Live Blog: Transmedia Storytelling with Brent Friedman

How to Build a Universe Worthy of Devotion

Brent Friedman
Photo by GigaOM Events

Brent Friedman, Founding Partner of Electric Farm Entertainment, is in Vancouver to speak about the basics of transmedia storytelling, from definition to uses in both mainstream and digital experimentation, using his company’s recent MTV hit series Valemont as a case study.

Filter the Flood: How to Curate the Social Web with Storify

information hydrant
Photo by Will Lion

To consume all of the data published online over the next year, you would have to watch TV for 125 million years straight. Clearly, the ability to filter the din is critical if we want to craft compelling stories for our readers and followers. In response, co-founders Burt Herman and Xavier Damman launched Storify—a new social reporting tool in beta for professional and citizen journalists. Storify lets you create a digital narrative from the deluge of posts, photos, videos and links uploaded to the web every second.

“We’re flooded with Tweets, YouTube videos, Flickr photos and everything else. Everyone can be a “reporter”…But not everyone is a “journalist”—making sense of an issue and giving the context. So we built a system to help people do this, take the best of social media and make it into a story—to “storify” it,” explained Herman in an interview with Robert Hernandez.

I discovered Storify earlier this year at a retreat where a participant used the event hashtag to pull together the most relevant tweets, photos and slides. Soon, I had registered to gain access to the service and created my own story.

How Storify Works

Click the screenshots to see a product walkthrough.

Home Page

Storify Home Page

New Story
New Story
To start, click "New Story."
Create Story
Editing Screen
Drag and drop to create your story.
Edit Story
Editing
Refining your story.
Publish Story
Publish Story
Publish your story and start promoting to drive traffic.

Pros

  • Protect Your Sources: Storify maintains links to the original source so attribution is easy and transparent—precisely what you’d expect of Herman, a former foreign correspondent who worked for the Associated Press for 12 years.
  • Interactive: Videos remain playable and links stay “active” so that stories are layered and enriched by multimedia.
  • Drag ‘n’ Drop Navigation: Editing a story is as easy as dragging and dropping elements into place.
  • Embeddable: Once a story is published, you can tweet, email or embed the link in your blog/website. When one of the YouTube videos “broke” in my story, it was a snap to fix and have the correction picked up automatically everywhere it was embedded.

Cons

  • “Spammy” Notifications: While it’s important to notify folks when you’ve included their content in your story, Storify sets up a separate tweet for every notification. Depending on your number of sources, this could mean a high volume of tweets—which will read like spam in your timeline. I’ve turned this feature off but then I’m left manually trying to notify folks.

I love Storify—this tool makes it easy for anyone to quickly get started curating content of value to their audience.

What are the stories you need to be telling your audience? Request an invite to join the private beta and start testing Storify now.

It’s the Story, Stupid: Content Marketing

I’m back home after spending a couple of days at a content marketing retreat on Whidbey Island hosted by the Langley Center for New Media.

Storytelling was the kernel in every presenter’s session—from the mechanics and psychology of storytelling to measuring its impact. Forget key messages and feature-benefit adspeak—it’s about the story, stupid.

For a pithy round-up of key ideas, see Kathy Hanbury’s blog post 28 Content Marketing Tips from the Content Marketing Masters. Or take a look at Drew Davis’s adept curation of the retreat’s key tweets, presentations and pix via Storify.

Storify screen shot
Screen shot of Storify created by Drew Davis

I peeked over Drew’s shoulder a few times while he assembled the page on Storify. “Note to self,” I thought, “look up this tool.” So when I came home, I read Storify Wants to Pull Stories from the Stream, a review on GigaOM.

Funnily, I think Storify neatly captures the mood of the retreat and our hyper-focus on storytelling. “Turn what people post on social media into compelling stories,” reads the tagline on Storify’s homepage.

Co-founder Burt Herman adds, “We’re coming at it from the point of view of story-telling — it’s about creating a really rich experience about an event. There are all of these real-time updates, so many that we are drowning in them. This is about finding relevance in the noise.” (Source: GigaOM)

Aggregating, curating and creating content are top of mind for many professionals these days. For me, Storify is emblematic of the zeitgeist, a reflection of how journalists (and marketers) are re-inventing how we tell stories in a digital age.

So are you a believer or is this just a new round of gurus, books and webcasts?

Are writers and graphic designers equal in the eyes of our employers, peers, and clients?

I wonder if we treat all content creators with the same level of respect. I have a suspicion that, in general, writers get the short-end of the stick. My rationale is that since everyone who works with a writer is literate, they often think they can also actually write. Graphic designers and digital media artists also regularly encounter laypeople who think they can do it better. But, more than likely, they are afforded a certain degree of esteem in recognition of their professional expertise.

Do you agree? Is it because designers are proficient at using specialized software whereas writers can resort to stalwart but boring pens and paper? Are we digital snobs?

Do we also de-value text in favour of graphics? I find that the highest priority is always placed on the visuals, and copy can often be an after-thought. In fact, I am struggling against a trend to move work out of the hands of dedicated writers/editors to data entry workers.

If all content is not equal, what does that mean for us?

I originally made this post on The Content Wrangler Community (LinkedIn) on December 2, 2008.

The Librarian vs. The Social Tagger

Digital assets are valuable only when my users can find them. Otherwise, content is just idly eating server space. I know that the answer lies in applying the right keywords to the data. Does that entail becoming The Librarian who painstakingly, endlessly indexes our assets? Or becoming The Social Tagger who encourages all the users in the organization to add the tags that make sense to them?

I like libraries. My dad got me my first library card when I was 6. But I’d rather be a library patron than a librarian for my organization.

For starters, there’s no guarantee that my quirky colleagues will query the database as I would, potentially rendering my cataloguing system worthless. Of course, I’m not concerned about any products or services that we sell because every employee ought to be able to search by SKU, ISBN, Part Number, Model Code, etc. It’s the assets that aren’t so straightforward like lifestyle photos that sell an idea or a concept which are the hardest to pinpoint and label.

Plus, all users within and outside of my organization now seem to demand simple search tools and yet sophisticated results. They certainly don’t want to deal with filters like “begins with”, “contains”, or “equals”. I spend a fair amount of time explaining how to use these filters to normally savvy users who work in consumer electronics. It’s like they haven’t visited a library in years.

So wouldn’t it be preferable to open the floodgates and let the creators and consumers of our content generate their own tags?

I originally made this post on The Content Wrangler Community (LinkedIn) on November 14, 2998.