Remixes, Mashups and Storytelling, oh my.

I really like that this last assignment has us looking at remixes, mashups, Creative Commons, and access to online sources for public domain video, images and audio, as I believe that all of these factors have been key to the evolution of storytelling. The internet and web 2.0 tools paved the road by moving us from consumers of content, to producers of content. This structure has made it possible to be able to tell a story to a larger international audience without having a high technical skill-level and without having access to expensive equipment.

Having a go-to place to find artifacts that you are able to reuse to tell your story has created a lot more opportunities for media-rich storytelling. Public domain repositories of videos, images, and audio like NASA,, the Library of Congress, Getty Images, ccmixer, or libribox, to name just a few, provide both inspiration as well as material to reuse and to incorporate into your own story.

Creative Commons licensing has opened up opportunities for both a creator to say publicly how he wishes to allow usage of his product (commercial, non-commercial, share, share alike, adaptations, desired attributions), as well as allowing the user to quickly determine if the artifact requires permission by the originator to use without having to delay by trying to track down that creator. To me, it shows how important the Creative Commons licensing has become as more and more search engines are incorporating attributes for Creative Commons options into search parameters, Flickr, Google and Behold as examples.


Definitions of remix and mash-up seems to be as confusing as definitions of “digitial storytelling.” I tend to view remix with the more traditional definition where it means that you make something new by changing something in the original work . A good example might be when you visit an online greeting card service and can choose a different version of “Happy Birthday” Latin, Pop, Regae, Hip Hop, etc. Each of these version are remixes on an original theme.

This remix example was taken from a class wiki where students were learning about the same but different, through remix examples. This remix is based on the the original song  “Radioactive” by the Imagine Dragons.

While looking for examples to help explain the difference between a remix and a mash-up I found myself at a post from Alan Levine’s blog where he asks his twitter community, “What is difference between Remix & Mashup? I can’t always sort it out- help our#ds106 students. Tell us, not just links.“ For me, this is the twitter post that made the most sense:


Here’s an example of a mash-up:

Would you be able to create mashups without public domain or Creative Commons licensed creations? Yes, of course, but knowing that you have a larger collection of ready-to-use storytelling elements that you don’t have to create on your own and having a mechanism to share and reshare has made the process much easier.  I recently played around with a web 2.0 product called Zeega. This free service provides a platform where you can pull in media from online services like SoundCloud, Tumbler, Flickr, Giphy as well as your own image uploads to create multimedia stories. I believe Zeega calls themselves interactive, but I reserve the term “Interactive” for an activity that has the user do more then just click through a series of web pages or images. When looking deeper into how Zeega is curating their library, I came across this statement from an article in July 18, 2013 article on Mashable:

Users don’t have to worry about citing the media they use from the cloud. Zeegas are always live streaming as soon as you hit play, so the media is not copied. Zeega automatically generates citations for the media by adding icons as the bottom of every slide that directs you to the original source.

After giving Zeega a try, with this example called Raspberry Kiss, I did see that there is very tiny attribution down at the lower right-hand corner of the screen, and only when you mouse over it. These icons refer back to Flickr and to Giphy, in my example. The Flickr image actually has a copyright “All Rights Reserve” listed on the image. Even though I’m not making a “copy” or it and there is proper attribution, I would normally choose to pick another image that had an appropriate Creative Commons attribution. I assume that if the owner took down the photo then the link in my image would also be broken. What do you think? Is Zeega pushing the limits?



Bissram, V. (2013). “Zeega offers a new way to tell stories with interactive media”. Mashable. Retrieved April 30, 2014, from

Couros, A. (2009). “Digital Storytelling”.  Open Thinking Wiki – Wikispaces. Retrieved April 30, 2014, from

DS106 Digitial Storytelling.

Lamb, B. (2007). Dr. Mashup; or, why educators should learn to stop worrying and love the remix. Educause review, 42(4), 12.



Here is my attempt at a remix for this semester.


