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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