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ASU humanities lecture offers tips on digital storytelling

Jonathan Davis
October 09, 2014

While there is no substitute for good old-fashioned storytelling, a national expert says an interdisciplinary technological approach can bring to life a research paper, report or presentation.

Jonathan Davis will continue the fall 2014 Humanities Lecture Series with his presentation of “Telling Stories Through Creative Technology.” Hosted by Arizona State University’s College of Letters and Sciences and Project Humanities, the lecture starts at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 16, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, room 128.

The lecture series, now in its seventh year, is open to the general public and is free.

The theme for this year’s series is “Creativity and the Humanities.”

“Mapstory technology is a tool that enables groups to map all their recorded history from their own perspective and allows educators to provide students multidisciplinary means to review a topic with much more of its complexities; it provides us with a 21st century mode of communication and data storage,” said Mirna Lattouf, series organizer.

The School of Letters and Sciences provides students across ASU with the knowledge and skills to comprehend and effectively engage the changing world of the 21st century at local, national and global levels. Theory, creativity and applied learning are integrated as students build entrepreneurial opportunities both inside the university and their communities.

Davis is an ASU geographic information systems graduate student who also holds a bachelor’s in history and government, and a master's in history. Currently, he is a Fellow for the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. in Phoenix.

“I will be showing students and members of the community how an interdisciplinary approach to storytelling can be a powerful research advantage,” Davis said. “It’s a way to make any story more relevant, visually engaging and interesting. A static bar graph or chart isn’t going to cut it anymore.”

Considered one of the nation’s premiere storytellers, Davis creates visual stories through MapStory, an online platform that allows users to “organize knowledge about the world spatially and temporally.” His work on Florida sinkholes, diplomatic posts in China, congressional shifts in America and Native American treaties has been featured in the Washington Post, Arizona Republic, Business Insider, KTAR and the Lakota Times.

“When people look at charts and graphs, it doesn’t really impact them,” Davis said. “What I try and do is tie data by using MapStory to show where they do fit into the story. It’s a method to make the information exciting to readers.”

The lecture series will conclude on Nov. 6 with “Creativity and the Humanities,” a presentation by Patricia Colleen Murphy, founding editor of ASU Superstition Review.

For more information on the fall 2014 Humanities Lecture Series, call Mirna Lattouf, series organizer, at (602) 496-0638 or email