Participatory StoryTelling

As I was thinking about our Twitter story, certain elements of the story made an impression on me and became the focus of this reflection. There are two characters and one artifact that I found intriguing and worth investigating. At the project outset, I had several ideas for a media project that would be fun to create for retelling the Twitter story. I thought about creating a board game where you advanced along a storyboard collecting tokens ($) or earning changes to advance or losing a turn to be held behind. As I created the different targets (gaining tokens, advancement, or waiting) I began looking through the story for relevant points. Some ideas included:


  • your birth certificate was found – take a token
  • your phone is vibrating – take a token


  • click-click-click-Flash – advance 2 spaces
  • You find a bill of sale – advance 2 spaces


  • you get stopped for questioning by @lott – lose a turn
  • Mom? Mom I can’t hear you – lose a turn
  • You get hit by a car – lose a turn

I wasn’t quite sure how to execute the game in a digital format without a lot of programming. Perhaps, a Prezi presentation along with some kind of digital dice?

I also began storyboarding a comic that I thought I would create using pixton. I haven’t played around much with pixton and thought it would be a good challenge. The storyline that began taking shape involved a young girl getting on an airplane. Between falling asleep listening to an audio story and overhearing a conversation between her young seatmate and his/her mother, “Diane” (the mother’s name on the Kye birth certificate)  remembered a strange mix of a story involving her mother who had recently died, static from a movie about a bear and cat that her seatmate was watching, and a crime investigator. As she departs the plane at her destination and is walking down the street (followed by a 3-legged cat) she bumps into a plaid-shirt wearing-cop rather abruptly. Then she arrives at an attorney’s office where she is collecting what remains of her dead mother’s estate: a box. I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull off the complexity of the props needed for the cartoon and I knew that my drawing ability wouldn’t be nearly good enough.

I also thought about creating a screencast movie where a female detective was reviewing a case journal belonging to an investigator who had disappeared. I was going to recreate some of the notes that @lott might have written in his notebook. Items like:

“Went to visit Ren to follow through with our deal but Ren reluctant to pony up with the goods.”

“Followed security breach at Raleigh City WV City hall to find out what I can about the birth certificate.”

“I have the box in possession. It hums. What could that mean? I’ve got to find out how to access it.”

Of course, on the last page of the case journal, there would be a big splotch of pancake syrup.


I also hadn’t gotten beyond my idea of creating a physical object that could be printed out, manipulated, and then used as a container for telling the story. If you recall, my original AR project idea was to create a globe that could be printed out and used as a trigger image with different creation stories for overlays. I kept running into difficulties finding a good trigger images.  And since it was a physical object, it would have to be augmented in order to use digital media. So I was resolved to create a “fortune teller” or “cootie catcher” as I remember calling it in elementary school. As I worked my way from the inside of the fortune teller to the outside, I really began to concentrate on the elements of the story that stood out for me and would eventually become four “fortunes.” Then as I began thinking about the words that would be at the first level of the catcher and they were Ren, Kye, Cat, and Box. All three-letter words. Hmmm…doesn’t make for much variation! After some rethinking, the first level became: Ren, mystery box, 3-legged cat, and @lottruminates.

StoryCloudInteractive site:

(For some reason, this version of WordPress, or my theme, seems to be stripping object codes so I’m not able to embed the interactive webie site…the same thing happened with the Pearl Object code.)

I then started creating my media pieces. As I began to create triggers for my media overlays I realized that I was creating an unnecessary barrier to accessing the media pieces and that the act of making first level and then second level choices weren’t necessarily related to my reflection and that you, my peers, probably didn’t want to print, cut, and fold a fortune teller and then, be required to find the Aurasma channel and use a mobile device to see the media pieces. Exactly what was this adding to the story? So, one board game, one comic, one screencast, and six draft fortune teller versions later, ladies and gentlemen….the media pieces without the unnecessary barriers:

Participating in the story was at times, frustrating. I was disappointed several times when the story wasn’t going in the direction that I imaged and had to decide if I wanted to turn it around (in 140 characters) or just go with it. I was first disappointed when the gender of Kye and Ren was so quickly established. Then the disappointment changed to intrigue when the birth certificate was posted. Was the certificate the same Kye or another Kye? I got hung up on the old phrase, “oh if only the picture could talk” and went with it.



