Telling the story of the stories: imaginaries and materialisations of digital engagement

Change of title and abstract for my ICA London paper, 20 June. I will present work that I’ve done in the Storycircle project (in case you were coming to hear about queer referential metaculture, I will still answer questions).

Paper 1. Telling the story of the stories: imaginaries and materialisations of digital engagement

Aristea Fotopoulou, Goldsmiths, University of London

Abstract

This paper presents findings from action research conducted with a civil society media organization in the North of England. It examines how, in collaboration with staff in the organization, we planned and implemented the development of a digital infrastructure, which aimed to facilitate sustained digital engagement and narrative exchange. The development of a digital infrastructure was envisioned by the organization to enable a long term process: one of ‘telling the story of the stories’. The paper discusses how the aim of connecting communities of reporters and their stories was supported by a redesign of the website and by experiments on content curation and ‘community tagging’. The paper also reflects on some challenges that the organization and our fieldwork met. For example, the web design needed to be complemented with a programme of training and of building  the skills required for these digital experiments in community engagement to be successful. With limited resources and whilst operating within a sector-wide context of funding cuts, such training was difficult to happen. With focus on the potential and the hinderances of materializing voice, the paper discusses the project as an attempt to create a wider network of community reporters. The emergent story circle is contextualized within both the realities of limited resources and the broader narratives and imaginaries of digital engagement. As such, the paper provides a balanced account of the interplay between material contexts and these narratives, and suggests that both these need to be considered as conditions for sustaining voice.

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