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25/10/2010 / Kirsty Pitkin

Storify-ing the JISC Future of Research Conference

I have been playing with a new toy tool: Storify.

Storify allows you to collect together web content – including tweets, blog posts, slides, web pages, pictures etc – and present it with a text commentary as a linear story. I tried it out by pulling together a selection of materials to tell the story of the recent JISC Future of Research Conference:

You can see my full Storify summary of the conference here.

During this event, I was providing a narrative using the event Twitter account (@JISCEvents) and supporting the online audience so they had the opportunity to ask questions and share their reflections. I had been asked to select a representative sample of audience tweets to include on the conference website, which I did as I went along by clicking the “favourite” option on interesting tweets within Hootsuite. Storify allowed me to access the favourite tweets from the @JISCEvents account and chose from them comments which highlighted the main points made by the speaker and the audience reaction to the ideas.

I used these tweets, the speakers’ slides and summaries by the event’s digital note takers to illustrate a very simple description of the proceedings. It was quick and easy to do – and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the result. I’m looking forward to trying it again at an event with more shared video and photo content. Videos of plenary sessions and participant interviews from this conference are available, but these are self-hosted at the conference website, rather than made available via YouTube or Vimeo, so I could not embed them in Storify.

As a mechanism for presenting an event summary, Storify seems fairly flexible. I can share my story via Twitter, Facebook or any platform that allows embedded content (which unfortunately does not include The ability to add a commentary to a collection of online materials is fantastic in terms of remixing these resources into an easily navigable story. However, whilst the resulting story might be easy to share, but it is not very sociable as a finished object. Other delegates cannot add comments, further links or other materials to flesh out the story. I imagine if it did have this functionality, I would probably be lamenting the lack of editorial control – so what I probably want is a group edit option so I could choose to involve other delegates or participants in telling the conference story.

My only other criticisms are quite minor: when I embed slides from Slideshare, Storify cuts off the right edge of the slides to fit the slides into their template. There are also no editing features for embeds from websites, so having added the link to summary pages from the event website, I cannot change how much of the page content it displays or how this looks within the context of my story. I’m sure these are issues that will get picked up and fixed as more people experiment with the beta preview.

Overall, I think this is a great new post-event tool for event amplification and is flexible enough to allow for some really creative interpretations of conference materials. I will continue to experiment at future events 🙂



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  1. Ann in DK / Oct 28 2010 1:50 pm

    Nice Story! I’m experimenting with Keepstream as well, as I don’t like the Storify drag n drop interface.

    Storify has definitely got better functionality for annotations (Keepstream only allows captions) and you can pull in more content, but I find Keepstream n times more usable. You can also sort into reverse chronological order with one click. I *think* you can embed into WordPress too.

    I also read that Storify only provides for a maximum of 100 tweets, but maybe that has been amended now.

    Clearly I want a blend of the two, and no doubt they will catch up with each other – they do look spookily similar as it is!

    Re the non-sociability of this type of tool, perhaps you have come up with a new approach, social curation? I don’t know, I tend to think that one raison d’etre of curation is that it is the product of one trusted etc curator, but maybe I am blending curation with editing…

    • Kirsty Pitkin / Oct 28 2010 4:39 pm

      Thanks Ann – I will definitely look at Keepstream, as I hadn’t come across that before.

      I did notice that Storify only gave me the choice of a limited number of tweets from the #jiscres10 search, which took me back to about 4:30 in the afternoon of the conference, shortly before it closed. Luckily, I had already highlighted favourite tweets, so I was able to search for the @JISCEvents favourites to find all of these. Had I not done this, I would have struggled with the limit. I think favouriting tweets as I go along through an event is probably a good practice to get into as a matter of course anyway, which this case certainly supports.

      You are right that I am certainly leaning towards the option of social curation model, for two main reasons:

      1) I often cover events where I am not a subject expert, so whilst I certainly can organise and curate the resources into a navigable and readable form, it is good to let the experts add to and comment on that record to give it greater depth (and give them a sense of ownership)
      2) These tools are being used to exchanging ideas in a social way, so what you are curating should also be a social record of that exchange of ideas. The main value of such a record for the community (as I see it) is the ability to revisit the ideas and develop them to embed them into the community’s way of working. At the moment we don’t see this happening much, but I suspect that is because there hasn’t been enough work done on how to present a curated record of the conference in a functionally useful way, rather than as a passive archive object.

      This might be because I come more from the “confer” side of conferences than from an archiving background. The record has value, but the way in which the information in that record can then be used in practice is what I want to explore, so social curation may be the route 🙂


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