Sound stories


Audio Book flickr photo shared CC by The Preiser Project

It’s been so long since I wrote in this space, it’s a hole too deep to climb out. I won’t try to catch up today. But this post concerns an ongoing digital storymaking seminar called the You Show. If you want to know more about what we’ve been up to, my co-conspirator Alan Levine has been, umm, doggedly documenting the process over the past weeks.

This job often feels like work. Budgets. Forms. Proposals and evaluations. Policies and politics. I lie awake at night worrying about the decisions I’ve made, the people I work with, the field itself…

But then there are moments where the satisfaction is so immense it affirms the whole deal. These moments remind me just how fortunate I am to have landed where I am. I had one of those moments last week.

During our two weeks in Audioland, one of our suggested You Show activities was to Create a Sound Effect Story, to assemble a narrative without words. Besides the resources and tutorials on the website, we hosted an introductory workshop, where our main learning was that many of our participants were freaked by the idea, not to mention the sheer amount of stuff we were throwing at them. We also hosted a few “drop-ins” for people who wanted to work on their projects in a guided way. It was fun and illuminating to watch Alan walk through the essentials of Audacity as he saw them… (particularly the parts where he did it differently than I would have).

alan audacity

Alan captured this session, and more are collected here. One of the many exemplary things he has done during his Fellowship is model the benefits of narrating your work. I really love this post he wrote about following up with Gail Morong, one of the drop-ins pictured above.

steel pan teacher

A week or so later, Gail and her husband Joseph invited us to their home for a Trinidadian dinner. An absolutely fantastic evening, filled with rich and enlightening conversation, music and laughter. The meal itself was unbelievably delicious, but for me the most satisfying moments were after the food was cleared away, the sweet burn of scotch bonnet pepper sauce lingering in my mouth. Joseph and Gail wanted to share their audio stories with us.

Joseph describes his narrative as “my nod to Black History Month and those on whose shoulders I now stand.” Not exactly easy listening, but it certainly grabs you:

Gail’s piece has a very different feel. I think it’s a shame she gives the story away in her title, because I was delighted to recognize what it was about half-way through just by listening.

What Gail and Joe have shared will give me the gumption to make it through any number of “job as work” moments. They have prodded me out of the longest, most miserable blog-slump I have ever had. Thanks to them, to Alan and all the other You Show-ers for reminding me why we do this.

3 thoughts on “Sound stories

  1. Brian, thanks for writing this. I have not been blogging near enough as I should but mostly because I have been too darn busy. (I’m sticking to that excuse).

    Apparently it has been about a month since I opened up my RSS reader as well. #sigh

    Both you and Alan have really inspired me since I found your work late 2014. Keep up the great work and hopefully we can have you come visit us at the Tec someday soon!

  2. This is interesting stuff, Brian. I am learning a lot from reading you, Irwin, and Alan. I am hoping that I can provide an interesting website with a blog, etc. Following Alan’s work has amazed me in how much art can be made in a social media space. I will watch this space now as well. Best regards, Kathleen.

  3. Thanks for this wonderful blog, Brian. I still remember that special evening we shared…let’s do it again. I promise to get back to working on my blog soon. I really miss having Alan around…it helps to have an “e-technologist” to guide and support us. My fingers are crossed we’ll have such a person as part of our instructional design team one day. Gail

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