Digital Story Critique #12: Eat: The Story of Food
*I am currently working my way through my fourth semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver. This is the twelfth post within a series of critiques on digital stories that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Digital Storytelling.
This week’s critique is on an unbelievably phenomenal website from the National Geographic Channel. The website is called Eat: The Story of Food, and it’s actually a byproduct of Nat Geo’s television series of the same name. Everyone knows who and what National Geographic is, but I don’t know if many people are aware of the incredible online resources that the organization produces. The Eat website is one such online resource, an interactive and multimedia piece that tells the story of, well, food!
I consider myself quite the “foodie”, as my husband and I cook every single night, our favorite thing to do is try new foods and restaurants, and I have my own food blog (don’t get too excited, I barely have time for it with so much school work and mothering and work-work and wife-ing and, and, and, you get the idea). We also know our fair share about food, as we watch every food documentary we can get our hands on, we eat as clean as possible, and we’ve been trying our hand at growing our own herbs, fruits, and vegetables for the last five years. With all that being said, this website was such a GEM to discover! I was kept mesmerized for over an hour and I learned so many new things!
Since we don’t have cable and every second of my life is currently spoken for, I had not heard of the Nat Geo Eat television show and I am unable to watch full episodes. But I sense from the Eat website that the show is made up of full length episodes that pertain to each topic found on the Eat website. Each topic is its own entity on the site and each one is full of interactive elements of various medias. So far, there are six topics to explore:
- Guilty Pleasures
- Baked & Buzzed
- Hooked on Seafood
- Food Revolutionaries
- Sugar Rushes
To critique this “story” (because it IS the story of food after all), I used the following traits from Jason Ohler’s “Assessing digital stories, new media narrative“: 1.) story, 2.) research and 3.) originality, voice, and creativity.
- Story – The story within this website is told incredibly well. It starts with a scene of various foods, nothing you wouldn’t see in an average household. When you hover your mouse over the various food groups, you’re invited to “take a bite” (to click the image) and learn more about that food group. Within each food group’s individual page, there are at least a dozen different ways to interact with the page. When you’ve scrolled to the bottom and learned everything the page has to offer, you’re taken back to the main “table” of food to move on to the next section. As you make your way through each section, you’re learning the story of food (hence the title, a-ha!) and devouring every last morsel the site has to offer.
- Research – The website was created by an organization who employs the world’s best scientists, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers. I have no doubt that extensive planning and research went into such a project as this. The research is also evident by the ‘guest speakers and visitors’ such as Michael Pollan, Marcus Samuelsson, Graham Elliot, Barton Seaver, etc. (there are more!).
- Originality, voice, and creativity – From the way the story is told to how the viewer interacts with each page of the website, this story is extremely original and creative. When the viewer selects a food group to learn about, they are presented with an absolutely stunning interface that offers various ways to learn. Some links open up small slideshows with a few images to look at and read about, while others pop up short video clips with leaders in the food and culinary industry. Some links open up small tips or “did you know” tidbits and some open up very impressive infographics or posters of sort. A few elements even take the viewer to an accompanying page hosted elsewhere by National Geographic that has additional information for the viewer to consume. Everything about this story is original and even my geeky web developer husband was highly impressed with how they designed the interface of the website.
I keep finding and consuming all of these wonderful digital stories this semester and Eat: The Story of Food definitely ranks up there in my top three favorites! It was such a pleasure to sit and interact with this story while learning about one of my most favorite things…FOOD! I cannot recommend visiting this site enough. Head on over and consume the deliciousness of a great story, just don’t do it when you’re really hungry! (And while you’re there, check out all of the other amazing online stories that Nat Geo has to offer!)