Following a new Twitter chat for social journalists (#sjchat) I was invited to try out social media curation tool Storify. When I first heard about it it was shortly used by TBD to follow reactions and responses to a death outside of Washington, D.C., night club DC9.
I went to Storify (@storify) and started experimenting, and once I began to understand the tool I started to see the power it had. The idea of the modern journalist as a curator of information isn’t new, but tools and methods are still being developed.
As a Twitter user, I use hashtag searches all the time, but separating the wheat from the chaff can be difficult and time consuming. And then add that information doesn’t always come in 140-character nibbles — valuable updates might also be found in Facebook posts, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, (social networks natively supported by Storify as of this writing), and a multitude of other places. CoverItLive has tools to do some of this automatically, which is nice, but unfiltered, your results might be as bad as any raw search.
Storify rectifies this by letting you use only what you choose, precisely ordered and with or without commentary, and keeps everything live — links to accounts, hashtags, and more.
Storify in Action
Days after getting my beta invite, a fire broke out in Boulder Canyon, just west of Boulder, Colorado, prompting evacuations all the way to downtown Boulder. Earlier this year, the Fourmile Canyon fire became the costliest in Colorado history, and also prompted widespread evacuations. Tensions about the new fire were understandably high.
Given that we had discussed using tools like this on election night, this seemed like a good opportunity to try it out. I didn’t add a lot of commentary to the story, I mostly followed Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and so on, and tried to give readers a window to what was going on in social media circles. The story is still on DenverPost.com.
Between the announcements that we were using Storify, and the reactions to our blast to everyone included at the end, we got quite a bit of reaction (powered by Storify) considering the story itself was only marginally popular.
— Jenna Jordan (@JennaMJordan) October 30, 2010
After the positive response we were sold on the idea of using it for the elections, although to be honest, the day was hectic enough, and the internet buzz was big enough, that much of the two stories we created wound up being lists of tweets. They do still show the progression of discussion through the day.
We created two stories for the 2010 election: one intended to primarily curate response and reaction of a more personal type, and one designed more to follow output from campaigns, news outlets, politics aficionados, etc.
Reaction this time was even bigger, though traffic was about the same as for the Dome Fire in Boulder.
Purpose and Promotion
It was my hope that taking a slice or cross-section from the night’s social interactions online would freeze the speed with which thoughts and information travel through social networks and provide a window in for people who don’t otherwise participate.
I think we could’ve done a better job promoting the stories, but how was a big question we couldn’t answer yet. What about the social sphere is the to attract those on the outside?
Storify, like many additions and permutations to our online communities, is fascinating and useful from the outset to those who already understand the concepts and methods. The difficulty lies in understanding how (and why) these things are interesting or useful to everyone else, and then presenting them usefully to your readers.
I would appreciate ideas anyone has in the comments below.
Read my entry listing lessons learned, guidelines, and suggestions about Storify for more.