The Mouse Problem (A Mixed Media Story)


I’ve been working, and struggling, to pull together this mixed media story for Digital Writing Month. The story is called The Mouse Problem. One struggle has been how to represent different parts of the story with different kinds of media. I did figure that out, using audio, flowcharts, video and other elements to tell parts of the story, which is already a combination of writing genres (texts, letters, newspaper articles, etc.)

The largest struggle has been: how do I post it/where do I post it so that others can experience the story as I have written it? This is no small matter, and I tried a few different spaces. You should know that the original is a Powerpoint, so if you were here with me, I would pull the story up and put the presentation/story into “play” and it would be fine.

But adding audio and adding video to PowerPoint in an online space? And having all of the attached files ready to for play by a distant audience? Not so easy, and the source of much frustration for me. I’ve tried a few different sites (Slideshare, for example) and found them lacking. I feel a bit as if I am losing agency with my story and my work with every hosting space I try.

I ended up using Storehouse (by dropping files into Dropbox for access by the storytelling app). But I had to edit the video to make it fit, only to realize that unless you turn the audio on in a later video in the story, the audio in the upper video (where the reporter gets a call) won’t work. Ack. This DID not happen when I was working in the app to design the story. It’s only in the web version. (And I loved that audio!)

I’m just going to live with it for now, as I figure out other possibilities. Anyone? I want to host a Powerpoint with video/audio files that play sequentially in the story. (Now thinking … what about Prezi? Hmmm).

What this points to, for me, is that digital writing continues to offer a push/pull concept — opening up possibilities for new kinds of writing but also limiting our expression and agency based on the tool itself. Whenever I run into this, I am reminded of the beauty of workarounds, if they work, and how one’s lack of knowledge about technology and composition would force you to make constant compromises for your work. I hate making compromises for a vision I have for a piece, and I hate that I often have to live with something less than my vision.

Sometimes, that’s the case.

Peace (in the digital),

  1. I’ve been dealing with these kinds of issues dating back 15 years. It seems like there’s never a straight solution, only hacks.

    I do have a question for you- why compose in PowerPoint? (The reason I ask is that over the years, every time someone asks me for help in doing a “multimedia” project, they either have used PP to the extent that it is inefficient to start over in a better program or their conception of the end result is “slideshow”). I know you have a greater than average knowledge of digital tools, so I’m curious about your process and what you thought PP would achieve?

    best regards

    • Good question. I did it originally because I had ideas of having my students do a similar project and PP was the most accessible. I wanted a book quality to it. But the limitations drive me bonkers, too, and am open/ready for another suggestion. With so many genres, the pp did have a certain cohesiveness in composition.
      Thanks, Michael.

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