Posts tagged storytelling

I feel like I should let you know what you’re in for. This is a long story about a juggler. It gets into some areas that matter in all sports, such as performance and audience and ambition, but there’s absolutely a lot of juggling in the next 6,700 words. I assume you may bail at this point, which is fine; I almost bailed a few times in the writing. The usual strategies of sportswriting depend on the writer and reader sharing a set of passions and references that make it easy to speed along on rivers of stats and myth, but you almost certainly don’t know as much about juggling as you do about football or baseball. We’re probably staring at a frozen lake here.

A few juggling videos are embedded below. I hope they help. We may fall through the ice anyway.
What happened to quicksand?

Remember when quicksand seemed to be in every movie and TV show? Where did it go? In our new short, reporter Dan Engber looks into it…waaaaaaay into it. (via wnycradiolab)

FJP: Radiolab. Always a good way to spend 15 minutes… or much more. Besides, quicksand fetish communities!

Brickflow Builds Social Media Slideshows

Similar to Storify, new storytelling app Brickflow lets users construct stories with hashtag-based content collected from social outlets including Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. Instead of following a linear format, Brickflow stacks the content (“bricks”) into slideshows (“flows”). The app was designed with the current social media trends in mind, according to a Brickflow blog post

It’s the easiest way for bloggers to visually summarize a social media topic. Educators and marketers see it as a creative engagement tool. Others use it for telling their personal stories in a memorable way.

[…] Curated storytelling is a form of communication that is here to stay. Bloggers are using content curation tools to quickly come up with relevant media. But content is getting shorter, more visual, and taking place in real-time. Hashtags are becoming mainstream. Vine and Instagram are widely popular. This is a totally new form of self-expression: a few seconds of square-shaped video, low-res snapshots, 140 characters of text.

Brickflow is first to offer the feature of connecting multiple Instagram videos to tell a longer story. According to Mihaly Borbely, one of the founders, “This will open up a whole new world of possibilities, like crowdsourced short films and advertisements. I deeply believe that micro-videos will reshape the way we think of visual storytelling. It’s a new format by itself, but these videos are also the perfect building blocks for something bigger.”

Images: Brickflow blog, screen grabs of logo and “flow” example.

Mapping Platform “Hi” Collects Worldwide Stories 

Say “hello” to Hi, a new storytelling platform launched by former Flipboard product designer Craig Mod. Currently invitation-only, Hi lets users submit photos of their locations and accompanying text. In an essay, Mod calls these “moments” which Hi groups together by location. “That collection — moments tied to location, some short, some extended — is a narrative mapping,” he writes.

Mod also shares his vision behind the platform:

Within you exists a general mapping of New York City that’s different from my mapping of New York City. Your NYC street corners, storefronts, and river benches feel — psychically, emotionally — different than my street corners. Though physically, they’re the same.

Hi helps us surface, layer, and share these narrative maps. Maps concerned with your corner in NYC or maps concerned with the protests after a trial or the energy in a city square after political upheaval.

[…] Hi will be filled with stutters, half-baked ideas, doodles, noodles, blurry photos — a bit of that chaos mentioned earlier. But the hope is that from that chaos will emerge thoughtful, fully formed stories, narratives, monologues, missives, and meditations on place, people, and experience that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.

Hi is a generic enough container that it need not be a place solely for capital “L” Literature, or big “T” Travel Writing. We hope for it to also be a place for scientific inquiry, field research, food documentation, shopping notations, journalistic sketching … anything about which location and narrative collide.

No stranger to the digital publishing and start-up worlds, Mod is the brains behind publisher PRE/POST and a mentor at 500 Startups. With AQ founder Craig Palmieri, Mod started Moments Managing Corp. to power Hi. 

Images: Screen grabs of Hi’s front page and first user submission

Why It’s Time to Rethink Web Video Entirely
Producer Adam Westbrook recently built an essay called The Web Video Problem about how cinematic video content is wrong for the web, and that we can and ought to recreate the visual storytelling experience on the web entirely. Toward that end, he’s working on web publishing house (Hot Pursuit).
He writes:

In visual storytelling on the web we are still talking about images in deliberate sequence. We are juxtaposing these images, either over time (in a linear audio/visual way) or in space (like a web comic might).
If we accept this definition of visual storytelling (in the purest sense) then it doesn’t matter if it’s video, a web comic or even an animated GIF - or a combination of all these and more.
Combine this with the growing capabilities of the web browser, and the connectedness of the internet, and potentially we have the ability to tell dynamic, visual stories in a way that hasn’t been done before.
This excites me very much.

