Thoughts of a possible #StoryCamp

The day before I went to LocalGovCamp in Birmingham last Saturday, I was at the DS6 Digital Storytelling Festival in Aberystwyth, where digital storytelling practitioners from the likes of Digital Storytelling Asia, Patient Voices and StoryWorks spoke about their ways and means of gathering and telling stories – helping create a space where people feel comfortable and confident in sharing their personal stories and enabling them to tell them using very simple tech, either for a small group or the wider world.  What really impressed me was that the emphasis was as much on the conversations that draw the stories out as much as the style in which they’re told. Natasha James of Breaking Barriers really hit the nail on the head when she stated:

Digital Storytelling is both a process and a product, with the ideal scenario that both are just as important as one another which is when the digital story manages to make people care about what is said and a connection with the story is made.

Towards the end of the day I attended Joni Ayn’s session ‘Digital storytellers, meet hyperlocalists‘, which rightly highlighted that people from both camps have much to learn from each other with their fondness for creating spaces where communities can share, talk and tell the stories that emerge from those conversations using DIY tools – ‘the bread and butter of the little hyperlocals’.  I heartily agreed and the presentation was followed by a lively discussion on the characteristics of the two movements and how they might be bought closer together.

The next day I was back in Birmingham for LocalGovCamp, which was a hive of productive activity. During the last slot of the day I went to Lloyd Davis‘ Social Artistry session, where he reflected on his recent trip across the States where he relied entirely on his social capital, friends and friends of friends to get from A to B and his plans to do a similar ‘Hoboe 2.0’ exercise in the UK in the coming months to find work and go wherever that might take him.  In his very detailed post, Dave Briggs said of the session:

…the best bit about Lloyd’s adventures are the stories he tells about them, whether at events like LocalGovCamp, his live shows or the blogs and videos he publishes.

Indeed, this is the lesson that public services can learn from folk like Lloyd – that having the ability to tell stories, the platforms on which to do so and the culture where stories are listened to, is really vital for an organisation to be considered healthy.

He’s right – those in local government, hyperlocal land and beyond have plenty to learn from digital storytelling practitioners and vice versa, which got me thinking: wouldn’t it be great to have something where they can all meet, share stories and ways and means of telling them?  I thought out loud on twitter (conversation on Storify) and it got a positive response from a few so I thought I’d write a slightly more detailed post on the subject and ask might #StoryCamp be a possible goer? And if so, how does one go about arranging a ‘camp’? JFDI?? 🙂

[View the story “Thinking out loud: #StoryCamp” on Storify]



  1. Noel said

    Hi Nicky

    Think it’s great you’re starting up a #storycamp. It’s time we put storytelling in the spotlight and we can definitely learn from storytellers – and who better to invite around the campfire!

    What surprised me from organising “camps” – campaigncamp, transformedbyyou and visualcamp – is that you really do need to organise them in such a way that they can be self organising. To give the idea time to grow and give people time to grow the idea with you. I captured some learning from Visual Camp here (the post on a summer’s evening at the treasury may be useful).

    Anyway, look fwd to #storycamp!

  2. Getgood said

    Thanks Noel and many thanks for the Camp organising tips – really good to see how people have done gone about it in the past, it’s difficult to know where to start! Gavin Wray’s advice made me laugh a lot: “Find a room, stick it on Eventbrite and pray people will come.” 😀

    I’ll keep you posted on #StoryCamp – obviously loads of tie-in with VisualCamp in that’s it’s all ways of getting your point across in creative and engaging ways. Thanks very much for your encouragement, that’s always a fantastic thing to get when you voice an idea.

  3. Hi Nicky, I wouldn’t know how to go about setting up a story camp but did like the output from the visual camp. BBCA has created stories with a group in a forest. I assume that the storycamp would be about getting people together in the real world rather than the virtual one? Maybe we could take some inspirations from the visual camp and do some lovely visuals on what the camp could be all about and who’d come along, where the camp would be located and what the camp would achieve. Brain is bubbling with possibilities..

  4. Getgood said

    I was thinking of a physical rather than virtual meet to make the connections and get the conversations going (and hopefully continuing online!). But as with all ‘camps’, the story of #storycamp would be told online with lots of lovely coverage. Been looking at the images on VisualCamp – they really are impressive, aren’t they?

    Glad your brain is bubbling as it would be really great to get well-versed digital storytellers like yourselves together with local gov and hyperlocal types who could learn from your knowledge and experience, the main reason I cross-posted this onto as well as – bring these groups together! 🙂

    Great to meet you in Aberystwyth, it was a great day and very eye-opening for me!


  5. I kicked us off with a story

    I think this is really important as it is part of a trend. I passionately believe social media is levelling the playing field and wresting the power from the broadcasters, marketeers and newspaper owners. Gradually we can return to more natural human ways of operating like bartering, trading with people we trust and building social capital. Story-telling is a really important part of this, helping us move away from the dominance of the printed word and encouraging us to exchange and embellish stories as our ancestors did.

  6. I would urge everyone interested in #storycamp to have a look at #bettakultcha which, from small beginnings, now regularly attracts 300 attendees in Leeds, and has now expanded to Bradford and Huddersfield. Yes, we know it’s based loosely on an existing format, but it has been adapted in a way that it has become a “must-attend” event, variously described as “ideas cabaret” and “a gig without bands”.

  7. […] was born out of musings inspired by attending the DS6 Digital Storytelling Festival and LocalGovCamp Birmingham […]

  8. […] been very vocal about this on twitter, so it will be news to no-one. From initial  StoryCamp musings came a twitter conversation, some further discussion on a specially created Posterous Group (which […]

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