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Sorry for not posting earlier, I just found the assignment email. I think there are several connections to be made between Lambert’s ideas and DH, particularly in this weeks readings from Debates in the Digital Humanities. These readings covered a wide area of considerations within DH, including disability studies, race, archiving, protest/hacking, social media and data mining. Considering the number of times the encouragement of collaboration comes up in the DH readings, I can imagine the project of digital storytelling fits quite nicely. In Digital Storytelling, Lambert declares that digital storytelling has its roots in folk art with democratic aims, and in his idea of work shopping and making bottom-up pieces from communities for communities, he is certainly proving he is also a proponent of collaboration. Although both Lambert and several scholars from the DH readings write about several consistent ideals (collaboration, community, reflexivity, identity, diversity, activism), I have a suspicion DH scholars would not consider themselves on a similar level to digital storytellers. For one thing, DH has a huge scope as far as their aims, at some points the entire field of human knowledge and understanding. Lambert and his storytellers are aiming at a more intimate, community wide field. From the limited amount of digital storytelling I’ve seen, it seems that a common topic of the project is the advancement of the self, rather than theorizing the advancement of the masses. The DH scholars are invested yet clinically detached, where as the digital storytellers and Lambert are invested in the emotional effects of a digital project. Overall I think both groups are doing good in the world, DH more for academia and digital storytelling for communities and individuals, and I also think the aims of their respective projects complement each other.

 

Here is an example of a Joe Lambert approved, official digital storytelling project about ironing:

Here is a user-submitted story also about ironing which may or may not be a digital storytelling project:

Is this digital storytelling? Probably not, because it is fiction. But everything else on Youtube regarding ironing is either instructional, or ASMR. The ASMR videos were the strangest of all, just long videos that featured people ironing with the emphasis on sound in order to give viewers a pleasurable response. In the theme of ironing, Joe Lambert seems to have won this round. He helped create a beautiful storytelling project about ironing while Youtube users just barfed a bunch of ironing clips onto the internet. Joe Lambert: 1, Youtube: 0.

Topic:
◦Disabled Veterans and the Southern California VA Healthcare System

•Driving Question we are seeking to answer?

◦Does the Veterans Administration for Southern California provide adequate healthcare for local Veterans?

◦What are the Veteran’s who use the Hospital system saying about it?

•Other media produced on topic?

◦General news media reports but the problem is that rarely do they have Veterans talking to other Veterans about the issues. As Veterans know, there is a comradery and language to discussing thing that could shed further light into the experiences of Veterans in the Southern Californian VA Healthcare System.

World and Scope:
•What is the world of film?

◦Southern California Veterans

•What is the time span covered by film?

◦Variable time spans based upon interviewees shared experiences.

•How long will it be?

◦5-8mins

•How big of a window onto topic do you plan on opening?

◦Compare Multiple Views

Story and Theme:
•What is the story?

◦The southern California VA Healthcare system has be influxed with an ever increasing Veteran population. Even recently, the VA has found difficulties coping with modern day OIF/OEF and Afghanistan Veterans. The questions posed are directed at Veterans who use the VA healthcare system in an effort to hear their voices on the sufficient or insufficient nature of the VA Healthcare system in Southern California.

•What is the underlying theme, how does it link with larger social/historical/humanistic questions?

◦The U.S. Government is willing to fund international wars quickly without considering the long term effects on returning Veterans. These long term effects including staffing and funding.

Modes:
•What are pros and cons for using each mode as the primary means of plotting story?

◦Generally speaking, our best means to approach this documentary would be to stay away from modes that distance the interviewers from the participants. Modes such as Expository and Observational will not help establish the relationship that will be helpful in interviewing generally private groups such as military Veterans.

•What combination of modes might be best for this story?

◦The Participatory mode will have a good effect on the subjects and the interviewers relationship due to both the interviewers having prior military experience and are Veterans themselves. The relationship established in the subculture of the military will work well within the Participatory mode because both interviewers are Veterans and will be able to find common ground with the participants in their shred military service.

◦The Reflexive mode will ground our ethical stance as creating an outlet for veterans to share their voices and collaborate in the creation of this documentary to enhance awareness of the Southern California VA system in a way that people might not have seen before. By creating a documentary that resists conservative editing and authorial positions we will not cover up anyone’s voices.

