John Scenters-Zapico, Lou Herman, Kate Mangelsdorf, and Lindsay Hamilton University of Texas, El Paso
While some of our readers may be familiar with the Digital Archive of Literacy Narrative (DALN), we would like to share its mission:
The Digital Archives of Literacy Narratives (DALN) is a publicly available archive of persona literacy narratives in a variety of formats (text, video, audio) that together provide a historical record of the literacy practices and values of contributors, as those practices and values change.
The DALN invites people of all ages, races, communities, backgrounds and interests to contribute stories about how - and in what circumstances - they read, write, and compose meaning, and how they learned to do so (or helped others learn). We welcome personal narratives about reading and composing all kinds of texts, both formal and informal: diaries, poetry, music and musical lyrics, fan zines, school papers, videos, sermons, gaming profiles, speeches, chatroom exchanges, text messages, letters, stories, photographs, etc. We also invite contributors to supplement their narratives with samples of their own writing (papers, letters, zines, speeches, etc.) and compositions (music, photographs, videos, sound recordings, etc.). (http://daln.osu.edu)
In the last four and a half years the site has collected 4,404 narratives representing text, video, audio, and combinations of all of these. According to Louis Ullman, "The DALN began building the collection during May 2008 (several of the initial narratives were recorded at a meeting with our Advisory Board on May 10, 2008), and the first submissions were added to the archive on May 13, 2008. Submissions were opened to the public on Monday, October 13, 2008. And as far as I can tell from the metadata, on 10 November 2008, David Fagan submitted the first narrative submitted by someone not 'working for' the DALN: http://daln.osu.edu/handle/2374.DALN/58" (personal correspondence with Ulman and Selfe, August 25, 2013).
Additionally, articles and books using and studying its resources have started to appear in journals. Most recently, for example, are Bryson's "The Literacy Myth in the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives" and a recently released e-book,Stories that Speak to Us (2013), focuses on ways that the DALN narratives have been and can be used in scholarly research. The editors share,
Stories that Speak to Us consists of a collection of online exhibits by guest curators that present and analyze selected personal literacy narratives from the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN), a publicly available, online archive of over 3,600 personal literacy narratives in a variety of formats (text, video, audio) that recount contributors' literacy practices and values in their own words. The various exhibits employ different formats and may contain embedded media as well as links that allow readers to download ancillary materials and/or entire exhibits in alternate formats.
While the DALN site and the stories it contains represent finalized narratives (in terms of their being taped and accessible), another story needs to be told. How do the stories get there? The site makes it easy for participants to upload their stories, but how easy is easy?
We see three ways that this is accomplished. First, perhaps most visible, is to upload a narrative to the site, but this only works if storytellers know how to record, save, and then upload their stories. For those who do not, the task could prove too daunting. Second, is for DALN volunteers (DALNERS) to record storyteller's narratives and upload them. This process involves DALNers who usually set up tables at conferences to collect the narratives, as well as provide all necessary recording equipment, consent forms, and the upload of narratives to the DALN site. Third, is for people to learn how to do these things as part of a class or community projects. The methods of gathering and uploading narratives have been effective as is noted in the number of narratives available and the growing forms of scholarship focused on the DALN in essay and book form.
As volunteers with DALN, nevertheless, we worry about the number of people who do not have the technology to upload their stories, do not have the time, are not academic folk attending conferences, or, perhaps have the technology, but do not know how to use it in order to share their experience, edit it, sign the consent forms, and finally upload the final version.
Since we live in a economically poor part of the country we decided to take a grassroots approach to gathering narratives for the DALN. Two years ago we created a field-based DALN site in UTEP's University Writing Center with two primary goals. The first was to bring individuals to us, where we would do everything like the DALN volunteers at CCCC every year. The second was to create a portable model that would take us to many local entities requiring field-based equipment (and as we would find later, translations of the consent forms) to do this.