The essay is nicely built and designed with bold, scrolling visuals (using the curtain jquery plug-in, which yes, is very popular these days and can be downloaded here for your own building pleasure) so that you can choose to read the whole thing or just get the highlights. It’s worth checking out. 
Bonus: He provides some great resources on visual storytelling:

A good briefing on the principles of visual storytelling are featured in the second issue of Inside the Story Magazine, available here. If you don’t want to pay for the whole thing, this free articlecovers a lot of the same ground. Scott McCloud’s comic book on comic books is an essential read for visual storytellers. Craig Mod’s essay on Subcompact Publishing informed some of the ideas about thinking web-natively, as did this article by John Pavlus and this piece by Bryan Goldberg. Finally, Steven Benedict’sanalysis of Spielberg’s cinematic storytelling skills demonstrate what visual narrative can acheive, and let Steven Soderbergh tell you why this new thing shouldn’t become like the movie business.

Image: Screenshot from The Web Video Problem

Why It’s Time to Rethink Web Video Entirely

Producer Adam Westbrook recently built an essay called The Web Video Problem about how cinematic video content is wrong for the web, and that we can and ought to recreate the visual storytelling experience on the web entirely. Toward that end, he’s working on web publishing house (Hot Pursuit).

He writes:

In visual storytelling on the web we are still talking about images in deliberate sequence. We are juxtaposing these images, either over time (in a linear audio/visual way) or in space (like a web comic might).

If we accept this definition of visual storytelling (in the purest sense) then it doesn’t matter if it’s video, a web comic or even an animated GIF - or a combination of all these and more.

Combine this with the growing capabilities of the web browser, and the connectedness of the internet, and potentially we have the ability to tell dynamic, visual stories in a way that hasn’t been done before.

This excites me very much.

The essay is nicely built and designed with bold, scrolling visuals (using the curtain jquery plug-in, which yes, is very popular these days and can be downloaded here for your own building pleasure) so that you can choose to read the whole thing or just get the highlights. It’s worth checking out. 

Bonus: He provides some great resources on visual storytelling:

A good briefing on the principles of visual storytelling are featured in the second issue of Inside the Story Magazine, available here. If you don’t want to pay for the whole thing, this free articlecovers a lot of the same ground. Scott McCloud’s comic book on comic books is an essential read for visual storytellers. Craig Mod’s essay on Subcompact Publishing informed some of the ideas about thinking web-natively, as did this article by John Pavlus and this piece by Bryan Goldberg. Finally, Steven Benedict’sanalysis of Spielberg’s cinematic storytelling skills demonstrate what visual narrative can acheive, and let Steven Soderbergh tell you why this new thing shouldn’t become like the movie business.

Image: Screenshot from The Web Video Problem

The Magazine Experience on the Web
Over on theFJP.org, EJ Fox explores how news organizations are taking advantage of responsive design, CSS and JavaScript techniques not just to make things pretty, but to better tell their stories.
For example, he takes a look at the New York Times’ recent and well regarded Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek. As he explores its presentation, he writes:
Its graphics and videos stretch to fill the entire browser window, an emerging design trend that is the true successor of the magazine’s full-bleed photos. The Times shows that when you elevate beautiful art that’s telling the story in a seamless way, it becomes greater than the sum of it’s parts. Compare to a similar NYT story where pictures are included with the story, but certainly not featured with any love.
It’s not confined to the style of the rest of the NYT site, which is for the most part a static 975px width. Some of the impact of full-bleed pieces like Snow Fall comes from the contrast between those special features and the whitespace of the primary site. It’s a clue to the user to dig in, and that something special is going to happen.
Read through for the rest, including how Web presentation and storytelling design affected EJ’s reporting on Occupy Oakland.
You can follow EJ on Tumblr at Pseudo Placebo. On Twitter he’s @mrejfox.
Image: Screenshot, Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, via the New York Times. Select to embiggen.

