Visual Storytelling Made Simple: Storehouse for iPad


Did you know that the very first version of Instagram (Burbn) was intended as a ‘Swiss army knife’ of an app… kitchen sink included. As development progressed went on, Kevin Systrom and his team stripped out feature after feature to arrive at the simple (but effective) photo sharing app that subsequently sold to Facebook for 1 Billion Dollars only 18 months after launch.

Storehouse is a new digital visual storytelling application for iPad and shares something of the simplicity of Instagram.

Positioned somewhere between Storify and photo book production, Storehouse maximises the intuitive interface potential of the iPad. Bring in pictures and video from your iPad’s photo albums, Flickr, Dropbox and Instagram to create (very quickly) a polished ‘story’ that can be annotated with text (again, limited to ‘header’, ‘quote’ or ‘regular’) and published on the web to the Storehouse community and to the world.


Experienced desktop publishers might see the application as limited. As a long-time Adobe InDesign user the power of Storehouse, to me, is in its simplicity. Within 30 mins of downloading the app for the first time I had browsed some great stories (links below) and had one of my own ready to publish.

Sharing is simple too – Facebook, Tweet or email a link to stories. Click ‘recommend‘ to bookmark stories you might like to return to. I expected ‘recommend‘ to be a ‘like’ but I can’t see that Storehouse display numbers of ‘recommendations’, only ‘views’.


Translation to bigger screens via your web browser is excellent, no need for ‘mum’ to download any pesky desktop apps to see your story. As yet embedding is not an option, but I wonder if that’s an intentional choice for now… YouTube videos can turn up in all sorts of places – Storehouse stories can only be seen on their site.

Developed by a team that includes an ex-Apple employee, the presentation is very cool – limited, but unfussy. As with Storify, the inability to ‘save a version’ of my work is a little disconcerting. I once experienced hours of work on Storify disappear due to a server problem. Once was enough.

Although a PDF would be appreciated, I have to say that much of the functionality and beauty of the ‘story’ would be lost. The Storehouse versions flow and bounce and twist (to close) in the fluid way we have grown accustomed to in well executed iPad apps. And while images can be cropped in the ‘story’, a single tap has the image appear full screen and uncropped.

storehouse application image

While less than a week old the Storehouse community is growing and, like me, they see a lot of potential and room to grow.

I think Storehouse would be great learning tool for schools. My daughter loves creating Keynote (Powerpoint) slides about her favourite subjects. On an iPad I could see the simplicity and intuitive nature of Storehouse being really popular with children creating home or class projects – but for that to happen I would want the ability to create private accounts, maybe even private groups where stories could be shared with the class, youth club, etc.


I can also see me using Storehouse as a presentation tool – particularly for image heavy and Pecha Kucha style slides; particularly for the cropped images that then appear full screen.

But, I’ve kept you for far too long – you should try it out for yourself.

Have a browse through the stories I’ve linked below, including my own ‘SuperFly’ exhibition retrospective… (read more about SuperFly here)

Remember where you heard about Storehouse first – if it was here then come back and tell me what you think. If you make a ‘story’ (or you already have one) link to them in the comments below or Tweet me @OnTheSuperFly


Sense of Place – part one

YAGsop - poster

Having worked on the Living Communities project in Perth I was keen to carve out a deeper ‘educational-digital-projects-that-are-not-dull’ kind of niche for myself. Working in Perth  Museum and Art Gallery was a great experience. I love museums. And engaging kids with content and spaces, that are both often perceived as ‘dull’, is a thrill.

So, 18 January, 2013 I approached The McManus | Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum. One covering email and a link to my ‘services‘ PDF later and I’m the luckiest chap there is…

Because the National Gallery for Scotland had, only days before, invited McManus to collaborate on a group project (with three other museums across Scotland) called Scotland Creates: A Sense of Place. While McManus has plenty of talented artists they needed someone to deal with ‘digital’ stuff. Nice timing, eh?!

