Storify screenshot

Storify

The past few months have seen a number of new announcements relating to curation platform Storify, which enables journalists to pull together content from social media platforms from Twitter and YouTube to URLs and Flickr images.

Late last year Storify joined with SoundCloud to bring its audio recordings to the platform, along with AudioBoo recordings which were already set up.

In February Storify launched a free iPad app and in April it announced its first syndication deal with news reader app Pulse. This partnership will see curated stories made by Storify users available on the social news app.

Earlier this month it was also announced that Tweetbot had integrated Storify, meaning users of the Tweetbot app can Storify conversations from Twitter as they see them within the app.

And Storify is also currently working on providing the service in three other languages, Spanish, French and Arabic, via crowdsourcing although it is not yet known when this will be live.

Last week I spoke to Storify co-founder Burt Herman about the platform's approach to curation for our weekly podcast. We looked back at how the platform came to be, as well as the current aims and what the team is looking at developing further in the future.

Remind us how Storify came to be

"We saw social media as potentially an amazing source of news because now smartphones and social networks make it easy to publish instantly from anywhere in the world, more and more people are reporting what they're seeing and that's more than any news organisation could possibly do.

"No news organisation can be everywhere where news might possibly happen and have a reporter ready to say what's going on, but social media does give you that.

We want to make it as easy as possible to incorporate social media into the story but still in the end a person decides what goes into their story, adds the context and tells what's going onBurt Herman, co-founder Storify
"The problem is however that there's just too much of that. There are so many people posting videos and updates and everything else that you can't really find the things that matter when something important happens.

"So to solve that we turned to curation and thinking about ways to let journalists, bloggers, or whoever wants to, find the best from social media and turn that into a story. We want to make it as easy as possible to incorporate social media into the story but still in the end a person decides what goes into their story, adds the context and tells what's going on."

Building a two-way street

"Another big thing we're thinking about is how do we not only use social media as a source but push back out to social media and create a version of storytelling that is inherently social on its own.

"So that's also something we're trying to push much further. We recently added the ability to comment, share and like individual elements in stories, so we really want to do much more with that, we really want to take publishing and storytelling beyond print.

"I still think people think in a print paradigm when they're thinking about publishing on the web and we have a chance to do so much more."

The data opportunities of curating Storifys


I do think there is potential, and this is something we're talking about, where we have multiple people doing stories on the same topics, what can we learn by putting that together?Burt Herman, co-founder Storify
"We do look at the stories and on our homepage we curate what we think are interesting uses of the platform and put them together, but yes I do think there is potential, and this is something we're talking about, where we have multiple people doing stories on the same topics, what can we learn by putting that together?

"We've done that kind of manually, like for example when Steve Jobs died last year we were able to look at all the dozens and dozens of stories people created and figure out who were the most quoted tweets about Steve Jobs. It was pretty interesting it was like Bill Gates, Barack Obama, the CEO of Twitter, it was kind of people you would expect would have been the most quoted, so that was pretty interesting.

"We need to do more with that and do that automatically so you can search for a topic, e.g. 'Obama endorses gay marriage', we should be able to instantly put together: this is the most quoted tweet, this was the person who was quoted the most often, this is the most used photo, this is the most used video. That's the type of data we're building up behind the scenes and we have to do more to surface that to users."

The role of social media curation in dispelling rumour

"People are posting so much stuff on social networks a lot of rumours spread very quickly. I think perhaps the cycle of dispelling rumours has got a lot shorter because it's out there, people start talking about it and you're very able to quickly fact check this and get to the truth.

I think the same traditions that were built up about checking your sources and seeing if this person really is qualified to talk about what they're talking about, that should be applied on social media tooBurt Herman
"That curation role of elevating certain posts, certain photos, certain videos, that is really needed because there's so much stuff out there.

"I still think you need to apply journalistic standards to all of this. I think the same traditions that were built up about checking your sources and seeing if this person really is qualified to talk about what they're talking about, that should be applied on social media too and that's kind of early days on that as well.

"I think we need to think of how to apply journalism to social media because now it is this amazing source, just like we've done to other sources of information."

Storify sources

"In general our philosophy is we want to be this amazing curation platform. We want to take any source that's a great source to use as an input, we can do that using APIs of all these different services, and then we want to let you publish and embed and do whatever you want with the story that is output.

"So really we see ourselves as a central platform so definitely enabling more sources is something we'd like to do.

"Eventually we'd want to even have an easy way people can build sources for Storify, say a developer had some interesting way of finding things on social media, some algorithm or some geo-location search-type-thing - they should be able to plugin to Storify."

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