The Magazine Experience on the Web

Over on theFJP.org, EJ Fox explores how news organizations are taking advantage of responsive design, CSS and JavaScript techniques not just to make things pretty, but to better tell their stories.

For example, he takes a look at the New York Times’ recent and well regarded Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek. As he explores its presentation, he writes:

  • Its graphics and videos stretch to fill the entire browser window, an emerging design trend that is the true successor of the magazine’s full-bleed photos. The Times shows that when you elevate beautiful art that’s telling the story in a seamless way, it becomes greater than the sum of it’s parts. Compare to a similar NYT story where pictures are included with the story, but certainly not featured with any love.
  • It’s not confined to the style of the rest of the NYT site, which is for the most part a static 975px width. Some of the impact of full-bleed pieces like Snow Fall comes from the contrast between those special features and the whitespace of the primary site. It’s a clue to the user to dig in, and that something special is going to happen.

Read through for the rest, including how Web presentation and storytelling design affected EJ’s reporting on Occupy Oakland.

You can follow EJ on Tumblr at Pseudo Placebo. On Twitter he’s @mrejfox.

Image: Screenshot, Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, via the New York Times. Select to embiggen.

As we started to collect our ideas for the structure of the project, the multimedia group agreed that we didn’t want to create a bunch of different overlapping pieces and hang them all off the text. We wanted to make a single story out of all the assets, including the text. So the larger project wasn’t a typical design effort. It was an editing project that required us to weave things together so that text, video, photography and graphics could all be consumed in a way that was similar to reading—a different kind of reading.

Steve Duenes, NY Times Graphics Director in the Q&A: How We Made Snow Fall (via Source)

Last month, the NY Times created a beautifully compelling story on avalanches and skiing in Washington State. This morning, we get to read about exactly how they did it. Most fascinating is their discussion of how to pace the story so it would feel like a seamless reading experience:

Q. There’s a ton of audio and moving-image work in Snow Fall, and you used a lot of techniques from filmmaking, but within a very reading-centric experience. What kind of challenges did those elements present?

Catherine Spangler, Video Journalist: The challenges of crafting multimedia to compliment a text-based story were the same challenges faced in any storytelling endeavor. We focused on the pacing, narrative tension and story arc—all while ensuring that each element gave the user a different experience of the story. The moving images provided a much-needed pause at critical moments in the text, adding a subtle atmospheric quality. The team often asked whether a video or piece of audio was adding value to the project, and we edited elements out that felt duplicative. Having a tight edit that slowly built the tension of the narrative was the overall goal.

Graham Roberts, Graphics Editor: With the visuals, especially ones that would actually interrupt the reading, we wanted it to feel like a natural continuation. This required choosing appropriate color palettes, and the right kind of fluid movements. The reader would hopefully feel that they were reading into the graphic, and not see it as a distraction. Content wise, these elements needed to occur in passages that were challenging to express with words alone, like the layout of the terrain, and the shape, speed and duration of the avalanche itself. Or something that was very hard to follow without a visual aid, like the trajectory and timing of each skier’s path down the mountain.

A great story is like a great melody: it announces its inevitable greatness and you recognize it the first time you hear it. Most stories aren’t that. They do not announce their obvious greatness. 60% are in the limbo region where they might GET great or they might flop, and the only way to figure it out is to start making the story. So you launch in, hoping for that winning combination of great moments, charm, funny, and X factor.

As a result, we go through tons of stories on our way to the few that end up on the air. It’s like harnessing luck as an industrial product. You want to get hit by lightning, so you have to wander around for a long time in the rain.
Ira Glass, host and producer of This American Life, in a Reddit Ask Me Anything from earlier today.
Next week, while we’re all watching NBC, a nuclear-powered, MINI-Cooper-sized super rover will land on Mars. We accurately guided this monster from 200 million miles away (that’s 7.6 million marathons). It requires better accuracy than an Olympic golfer teeing off in London and hitting a hole-in-one in Auckland, New Zealand. It will use a laser to blast rocks, a chemical nose to sniff out the potential for life, and hundreds of other feats of near-magic. Will these discoveries lead us down a path to confirming life on other planets? Wouldn’t that be a good story that might make people care about science? But telling us this story means more than just the composition of the rocks (sorry, Mars geologists). It’s about the team that makes it happen.

