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.

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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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Pique interest with Pinterest

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It feels a little late in the day to be writing about Pinterest – such is the world of the internet – but while it currently holds the record for ‘fastest growing online network’ ever (currently between 50-70 million users depending on who you listen to) I still talk to lots of people who are not sure what it’s all about.

Wikipedia defines Pinterest as “a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies.

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The definition of “Photo-sharing” diminishes its functionality to a degree – while the ‘visualisation’ of the ‘pin’ using ‘images’ is key to the Pinterest experience, you can share much more than just the picture.

At the moment I use it in the way that I used to use Delicious; simply a collection of bookmarked ‘favourite things’. They may be images, but usually images that are part of a webpage, TED talk, App, etc. So, on my ‘Books’ board you’ll find images of recommended reading, but those images will take you to the relevant Amazon page to purchase or sample. The TED board ‘pins’ will take you to the actual TED talk.

Pinning your favourites is as simple as a cut and paste of the web address, or navigating to an image on your had-drive to upload. You’ll also find that more and more sites are (as this one does) displaying handy buttons that allow you to ‘pin’ webpages with a single click. Your ‘boards’ and ‘pins’ can be shared, followed, liked, re-shared, etc – but you can also make boards collaborative amongst groups. (While I’ve yet to use it in this way it was one of the features that ‘piqued’ my interest in the site.)

Launched in 2010, the requisite iPhone app in 2011 (and other platforms since) provided additional mobile access – by December of that year Pinterest was in Time magazine’s list of top 50 websites of the year and one of the top 10 social networks with 11 million total visits per week.

For me, Hubspot’s ‘How to use Pinterest for Business’ helped cement  my understanding of Pinterest’s value and potential and while I haven’t yet had an opportunity to use it more thoroughly I thought it was about time I drew your attention to my Pinterest account (you can also access it via a button on the left hand column of my home page).

I’ve seen great examples of Pinterest used for mood boards, photo-blogs and exhibitions; and because collections are visualised, visitors are drawn in exactly as they might be to a pinboard on your wall.

So I recommend you give it a go! Please check out my Pinterest boards and if you’ve got any ideas, suggestions for new boards or boards that I should visit, let me know. Most of all, create some of your own and let me know how you get on!

Totally Recall

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Philip K Dick already had some ideas up his sleeve on memories and what ‘they really mean’ when he wrote ‘We can Remember It For You Wholesale‘ which later became Paul Verhoven‘s 1990 movie Total Recall. (Remade in 2012 lest we forget!)

In the vein of my blog post from last summer ‘Is anyone Watching?‘ (which draws on a couple of posts from 12 months before that – link are in the above post) the BBC today are asking if ‘smartphones are killing memories?‘!

It’s worth a watch, if a little mellow-dramatic!

I don’t think it’s a good idea to live life watching through a 3 inch view finder – however, I’d agree with the chap in the BBC report from the National Portrait Gallery (Sandy Nairne, Director of NPG (very Scottish sounding name!) ) gets the balance just right…

What do you think? Are you or members of your family missing out on experiences through a need to share what’s happening through your digital devices or do they help you remember more vividly in a way that you can share time after time?