In the beginning, I had to get my head around whether Twitter was part of the storytelling or just a mechanism to tell the story. Did it really matter who was sending the tweet ? Did KyeKye2000’s posts take on a different meaning because they were from the fictional Kye or not? Was KyeKey2000 real?  I introduced CU8RQT…it was an attempt to introduce a new character that wasn’t well thought out and didn’t work out well. As it became clear that the Twitter’s post name wasn’t important, tweets that contained “@CU8RQT said (or insert other verb)” plus adding the story’s hashtag didn’t leave enough characters to create a tweet that contributed to the story. Very often, for each tweet, every letter and space held a valuable place and wording had to be selected very carefully and not wasted. In many ways, @lottruminates took on the role that I envisioned @CU8RQT portraying in the story….but obviously much better executed as the character became one that several of us used.

When the cat and bear were introduced they immediately reminded me of characters from some of the folktales about Brer Rabbit. I also had in my mind that their relationship to each other was similar to C-3PO and R2D2 from Star Wars in that they had this dependent relationship and that it was required that they function together. I found the bear quite sympathetic and not threatening at all.


And Niko, I’m pretty sure that he/she was manipulating the entire story. Had we been able to continue I think it would have been my goal to make it clear that he/she was really in charge.

Towards the end of the five weeks, several days passed without anyone adding a tweet and it was frustrating to have the story stop, ending with one of my tweets which I felt wasn’t a very good conclusion. I was very relieved  to see that my peers added more posts to create a better conclusion.

Augmented Reality and QR

I had several great ideas for projects that I wanted to do with AR but found hurdles that kept causing me to evaluate the time I was putting into each of them and the reality of getting something together this project during this semester.

I was going to have you print out a cuboctahedron map of the world ( and put it together so you had a “globe-like” item to scan for auras. I found these great creation myths that I wanted to tie to the 14 sections of the globe. The stories ranged from all kinds of different media resources, some of which I recreated. But I could not get the map to have enough definition to make a good trigger image. So…I learned a big lesson to use the phone application to test your trigger image before creating overlays and adding actions. If your trigger image isn’t going to work, then you need to move on to another idea (or create your own trigger image drawing which was plan F.

The next idea was to augment one of my lessons from a class I teach on InDesign. The assignment is to review a completed project and to edit for errors. Some of the errors are obvious and some aren’t. I was planning to create short videos or screencasts to point out the errors. I may actually come back to this at some point but honestly, I ran out of time creating the videos and it didn’t seem worthy if I didn’t point out all the errors.

My other idea was to augment a book for my Great Niece Isabella.  I wanted to get all the relatives to record their voice/or create a short video and read each of of the pages to her. I intend to do this when my family can fit it in their schedules.

So…a  trip to the Zoo with Isabella became the project topic. This will be sent to my nephew who can set things up for my niece. I added a call me button overlay as well as a link to a survey.


Map of Zoo 2013 (PDF)

Image from Aurasma from my phone.

iphone image

Note: The “Call Auntie” really does place a call to my cell phone.

Actions for Overlays:





aura workspace

Cultural Storytelling

Curated items can be found at:

When it comes to protecting the environment, storytelling is one of the greatest methods of striking the emotion in individuals needed to get them to make a difference. Sparking an emotion in the audience is one characteristic of storytelling that can be much more effective in convincing people to take action (Robin, 2013). As Katie Harrison (2014) pointed out in a blog post on “Digital Storytelling,” a narrative story telling a message you want to portray can be much more effective than posting a sign.” Adding images to that narrative can be even more powerful. Take, as an example, this television commercial about littering. Filmed as part of  the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign in 1971, the advertisement was designed to get people to be more responsible for protecting the environment at the individual level, attempting to elicit action by individuals.

