Digital Space, Analog Soul

By  |  April 30, 2019

A Dispatch from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University 

CDS Shortwave is a new project from the Center for Documentary Studies’ DocX lab—a place for technology-influenced, imaginative thinking around documentary forms, styles, and perspectives.

The site is an experiment in new approaches to nonfiction storytelling, a digital space with an analog soul that invites visitors to slow down, explore, and discover, to let things just arise. An old shortwave radio in our offices was our inspiration and guiding metaphor—for its connotations of transmitting and receiving, of participation and discovery across great distances.

CDS Shortwave came about because we were thinking not only about who tells the story, but how they tell it, and we found audio the most intriguing way in. In this intimate, immersive environment—there are no links pointing you to other stories, or out to other websites—sound is the doorway to experiencing the breadth and depth of CDS’s renowned work across the documentary arts, in audio, photography, film, writing, and new media.

Turn the dial on our “deep radio” to navigate its stations, and the places in between, to hear, see, and interact with stories, lost signals, spatial audio, and community-sourced sounds (send in your own audio for our On Break sonic exhibition!). Some pieces are audio-only, some open into rich media presentations. C.D. Wright, Sylvia Plachy, Randall Kenan, and Tom Rankin are just a few of the artists whose voices you’ll hear, whose stories you’ll experience.

Play with the full version of on a desktop to access all of the media and use your smartphone as a virtual dial. Listen using the mobile version—your phone as portable radio.

Take a look at our Shortwave sizzle reel below, then drop into the CDS Shortwave universe and let your curiosity be your guide. There’ll be new discoveries every time you visit.


—Alexa Dilworth, CDS DocX, publishing, and awards director

 CDS Shortwave was created through a grant from the Reva and David Logan Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Revada Foundation. 

“Dispatches from the CDS” is part of our weekly story series, The By and By

Enjoy this story? Subscribe to the Oxford American