Presentation: Habit, craft and creativity: How digital search habits shape the craft of professional audiovisual storytelling

On the 29th of June 2017, Sabrina Sauer will present a paper at the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies conference, NECS Paris. The paper is titled ‘Habit, craft and creativity: How digital search habits shape the craft of professional audiovisual storytelling’.


The increased digitalization of audiovisual materials allows media professionals, such as news documentation specialists and documentary filmmakers, to increasingly make use of online access to digital archives to find sources for their audiovisual stories. This paper presents empirical insights into the digital search habits of media professionals, and questions how habitual user-technology interactions configure the craft and creative practice of digital storytelling.

Conceptually, the paper frames creative practices of media professionals by focusing on the tension between perspectives on habitual work routines and craft; between routines that are afforded by socio-technical context and ideas about individual creative agency. Here, the tension between habitual work routines and creative agency is studied empirically. By analyzing how media professionals make use of digital search technologies to retrieve archived audio-visual material for re-use in new digital stories, it becomes possible to form an empirically grounded understanding of how habits relate to craft; how habitual search strategies relate to socio-technical constraints and affordances and how, together, these shape creative processes and products.

This paper is presented in the context of an overarching research project that takes a user-centered design approach to co-create new open source search algorithms together with foreseen end users. The qualitative methods that are part of this approach, such as focus groups and semi-structures interviews, allow an in-depth understanding of digital search habits of the included media professionals. Apart from drawing conclusions about the relationship between habits, craft and creativity, the paper thus also draws methodological conclusions about how user-centered design methods can channel observations about mundane, tacit and habitual user-technology interactions into new media innovations.