No one producing an Olympic teaser asks, “What’s the importance of 100 meters?” No, they tell us about the athletes who dedicate their lives to running the race, because dedication and triumph are what make a human running 100 meters interesting. If NBC can get us all misty-eyed about 100 meters, imagine what NASA could do with 200 million miles.

The Mars race is about human survival and understanding our place in a vast and terrifyingly beautiful universe. And the stories of its athletes (mathletes?) should be world-class, because they accomplish near-impossible tasks on a cosmic scale — the hardest sport you could ever compete in. It requires dedication and doggedness that only the most passionate people in the universe could deliver. Unfortunately, this drama plays out behind closed doors. We won’t have insights into the sacrifice, scandal, discovery, divorce, hardship, and drama that it takes to work for a decade delivering a one-ton super rover to another planet. It’s the biggest irony that the most junior engineer at NASA is fearless in the face of trying to send a robot to Mars, but the career bureaucrats are afraid to tell that engineer’s story of failure or success.

NASA will say that they’re doing the best they can and stretching their education and outreach budgets to the max. But if they hope to stay in business, they need to tell us how they’re pushing the limits of humanity with over-the-top, risky-ass missions that will answer questions about who we are as a species on this planet.

Andrew Kessler, The Huffington Post. Why You Should Be More Interested in Mars Than the Olympics.

Kessler, who spent ninety days inside NASA to write Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission, believes the agency is “so frightened of failure that they’re willing to sacrifice their greatest asset: the ability to inspire.” In other words, they no longer tell a good story.

Know who could help? Kick ass science journalists.

Sidenote: AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards applications are due tomorrow.

Launching a Global Multimedia Platform
The Tiziano Project, an organization that provides community members in conflict, post-conflict, and underreported regions with media training to tell stories about their lives, has launched StoriesFrom. The platform is a gathering of international multimedia storytelling.
Via the Knight Foundation:

The platform allows individuals and organizations to easily create immersive documentary projects that combine the work of both community members and professional journalists and filmmakers. The resulting showcases display completed projects in beautiful and engaging online packages…
…StoriesFrom launched with projects from Iraq, Afghanistan, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Latvia, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.
It is currently accepting project ideas to be used for beta testing of the platform. If you would like to participate, please email: create@storiesfrom.

StoriesFrom was funded by a 2011 Knight Challenge Grant.
Image: Partial screenshot of StoriesFrom. 
Select to embiggen.

Launching a Global Multimedia Platform

The Tiziano Project, an organization that provides community members in conflict, post-conflict, and underreported regions with media training to tell stories about their lives, has launched StoriesFrom. The platform is a gathering of international multimedia storytelling.

Via the Knight Foundation:

The platform allows individuals and organizations to easily create immersive documentary projects that combine the work of both community members and professional journalists and filmmakers. The resulting showcases display completed projects in beautiful and engaging online packages…

…StoriesFrom launched with projects from Iraq, Afghanistan, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Latvia, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.

It is currently accepting project ideas to be used for beta testing of the platform. If you would like to participate, please email: create@storiesfrom.

StoriesFrom was funded by a 2011 Knight Challenge Grant.

Image: Partial screenshot of StoriesFrom

Select to embiggen.

Ira Glass on storytelling and harnessing creativity.

Illustrated by David Shiyang Liu.

Joe Sabia uses technology to tell the story of innovative storytelling in history.  I just love this video. 



Four for One
Published on bob sacha ’s blog

Text? Sound? Multimedia? Broadcast TV? Which is the best medium to tell a story? In the last days two major US media outlets chose to feature a story about an obscure 82 year old jazz pianists from Buffalo, NY. Not exactly the usual subject for a national media feeding frenzy but interesting to compare the stories. Which worked well? What did each version leave out? How did each version start and finish?
Here’s the line up:
The story in print from the NYTimesThe story in multimedia, also from the NYTimesThe story on the radio from National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition
and finally, the same story on local Buffalo TV News.





