Skip to content

Five Card Stories

October 14, 2011

While sniffing around on the Internet this evening, I came across Alan Levine‘s CodDogBlog, and I followed a scent to his Five Card Stories project. As he explains, “You are dealt five random photos for each draw, and your task is to select one each time to add to a selection of images, that taken together as a final set of 5 images- tell a story in pictures”. I tried my luck. I didn’t find the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, but I think I got close.

Five Card Story: Looking for the answer

a Five Card Flickr story created by mark_mcguire

flickr photo by Serenae

flickr photo by Dr. Martinjj

flickr photo by bionicteaching

flickr photo by Serenae

flickr photo by bionicteaching

I’m searching for the key

God, I hope you will

give me a hand

as I tackle this thorny question

Please, show me a sign!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2011 2:44 am

    Fairly profound for a random draw. Well done.
    Now, bring on those thorny questions, the hands have arrived to help 🙂

  2. October 15, 2011 3:06 am

    This is great, what a neat way to present!

  3. October 15, 2011 3:59 am

    Oh yeah, you are on to something here! I like the way you wove the 5 different photos into something coherent.

  4. October 17, 2011 2:24 am

    Hi Mark

    Thank you for commenting on my blog post. I thought to have a look at yours as well ;o) As mention in my comment, when I briefly see your post and your visual story, I smiled and was happily surprised that others are experimenting with photostories too. I hadn’t seen the 5 card stories before, so thank you for introducing these to me. I had a go myself and created the following one

    I can see the potential of using these to get people started thinking using images. I found the pre-filtered images and the amount restricting and felt that the images were driving the story and not the story the images. Also, I feel adding captions directly to the images links visual and written language more organically. How did you find this approach?

    I was thinking to contact the create and explore if there is interest there to develop this tool further. What are your thoughts on this?

    Started following you on Twitter too and will add your blog to my links.


  5. Mark Mcguire permalink
    October 18, 2011 10:12 am

    Hi Chrissi

    I am quite worried about the frog in your “risky” story. I found myself asking: “Why does that frog want to cross the road?”. But, of course, the answer is obvious — to visit his friend, the chicken.

    I think you are right about the unfortunate separation of the images and text in the 5 Card Story game. While reading “risky”, I had to alternate between reading an image, then text, then image, then text, and so on. I see that you numbered the captions to make it easier for the reader to link each one to the corresponding image. Numbers add another “language” in addition to the images and words. The message is still understandable, but the distance between the images and the text does not help.

    We don’t have any difficulty bridging image and text when they are reasonably close together (our parents helped us to learn this skill with picture books when we were very young). Now, as the time it takes to toggle between different media decreases, the links are getting shorter. We are also getting used to more time-based media. It is becoming easier to tell stories using a combination of media, because they are no longer separate, or static. With time comes movement, and a more fluid experience. The digital nature of artifacts also helps. Everything in this room is made of the same 0s and 1s, the only two notes we need to compose any story we choose to tell.

    This reminds me a video clip that Aaron embedded in his “Playing outside of the lines” post, of Billy Taylor improvising on the piano ( Billy plays the instrument like the keys are an extension of his fingers. His interpretation of George Gershwin’s “They can’t Take That Away From Me” seems to flow easily from his body, through the piano, to us. His skill, like the instrument itself, has developed to the point where he is able to speak through it. Most digital instruments, including the 5 Card Story game, and the blog I am using to type this comment, are still pretty clunky. We are not yet able to speak through them in real time, without effort.


  6. October 19, 2011 5:30 am

    Hi Mark,

    We are all storytellers. We learn through creating, telling, sharing and listening to stories without even realising that we are learning and this is the best thing about stories.

    Life is a story or a collection of stories in which we connect experiences, ideas, thoughts, imagination and externalise these because we love to share and connect with others, I think. Social media enable as all to become storytellers and gain potentially a massive audience or an audience who we wouldn’t have access to because of our physical location. So, I think while we seem to talk about massive courses and massification of anything, what we really achieve is finding and making connections to individuals and/or ideas which, I don’t think have anything massive about them. They are special to us, we feel connected with these and want to keep them alive for a moment or a little bit longer, as long as the magic and the connection lasts and we feel that we are gaining something through this very human interaction. Does this make sense?

    Digital tools are great when they do what we want them to do, when they enable us to translate our thoughts, as you say, fluently, so that they can be shared how we want to share them without the technology getting in the way. We are all learning to become more creative when using these tools and there are loads of them (too many?). But they are limitations, you are right, and while I would have liked, for example, to add images to this comment, sound or another artefact, I can’t… I guess, I could add a link but it is not (exactly) the same and it makes things too complicated when all you want to do is communicate in a more natural way.

    Back to the 5 card game: Do you plan to use this/have you used it with your students? Picture books are great examples were you have the skeleton of the story and images that extend the written language and fuel our imagination. Picturebooks are not just for children and I think there might be an opportunity here to create digital picture books for learning – by learners, for learners. What are your thoughts on this?

    We are currently starting a project linking Higher Education with Primary Education through storytelling. I thought you might be interested. Please have a look at if you like.

    Speak again soon.



  1. Five Card Stories | Zine Scene
  2. 5 Card flickr-Starting my #eci831 story « The Dean's Office

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: