This week I ran a crash course in media, audiences and communication at ifs internationale filmschule köln gmbh. I was invited to ifs to host a two-day workshop with the students of the MA Digital Narratives, a full-time study program combining theory and practice while enabling the development of projects with digitization at the core. There I met a small group of very motivated young creatives from all over the world, who are developing their own projects across a whole spectrum of media (ranging from immersive theatre to Alternate Reality Games), with digital storytelling as a driver.
While going through a set of theories, approaches, case studies and tools useful to create narrative experiences, raise awareness and engage audiences in digital environments, I was pleased to discover that the students were deeply concerned about key topics such as the ethics of online platforms; the best technical providers and partners through which develop their projects as opposed to the experience they are crafting for the end user; and the amount of sensitive data you’re giving away while on social media.
Although these concerns are supposed to be the norm, to be honest I find that it’s getting rarer and rarer, as too often students and participants of creative programs are fully absorbed into their narrative worlds. Being too focused on designing/conceiving/writing the content, they are less worried about other critical and equally important aspects, such as the impact of the platforms they’re designing for, or the reactions they want to arise in their audience. That’s why I still hold dear one of the best pieces of advice I was given a few years ago: always create for the audience, not for the platform or the device.
As I was in Cologne for less than 48 hours and had a tight schedule, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit the lovely city centre. I guess this is a good reason to come back one day and stay longer: as seen from the taxi that brought me back and forth from the airport to my hotel, the Rheinauhafen waterfront is worth exploring.
Also, Germany welcomed me with a couple of rainy and chilly days (at least compared to Italy), as autumn seemed already in full swing there. So not quite ideal to just wander off and do the usual touristy things. I did order sausages and sauerkraut with beer at the restaurant, though. Guten Appetit!