In this essay we will first discuss the way we situate literacies into the vision of the Big DALN. Next, we discuss the process of creating our local small DALN so that readers in other locations can use what we have done (and avoid pitfalls as well!). Finally, we share some of the places we have interviewed and filmed narratives as well as the processes that allowed us to access, or not, these audiences.
One standard definition of literacy is "the quality or state of being able to read and write" ("Literacy," def. 1). Literacy, here, is a noun - a thing, something that you have rather than something that you use. Another definition is "the possession of education" ("Literacy," def. 2). Again, literacy is a thing - and here it is linked specifically to education, to schools, to institutions. This traditional definition of literacy is embedded in the notion of standardization, which in turn leads to demarcations - dividing people according to their possession of reading and writing. And in the U.S., the possession of reading and writing is associated with what is commonly referred to as Standard English. When you have a standard, then you also have nonstandard; a standard cannot exist without the opposite. A standard language comes with myths. There is the myth that learning to read and write so-called Standard English will lead automatically to a secure spot in the middle class. There is the myth that by its definition a standard language cannot be a mixed language, so that languages such as Spanglish are stigmatized as street languages or are seen as detracting from people's ability to learn a common language or to communicate with others (Mangelsdorf 121). There is the myth that digital forms of communication threaten old-fashioned methods of reading and writing. There is the myth that standardized language can be measured in standardized tests. There is the myth of a golden age of language, when all students read and wrote better than they do now, be it twenty years ago or two hundred years ago. And the biggest myth of all is the myth that there is such a thing as a standard language, that a language can exist objectively, outside of the ways that is is used, that it can be codified and labeled and forced into a box where it will not change. "Standard language" is a social construction much as "race" is a social construction. As Makonia and Pennycook have noted, languages and the concept of languages have been invented throughout history, in particular as a result of Christian, colonial, and nationalistic global projects (1).
So, the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives is one way - a strong way - of striking back at standard language ideologies. It is an archive of language stories - of literacies, of language users, inventors and creators. In these stories people of all ages - from toddlers to the very elderly - talk about important moments of literacy in their lives, in their own words, using whatever words, gestures, illustrations, or sound effects they want. The site demonstrates the broad range of literacies, from reading books, taking photographs and designing tattoos to creating murals, or writing an essay in a first-year writing class. The narratives show that literacies do not exist outside of social networks - that they are embedded in ecological systems, to use Hawisher and Selfe's term, that exist within a "constellation of existing social, cultural, economic, historical, and ideological factors" (619). While these narratives are personal, in that they are created by individuals, the stories that people tell demonstrate the array of sites and opportunities from which literacies develop and change.
We would like now to zero in on one particular literacy site, the El Paso, Texas, United States-Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, border region to give an introduction to how we are using the DALN to explore and preserve for historical purposes the literacies of this region. El Paso, Texas, is one of those cities that always ranks at the bottom of the well-known annual survey of the most literate cities in the U.S. - the survey in which Washington, D.C., Seattle, and Boston usually rank at the top, and Bakersfield, California and El Paso, Texas are at the bottom. The survey (conducted annually by Central Connecticut State University) uses as data a city's newspaper and magazine circulation and library and Internet resources (Miller). In other words, this ranking, it is safe to say, is grounded in a traditional notion of literacy that is heavily associated with economic class. As Scenters-Zapico notes in his bookGeneraciones' Narratives: The Pursuit and Practice of Traditional Electronic Literacies on the U.S. -Mexico Border, this ranking of El Paso as among the least literate cities in the U.S. is ironic because our city across the border, Ciudad Juárez, has a literacy rate of 97.3%. Ciudad Juárez is literally on the other side of the Rio Grande. A study that decontextualizes El Paso from Juárez is going to be inaccurate. In Scenters-Zapico's words, "These two cities are united by over five hundred years of history, of interchange, of marriage, on immigration both ways, by business and industry, and of course a river with two names: the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo" (6). People on both sides of the border speak Spanish, English, and Spanglish in a rich and complex cultural and linguistic ecological system. By contributing literacy narratives from El Paso and Juárez residents to the DALN archives, we want to be able to debunk those highly publicized literacy rankings that are so detrimental to the border region. We also want to demonstrate that literacies include languages other than English and go beyond text-based concepts. We want to hear people's literacy narratives as they tell them in their own words rather than as they are interpreted by others. And we want to preserve these stories so that future generations can explore and learn from them.
