Wednesday, 23 February 2011

New online storytelling tools: Curating/collaborating with Pearltrees

Pearltrees  could be an interesting take on curated and collaborative storytelling. I discovered the site via Mo Krochmal, who hade made a paella tree using the Flash tool, and I liked the idea so much I wanted to try it out.

Basically, Pearltrees allows users to collaborate on just about anything that exists online. I've found everything on there from beauty tips to nude photography, to political debate, all available to be updated in real time by multiple users. So it should be fairly simple to adapt as a way of telling a story online, in the same way you can use Prezi for visualisations.

I installed the Firefox addon for Pearltrees, which lets me add web pages, and then had to pick a topic. The question was, what?
Time was pressing so I combined it with something that I've been doing as alongside my day job (although, of course, it is part of my day job as well) which is getting to know more about my new home city of Cardiff.

Cardiff: places, people and news

I tried to group topics and themes together, so information like maps, Wikipedia and TruKnowledge are linked pearls. Likewise, sport, Dr Who, Torchwood and some social media elements have linked pearls.
It's not perfect - in fact it's downright sprawling compared to Mo's lovely paella pearltree, but it has a rough shape and more elements can be added in as necessary. 

As a storytelling tool I like it. It can be very realtime and linear, or it can branch out and span multiple topics. You can invite users via email, Twitter or Facebook, publish via Twitter, embed or link.
Downsides (for iPad-ers, at least) are that it's Flash-based, plus it would be really useful to be able to add comments (in text boxes to clarify a timeline or the choice of content, for example), as you can on Storify. Also to upload media as well as curate existing information.
But it's only just out of beta, and it's a very interesting, and very simple tool.

[Update: Overnight my Pearltree on Cardiff had accrued 65 hits. It's also got followers, one of whom is now a team-member as well. 

[So, maybe this will start to take on a life of its own - I certainly hope so.]

I did think of curating a journalism Pearltrees but - frankly - the one below takes the blue ribbon... so I've simply shared it here...


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Friday, 18 February 2011

Here today... gone tomorrow content? Back up your work...

This is not so much of a new post as a republishing of something that already exists on a third party site but there is a reason for it beyond lazy blogging.
Yesterday, I found myself rummaging through Delicious as I needed to use various Twitter tools I've either used or which have featured on, for example, Mashable, over the years. They were all neatly saved in my tags, but when I came to use them something like half of them led to redundant sites. That included the well-established Mr Tweet, which I always thought was an excellent tool (if a little annoying with the DMs) and far better than Twitter's own recommends ofo people to follow.