Brian Cox (The Dundee Actor) talking about his experiences as a boy with the cinema as ‘child care’!

Bria Cox at The McManus


Storify, Storify Storify

Storify is fantastic. That’s all you need to know.

Storify exists simply for you to gather, or craft, a narrative from snippets of social media channels.


The likes of Twitter, Instagram, Faceook, etc, are already in the business of providing a means of telling a story but they are rigid streams of information and the story can be lost – at the very least it must be searched out. Storify puts you in hot seat as narrator/curator, however you like to look at it, and gather the relevant elements from a variety of channels including those mentioned above.

So, here’s an example: A couple of weeks ago I organised a QR Trail across Dundee for McManus Galleries Youth Action Group – a group of young people interested in the arts. We’re currently looking at digital and social media – what it’s all about and if it has any value.

The aim of the QR Trail was to deliver images of Dundee from 100 years ago (or more), in the spot where they were originally taken and the young people were tasked with capturing the same scene as it appears today and share it via Instagram.

McManus Crawl Players

Back at the museum I gathered their images live, as they appeared on the Instagram feed and put them into Storify along side links to the old photos that were to inspire them! (via Photopolis).

We Tweeted the Storify feed. This meant that, potentially, viewers could follow the young people’s progress live as I combined the Instagram pics with those from Photopolis (while adding a little narration). The Storify feed remains of course and you can view it here.

I’m noticing more and more sites, the Guardian for example, using Storify to gather stories that break on Twitter.

My only reservation is that I can’t yet export my completed project – they remain on the Storify site. I did have an experience last ear where I gathered a Storify for a conference I was working at and my 2 hours work coincided with a Storify server crash! I had no option but to start again. Presumably Storify learned from that experience!

That aside I love Storify! Do you?
What other sharing platforms do you love?

Getting QReative with World Book Day – part two


So, on Monday I posted about some book reviews I recorded at my local primary school.

I took them home, edited them where necessary (not as much as you might think) and posted them to AudioBoo – today some of those codes (the ones posted here) are in the books that they relate to.

The purpose of Curriculum for Excellence is encapsulated in the four capacities – to enable each child or young person to be a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor (see the graphic below).


This project draws on at least two of these capacities (although self awareness and confidence are drawn in…) and I’ll detail them now:

1) Talking about something you are interested in is empowering – it also challenges how you articulate your interest. Audio doesn’t allow you to fall back on gestures and pictures so it’s all about the words. CfE – I witnessed enthusiasm, motivation and openness (successful learners). 


2) These reviews were recorded with several (if not all) of the class mates listening in (no pressure then…). They’re listening to the review, learning from someone their own age and either wondering if their own review would have been as good or wanting them to hurry up and finish so that they can have a go. CfE – Communication in different ways and different settings, working in partnerships and critical thinking (effective contributors)


3) There are other things to talk about but the one that fascinates me is this. As part of the introduction to what we’re about to do in class I play a recoding of my daughter reviewing Lemony Snicket. It was recorded 2010. Our primary school is quite small and most of the kids know each other. It was great for the P2s to listen to a ‘big’ P4 talking about their favourite book – but – it’s the P2 version of them from two years ago!  Think about it – it can mess with your head a bit, but the kids love it!


Obviously within families the benefits of sharing across siblings and, potentially, generations could have huge benefits in terms of appreciating and understanding one another as well as the experience of sharing common interest across time! It’s a bit like being Doctor Who, but instead of a Tardis we have a QR Code.

Where do you see the value (if any…) in projects like this?
Would you question my interpretation of the CfE?

You can hear more book reviews by my own children here including this one from three years ago:

Please, enjoy the AudioBoos and leave me some feedback… I’d love to hear from you!

Getting QReative with World Book Day – part one

capturing stories

Thursday 7th March is World Book Day 2013

On this day all sorts of activities are organised across the globe to celebrate ‘the book’!

One of the events a lot of schools are adopting is the ‘Book Swap’ where young people bring in a book from home, that they’ve already read (and presumably recommend…), and swap it for something new to them.

I love the idea of swapping and sharing stories and so, as my local Primary school was organising a Book Swap, I offered to help, and add a new twist, to sharing stories…

World Book Day logo 2013

Class by class I asked some of the children about their favourite books – Without spoiling the ending, what was the story, who their favourite characters, why did they love this book! I recorded our little chat, and I’m now in the process of editing and uploading to I’ll then tag the AudioBoo with a QR Code and the QR Code will go in the front of the book.

Soon, these well loved books will be carrying two stories – the one in print and the one in the QR Code. And of course, the next owner could very soon be adding their own story and QR Code… we’ll have to wait and see!