Let us now give an example of a literacy narrative from the El Paso/Juárez border region that will soon be posted on the DALN. To talk about this literacy narrative, we are going to use the matrix that Scenters-Zapico uses in his book, Generaciones, to discuss the literacy narratives he recorded. In the book, he expands on Brandt's notion of literacy sponsors by adding his own related concepts. Literacy sponsors (this is Brandt's concept) are those who allow or restrict access to literacy. Often literacy sponsors are teachers, but they are also family members, friends, or co-workers. They can be financial sponsors or psychological sponsors - people who encouraged or discouraged literacy (20). A person can also be a self-sponsor, a concept Scenters-Zapico discovered in his study, and often the case when it comes to electronic literacies. To the idea of literacy sponsor he has also added the notion of a micro-tear zone, or MTZ, which is when a sponsor's positive or negative comments are internalized (22). For instance, a teacher calls a student "hopeless" or "a bad writer." To Selfe and Hawisher's notion of technology gateways - sites and occasions for acquiring electronic literacies - Scenters-Zapico adds "public electronic gateways" such as schools, libraries or community centers. He coins the term "cubbyhole gateways" to refer to the "nooks and crannies" of digital literacy opportunities in jobs where you would not expect them, such as learning to use the scheduling software at a fast-food job (23). Then there are "micro-literacy zones," small spaces where people can acquire literacies, such as a quiet place in the library or at home (24). Finally, Scenters-Zapico discusses "alternative literacy practices," such as reading comics or the Bible, which usually do not factor into traditional notions of literacy opportunities (25).
In our literacy narrative filmed at the University of Texas at El Paso, the participant, or speaker, is Gilbert Contreras, and he begins by explaining that he moved to El Paso from Chicago when he was five years old. He was in bilingual classes at this time because his first language was Spanish. He then goes on to say that he became an avid reader, so much so that in the fourth grade he won a contest for reading the most books, the Hardy Boys series and works by Edgar Allen Poe being some of his favorites. He recounts that as he grew older he became less interested in reading - that as an adolescent he became interested in "boy things" and cared less about English class. Gilbert's narrative then makes a sudden turn when he says that after high school he joined the Marine Corps and was stationed in Iraq. At this time, he "rediscovered" reading - it helped him pass the time. He mentions reading Catcher in the Rye three times and also reading health and sports magazines. He says that a lot of Marines would read during their down time, when they were waiting for transport, for instance. "You'd be surprised," he says. He also points out that as a weather forecaster in the Marine Corps, he had to read forecasts and write briefings. Marines also read, he says, when they are a part of Marine Corps Institute for promotion - they have to read a book and take a test on it. According to Gilbert he has rediscovered reading and "it is a joy." Finally he arrives at the present time, when he is in his 3rd year of college, and says that there is even reading to do in his chemistry textbook. Gilbert is sorry that so many kids get away from reading because of the time they spend on devices like PlayStation. As he finishes his narrative he returns to his time in Iraq. Reading, he says, was a way of "liberating" yourself from the noise - it was a gateway from all of the violence.
