lecture named “Killing Us Softly” by Jean Kilbourne, in which she analyzes gender stereotypes in advertising. I led the conversation in the Lab meeting  about the merits of digital and visual storytelling as a means of broadening the audience for our research, so I decided to share Jean Kilbourne’s talk here.

I have no way of knowing at this moment whether she used Powerpoint, Keynote or a film editing program. What matters for me is the way that she wove the technology into the fabric of her talk. As an underlying structure, it indicates that she memorized her talk and only looks to her paper for notes and pacing. She begins her discussion by sharing anecdotal information which the etiology of the project idea and situated herself in relation to the topic of interest.

By being less focused on slide progression, Ms. Kilbourne can be herself. She can interact with and ingratiate the audience in a way that encourages audience participation and investment in the topic. The few statistics she employed were easy to understand bar graphs and bulleted lists. I am firm believer that social, physical and life scientists, philosophers, and even theoretical mathematicians can increase baseline interest in their work by presenting it in ways that are organically enjoyable to hear, see and learn from.

Shawndel Fraser

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