Storify.com, where journalism and scholarship intersect

We have previously done some posts exploring how news rooms and journalists are using online social media (OSM) in their work. We have also focused on how scholars are using these tools in their research and collaboration. But where do these worlds meet? Storify.com allows users to: aggregate content across multiple social media sites, arrange it in a creative and interesting way, and present it to their online network of peers.  Most importantly, this site allows users to capture the most current information from OSM networks, and continuously update the resulting ‘stories’.

These abilities are important for scholars to stay up to date in their field, present the most current research, and develop a strong reputation for delivering timely information to their peers; the same benefits journalists look to reap from using OSM sites.

These benefits are exactly why some tech savvy scholars are starting to use the site. Pulling content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Google, Storify.com creates a ‘story’ based on users’ search terms. Users can then select which posts/tweets/photos/videos to add to their story and publish it on their Twitter account.

Although the site is described as being for journalists, scholars wishing to create creative content from social media sites can benefit from it as well. The site has been used by many news outlets such as the Washington post and ABC News,  but how are scholars using this tool? Many scholars have used Storify.com to bring together their own content from social media sites, to form a cohesive presentation of an event or particular subject. It is particularly popular for aggregating tweets from a specific conference, giving scholars who weren’t able to attend a cohesive picture of conference activity as a whole.

Most Storify users take advantage of the many social media sites Storify.com draws from, however scholars seem to stick mainly to forming stories mainly from twitter posts. The site can be used for so much more, as can be seen from the other users posts on rebellions around the world, community events, even a poem composed by multiple users about Facebook.

Storify.com may be the most well known of these types of mashup social media services, however other sites are emerging that provide the same function. Some examples are: paper.li, which we reviewed last week, Qrait.com, storyful.com, keepstream.com, and TweetedTimes.com. Whereas journalists have been using these services for a while, scholars seem to be only beginning to find them and make use of their mashup abilities professionally.

For all its benefits, some drawbacks do exist in this site. Firstly, Storify’s search function is only as good as the search functions available in the OSM sites being searched. Facebook, for example, is notoriously hard to search. Secondly, users also must have an existing Twitter account to sign in with, and Storify.com automatically connects this account to your Storify account. And lastly, although users can reply to tweets, make comments on YouTube videos and Flickr photos, etc, directly from your link to them in your ‘story’, some sites (again, Facebook) may not allow this.

Overall, the trend to combine OSM sites, bundle content, and continuously update your content, is a trend that is appearing in OSM in general, and in the scholarly community specifically. With the creation and increasing popularity of sites like Storify.com, scholars are discovering ways to creatively present their, and others’, content, spreading research information further and increasing their visibility online.

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