Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Storybird: A collaborative storytelling tool for... journalists (and why not?)

I don't know if I'm late to the party with this but I've just discovered Storybird
and, let me tell you, it's an amazing website. So brilliantly simple, effective (and free - essential for me to try something for the first time) and engaging - I think it has great opportunities for journalists who want to tell, collaborate with others and share stories online.

In a nutshell, Storybird is a sharing site that allows you to make, illustrate and publish online your own stories. I signed up, skipped the 'this is how it works' video and plunged in to create my own story.
As I typed in text, images suggested themselves (I love that for Typical British Weather it offered me a little cartoon cricketer) and there are lots of artist illustrations to choose from. Most, but not all, are cutesy but since I'd only suggest Storybird be used to illustrate ligher-hearted articles (or as stand-alones) I don't think it matters.
Here's my first attempt (I only noticed the spelling error once I'd published it. Sigh)  UPDATE: Storybird suffered a 'server outrage' on Christmas Eve and emailed me to say my story was one of a dozen that had been lost. Irritatingly, instead of displaying a message that says this story is now irretrievable, it says it has been set to private. It hasn't - it simply doesn't exist any more. I would prefer if Storybird had made this clear, rather than pretending I'd made the story private, especially since I've been offline for several days, and therefore unable to do anything about that incorrect message.

Most, but not all, of the illustrations offered up are cutesy but since I'd only suggest Storybird be used to illustrate ligher-hearted articles (or as stand-alones) I don't think it matters. You can have collaborative Storybird tales, with multiple authors, and they can also be open-ended.
The stories carry embed codes and badges, which is a huge plus as far as I'm concerned. I'm definitely going to be using this on the Liverpool Daily Post site soon, as Arts Editor Laura Davis and I are plotting an Online Literary Festival (more of which anon). And I could see this fitting into the scheme of things brilliantly as one way for our readers to get involved.

Anyway, in case I haven't been quite clear on my feelings, Storybird is GREAT. It's in public beta so do sign up and have a go. I haven't been so thrilled with an online discovery since I made my first toon using Xtranormal.

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reBlog from Liverpool Echo - Tech Blog

I have a new blog - it's an official work one, ostensibly about technology but actually about all kinds of digital stuff that interests me. Not likely to bother TechCrunch, for example.
Anyway, I wrote about a local Flickr group issue on it as my first post -

There was a right royal kick-off in the online world the other day, thanks to a number of national newspapers running photos of people pretending to be the Queen without seeking permission to use, Liverpool Echo - Tech Blog, Dec 2009
As one of the Post group's members claimed his photo used by an agency without his permission. And the row started there...
You can see more here;but I thought it was worth highlighting again.
Everyone makes mistakes, but this is something that could have been resolved with an apology, some money, and a willingness to learn about dealing with not just online communities, but dealing with anybody in a correct manner.
That doesn't seem to have happened.

(Incidentally, I'm reblogging this using Zemanta - never tried it before; hopefully it will work).

UPDATE: Reblogging with Zemanta puts in lots of paragraphs, and maybe I forgot to title it but I don't recall it gave me an option. Anyway, it's still quite useful - I think. And I absolutely love that it suggests Outdoors and Caving as potential tags for this blog post...

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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Are you happy?

Just a quick post to share an image I found via a social work blog (the original source is here) because it has, I think, real resonance for newspaper journalists right now.
I'd say that currently there are more opportunities than ever before to change something that's making you unhappy - whether it's learning new skills to specialise, sharing information and telling stories in different ways, helping build and grow niche communities, or just striking out on your own in the spirit of entrepreneurial journalism. Anyway, it's my new desktop wallpaper; I like the sentiment and it's got me thinking - what do I need to change?