Almost 12 months later I’ve only made passing references to McManus and Sense of Place because we’ve been saving the best of what we’ve done for the exhibition. Of course as time goes on some of that gets relegated because even better work comes along and there simply isn’t room for all of it!

So, there will be a few gems that I will be able to share over the next few months as ‘DVD extras‘ to what we have in the exhibition… speaking of which…

The exhibition, Sense of Place, opens this week! Thursday 12 December is the private view and Friday 13 is the official opening. Here are the private view cards – we have four (of course) which split our Instagram’d poster image into four… (collect ’em al!)

YAGsop - Private View Invite

Sense of Place was constructed around the need to get more young people into museums. McManus already has a great track record of getting young people through its door because of YAG! The Youth Action Group (YAG) is simply a couple of hours on a Thursday evening, when the museum is closed to everyone else, and we get creative. YAG is 14+ and will start again in February. If you, or someone you know, is interested, drop me a line or contact McManus directly and ask for Keri.

I’ll say more about Sense of Place another time, for now it’s enough to say that there were train journeys and QR Codes and Hollywood actors and iPads and steam rollers and animation and Instagram and walking through walls and time travel and Tumblr and modern dance interpretation and… and… oh, and tea! Quite a lot of the time there was tea.

Scotland Creates: Sense of Place
The McManus | Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum
Opens Friday 13 December, 10am

To throw your hat into the ring for a limited number of private view invitations, please leave a comment below. Quick!

Why I am not a Service Designer

dementia Diary workshop 1

At the best of times it can be a challenge explaining to people what you do. But when they already have a perception of what you do..?!

I’ve been a designer for a long time. A Graphic Designer. To many I will probably be a Graphic Designer until the day… well, you get the idea.

I’m a Designer still. But of a kind that many haven’t heard of. For you lucky people that’s about to change.
I work in Service Design.

PostIts workshop 1

Perhaps (mildly) controversially I’m going to say that I’m NOT a ‘Service Designer‘. That’s because I’m not sure that there is any such thing. Service Design (to me) is a collaboration between the designer (equipped with the tools and methods of design thinking), and the professional (armed with expert knowledge of their field, service or system – e.g. Social Services, Education, Health Care).

Within the collaboration my role is that of facilitator. I bring tools and methods that will facilitate the drawing out (pun intended) of ideas and visualisations to innovate, improve or completely change existing methods of working.

Maybe within that process we’re ALL service designers – what a utopia that would be!
On the outside, however, I’m just a designer, doing what I’ve always done – but with a new bag of fancy pencils.

Although the principles that hold Service Design together have been around for a while, the idea of designers doing something this useful still appears to shock. But if ever we needed proof that SD was edging into the mainstream, we find that even the BBC are in on it. Radio Four‘s ‘In Business had a programme dedicated to Design Thinking and how it is being applied to designing public services. It’s a very good overview and well worth a listen.

BBC 4 In Business

Conveniently there is also a new web platform around the idea of helping the general public understand what Service Design is and how businesses and public services can benefit from implementing its methods. Tereza Procházková recently graduated from Dundee University‘s Masters of Design for Services course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design – Translating Service Design is her Masters project where she has taken the novel idea of creating short videos to introduce some of the concepts and methods of, you guessed it, Service Design.

So, expect to see Service Design installed into your place of work anytime soon! Well, maybe the next couple of years anyway.
Do you see Service Design solving issues for your workplace? Do you have ‘Service Designer‘ written on your business card and want your money back?
Tell me what you think…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

During the last two years Jon Gill has worked as a designer with public service organisations such as Dundee City Council, The Young Foundation, People Can and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) – not on posters and leaflets or physical products, but on services. Services such as delivery of services to homeless people in Westminster and Hackney, Public Consultation on Council Housing in Dundee and piloting new Social Service ideas for SSSC across Scotland (Borders Council, Moray Council, Alzheimer Scotland).

Creativity requires courage

SuperFly images

Ever have a great idea and someone pips you to the post?