Gilbert's literacy narrative involves several institutional gateways and sponsors - the school that had the reading contest when he was in the 4th grade and the Marine Corps that bases its tests on reading and that seems to at least indirectly encourage reading during the soldiers' downtimes. Interestingly, he does not mention any individual sponsors. He matter-of-factly describes his bilingualism as a child - in this border area this is normalized. There is likely a great deal of self-sponsorship when he reads in Iraq as well as potentially sharing reading material among Marines. His job as a weather forecaster serves as a cubbyhole gateway in that he expresses some surprise that the job involved both reading and writing and the Marine Corps was an indirect sponsor in that it purchased and gave him the technology he needed to perform his job; additionally, we assume the Marine Corps also taught him to use the technology and how to create the reports for his job, making the Marine Corps teachers direct literacy sponsors. He found micro-literacy zones in Iraq - not necessarily a physical space, but rather a textual site that affords him freedom from the noise, the violence, that surrounds him. And like many people who create literacy narratives, he describes literacy in emotional terms - it is a joy. It is "liberating." His network of literacy begins in El Paso, stretches to Iraq, returns to El Paso, and is embedded in the languages, institutions, and politics surrounding him.
We have given a short introduction here to the DALN project, especially as we are using it in the border region of El Paso. We will now describe how the DALN initiative began at UTEP and how other sites can participate. In May 2011 we received $2,000 from the Sid Richardson Foundation to use toward technology for our DALN initiative. The list of items we wanted focused on essential equipment we could take to the field and use in our DALN office for recording. For our office we settled on purchasing two permanent items: a black curtain for the wall behind the storyteller, and two high power film lights with umbrella reflectors (See Image One: Lights for Recording). These items would, ideally, create higher quality recordings.
Our field items include an HD camera (Canon HF R300) and tripod, which would also be used for our office interviews. Next, we realized that often we would not have electricity in some locations, such as parks, so we purchased two extra rechargeable batteries for the camera. When electricity would be available, we also imagined that outlets might not be nearby, so we purchased 150 feet of extension cord and a surge protector. In case we had an especially active day, we decided to purchase two extra memory cards for the camera to store multiple narratives. To safeguard the recordings we purchased two 1TB (terabyte) mini hard drives. To easily carry all the equipment to the recording sites a backpack was donated, and, in case of rain, a tent.
While funding was undeniably useful, we also believe that other DALN satellites like ours could open and thrive using personal cell phones or a volunteer supplied camera to record. Another resource we have found on our campus is our Information Technology (IT) team. Like many institutions, IT swaps old computers (typically three years old) for newer models usually found in computer labs; so we stay in touch with our IT friends. Old desktop Macs can still be used for video editing and Mac laptops, which all have built-in cameras, can be taken to the field for recording, this also obviating the need for a separate camera. As a matter of fact, during interviews we find that our HD camera on a tripod is more intimidating than an open laptop with a web cam. We suspect that many people are used to being behind a computer as opposed to a camera.
Once we started going to different locations, we realized that the name "Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives" was not easily interpreted by those outside of an academic setting, and therefore did not attract potential donors. To get people interested we created a banner: "Tell Us Your Story" (See Image Two: Tell Us Your Story).
Outreach is about creating partnerships out of existing and potential relationships. These partnerships need to be seen as mutually beneficial, be built on trust, and are hopefully ongoing even if they are sporadic or transform over time. It makes sense to begin where a connection already exists. This may account for why many of the DALN narratives come from members of academia. There is already a foundational understanding of the value of the DALN project and an inherent willingness to participate. Less ideal is the offering of extra credit for students participating in the DALN by providing literacy narratives. The goal of the DALN is to collect a wide range of unique, rich, and authentic narratives provided freely and openly by participants. Yet often good will is not enough of an incentive.
Participants are often recruited at conferences, enticed by extra credit in classes, and gently coerced from family members and friends. A model for the DALN project is the successful StoryCorps whose mission is to "provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives" (StoryCorps). What is interesting about this project is that in addition to bringing credibility to the project with their promise to preserve at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (StoryCorps) and their claim to being "the largest oral history project of its kind," having collected over 40,000 narratives (StoryCorps), the person providing the narrative is not just speaking into a microphone or looking into the lens of a video camera. The participant is telling the story to a friend or family member. StoryCorps provides the opportunity to tell a life story of significance to the participant not just for posterity but as a shared moment with someone of importance to them. This is a very powerful paradigm.
