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New Digital Story Platform to Celebrate Orkney Culture

Michael Behr



The Orkney project will help develop the technical expertise needed to create similar digital story telling platforms around the world.

A new digital story platform is being developed by a team from Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the University of the Highlands and Islands to celebrate the heritage, culture, and identity of Orkney.

The project seeks to identify and explore the challenges and opportunities posed in the development of digital platforms, and the curation and presentation of stories.

Work is being led by Dr Rachael Ironside, Senior Lecturer and Researcher at RGU’s School of Creative and Cultural Business; Dr Stewart Massie, Reader at RGU’s School of Computing; and Professor Donna Heddle, Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands Institute for Northern Studies.

In addition to the academics, key stakeholders in Orkney are being consulted to explore the potential of the platform.

Dr Ironside said: “The development of digital platforms to present and share stories has become an increasingly popular method of engaging visitors with heritage, landscape and culture. However, the development of digital storytelling platforms is often expensive, time-consuming and requires technical expertise.

“This can lead to sustainability issues with maintaining platforms, as well as questions related to the most effective way to collect, curate and present stories in a digital format.”

The Orkney project recently received £10,000 from The Royal Society of Edinburgh to explore the most effective way to collect, curate and present stories in a digital format.

“The plan was to deliver three in-person workshops to explore story collection and curation, digital feasibility and sustainability,” Dr Ironside added. “However, due to Covid we postponed these workshops and instead ran an online symposium in January 2021 called ‘Angles of Vision: Storytelling on the cosmic tide?’.

“The symposium hosted the same three workshops but in a digital format and attracted over 30 participants to each workshop nationally and internationally.

“It is intended that the findings developed from the workshops will benefit not only this project but have wider reaching impacts for the development and implementation of digital story-based projects locally, nationally and internationally.

“These challenges concern the collection and representation of stories, and also the sustainability of digital platforms beyond the end of the project. Our findings can be found in a newly published report.”


In addition, Director of the Institute for Northern Studies and co-investigator on the project Professor Donna Heddle said: “Sharing stories is part of the lived experience of communities, past, present, and future.

“This digital story project will allow us to preserve and promote these stories in new ways which will give more access and indeed more ownership of them to the people who created them. It is a very exciting step forward for cultural history.”

Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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