I recently read an interesting scholarly article entitled “Youth Producers – Digital stories of faith and life” (Birgit Hertzberg Kaare 2008) which outlines a project undertaken by the church of Norway in which youth congregation member were tasked with producing digital short stories (videos) speaking to their personal experiences around faith based learning. The project itself was designed to engage young congregation members around a discourse on faith as well as test the introduction of a new, digital learning pedagogy into the traditional hierarchical, top down structure.
While I applaud the attempt to engage youth audiences with non traditional learning tools, as well as the effort to reengineer the pedagogical approach by embracing the sentiment that all stories (being personalized) are valuable stories, I was critical of some of the conclusions drawn by the author (which increasingly seemed bias towards the ecclesiastical objectives) that attempt to reconcile the value of the project with what is described as “expressive individualism”. In other words, the authors deduce that the credibility of the initiative (ultimately support for ongoing faith development) resulted from the personalized and “genuine” commerce engendered through the use of user generated forms of digital media production. I find this proposition a bit disingenuous. By simply facilitating, and therefore “theming” the project, the church authored the subtext of the project. This contextualization of the stories necessarily skews the content that emerges, no different than a “personalized” customer experience story published on a corporate blog.