How then can the DALN provide equally compelling incentives for its own participants? While not suggesting that the DALN should imitate or even serve the same purpose as StoryCorp, this example provides one way that a higher level of partnership has been created between the project and participants, making the relationship one that is of inherent benefit to both parties without requiring motivation of a more coercive nature. Often, DALN participants do share their stories in interview and dialogue form. The following real life examples of partnerships between UTEP's DALN project and the community provide insights into how obtaining interviews can be an area for ethical and practical exploration.
We believe that the first point of action in collection literacy narratives begins in spaces already created by existing relationships. For one of this essay's authors it was natural to turn to her relationship with the military community at Fort Bliss where she lives. This contact and connection to the military was natural to expand the DALN's outreach. As co-author Lindsay Hamilton stated, "It never hurts to just start talking with people about what you are interested in doing. Eventually there will be some interest or shared ideas for how to make things happen. Partnerships will arise."
To begin, she started discussing the possibility of setting up a DALN site at one the buildings belonging to her husband's units. He was a Brigade Commander at the time and could provide access to potentially hundreds of soldiers. Initially her point of contact was with a Battalion Commander, who repeatedly expressed interest in the project but never came through with an actual date for gathering narratives on base. There was always too much going on that took precedent. Because of one delay after another she went back to her husband and proposed a specific date, it was accepted, and at that point arrangements began to take shape.
Hamilton and another DALN member would set up our tables to interview soldiers within one of the motor pools during the duty day, and they would be assisted by one of the unit's Public Affairs Officers (PAO). Hamilton adapted the DALN information sheet and interview questions (for those who preferred to be interviewed) to the location and people who would be interviewed. This involved putting the DALN information into language that would be more meaningful to soldiers. For example, instead of discussing "literacy" we would be discussing "skill acquisition" and "military terminology." "When the day arrived," Hamilton says, "we were met by the PAO who helped us set up and acted as liaison with the supervisor who sent over soldiers for interviews."
What quickly became apparent was that these were not voluntary interviews. While on duty, the PAO, supervisor, and soldiers were "voluntold" to participate. That being said, "the soldiers we spoke with that day appeared to be happy to tell their stories and even seemed to enjoy having someone listen to what they had to say." This willingness was demonstrated by one of the soldiers who selected the "Deed of Gift" option on the consent form because he believed this would give the researchers the most benefit in using his story.
The learning points from this experience were many, but at the top of the list is the notion of voluntary participation. When people are in work or school settings where they must respond to the persons in charge - superior, boss, teacher - who has arranged for the DALN to conduct interviews, we wonder if their participation is really voluntary in the true sense of the word. Are students or even teachers whose principle has decided to allow the DALN team to conduct interviews voluntarily participating, especially for under age students whose parents have provided the permission for them to participate?
Along the same lines, the partnership with the German School of El Paso, located on Fort Bliss, is an entirely different environment from the military unit. Hamilton approached the school by calling their school office and introducing herself and received basic information about the school - 91 students in grades ranging from 1st -10th grades, a school day that ran from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and a school year that began in September and ended in July. The school requested that she begin by contacting the German Public Affairs Office to get their permission to work with the school and then to call back to make an appointment with the school principal.
Once she accomplished this, she met with the school principal and English teacher. Both were very interested in working with the DALN team the following fall, incorporating the literacy narratives into the English curriculum including possible follow-up on assignments such as blogging about the experience, a collaborative assignment, or involving family members in their own literacy interviews. The challenge that was presented, however, was to translate the consent forms into German so that German-speaking parents could complete them in their native language. We contacted our translation services at UTEP for assistance in meeting this requirement and, a year later still do not have the forms translated. This type of challenge is one that other DALN volunteers will face in their own unique communities with unique demands. El Paso is also home to the Tigua Native American tribe with whom we ran into other unique challenges.