Look out for links to the AudioBoos later in the week – and enjoy World Book Day 2013!

UPDATE: Part Two here

The Guerrilla Educationalist

There has always been a significant number of people who have documented their lives in various media for many decades. The combination of mobile devices and social media has of course blown those figures through the roof.

It’s funny to think back a few short years to when so much fuss was being made in the UK about ID Cards when we live in a society that hands out personal information on a digital plate! The question of ‘choice’ remains I suppose, but so many users are blissfully unaware of the implications of, for example, GPS tagged pictures and messages tracking there every move, that they are leaving themselves wide open for exploitation.

So, slightly off tack there, but the AudioBoo below relates to some thoughts I’ve had (and blogged about) recently regarding the impact of documenting our lives and how our experiences may be diminished as a result. The images we capture oftentimes don’t even exist in our heads as memories because they are captured via the lens of a device.

So my Boo was inspired by a Radio programme called ‘Short Cuts’ on BBC Radio 4. The programme is available online for another 6 days – you can find the link, and more info on the programme, via this news story.

Since I was about 7 or 8 years old I’ve been recording on tape. I had a little cassette recorder that my Dad let me play with. He even let me play with a little reel-to-reel that someone gave him. One tape I made with some friends was a burp tape. We would sit with the microphone of the reel-to-reel (which had a pause button on it) and record burp after burp after burp. We would be very disciplined and record for hours before we played back what amounted to 30-40 seconds of back to back burps. I wish I still had that tape!

Of course it wasn’t just burps. Before long we progressed to farts, but that was a much longer day!

The ultimate in those days would have been to have a movie camera. We wanted to capture the action of our Scalextric cars, Star Wars figures, the skate ramp… every inch of our lives played out like a movie in our heads and we wanted to capture it.

These days I’m more interested in audio. Audio frees you mind and opens your imagination. In contrast, to me, video can shut down the imagination and the viewer becomes locked, powerless in it’s gaze.

I’ve been making videos recently, commissioned by a social innovation organisation called The Young Foundation. The brief was to capture the stories of clients of a homeless hostel in Westminster for training purposes within the organisation that YF were working for. Recognising faces on these kinds of films can be problematic in many ways and so, despite having permission to film from all concerned I prefer, where possible, to find ways of capturing footage that doesn’t rely on any clarity of identity. The images often become, not detached, but slightly abstract, in their relation to what is being said… instead we see the surrounding environment, hand gestures, awkward feet or the shadow of the subject. I’ve also played with combining audio and video that were unrelated to each other, apart from the fact that they seem to fit. It’s hard (for me) to describe but the result (for me as editor) is a slight juxtaposition between what you hear and what you see. It’s likely that some viewers won’t notice or recognise this small detail but I hope that on some level the hint of ‘not quite right’, however subconscious, might result in a little more attention in the viewer. I’m keen to push this method of ‘audio filming’ and see what results it brings.

I’ve gone off on a slight tangent again, but the point is that we value documentary as entertainment or as a document of a time ad place, so why should it be undervalued in our personal lives? What do we gain or lose from capturing and sharing?

In the BBC programme David Weinberg talks about the views of his friend at the time who knew of his ‘habit’ and felt that “life is fleeting” and should be kept that way, not documented and pondered over for posterity. The sad irony was that the friend tragically died and Weinberg and a mutual friend seem glad to have recordings of him to remember him by.

On the AudioBoo I talk about how I feel the complete opposit. I like looking at clips of my kids growing up. So much is, or can be, forgotten in a moment and it’s nice, for me, to look back. Of course, I have memories too but I love showing the kids, and they love watching, themselves at an age that they could never remember.

So this is my dilemma…
I always loved the idea of getting family members to record stories that we could listen back to. At the moment my little boy, for school homework, is asking family members about their favourite toys as children. I’d like to capture those stories. As time goes by and we lose family members to age I would like to remind the children of who they used to spend so much time with, but who they can hardly remember.
The flip side is a project I started with my kids where I get them to talk about books they’ve read and then I tag those stories to QR Codes that I stick in the front of the book.

I used to capture these audio stories and upload them to YouTube but then AudioBoo came along and it seemed so much more mobile and relevant that it seemed the perfect fit. I feel I don’t do enough of it but maybe I do too much?!

I love that the kids will be able to find those stories in the future – maybe even after I’m gone! They will be able to listen to them and play them to their children.

But I also love the idea of taking duplicates of the QR Codes and tucking them inside the same book(s) in the local library or Waterstones and that other listeners might get some benefit too. I want to be a guerrilla educationalist!

What do you think..?