Sunday, February 24, 2013

Digital Storytelling: Contrasting Pictures of Africa

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is it worth when combined with three others as shown below?

And if these four are juxtaposed to the set of four below, what might be the takeaway message?

My major learning from the etMOOC sessions by Doug Belshaw and Howard Rehingold is that one of the key distinctions between traditional storytelling and digital storytelling is the communication that is stimulated, forwarded, remixed, tweeted, etc. by the original post. So I have posted above a set of pictures. But the story is simply dead weight in cyberspace if the pictures simply lie there. It becomes a digital story when others react. 

In digital storytelling, in contrast to traditional print journalism, readers have the ability to react to the author and to each other as they comment across the web. Therefore the above is not really a digital story by my putting it there (at least one not sufficiently stimulating to induce comment--and thus not a digital story).

Thanks to for assistance in preparing this part of a potential digital story.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Beyond Silence of the Trees

I used a photo of the Serengeti taken by my brother when he and his family and my sister visited us last summer as the background for this Thinglist production. For the most part, ethical businessmen and women are the hope of sub-Saharan Africa.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Training of a Village Leader

I applied another new tool by creating a Storybird story, using the lovely artwork of Shishir, who wrote: Hi…!!! I am illustrator and character designer. Art is a passion for me. It is fun to read wonderful stories made by you all here using these images. That motivated me even more to use his artwork. Storybird's policy is to review submissions, which may take up to five days. I posted my story and, without waiting for the five days, decided to create this posting before waiting the five days. The internet seems to operating better at the moment so I should take advantage of it. While creating the story, my pages frequently froze and the Adobe flash kept crashing. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dwindling Space for Small Farmers

I am grateful to Wesley Fryer for his post that introduced me to Narrable. It took me much longer than I had anticipated to create my short Narrable reflection about how my roots on an Iowa farm were easily transferred to a career living and working in sub-Saharan Africa. I changed the story line several times, largely to accommodate the few photos and articles available of my early years on the farm and Peace Corps. I dumped several audio recordings in disgust with my voice quality and pace of the presentation. While I was trying to learn how to use Narrable, I received an email from Dustin Curzon, one of the co-founders, who answered a question from me within minutes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

End of Smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa?

I have enjoyed trying to use Mozilla's Popcorn Maker for the digital story telling assignment. I do not detect many agriculture teachers within the etMOOC audience, but perhaps there might be a reader or two for whom my personal appeal to not abandon the small farmers of sub-Saharan Africa might resonate. Larger farming most certainly will be the ultimate way to provide food and cash crops in the most productive manner. For the most part all countries that have modernized have seen the dwindling of their farming populations. But the danger is that the rate at which the small farmers possibly might be eliminated could far exceed the ability of sub-Saharan African economies to provide alternative employment. In my personal situation, our family farm sustained a livelihood for several decades, although it was increasingly clear that we were becoming less viable. By the time I moved away from the home farm, the U.S. economy provided my father and me alternative employment. This is not the case in sub-Saharan Africa. Some amount of disruption is inevitable, but the pace and scale requires careful thought on the part of local policymakers and the international donor community.