I once pitched an idea to a web developer friend which got us both quite excited for a while. Soon after it became clear that the people we thought would benefit from this idea just weren’t ready for it! Three years later I discovered ‘Etsy’ for the first time and gave myself a bit of a kicking! Such is life for ‘the ideas man’!

I was involved in a project recently and and someone suggested we get a ‘thank you’ present for the organiser, although they were a bit concerned that we might upset the person who originated the idea (they had to pass on managing the project for personal reasons). My response was that there is a million miles between having an idea and actually seeing it through.

And “Here”, as the man said, “…endeth the lesson”.

Besides being creative you have to be courageous. Sometimes it financial. Sometimes it’s confidence. Either way, If you get pipped to the post then you’ve no one to blame but yourself.

So, my ‘Etsy’-ish idea passed me by, but I delivered elsewhere..!

SuperFly Flyer

This other idea I sat on for about five years before getting a wave of confidence in 2009. In the Dundee, where I worked, there was a legal fly-posting system managed by Street Advertising Services (SAS). I always saw fly-posting as ‘exhibition space’, and being averse to traditional gallery spaces I saw the need for an alternative.

I established SuperFly as a creative platform and exhibition for artists and designers of all disciplines, founded on two key criteria:

1.    No submission fees
2.    No traditional gallery spaces

Having gathered in over 150 submissions from almost 70 artists, 7 pieces were chosen, each having 5 posters across the City of Dundee. It was a success! Off the back of this show I collaborated with Glasgow creative collective ‘Central Station’ who were organising a pop-up event in Dundee. Consequently I curated an exhibition for them of five Dundee artists. The street poster sites were part exhibition, part advertising space for the event.

Back to 2013 and I have a sense of deja-vu!’
Art Everywhere’ is an initiative to put ‘classic’ artwork on billboard sites across the UK (read more on Creative Review’s blog here) . To be fair, this project is “Gone With The Wind” to my “Local Hero” but I wouldn’t hav it any other way. All involved contributed their time, print and space for free and all of the artists were pretty much unknown (My first show even had a ‘Burt Lancaster’ equivalent in Scotland’s Johanna Basford).

Painful TV appearance:

So SuperFly may not have had the ‘national’ impact of ‘Art Everywhere’ but I’m sure as far as some people are concerned it had the ‘personal’ impact. SuperFly kicked of a whole string of projects and collaborations, for me and it’s artists, that are continuing today; and if nothing else, I’m just relieved that I’m not sitting here writing about ‘another idea’ that I should have done something with! Creativity requires courage!

So, this time four years ago I was about to launch the inaugural SuperFly. Do you have any memories of SuperFly? If so please post them here. You’ll find out more about SuperFly here; and while nothing is planned for the future, we never say never!



Note to self…

Kids playing video games

Guest post today! It’s me… but me two years ago..!

Do you or your kids play video/computer games?

I wrote this during my Masters year (on ‘Mysteryboxes’, my Masters blog) when I was looking into video games and what we can learn from them about learning and engagement. At the same time I was a concerned parent… What should my kids play? How long should they play them?

Over the course of a year, by paying a little attention, I learned a few things that I felt were worth remembering – so I wrote a ‘note to self’! Having just read it for the first time in a couple of years I stand by it… especially the stuff about “better than TV” and “tantrums”!

I think games can be valuable in learning, but like everything else there needs to be a balance! But I feel as a parent I need to have some control, or sense, of what that balance should be.

So, if any of this sounds familiar please, click here, have a read, and let me know what you think!


Mock the Taskbar

Mock the TaskbarA new infographic inspired by a variety of slow PCs I’ve had to use over the last few years.

This is not scientific research!
It’s an easy hit and a bad pun (partly borrowed from Adam and Joe)… so, Windows users, please do not take it personally ;)


Share and share alike…

First rule of social media..?!Share and share alike


I’m thinking that this might make a good Tshirt design along the lines of the mock-up below… any comments or interest?

Have your say…