Digital Storytelling in Chinese Skateboarding Community

Unintentional digital storytelling approach

Digital storytelling is a novel term inChina, and there is even not a Chinese phrase to depict such digital form. So far as now, it is basically accepted by some teachers as a new teaching tool in the classrooms, rather than a form known to most Chinese people. In this meaning, digital storytelling is usually obscured with documentaries inChina, and people often do it unintentionally.

 With the advent of video share websites such as Youku and Tudou, more and more skaters’ home made videos appear in the community, including the digital storytelling ones. Nevertheless, since the notion of digital storytelling is not well-known inChina, some videos just posses the form of digital storytelling more or less, may not be regarded as digital storytelling strictly. It’s a dilemma that people in the Chinese skateboarding community use the form of digital storytelling without being aware of them, and it’s no wonder that these unintentional storytelling works have part narratives, part documentaries.

Here are two examples to illustrate such kinds of unintentional storytelling works

This one was finished by Lin Min, a boy who finshed his trip from Fujian Province to Lhasa by skateboarding, and this video took the shape of digital storytelling, but not complete. There are pictures, video footages, some of his narratives in it.

This piece was done by a annoymous user, from the content, it was a retrospect of his previous skateboarding life.Like Lin Min’s one, it includes videos, pictures, but it has no direct narratives by voice, instead there is some texts beside the pictures as narratives.

Record and Express

Thinking of the fact that digital storyteller usually have desires to document their life experience, ideas and feelings, skaters in the Chinese skateboarding community possess the strong motivations to record and express as well. When searching in the Chinese video websites, I could easily find many videos titled with” my skateboarding life”, they love to document their exciting skateboarding moment in their youths, showing off themselves in the digital videos to the community even the mass, completely out of enthusiasm. It is significant that their active participation in creating digital works bind the whole Chinese skateboarding community across the country, through internet, keeping the whole community alive.

Additionally, the Chinese skateboarding community is always likely to be misinterpreted by mainstream media in China, as a group of kids destroying the public constructions, performing poorly in study, etc. therefore, skaters within the community usually feel their expressions take the responsibility of protesting for themselves, advocating the real skateboarding culture through their narratives to the public. In a level, authenticity is the focus in Chinese skateboarding community; they hate being misinterpreted by other people, and they hate those who pretend to love skateboarding who actually doesn’t, which is kind of important for their digital storytelling to be authentic.

Attention Arising

Since the definition “ordinary” is not a stable and unchanging one[i], everyone in the Chinese skateboarding community encounters with the ordinariness and uniqueness specially, they are ordinary people within the community, making digital storytelling to express the unique experiences; and they are unique people outside the community to the public in China, due to the fact that skateboarding is regarded as a cool subculture in China, and people usually regard skateboarders as people who are rebellious and discontented. So skaters are hoping that they make their individual representations, while the public treated him or her as representative of the whole Chinese skateboarding community, and could find commonness on the representative though they think they are telling unique stories. 

As everyone knows when they are doing digital storytelling works, their pieces will be shared with other people. People within the Chinese skateboarding community love to share the intentional digital storytellings with community members, as well as the people outside the community, as a result, their works could get heated visitor rate, which is also an encouragement to push them to make progress, making the digital storytelling works look more professionally. Here comes the challenge to their previous roles of ordinary people, they themselves morphed into a relatively professional expert,voluntary  to make digital storytelling works better, helping themselves and the whole Chinese skateboarding community gets more attention.

Go to The intentional digital storytelling approach


[i] Lundby, Knut. Digital storytelling, mediatized stories: self-representations in new media. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2008. Print. 

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