The Centre for Social Informatics is currently hosting a visit of Dr Brian Detlor of McMaster University. Yesterday Brian gave a talk on his research and involvement with the Love your city, share your stories (LYCSYS) digital storytelling initiative in Hamilton, Canada. This initiative is led by the Hamilton Public Library, McMaster University Library, and the City of Hamilton.
Brian explained how LYCSYS involves the capture and dissemination of digital stories from Hamilton citizens. The stories relate to significant cultural and historical icons in a wide variety of digital formats, and the use of library resources (for example, photographs, geo-coded digital maps, archival material) to enrich and support the digital stories produced. The initiative is viewed as a critical community-based mechanism by which to promote the City of Hamilton’s cultural identity, and to contribute to the preservation of Hamilton’s history.
This account was prefaced with an review of how the idea for the project came about (in short, through discussions of possible research with the wider community of Hamilton when Detlor took a sabbatical as a Faculty Member in Residence within McMaster University Library), and an analysis of the concept of ‘digital storytelling’. Detlor played the Tim Horton Welcome home television commercial to demonstrate the power of story-telling and illustrate his points about what makes a ‘good’ story (authenticity being one element). I have to admit that I got rather teary-eyed as I watched the video.
The seminar was well attended by members of staff and research students from the Centre for Social Informatics and the Centre for Interaction Design, staff from other departments at Edinburgh Napier University, and external colleagues from organisations such as the NHS and the Scottish Book Trust. Many in the audience contributed to an interesting Q&A session at the end of the talk. Key questions centred on the curation responsibilities of memory institutions, librarians as content creators, the ambition of the research project, and how the project could be extended (possibly with reference to a number of initiatives in Scotland).