Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Digital Witness from Pearl Harbor

I uploaded the last set of photos from last week’s Oklahoma Digital Learning Project trip to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii this evening. All photos are now available in a collection, and they are organized by day in each set. I need to make several additional VoiceThreads with these images. This trip was filled with powerful experiences, and I am still amazed by the stories we heard and the things we experienced as I look over these pictures.

As an example, this is a photograph of one of the USS Oklahoma survivors who shared a story from December 7, 1941, at the culminating dinner last Friday at the Sheraton in Waikiki:

A USS Oklahoma survivor recounts December 7, 1941

I recorded that entire event with my Memorex audio recorder, and am eager to find time to edit those survivor stories into a podcast. I have a fair bit of video I have still not imported and edited either, including the moving scene of the USS Lake Erie “rendering honors” to the Pearl Harbor survivors during the ceremony held directly across from the USS Arizona memorial and Ford Island on the morning of December 7, 2007.

This photograph is of George Brown, who was a cook aboard the USS Oklahoma and told his harrowing tale of escape during our videoconference with Oklahoma students on December 6th:

George Brown - survivor and former cook aboard the USS Oklahoma

It was an honor and a privilege to be able to experience these events last week in Pearl Harbor, and also share them with others via digital photos, audio, and video.

While attending the commemoration ceremony last Friday, I thought of a new vocabulary phrase to describe my role in Hawaii last week, as well as the role we are encouraging others to take on in our Oklahoma World War II Veteran Oral History Project.

At Pearl Harbor, December 7, 2007

The phrase is: “Digital Witness.” I am a digital witness to the events I experienced, saw, and heard last week. I have a responsibility to share those, both in face to face conversations with others as well as the digital means now at my disposal to document, archive, and share those events. I am a digital witness. In that role, I consider VoiceThread to be my most powerful communication tool.

I was amazed tonight to read Fred R. Crowder’s follow-up comment on my December 8th post about the videos I posted online. How amazing that I unknowingly “zoomed in on [his] uncle FC1 Samuel Warwick Crowder’s pillar” in that video segment. How amazing Fred found this video. That gives me chills.

The digital communication connections now possible by the tools at our fingertips are unbelievable. They are magical. They have powers to connect and educate beyond my wildest dreams.

And it’s only 2007.

Can you imagine what our communications landscape is going to look like in 2027? I can barely begin to.

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One response to “Digital Witness from Pearl Harbor”

  1. taf Avatar

    Wesley – Digital Witness is a great term. For 66 years we have held ceremonies at Pearl Harbor to remind us of that terrible time in the history of this great nation – but how many people were able to share those ceremonies?

    Now, thanks to our technology and “Digital Witnesses” like you, those stories and pictures are now available 24/7 worldwide. It is one thing to read about the ceremony – how much more powerful to hear and actually see what is going on.

    It is one thing to have these capabilities, but it takes a special person to interpret and present the audio and visual for others to understand and appreciate. I salute Wesley for having those talents – thank you, thank you.