Continuing to focus on translingual community partnerships, the UTEP DALN project is also in communication with the Tigua Indian Tribe, a tribe of approximately 1,700 members located within the cities of El Paso, Texas, and Socorro, Texas. This potential partnership came from a chance meeting while Hamilton was attending a military unit sports day on Fort Bliss. Military units on Fort Bliss are routinely partnered with community businesses in order to strengthen the ties between the Fort Bliss and El Paso communities. This particular unit was partnered with the Tigua Indian Corporation, and the CEO of the corporation was attending the even along with a troop of Tigua native dancers.
Hamilton began a conversation with the CEO about the DALN project, and through his connections was directed to the Empowerment director responsible for education and preservation of native culture and language. After much correspondence by email over the course of several months and an in-person meeting, it was discovered that the Tribal Elders were required to approve access for interviews. In the end, this partnership fell through as a tribal counsel meeting was missed and we were passed on at the last minute to a series of points of contact that may or may not have had the ability to bring the partnership to fruition.
Very much in the forefront of our efforts with the UTEP DALN project is the belief that research is a reciprocal and collaborative relationship between researchers and participants. We are working to establish a calendar of DALN events for the 2013/2014 school year that allow DALN members the opportunity to:
To this end we are actively seeking out partnerships with schools and local organizations, establishing a training program for UTEP students who wish to participate as project members, and creating a structure for planned participation across the school year calendar. All members of DALN teams bring their unique background, perspective, and set of connections within the academic setting and larger community. Leveraging these connections will allow the UTEP DALN project to make a unique contribution to the nationwide effort.
This section shows some of the thought that went into setting up our DALN satellite and will prove useful for readers interested in establishing their own. In working to set up a DALN project at UTEP we looked at several features of what the DALN project embodies and prioritized our needs. We made sure that the following elements were in place before we began to solicit narratives.
First, we wanted the project to be an extension of the larger DALN project from the Ohio State University. Taking into consideration the professional level of video quality that is achieved at many of the OSU DALN sponsored events we wanted to match this level of production with a permanent space that could function as a stable installment of the DALN project at UTEP. We chose a space that would provide a comfortable environment for interviewees, with adequate room to maneuver the equipment (mentioned below) and technology access. In choosing equipment we looked at technology that would work as an in-house production as well as a portable system that could easily travel to sites outside of the university and was user friendly. We also took into consideration the possibility of conducting multiple interviews at one time at our permanent location with additional equipment (See Image Three: Interview in Progress).
While constructing the initial portions of the UTEP DALN project we wanted to make sure that we had a space that could permanently house the DALN project, be accessible to both volunteers and interviewees, and have a comfortable yet intimate feel. We converted a portion of one office located within the University Writing Center. The space is centrally located within a highly trafficked area on our campus. The office is set up in traditional interview style where interviewees can feel comfortable and private in providing their narratives. The space also contains much of the technology that we use to edit and upload the collected narratives, making the space all-inclusive for the on-campus portion of the UTEP DALN project. Not only are Imagewe able to come in contact with a wide variety of students from multiple disciplines (thanks to the University Writing Center location) we are able to tap into library resources and technology.
The equipment used for our DALN project was selected to fit several criteria: ease of use, portability, and high definition professional video capture. The camera is a Canon HF R300 with 1080p video capture, customizable white balance for a more natural picture, and is small enough to be carried along with some of the other equipment to events outside of the DALN office. We use a flat black photography drop-cloth for contrast, two adjustable 250w diffused splash lighting rigs, and a standard lavalier (microphone) for clear audio capture. Along with these larger pieces of equipment there are contingency items that we have for backup and mobile use: a tripod, back-up batteries for the camera, extra SD cards for the camera, large back-up hard drives, extension cords, power strips, carrying cases, a SD card reader, and extra light bulbs. The lighting, backdrop, and tripod are permanent fixtures in the DALN office to provide the professional video capture of narratives.
The camera was chosen in part to be user friendly so that new users could operate it. Many times people donating narratives to the DALN project prefer privacy to record their narratives. This equipment can be setup and left to interviewees to record themselves; they simply need to press the record button to begin and again to stop recording the narrative. This is part of the importance of providing a comfortable experience for contributors to donate their narrative.