◦The Autobiographical mode will benefit this documentary as well due to the past experiences of the Interviewers in the VA healthcare system.

•How will this combination of modes shape the way audiences see/hear story?

◦These modes will foster a different viewing position in relation to our subjects and create personable trust that otherwise may not develop.

Audience:
•Who is intended audience?

◦Anti-war supports, students, and veterans (“disabled and abled”)

•How have other works succeeded/failed at reaching this audience?

◦Others have tried to understand the Veterans and the experiences they go through but fall short because many cannot truly conceptualize the experience. Thus there is a distant feel to the documentary. Also many other documentaries focus on the polar ends of sensationalism, finding stories that only add shock value.

•What are concerns/questions/interests/needs of audience?

◦The audience would likely be concerned with major decision makers in the VA system. Also they may have questions over the amount (or lack there of) of funds going to the VA system to support Veterans across the nation but specifically the more densely populated areas like Southern California.

•Are there specific issues of language/cultural tradition/storytelling that you should address?

◦For us there may not be too many issues because we can relate to them as fellow Veterans. However their experiences may be traumatic in some sense so caution and respect will be at the forefront of our efforts.

•How can you directly engage community/group in planning and production of project?

◦We can contact our Friends and Family as well as the groups we belong to (example: Veterans of Foreign Wars La Verne Organization).

Function:

•What do you want audiences to come away thinking/feeling/doing?

◦We want our audience to have a better understanding of how the government runned Veterans Healthcare system functions differently in different areas. In Southern California the amount of Veterans in the system is much more than any other area in the US. We believe the audience should see that more attention needs to be given to this specific area of Veterans Hospitals.

•Brainstorm possible claims to reality documentary might make in simple active verbs:

◦Inform

◦Clarify

◦Reveal

Stance and Rhetoric:
•What are your own feelings/beliefs/opinions about this issue or subject?

◦Both interviewers have person convictions about the lack of care given to Veterans in Southern California system. Both interviewers have experienced first hand difficulties receiving adequate care. However, we are striving to remain as unbiased as possible we interviewing participants.

•What position are you making a claim for in documentary?

◦We are making a claim for the care of veterans in a nation that is in seemingly everlasting conflict. We are also making a claim for a more careful, thoughtful portrayal of veterans as a diverse group with unique needs.

•What are some arguments or approaches you can utilize that appeal to ethos/pathos/logos?

◦One approach we will utilize is a comparison from mainstream news media representations of veterans to our opening of a space for veterans to speak about their experiences without objectifying them. Our approach will appeal to our specific academic audiences because we will not be fostering the illusion of ideological objectivity, through our reflexive method we will make it very clear that we realize documentary films violent history as a way to objectify the Other and speak for them.

•What other prevailing stances stand in opposition to yours and how do you intend to address these in your work?

◦Because our academic program is heavily invested in thoughtful critiques of violence, war and the asymmetrical power relations of global conflict, we will likely address the fact that no matter the political stance, every citizen is complicit in the violence a nation engages in. Because we are all wrapped up in systems of alienation in our own ways, the care for veterans is an issue that every person must address carefully. We will be making the claim that every veteran deserves care and respect, even when ideological differences make it difficult to understand.

Structure:
•How does story begin/end?

◦Our story will begin with clips from news media providing sensational, generalized claims about the SoCal VA health care system and as the film goes on will narrow and end with diverse individuals relaying their unique experiences. We will initially highlight the news media’s representations about the experiences of the veterans and eventually end on the complex, nuanced experiences of actual veterans themselves, rather than politicians/VA bureaucrats/extreme cases/public spokesmen.

•Does story lend itself to linear causal structuring or episodic compartmentalization?

◦This story lends itself to thematic structuring, all of our interviews and sequences will add up to a synthesizing claim.

•What major obstacles or events coming up in the lives of your subjects can you isolate that might warrant you shooting scenes of preparation/experience/aftermath?

◦Our subjects likely have an ongoing participation in the VA healthcare system so we may be able to interview subjects in various stages of preparation/experience/aftermath.

•What is the present tense of documentary?

◦We can root our documentary in time/place by utilizing b-roll from past and current conflicts overseas, news media footage and possibly military documents and correspondence.