This chapter is divided into three main sections that position digital storytelling within a historical and social context. Firstly I discuss what constitutes a ‘personal story’ and then move on to consider how this rhetorical form has functioned in a cultural context in relation to social change. I argue that digital storytelling inhabits a particular space that sits on the brink of further metamorphosis should it adapt to some of the idiosyncrasies of online realms. I do not ascribe agency to digital storytelling itself, rather to the people and institutions that employ it as a tool. In the second section I describe the emergence of digital storytelling and its uses for personal empowerment, archiving social history, community development, education and social advocacy. I follow this overview with discussion of the cultural significance and critical problems that frequently emerge in scholarly literature on digital storytelling, in particular ordinary people and broadcast access, listening and development, expertise and sustainability and the ways in which context shapes production (coaxing a supposedly authentic voice) and consumption (framing the way that stories are interpreted by audiences). Finally, in the third section, I consider some examples of personal online storytelling in multiple forms including personal blogs (‘Same Plus’), collective themed blogs (‘Born This Way’) and affirma-tional vlogs (‘It Gets Better’) before moving on to discussion of specific possibilities for digital storytelling in online spaces.
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