In addition to the above set-up for capturing videos, we have alternatives for capturing narratives. Many times this occurs when professors offer extra-credit to students for donating to the DALN. During these times we get multiple people wanting to donate at the same time. Fortunately, we are able to work in conjunction with the University Writing Center where we have extra space (conference room, break room, offices) and several Mac Books with webcams to capture narratives. This equipment also provides some portability in collecting the narratives, but they do have lower quality video and less intuitive function from the permanent set-up. However, we have encountered multiple instances where these Mac Books with webcams have been more accessible to users wanting to donate their narrative.
Once interviews are completed we are able to quickly begin the editing and uploading of the narrative. An iMac with iSkysoft video conversion and iMovie editing software are located in the same space as the interview set-up. Both the iSkysoft video conversion software and iMovie editing software are easy to teach in intuitive to use. Again, this is an important aspect for DALN volunteers to be able to jump right into the project with only a small amount of training on the technical aspects of a satellite DALN project.
Finally, we created a UTEP DALN "branding" to give our collected interviews a coherence and an advertising element that would label UTEP narratives as unique pieces but still part of the larger DALN project. The branding also provides continued avenues for collection of narratives both on and off campus (See Video One: UTEP DALN Branding Stinger, Intro).
Once the physical and technical elements were in place for the DALN project at UTEP we wanted to ensure that the project was visible and marketable to both the campus community and groups outside the university who may want to contribute to the project. In doing so we created a video "brand," or "stinger," that is placed at the beginning and ending of each video that is captured through the UTEP project. The stingers are short multimedia labels that identify the videos as being part of the UTEP DALN project.
We wanted the intro stinger to represent and identify the UTEP DALN project without interfering with the narrative that would follow. The concluding stinger placed after the literacy narrative again provides the labeling of the UTEP DALN project along with additional information about the project, website for the narratives, and other basic information. Along with identifying specific narratives from UTEP within the larger DALN project at OSU we designed the stingers to advertise the DALN project around campus on a variety of multimedia devices located in several buildings. By providing information about where to contribute to the DALN, finding more information about the DALN, and what the DALN project is, we are able to reach out beyond the University Writing Center into other areas of campus and solicit contributions. Many times we hear, "I saw my friend on that video in the Union and I wanted to know what this was all about." The stingers provide us with marketing reach and uniqueness in an otherwise large pool of contributors. Because of the unique nature of El Paso in relation to Ciudad, Juárez, we have also "tagged" all of our videos with the descriptor "BorderNarratives."
Regardless of where people are from, their ethnic or racial background, or current living situation, the El Paso region is a border town, and our narrative collection seeks to preserve these narratives and share the unique perspective they have to offer. The stingers and tag both serve to separate UTEP and El Paso's narratives from the larger project for researchers who are looking for this perspective. This additionally ties in and supports the DALN's efforts at making the narratives easier to search.
While it may sound like a lot, we do very little video video editing. The major edit that is done to all of the videos we collect is the addition of the stingers at the beginning and end of the narrative. Aside from those additions the narrative as a whole is kept largely intact. At times, we may edit out the intro of a person starting the recording and sitting down to begin his/her narrative, or at the end doing something similar to stop the video. Also, if someone decides in the middle of their contribution that they wish to start over, we will edit the video at the new starting point. However, there are times when people may pause for long periods, may take a moment of emotional reflection, or even talk to themselves during an interview, working through their thoughts. We feel that it would be inappropriate to edit out these portions of the video. While at first they may seem insignificant for the narrative, the feeling is that these "extras" of a narrative are an integral part of the contribution. Capturing, on video, the emotion and overall personal experience of someone retelling a story is what the DALN project seeks to record alongside the narrative. The DALN is a human project of which we want to leave nothing out (See Video Two: UTEP DALN Branding Stinger, Outro).
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