Find link at:

Regardless of the symbolism of the “red man” having fast food garbage thrown at his feet by the “white man” and the obvious absence of the responsibility that industry and manufacturing companies had on large-scale pollution offenses, the ad campaign was very successful. 100,000 people were motivated in four months time to request information about reducing pollution. The campaign is attributed with getting people to reduce litter by as much as 88% in 300 communities in 38 states by 1983 (Ad Council, 2004, p. 7-8).

Bringing things forward to the 21st century, according to “About Our Community” information at The Story of Stuff project, “Five years and 40 million views later, we’re a Community of 500,000 changemakers worldwide, working to build a more healthy and just planet” (“Story of Stuff,” n.d.). The project uses a video narrator overlaying animated illustrations to tell the story of how the products we purchase all have an impact on our environment and how the results might not always be obvious.

Find link at: <a href=”″></a&gt;

The following is a short animated video encourages using eco-friendly Ganesh idols instead of non-biodegradable products that fill the rivers with products during a popular Ganesh Chaturhi festival in India where 100’s of thousands of idols are immersed in the rivers as a means of asking for a blessing of wealth and prosperity.

Find link at:

As new modalities are developed, new opportunities are made available for engaging a new generation. Probably one of the more popular area for citizen engagement comes from online games for kids and incorporation of storytelling methods in class curriculum. “Storytelling appeals to children’s imaginations and emotions and helps make learning more meaningful. When children listen to stories, they create mental images that belong to them, connecting the content to something personally significant” (Goral & Gnadinger, 2006, p. 4).

PBSkids has a interactive game called eekoworld where you can create your own EekoCreature which lives in an environment that you choose. While your creature is moving around it may encounter choices about what happens is its world.  There is an interactive game that has you look around a typical house to determine if there are things you can change to conserve resources like turning off the water or containing an oil spill in the garage. There are several other modules related to recycling, plants and animals and the future. Lesson plans for teacher are available, as well as activities that parents can do with their children as family. Community-based projects are included to cultivate stewardship of the land.

My creature:


My creature’s world:


Frank Rose (2011) says, “…if stories themselves are universal, the way we tell them changes with the technology at hand. Every new medium has given rise to a new form of narrative” (p.1). A good example of this comes from a recent USC Anneberg Innovation Lab event called CRUNCH Hackaton: Transmedia Brading for Environmental Awareness. Teams of students came together to create “media experiences” to be used as transmedia storytelling to get the public more involved in environmental issues like air quality or access to parks. The winning project “…was a game for children, in which players build their own communities and raise their environmental awareness by planting, watering and fertilizing plants virtually” (Wang, 2013).

Using storytelling methods to involve the public in environmental education, whether from the corporate world or from a non-profit organization, has been recognized as a communication method that “…established a common ground among all participates and provides a faster method of establishing a social relationship” of which, hopefully, excites people to take action (Barker & Gower, 2010, p. 302). I expect that we’ll be seeing storytelling continued to be used as a means of getting a message across to an audience as we, as humans, respond to that kind of personalization.



Barker, R., & Gower, K. (2010). Strategic application of storytelling in organizations: Toward effective communication in a diverse world. Journal Of Business Communication, 47(3), 295-312. doi:10.1177/0021943610369782

Basu, S. (2010, September 3). 10 environment games that teach kids about earth, ecology & conservation. Retrieved from

Goral, M., & Gnadinger, C. (2006). Using Storytelling to teach mathematics concepts. Australian

Primary Mathematics Classroom, 11(1), 4-8.

