Digital Storytelling

September 25, 2012  - by 

My family history efforts are focused on the people who have been a part of my life. My goal is to document their personalites along with their vital records. These stories are based on memories that are often imperfect, but they serve to add depth to these amazing people.

My format of choice is a hybrid scrapbook that combines stories, photos and graphical elements. My memories of these people can often be described as snapshot memories and this format supports that beautifully. And, by using fonts and graphics along with the words and photos, I can create a mood for each story that helps define place and time.

Behind the Alligator Farm title page

My favorite storytelling tools are Keynote and Scribd. Keynote is the presentation graphics component of Apple’s iWorks office suite. It’s similar to Microsoft’s PowerPoint or’s Impress apps. Although it doesn’t have the writing support you’d expect from your word processing software, it does support precise layout of images, text and graphical elements along with the ability to layer one on top of the other. Scribd is a publishing platform that could best be described as YouTube for documents. You can upload a publication to Scribd and share it via email, Facebook, Twitter or by embedding it in a blog post. And, you can make your publications available for download if you wish.

Keynote offers me another advantage. I also have Keynote on my iPad so I can carry my project with me – either to work on a story or to share it with others.

What’s the downside? Yes, there are a couple. First, unlike iWork’s word-processing app, Pages, Keynote doesn’t support linked text boxes. You have to manually manage text flowing from one column or page to another. This can be a  very time-consuming chore. You’ll miss out on automatic table of contents creation too. Scrapbookers will find these inconveniences mitigated by the ability to create custom mats for your photos and layer images with graphical elements across the page.

Scribd offers one feature that makes it especially useful to family historians – the ability to publish revisions. Each of my family publishing projects are works in progress and will be updated as new information and stories are added. Scribd lets me update my publication – and even maintains a revision history – so that the most current edition of this publication will always be available at this same location. You can click on the title graphic above to see what this project looks like today.

The result is a hybrid family history – part scrapbook and part prose – that’s guaranteed to capture your family’s attention.

This article was written by Denise Barrett Olson

Any recommendation, evaluation, opinion, or endorsement of a specific product, brand, work, practice, or entity in this post, or the comments following, reflects the sole opinion of the author and not those of FamilySearch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or their affiliates.

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  1. I loved the old Family Search better than the new….I have Macular Degeneration and find it very difficult to read the light blue printing against the white back ground. Can you change that ?
    I have over 100 records and no longer add or change my decending ancesters. What do I have lefrt to do?