I was first introduced to Storify early in my doctoral studies as a tool for telling the story of a conference. To do this, the conference or event needs to have a strong online presence via live tweeting, blogging, etc. So, in the time since then I have used Storify solely in this manner. Recently, however, I have begun to think about Storify in new ways.
Here’s the first one I ever made for the annual School of English Bookends Conference (June 2012) which I co-organised with my colleague, Michael Waldron:
More recently I made this one to tell the story of a charity poetry reading which I co-organised with my colleague, Niamh O’Mahony:
As I have noted in a previous blog post, using Storify in this way captures a moment in [real/social media] time and preserves it like a kind of digital memento. Now I am considering other possible applications of Storify for scholars, and how we can use this platform to maximise productivity and aid in research.
Storify is a way of collating information from across the web and organising in a particular manner be it chronologically, thematically, etc. It allows you to search various social media and audio-visual distribution platforms and extract the items you need to create a story. Therefore, the possibilities are endless. Aside from storifying conferences and other scholarly events, a researcher can use Storify to create lesson plans or collate online sources for a research project.
For several years I have been a regular participant in #SaturdaySchool, a weekly teach-in on Twitter founded by Rhonda Ragsdale. The teach-in always generates great discussion and many people share links to relevant articles and resources. A different topic is addressed each week and the tweets are storified to provide learning resources for teachers, students, or anyone interested in the issues discussed. Without Storify, these teach-ins along with the useful resources shared would inevitably be whisked away on the great Twitter conveyor belt. Instead, they are preserved and transformed into an open access teaching and learning resource. I have yet to use Storify in this way, but I hope to incorporate it into my teaching in the future. Click here for an article about how students can be encouraged to use Storify.
Given that any Storify can be saved indefinitely as a draft, this platform can be used privately as a research tool. My research has recently required me to explore pop culture references to a particular issue. Storify has allowed me to gather a range of audio-visual resources, articles, and digital archives pertaining to my research and organise them in a manner that makes sense to the project. Therefore, I have bypassed tired, one-dimensional bookmarking of web pages in favour of something that not only allows me to collect data, but also to insert my own summaries, notes and pointers. Storify allows me to embed links into my notes as well as displaying the collected resources in the usual Storify manner. Thus, it is a more interactive method of gathering research data.
Why Not Pinterest?
Arguably, one could do something similar with a Pinterest account. Pinterest boards allow users to “pin” images under particular themes, add short descriptions, and even add another “pinner” to a board for collaborative purposes. However, it does have its limitations:
- Pinterest is solely image-based, whereas Storify allows for a collection of images, text, videos, audio, and gifs.
- “Pins” do not stay order chronologically on a board which poses problems if you want to use it to help structure an argument or case study. This also becomes an issue if users want to publish their Pinterest board as part of disseminating their research.
- While Pinterest allows you to create “secret” boards which are kept from the public eye, users can only have a maximum of three, whereas Storify has no such limit on drafts.
Click here to read about PrezPics, a research project that used Pinterest as a research tool.