Harrison, K. (2014, February 5). Digital storytelling. Retrieved from

Ma, K., Liao, I., Frazier, J., Hauser, H., & Kostis, H. (2012). Scientific Storytelling Using Visualization. IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications, 32(1), 12-19. doi:10.1109/MCG.2012.24

Pitrelli, N. (2011). Science journalism and digital storytelling. JCOM: Journal Of Science Communication, 10(4), 1-2.

Public service advertising that changed a nation. (2004, September). The Advertising Council.

Robin, B. (2013). About digital storytelling: The 7 elements of digital storytelling. Retrieved from

Rose, F. (2011, November 3). The art of immersion: Why do we tell stories? Retrieved from

Wang, J. (2013, September 29). USC students compete in environmental hackathon. Retrieved from

Elements of Digital Storytelling

note: I have also made this post available in a Google document if that is easier for making edit suggestions.

At a very early age I was introduced to a pre-cursor of digital storytelling by way of the record album. When I was four years old, my parents bought a toy store. Since I wasn’t yet in school I got to hang out with my mom at the store all day long. One way to keep me entertained was to put record albums on the turntable. One of my favorites was an album of fairy tales told by “Tammy.”

Tammy-albumThe doll, “Tammy,” was a competitor of Barbie and was one of my older sister’s dolls. One of my other favorite albums was stories told by Troll dolls. I’ve got that album somewhere stashed in the garage. During the long days spent at work I would listen to these albums. I would begin by placing the record needle at the beginning of the album. After a time, because I had listened to the same records over, and over, and over again, I would begin to get bored. One time I jumped up and down and found that in doing so, I could make the needle skip to a new section. All of a sudden I had a different story, much like a pick-your-own-adventure type story. That was great fun and made for complete and unexpected variations on the same old story lines.

Andrew Stanton (2012) suggests in his Ted Talk, Andrews Stanton: The clues to a great story, that there are no rules for storytelling, only guidelines. Stanton suggests that a few of the guidelines he uses include having a strong theme like asking a question, “Who am I,” that is carried throughout the story. You should also be telling your story in a way that has the audience leaving with a sense of wonder and the storyteller should use what one knows in order to make the story authentic. Depending on the story that is being told and the storyteller’s skill, which guidelines to follow or how closely to follow them, produces an opportunity for a great story.

I think the most important element of storytelling is that the recipient leaves with some kind of emotional experience, whether that be affirmation, anger, a call for action to right a wrong; some kind of emotion that gives one pause for thought. One of the 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling as outlined by The Center for Digital Storytelling at the University of Houston, is ‘”Emotional Content  – Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connects the audience to the story.” I’m not sure I completely agree that the emotion has to be “serious,” but I do think that you need something in your story that people can be inspired by, something that stimulates one’s emotions. Or in the case of the pieced together fairy tales, which I found quite hilarious, stories with unexpected turns, that always ended with “happily ever after” for at least one of the story’s characters.

One of the biggest differences digital storytelling has from passive storytelling is access. Not only can you be a consumer of stories available through multiple online platforms, but you can also be a producer as well. Because of the openness of the web and availability of social media, when you publish a story you have the opportunity to get feedback and critiques, a chance to revise, and the ability to republish. It is true that before there were online platforms for access, storytellings were getting feedback, critique and even possibly rewriting their work, going digital opens up the options. Bryan Alexander (2011)  asks; “How does being digital enable new aspects of storytelling?” and talks about how the use of social media has impacted digital storytelling by creating access to producing and consuming, supporting, showing examples, experimenting, and obtaining critiques (p. 14). These activities are confirmed by Clay Shirky (2010) , in an interview in Storytelling Part 4: Potential of Social Media when he talks about social media giving the opportunity for feedback, competition, and learning from others as social media outlets provide opportunities for storytellers to share their work.

