For this week’s Digital Story Critique I chose to review an article written by Columbia University Faculty, Lance Weiler. His article entitled “How storytelling has changed in the digital age” investigates the relationships between story telling the medium of delivery. His main insight is that the new story telling is less linear and profit driven then the previous models such and TV and feature length films. He uses youtube and a prime example of the new digital story telling where people not only watch streaming video but people as young as six are authoring their own videos.
I really appreciated his example of why feature length movies are roughly 2 hours. He explained that in the past audiences interpreted length as a measure of quality and theater owners recognized this influenced Hollywood to produce longer movies to capitalize on the this opportunity. However movies got so long that they required an intermission leading directors such as Alfred Hitchcock to claim, “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” In this example money drove the story telling medium (film) and the length of the story, which is about 1.5-2 hours in length.
Today with the affordability of editing software and the ubiquity of video camera the audience is now the storyteller. He discussed the digital storyteller Joseph Garrett who has a YouTube channel where he builds a 3D digital environment in software called “Minecraft” and tells stories using the video game characters like actors. He makes over sic figures based advertising to his over 3.8 Million subscribers. This is an example of how people on very low budgets can tell their own stories to millions using nothing but a laptop.
According Weiler storytelling today is undergoing its most profound change in the last 100 years. As the audience is able to not only participate in the content by providing feedback directly to the author but they themselves can now participate in the storytelling process.
After reading this article I found myself wondering about what the future of storytelling will be. I plan to cancel my cable next year and only watch online video content for entertainment. It made me wonder is TV dead? Are movies and American tradition of a Friday night date movie also a thing of the past? Living in Hollywood many of my friends are in the industry and they too are grappling with how to adapt in the world of on demand entertainment. I watch a lot of YouTube and even I have a YouTube channel of my own, the quality of most Youtube video is rather poor in comparison with what Hollywood can do, but the voices and variety more than make up for the lack of production funds. I am hopeful that as technology improves and the accessibility of Hollywood production quality equipment comes to the masses storytelling itself will become more engaging than it’s ever been because everyone with a vision will be able to tell their story and it will no longer to cloistered to the Hollywood elites with a narrow vision driven by profit.