Storify-ing Events

by | Jul 3, 2012

We explore the evolving ways we have been using Storify to support amplified events and how intelligent use can make this a valuable service in the amplification toolbox.

I have written previously about my discovery of Storify and the role I could see it playing in amplified events. Since then, Storify seems to have taken off at a rapid pace, with many event organisers using it in different ways support their event.

With this in mind, I felt it was high time I revisited the tool and documented the various ways I have been using it to help amplify events.

1. Storify as an event summary tool

A number of event organisers use Storify as an event summary tool. Most seem to use it as a means of displaying selected tweets or entire Twitter discussions, and add very little in the way of contextualisation or alternative content. Whilst this is overwhelmingly the most popular use for Storify, it does seem to defeat the nature of the tool as a means of “curating” social media content.

From my earliest dabbling with Storify, I have aimed to use it to tell a story, by adding illustrations from Flickr, useful resources such as videos or slides, contextualising headings and original commentary to help bring the materials together. Particularly since the arrival of embeddable tweets, one could argue that this type of summary could be recreated perfectly well on most blogging platforms, without the need for Storify at all, except that it provides an easy interface to search different streams of social media content, then drag and drop it into place. However, I have recently worked on a number of smaller workshops, where there is no appropriate blog or platform for such a post to appear, and creating one for the purpose is equally not appropriate. Having the summary hosted separately on Storify allows the organisers to engage with social media, without the need for any more permanent infrastructure to monitor and maintain.

A good example of this is my summary of the Intelligent Buildings and Smart Estates event, which was organised as part of the JISC Greening ICT programme. This brought together all of my coverage from the event, including photos, tweets (as @RobBristow) and video interviews with participants. Whilst it is a little on the long side for a Storify summary, it provides an overview of the event in one place.

As an external or consultant event amplifier, using Storify in this way also provides a number of logistical advantages:

  • I don’t have to be established as a user on a project or organisation blog
  • I don’t get held up by the security settings on someone else’s site or blog, which can often prevent me from embedding materials using iframes
  • I can easily notify people I have quoted in my summary of the event, which makes the process more open and spreads the word about the summary much more effectively
  • Organisers can send out one link to the Storify summary in their post-event communications, providing once central point for participants to recap or share with their colleagues

2. Storify as an online programme

At IWMW 12, I experimented with using Storify to create an evolving programme – that is, a page that starts as a programme and gradually becomes a summary as each session is completed. This was originally created for our own logistical benefit as event amplifiers: we needed a way of collecting the speakers’ slides together in a single place so that my colleague could show them as part of the live video stream.

Inspired by the JISC 2011 conference’s use of an online programme to help inform remote delegates about live streamed content, I decided to publish this and use it throughout the day as a tool for the remote audience. As each session finished, I added a one paragraph summary of the session and a selection of the most pertinent tweets, to help give anyone who missed the session of flavour of what was covered, and what the audience thought about it.

As a result, by the end of the day my programme had evolved into a complete summary of the proceedings. This meant I was promoting the same link throughout the day and afterwards, thus reducing the number of separate links being tweeted around to various resources, which can often be an overwhelming side-effect of amplification at the end of an event.

The programme/summary could also be included in summaries produced by other participants. Ann Priestley included it in her live blog (also created using Storify).

The two summaries can be viewed here:

Note: IWMW Day One featured mainly parallel sessions, which were not live streamed, and one plenary, which was publicised to the remote audience separately.

3. Backing Up Storify

Storify offers an export function, which allows you to publish the summary to your own blog, where it appears in HTML. I have created a separate Amplified Event Back Up Blog to collect back up copies of each of my Storify summaries, using this facility. In this way, I can protect my work and my clients from any loss of materials, should anything untoward happen with Storify. So far, the service has been very stable, but I have observed that several of my very early stories are no longer showing up on the site. Storify does not provide any details about how long it will keep users stories available, but it does have perhaps one of the nicest sets of terms and conditions of any online service I have come across. Many online services periodically clear out old content or old statistics, so it is always safer to have a backup that is under your own control.



Further changes in practice may evolve both as the tool develops and as we come up with more diverse ways of deploying it within the amplified event mix. For now, this is one tool that is growing in hype, but needs more widespread intelligent use to really shine as an event amplification tool.
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