There are endless and unknown ways in which digital storytelling can grow and evolve. In a recorded interveiw, Storytelling Part 1: Change of Storytelling (2010), Henry Jenkins talks about Transmedia in which stories can play across multimedia, dispersing across multiple platforms with multiple points of contact and Shirky talks about stories evolving into multiple threads, happening over a long period of time. Alexander (2011) talks about telling a story through multiple delivery methods either in collaboration with one another or with each mode telling the story in a way best suited for the medium (p. 14). One example of a Transmedia project is Half The Sky Movement, which uses videos, websites, games (Facebook and Mobile), along with on-site presentations and discussion forums to reach a wide audience.

Half the Sky Movement: The Game Trailer:

An example of a transmedia story that is fiction-related is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries  (2012) which was mainly a series of video posts made to YouTube that retold the Pride and Prejudice story and included twitter and tumblr posts. It ran for just about a year and has since branched out into new story threads based on some of the other Pride and Prejudice characters. These threads are telling the story from their own character’s perspective. Another example is the winning story of Story 2013 a Transmedia competition held at higher education institutions in Switzerland, called Michael2023 (2013). This is a story of how social media becomes part of one’s life in the year 2023.

Why do we study or participate in digital storytelling as a distinct art form or communication medium? Because we can. Mostly because the opportunity is there. In a video interview with Dean Janse (2010), from Participation Culture Foundation, in Storytelling Part 1: Change of Storytelling, he says that the masses can now create stories to an unlimited audience in ways that they haven’t been able to in the past.

In the past, storytelling for the masses was done by a few who had the money for recording and access to very expensive film equipment. Along with dedicated time to creating the recording or film of a story. Then these stories were consumed in limited dedicated spaces at prescribed dates and time. With today’s technology, almost anyone can document elements of a story and put one together. Anyone can tell their story and more importantly, anyone can share that story. People who may not have had a voice in the past are now able to share their stories and tell them themselves, instead of relying on someone else to tell their story for them. Youtube is one platform where people are telling their stories. Accounting to (2012) every second, one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube. And YouTube is only one of many publishing platforms.


Is this image a digital story? What if the words making up the image is a story?

Is there really such as thing as digital Storytelling, or are we just talking about using technology to tell a story? In many ways, I think “digital” being placed in front of storytelling is misguided. You don’t say digital journalism when you are reading an online version of a traditionally published newspaper, and you don’t say digital diagnosis when your doctor reads the digital images of an MRI report.

If I had to come up with a definition, digital storytelling is a method in which a story is told with the use of some kind of digital means. At the most basic level, the difference between digital storytelling and non-digital storytelling is in the way in which the story is being captured or manipulated. To me, a storyteller being recorded with a digital camera or digital audio recorder isn’t a digital story, but rather a digital recording of a story being told. But a series of moving images recorded with or without narrative through a digital camera would be considered a digital story because the story that is unfolding through the images is using electronic means to help tell the story.

I also think to put a definition on the terms somehow diminishes its capacity, and limits the innovative ideas one might apply to it. Just as giving a definition to an “outstanding” column on a rubric might constrain what “outstanding” could be for a student, I’m willing to accept a broader definition of digital storytelling, and leave the assessment and judgement of the quality of the story to show for itself.

“About digital storytelling: The 7 elements of digital storytelling”, Retrieved from

Alexander, B. (2011). The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media.  Santa Barbara, California•Denver, Colorado•Oxford, England: ABC-CLIO, LLC.

“Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story.” Feb 2012 Retrieved from

The Association of Independents in Radio: AIR! Retrieved from

Baris, D., Jung, N., and Steiner, L. (2013). Michael2023. Retrieved from

Choose your own adventure. (2013, December 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Half the sky movement: Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. Retrieved from

Lizzie Bennet diaries. Retrieved from

Lizzie Bennet diaries YouTube playlist. Retrieved from

Moloney, K. “What is Transmedia Storytelling?” Retrieved from

One hour per second. (2012). Retrieved from

Plett, H. (2013, December 17). “How to stop the spiral of self-doubt.” Retrieved from

Story2013. (2013). Retrieved from

Storytelling part 1: Change of storytelling. (2010).

Storytelling part 4: Potential of social media. (2010). Retrieved from