A Webcomic, a Youtube Video and a Cinemagraph Walk into a Bar

If there is one thing I’ve seen throughout my lifetime of practice procrastinating on the internet, it’s that the digital age and digital media have ways of getting through to an audience that sometimes textbooks and lectures don’t have. There is a relatable quality to digital media; it presents a can-do sense for the average-man and a constant newness that every couple of seconds on the internet can bring. To better understand this relation between digital media and a more effective learning environment, I went to a source that has been a long-time friend of my procrastinating tendencies: The Oatmeal (TheOatmeal.com).


I remembered this particular article on the comedic blog that had taught me a lot about the writing process – something I’m studying in school and am interested in as a potential future writer: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/making_things. Unlike an anthology of short stories or a book on plot construction, the comic strip both calmed some of my writerly fears and made me laugh (two things that a book on plot construction has certainly never done for me thus far). The conversational, “what people are really thinking” language makes the comics relatable, while the content can still have an educational effect. Plus, the comics combine digital art with storytelling.

Secondly, I remembered this musical made on Youtube by Hank Green from VlogBrothers (and others as well) about the social media site Tumblr. This is only one example of how Hank and author John Green from VlogBrothers combine storytelling, music, video, photoshop, and humor to entertain and educate millions of viewers. The musical made on Tumblr is parodying the tags people search for on the site, or the “indexical key words” as we discussed in class.

The VlogBrothers channel on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers?feature=watch) is inspiring to me to continue creating and to create as much as possible, which seems to be a good reason to include it on our Digital Storytelling syllabus. While the Green brothers may be associated with certain fandoms, such as the Harry Potter fandom, their videos are excellent examples of combining a multitude of digital tools to create an entertaining and thought-provoking story.

Finally, I found these moving photographs – called cinemagraphs – while reading a book about blogging. Well, the book led me to the website of photographer Jamie Beck which led me to the cinemagraphs. Nonetheless, these images have got to be the most compelling, most haunting things I’ve ever seen when it comes to telling a story with multimodal media (yay for alliteration). I still can’t quite put together how these moving stills work – it’s an amazing paradox – but they captivate me. The photography of Jamie Beck is beautiful and tells a story on its own, however I can’t possibly advocate enough for how cool these cinemagraphs are. In this one, you have to look carefully. The woman’s hair is blowing in some sort of breeze, yet everything else in the picture is still. (You can click on the picture to see a full-size version which will show the detail better.)


The website for these cinemagraphs is here: http://annstreetstudio.com/category/cinemagraphs/.

With storytelling in a digital age, the number of different possibilities for creation seems virtually limitless. I think adding a few of these examples to our syllabus could be a good kick in the butt to get the experimental juices flowing.

-Kristin Vermilya


~ by kristinvermilya on January 12, 2013.

4 Responses to “A Webcomic, a Youtube Video and a Cinemagraph Walk into a Bar”

  1. The Oatmeal would be awesome, because much of the humor is based on digital media, especially with the comics detailing the work and process of using digital media to make the fans happy.

  2. Absolutely obsessed with the idea of moving photographs. They’re definitely not something you see often, the only thing I can really think where they have been utilized is Harry Potter. Never the less, I would be intrigued to learn how to do it or reasons the initiating this creation in the first place.

  3. I agree. The Oatmeal would definitely be a great choice since, as you said, it’s a great example of combining digital art and storytelling. It’s really humorous as well!

  4. I’m really interested in Kristin’s cinemagraph suggestion. I might be behind the times, but I was unfamiliar with the term until reading her post. It seems like there would be a lot to learn surrounding this form of media. Creating our own cinemagraphs could be a cool project opportunity, as well.

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