This month, I attended the Pararchive: Connected Communities conferences hosted by the University of Leeds. The aim of the project is to co-produce a new ‘open’ digital resource that will allow anyone to search and collect on-line resources and to combine them with their own media (film, photographs and other ephemera) in order to tell their own stories, make new archives, be creative, start new projects and do their own research. I was asked to speak at the conference to showcase how I’ve worked with digital technology as a means of audience engagement, encouraging individuals to discover and explore as well as as a digital storytelling tool and potential ever-growing archiving mechanism.
The presentation centred around one case study in particular, the project that inspired the company I work with to pivot in a new direction, employing a team of software developers and designers.
Memory Box Stories: from a digital inclusion project to a global digital storytelling app
This presentation will explore the journey from managing a publicly-funded digital storytelling and inclusion programme to privately investing in the development of a global digital storytelling application, sharing the lessons learned. Arguably the biggest issue faced was that of sustainability – how can we ensure that these stories become the foundation for an ever-growing archive, and how can we simplify the story creation process post-project?
Product History and Development
In 2012, we set about engaging elderly members of the community in Newcastle with technology through digital storytelling. We then embarked on a period of research and prototyping, expanding our in-house expertise to develop our own app, Memory Box Stories – a global digital archive and story creation tool used by people throughout the world. Our simple, accessible design gives communities and individuals a voice and a platform to share that voice.
Examples of practice
We work with organisations internationally, helping them to tell their communities’ stories, including:
- Newcastle City Library – reminiscence with over 65s
- South Tyneside Library – engaging young reading activists with reading
- Los Angeles Public Library – training librarians
Future Sustainability – Our Business Model and Development Philosophy
Our philosophy is to listen, learn and incorporate feedback into our work. To continue to grow and develop digital products that facilitate engagement and inclusion, we decided to capitalise on the Memory Box Stories app and our in-house expertise to develop our first product, Narrative. Narrative replicates the app’s technology, rebranding it for other organisations. This provides an accessible solution for organisations keen to engage their audiences in their work through technology and storytelling.