Death of the Selfie?

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Do you remember when taking a selfie meant using the tiny convex silver blob on the back of your phone as a guide?

Well, the ‘selfie’ is so common place now that at the end of 2013 ‘Selfie’ was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries and even the Pope was in on the act.

Such is the fickle world of fame that having reached the pinnacle the only way is down; and, thanks to a gaggle of the movie world’s finest, it may be that last weekend brought about the beginning of the end for the poor old selfie.

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Whereas the Pope came across as obliging and benevolent the Oscars pic has an embarrassing ‘dad dance’ feel to it. And then, with this being the internet, we see the ugly truth – that no one let Liza Minnelli (at the back in the blue dress) push through!

liza minelli Oscars

The one saving grace was that Matt Groening rattled off a spoof…

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Pop, as they say, will eat itself!

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While working on the the Sense of Place project at Dundee’s McManus we were looking at how cinema developed locally in the early 20th century. At a time when only a few dozen people on the planet had access to a movie camera they were filming the most mundane of activities; people coming out of work; trains coming into stations. It took the magician George Melies to spot the entertainment value of the medium.

With the creation and sharing of photography and video being so ubiquitous and democratised through smart phones and social media we live in a constant avalanche of selfies and dinner plates. But surely it’s the same phenomenon.

It’s interesting that many of the people who complain about the number of people sharing their breakfast on Instagram are also glued to the Great British Bake Off; I’m sure there’s some shared DNA in there somewhere.

And of course the Oscar selfie became the most re-tweeted Tweet of all time with over 2  million RTs before the end of the show.

ancient selfieFinally, my favourite selfie. Apparently the picture on the left dates back to the 1850’s (?). Although it could just be an early iPhone using a grungy Instagram filter. It’s so hard to tell these days.

Visual Storytelling Made Simple: Storehouse for iPad

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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

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