Remixes and Mash-ups

Some background

At the beginning of the semester, we were asked for our first assignment to define digital storytelling. For that post, I argued that digital stories were like traditional stories, but were markedly different for a variety of reasons. I argued that they do not always follow Gustav Fretag’s theory of the dramatic arc, at least not in a ways that are immediately recognizable (Mechler, 2012).

I meditated on the line between storytelling and voyeurism, noting that some forms of digital storytelling are geared more at attracting attention than creating a quality product. According to a study conducted in 2015, many humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish, thanks to the wide-spread use of handheld devices (Watson, 2015), which means we must ask ourselves whether we are creating stories or distractions.

While I still think the lines are sometimes blurred, my perception of what digital storytelling is has changed. We have experimented with a variety of media this semester, and although the platforms we used, such as Aurasma and Twitter, seemed very alien in comparison with more traditional storytelling forms, I have come to the conclusion finally that they are not so different.

The mash-up

For my Remixes and Mash-ups assignment, I chose to create a video using Adobe Spark. Because it was so open-ended, there were a lot of ways I could approach this assignment. Ultimately, I decided to return to that initial question of, “What is Digital Storytelling,” which has been the crux of my inquiry this semester. Even when I was not directed to consider it, even when I was experimenting with different programs and thinking about storytelling from different angles, I was always coming back to that question.

This was my first experience using Adobe Spark, and while I have not played with all the features, I can see how it could be a useful tool. The program itself was fairly easy to figure out, and while there were limitations in regards to the layout options, there were lots of of choices for free visuals and music.

I also liked the way I was able to control the speed of each slide. Controlling the speed made it easier for me to control the pacing and the tone of the presentation. Although I am not exactly telling a story (or am I?), I had the idea of a narrative arc in the front of my mind as I was putting everything together.

I did encounter some issues when trying to create a shareable link to the presentation. Looking online, it appears this is probably a software glitch. While annoying, it was not enough to completely turn me off of the program. I would suggest it for others and I will likely use it for the classes I teach.



Melcher, C. (2012, October 3). Empathy, Neurochemistry, and the Dramatic Arc: Paul Zak at the Future of Storytelling 2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Watson, L. (2015, May 15). Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish thanks to smartphone The Telegraph. Retrieved from

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2 thoughts on “Remixes and Mash-ups

  1. A lovely sentiment, expressed beautifully.

    I think you grasped the essential subtext of this assignment, and that was to replay the semester and see how (or if) the experiences that we shared altered your own thinking about stories and storytelling. If there is one take-away from my involvement in multiple iterations of this course, it’s that what matters is the story and not the tool. Focusing on the tool can create–as you suggest–flashy but sometimes vacuous distractions. If we don’t have a compelling story to tell, audio tracks and visual tricks do little other than provide momentary sensory stimulus. That’s why this course begins with asking the question “what is storytelling?” and ends with an opportunity to think past the tools and the methodologies and derive some meaning for ourselves regarding our innate need to tell and listen to stories. I didn’t count–I probably should have–the number of times this semester that a cohort member said “I’m not creative” or “I’m not storyteller” in the context of creatively telling a story. The digital tools are important. They provide us wth the opportunity to reach an audience directly, to interact with others in shared experiences, and to take existing stories and remix them for our own purposes. That’s the power of “digital” storytelling. But without stories, none of that would matter.

    Thank you for a thoughtful end to our efforts, and please keep in touch.

  2. What a phenomenal way to end the course! I really love what you’ve put together here as it resonates on so many levels – my love of history, my desire to share my story and hear the stories of others, etc. (One a side note, after reading your last few posts so closely together, I think you and I share quite a few opinions about history and storytelling). Beyond the content, I think the images you select and the music work together to add compelling and touching (and again, deeply relatable) notes to your final story for the course.

    I’ve not worked with Adobe Spark before, but I’m definitely interested to test it now. Thank you for sharing!

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