I was lucky enough to have Bob Sacha as a substitute professor once (he brought us candy and opened our eyes to multimedia storytelling)  Please check out his blog. It’s a constant source of inspiration for me. 
P.S. I grew up in Buffalo, NY after I moved from Beijing. This story was kind of a big deal. 
-Chao @cli6cli6

Four for One
Published on bob sacha ’s blog

Text? Sound? Multimedia? Broadcast TV? Which is the best medium to tell a story? In the last days two major US media outlets chose to feature a story about an obscure 82 year old jazz pianists from Buffalo, NY. Not exactly the usual subject for a national media feeding frenzy but interesting to compare the stories. Which worked well? What did each version leave out? How did each version start and finish?

Here’s the line up:

The story in print from the NYTimes
The story in multimedia, also from the NYTimes
The story on the radio from National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition

and finally, the same story on local Buffalo TV News.

I was lucky enough to have Bob Sacha as a substitute professor once (he brought us candy and opened our eyes to multimedia storytelling)  Please check out his blog. It’s a constant source of inspiration for me. 

P.S. I grew up in Buffalo, NY after I moved from Beijing. This story was kind of a big deal. 

-Chao @cli6cli6

One thing we like are new tools and platforms that enable storytelling, curating and content sharing. This keeps our eyes glued to new platforms such as Storify and why we enjoy our time on Tumblr so much.
It’s also a reason why we’re very interested in an email we just received. It’s the announced launch of Cowbird by artist and technologist Jonathan Harris.
It goes something like this:

After 2+ years of work, 145,000+ lines of code, one Icelandic grass hut, one night in jail, one serving of jellied ram’s testicles with fermented shark meat, and countless pieces of toast with orange marmalade, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Cowbird, a labor of love, and hopefully something that will have a long and meaningful life.
Cowbird is a community of storytellers, focused on deeper, longer-lasting, more personal storytelling than you’re likely to find anywhere else on the Web.
Cowbird allows you to keep a beautiful audio-visual diary of your life, and to collaborate with others in documenting the overarching “sagas” that shape our world today (starting with the Occupy Wall Street movement).
Our short-term goal is to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism, grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events. Our long-term goal is to build a public library of human experience — kind of like a Wikipedia for real life (but much more beautiful).

Grand plans, indeed, and we’re interested in testing the platform. If you are too, you can request an invitation here. Harris writes that they are looking for writers, filmmakers, journalists and storytellers in general to come onboard to grow the community. 
Image: Detail from Jonathan Harris’ Cowbird diary.
Bonus Points: PRI has an interview with Harris in which he explains the project’s genesis.

One thing we like are new tools and platforms that enable storytelling, curating and content sharing. This keeps our eyes glued to new platforms such as Storify and why we enjoy our time on Tumblr so much.

It’s also a reason why we’re very interested in an email we just received. It’s the announced launch of Cowbird by artist and technologist Jonathan Harris.

It goes something like this:

After 2+ years of work, 145,000+ lines of code, one Icelandic grass hut, one night in jail, one serving of jellied ram’s testicles with fermented shark meat, and countless pieces of toast with orange marmalade, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Cowbird, a labor of love, and hopefully something that will have a long and meaningful life.

Cowbird is a community of storytellers, focused on deeper, longer-lasting, more personal storytelling than you’re likely to find anywhere else on the Web.

Cowbird allows you to keep a beautiful audio-visual diary of your life, and to collaborate with others in documenting the overarching “sagas” that shape our world today (starting with the Occupy Wall Street movement).

Our short-term goal is to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism, grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events. Our long-term goal is to build a public library of human experience — kind of like a Wikipedia for real life (but much more beautiful).

Grand plans, indeed, and we’re interested in testing the platform. If you are too, you can request an invitation here. Harris writes that they are looking for writers, filmmakers, journalists and storytellers in general to come onboard to grow the community. 

Image: Detail from Jonathan Harris’ Cowbird diary.

Bonus Points: PRI has an interview with Harris in which he explains the project’s genesis.