Digital Words of Wisdom? Digital Storytelling with Older People – Ponderings of a (fairly) new PhD Research Candidate and a (growing) older Digital Storytelling practitioner

Tricia Jenkins


Digital Storytelling is over 20 years old, its roots in citizen activism, its techniques evolving from radical theatre and media arts and its primary driver an unwavering commitment to enabling people to find and share their stories, as well as to the valuing of each and every one of those stories. This paper builds upon a presentation given at “Digital Storytelling in a Time of Crisis”, an international Digital Storytelling conference that took place in Athens in May 2014. It sets out to map some of the territory around Digital Storytelling and older people – ageing and the old (specifically the costs associated with a growing older population) being the ‘crises’ in question. The paper discusses questions concerning the benefits of Digital Storytelling with older people – both active older people and those who have dependency needs associated with ageing, such as dementia. The questions focus on the measurement of value, both in terms of participation in Digital Storytelling as a process and in the stories themselves. The paper is also self-reflective, as the writer embarks upon the formal route of PhD research, questioning the assumed benefits of the practice that has dominated the last eight years of over thirty years as a teacher and avid promoter of participatory media as a means to effect positive change. The paper is in 6 parts: (1) The Ageing Agenda; (2) Why Am I Doing This?; (3) What are the Benefits of Digital Storytelling with Older People? (4) The Pros and Cons of Digital Storytelling Projects (5) Extending Creative Practice and Silver Stories – Two Transnational Projects Linking Digital Storytelling and Older people – a sustainable model? (6) Ever Decreasing (Story) Circles.

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