Storify me

Storify is my number one favourite social media tool so if you’re not yet a convert to its wonders I hope this post will help convince you. I first got into storify as a means of gathering live tweets from CRASSH events but I now use it also to record publicity campaigns and as a conference archive.

One of the challenges CRASSH faces once a conference is over is what to do with all the great material created by and during the conference: everything from audio and video recordings, powerpoint presentations, images, abstracts… The way the CRASSH site is currently set up it’s rather difficult to bring all this content to the fore and present it alongside each other whereas this is exactly what Storify does best. It works across a huge range of platforms (SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, instagram, Google, Disqus, Tumblr etc.) but even if you just copy and paste a url in it will usually create a neat thumbnail preview of the page and, if it’s a pdf document, will embed the document in a pdf reader within the Storify, which I just think is so neat.

I worked on a CRASSH conference with Ashley Moffett and Megan Vaughan last July and as it was one of the last events of the year and I had some time over the summer I spent literally days working on a post-conference archive of the event. I wanted to bring together all the content in one place where it could be accessed without leaving the page. Have a look here and see what you think.  Unfortunately SoundCloud isn’t free so for audio embeds I used the University’s sms.cam.ac.uk which appears as a link but can’t be played directly from the Storify unlike YouTube.

It would be a better archive had more people been tweeting at the event, although then it becomes more problematic trying to decide which tweets to include or not. I think it works well though placing the tweets alongside the audio/abstract/powerpoint because it means the tweets act as commentary rather than claiming to represent everything said at the conference. Of course this kind of Storify is too time-consuming to do for every event, and it might be of limited use to people other than conference delegates, but elements of it can be done very quickly.

I’ve tried to get into the habit of storifying all events we’re filming e.g. CRASSH’s recent Understanding Society lectures. It’s worth doing this as soon as the event is over, because if you leave it longer than a few days it’s harder to pull up the content even via hashtags. Some people even Storify events as they go along, which does mean the tweets are in the wrong chronological order. This is what Ernesto Priego did here in his excellent Storify of an event at UCL. I wonder how useful tweets are on their own without other content though? And in general are Storify archives from events useful if you weren’t at the event or are they too chaotic to follow?

One of the problems I have when I embed a Storify within CRASSH’s website is what to call it: ‘event archive’ sounds a bit dull; ‘storify’ means nothing to most people; ‘abstracts & presentations’ is probably most persuasive but doesn’t cover it. Any suggestions welcome!
Because Storify means you can pull in content created by other people it’s a good way to monitor and record online campaigns and capture some of the online enthusiasm: for example CRASSH’s Understanding Society storify. When you create a storify you have the option to message everyone you mention in it (as @adelinekoh recently messaged CRASSH). It’s at this point that I ponder the ethics of quoting people albeit saying things in a public forum. It’s not so problematic if they have used # in tweets as by hashtagging they actively join in the conversation, but if they haven’t is there something slightly creepy about quoting their tweets? And is it creepier if you don’t let them know you’ve quoted them? Or are people just happy to get more visibility for themselves?

I’ve also found Storify to be a good way of avoiding copyright issues because you don’t replicate people’s content but point to it where it is hosted. So when I was working on publicity for Robert Levin’s series of events in Cambridge and wanted to link to recordings of his performances, all of which are copyrighted but many of which are available on YouTube, I created a simple Storify gathering together a few interesting videos. A great way to harness content that isn’t yours but is interesting for you! Once the events were over I started a new Storify with our own tweets and videos.

As far as using Storify to curate content goes I think you have to be quite careful not to duplicate collections already out there that might save you the time and effort. For example in the recent #Twittergate debate, Adeline Koh gathered together many different viewpoints on the topic via Twitter.

I’ll end with a couple of less conventional uses of Storify at CRASSH: to liven up webpages which are essentially lists, for example CRASSH’s research outcomes page. Until recently CRASSH didn’t have an online press clippings and it struck me that Storify would be the quickest way to do this. I simply pull in links from online articles and the newest item appears at the top of the Storify.

I hope you like Storify and come to find it useful too! And no, they’re not paying me.

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2 thoughts on “Storify me

  1. I have been racking my mind with the Storify copyright question! You explained an interpretation that I was in desperate need of. I did not upload directly I’m 4 layers separated. The original uploader, the hosting company (YouTube), Storify the curator would be the violator not me for they should be responsible for ensuring that they do not provide illegimate content! Am I interpreting it correctly?

    • Hello, glad my thoughts were useful! That’s correct – because linking via Storify means that the original source is identified and attributed, then the copyright remains with the person who created the content. This is also the way in which posting on sites like Pinterest work, and other social media sites. You’re just providing the signposting/ link to the content, not claiming it as your own.

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