They are all tools for digital storytelling. On Thursday May 14th, the Fusion-funded, inter-faculty BU Datalabs team presented at Interdisciplinary Research Week. Guests from across the University and beyond came to learn about digital storytelling and how visual data stories can better communicate the significance of research findings to policy-makers and the public.
Weathering the rain, the event kicked off with a reflective exercise called ‘Analogue Twitter.’ Participants were asked to write down a story of their research in 140 characters or less. From sports management to midwifery, research stories spanned the disciplines.
To get things going, Senior Lecturer in Digital Storytelling, Dr. Brad Gyori brought his expertise in interactive media, and his experience as the Head Writer of the Emmy award winning show Talk Soup, to introduce the audience to the many storytelling patterns that have emerged with the rise and innovation of digital platforms. Digital storytelling can range from Fishbone narratives that have one main linear narrative with suggested diversions, to the Amusement Park that offers loosely clustered, different perspectives with no central hub, as we see in Highrise: Out of my Window.
Next up, Dr. Anna Feigenbaum, a Senior Lecturer from the Faculty of Media and Communications, introduced the audience to the power of storytelling with maps and infographics. Drawing from her own tear gas project and others’ expertise, she explored how visuals can act as ‘infobait’, drive curiosity, and interrupt dominant narratives.
After lunch, BU Datalabs project partner Malachy Browne from the social media journalism outfit reportedly shared insights and strategies for using online tools to do investigative research, share your findings, and dig deeper into social data. From apigee for APIs to mine social media data, to wolframalpha that can return the weather from any date in history, Browne made connections between the tools of his trade and the possibilities for expanding our digital methods in academia.
For more information on the BU Datalabs project, email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like to get involved, we will be hosting a meeting open to all staff and students in early July. Details to follow.