Thursday, 26 June 2014



Today on Musings, I'm going to talk about how various forms of media are used as engaging storytelling devices. These forms not only further the narrative using interactive devices, such as videos and animated text, but some facilitate a user-controlled experience. This not only provides the viewer with a new perspective, but also may encourage a more personal interaction.


Image Source

While writing a blog post for the Royal Ontario Museum, I came across this wonderful digital archive called British Pathé. This media company was founded in London in 1902, but was originally conceived in Paris by Charles Pathé, an early pioneer of the moving picture. This digital database essentially hosts over 3500 hours of historic footage that documents some of the most important events in 20th century history. Not to mention, all videos are free to view (over 80,000 videos) either on YouTube or on their website. Structured as a blog with multiple galleries, the British Pathé website offers a wealth of historical information. While simple in presentation, each video is accompanied with a short write-up, film stills, and a sharing feature. My personal favourites are films that document rare moments and unexplainable oddities. Here are a couple of delightful videos:

Maple Syrup Harvest 1920-1929
Click here for video details.

Fresh Air Frolics 1931
Click here for video details


The second web resource that integrates interactive storytelling devices in their narrative, is Google Cultural Institute. This website has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. Not only are they hosting Google Art Project—that provides high-resolution zoom-in images of museum artworks—but they also feature famous stories, cultural figures, monuments, street art, and events (to name a few). Many of these narratives include Google Street View indoors.

Check out this video to see how Google Cultural Institute works.


My favourite example is the tour of the Palace of Versailles. This narrative, called Immortalising Versailles: 1850-2013, provides a glimpse into how photography has captured its history and traces its passage through time. Through photography, animated text, and a virtual tour of the palace (using Google Street view technology, of course), users can control the pace and movement of their experience.

Immortalising Versailles: Google Art Project Screenshots
Immortalizing Versailles Screenshots, by Jaime Clifton-Ross

Another story that resonated with me traced the story of Anne Frank, from the Women in Culture category. Through rare photos, videos, and explanatory text, users are guided through her life through affective devices. They experience an emotional impact while switching back and forth as active readers and active viewers.

Anne Frank: Women in Culture, Google Cultural Institue
Anne Frank: Women in Culture, Google Cultural Institue, Screenshot

Anne Frank: Women in Culture, Google Cultural Institue, Screenshot
Anne Frank: Women in Culture, Google Cultural Institue, Screenshot

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad to see these examples which show how creatively digital cultures and technologies can be coopted in museums to be paired with objects and spaces. These examples are so successful I believe because they are focusing on the content and the experience rather than the spectacle of technology itself.