National Parks, Camping and Digital Media
Between Two Parks

Digital Media & Storytelling

Gather around, kids, I’m going to tell you a story.

Those oh-so-familar words that you used to hear, perhaps from your lovely grandmother or eccentric uncle, how they can bring you such comfort, wonder, and excitement all at once. Legends, fables, tales, folklore and anecdotes being passed down from generation to generation over the course of time. In most cases, these stories have been recorded in books, however the greatest stories are often stored in the mind and recited by heart. The plots of these stories stay the same, but the details of each story tend to evolve over time; each new version that’s handed down to the next generation becoming even more momentous and epic than the last.

How a story functions, how we gather to hear a story, and the power or influence narratives have on the imagination and one’s ambition is perhaps the oldest human tradition. Storytelling has existed in many modalities: spoken word, music, written texts, plays, television and film. These traditional forms of storytelling all have commonalities of stories being conceived, composed, and constructed by an author(s) and being distributed in a one-way communication channel; the author creates the story, it is delivered in one of the aforementioned mediums, and received by an audience. End of story. Signed, sealed, and delivered. Send it to the press!

Digital Media has become the new frontier of communication and has transformed the way in which stories are told. Much likes how the innovation of¬†Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press accelerated the abilities to disburse information in a printed medium, Digital Media has opened up more channels of communication and has added new elements to the communication channel. With a mix of words, sounds, and videos, Digital Media has become an increasingly popular, and powerful, tool in which people use to express their narratives.

The Digital Revolution has resulted in a multitude of new and exciting communication mediums, each seeming to be vastly different and serve a different purpose, but with slight differentiation between them. Communication is no longer a “one size fits all” application.¬†In the age of “The Consumer is Always Right,” the audience will no longer conform to the medium that is given to them, they will choose to participate and engage with the medium they prefer. However, the situations becomes more complicated; do people only stick with one form of Digital Media? How many platforms are needed to reach the intended audience? Which messages work best with each platforms?

Many of the stories told across Digital Media platforms don’t have an immediate end in sight, they are ongoing. The narratives are delivered in short form, passing along bits of information in a single post that lead to a larger story. Type away 140 characters, or maybe 280, and then hit send, let it float up into the cloud to stay for eternity. You can always add more. The communication of these Digital Media messages are no longer one-way, it invites an open dialogue to form where “followers” are able to, and sometimes encouraged to, contribute and add on to the story. Because of this open platform, the narrative of the story is influenced by the audience input, and therefore the story can be adjusted and altered, in real time. However, unlike the (now) “ancient” forms of storytelling, Digital Media has made “place” irrelevant when delivering a narrative. People no longer gather around a campfire or water cooler to hear a story, they’re huddled around the World Wide Web in various virtual spaces and in front of devices.

We hope that you enjoy the Digital Media stories that we share on our trips. There are many guidelines or rules on how to construct a story, and each person will suggest a different “best practice” method. No matter how the story is constructed, delivered, or received, there seems to be one common, “Golden Rule.” The story must be good, for those are the ones that are most cherished, remembered, and shared.

We will try our best to make them “good,” if not “great!” In turn, we also appreciate hearing from you, and your contributions to the narratives of our trips certainly shape our stories. The communication future is here, and “Transmedia Storytelling” is all the rage these days. There’s a lot to learn about the new way in which we communicate, and we invite you to come along on an educational journey with us.

The end.