(Update September 2023 – Storify was later disbanded and all content on it is lost. See my earlier article on the Transient Internet!).
Ease of use?
The obvious first question to be answered therefore is “how easy is it to sign up and use?” The signing up process was easy; to use perhaps less so, as it has quirks discovered through use, all to be learned and worked around. It also appeared at initial sign-up to be easier to use than it actually has proven to be in practice, especially with regard to adding Twitter sourced content. As an older internet user, I also found that, although there are many sources out there for obtaining linkable content, I do not use them regularly (in fact some not at all) therefore it was not intuitive to seek information from them. The reality is that, for the stories I was writing, Twitter content could be ignored as the internet news-feeds supplied sufficient links to source material.
News curation issues
The creation of content for any news item requires assessment of the sources for accuracy, currency and bias. One of the positives to using Storify is the speed with which sources can be traced and dropped into a new item for publication. That, however, creates the perennial dichotomy, speed of selection versus the balancing time necessary for checking those three issues. With websites, that is generally straightforward, but for tweets and other content, it is far less so with regard to judging bias.
Also, but only a minor irritant, the default image libraries are international, therefore sourcing images with UK relevance requires care in use of search terms. The use of the generic term shopping was a typical example. In preparing the item on the state of retailing, most initially returned images were obviously of non-Uk origin and unusable, as the pricing was showing $s (even where text was English) and also many showed Japanese/Chinese/Korean symbol writing.
As a content generator I found the product useful, but reviewing what I have already produced with Storify for this reflective identified a personal weakness. As mentioned above, in the stories published to date there has been a lack of Twitter input into the content. Although clearly retro-editing is not ideal, that lack could now be redressed, and it will definitely be borne in mind for future work.
That is not to say that Twitter was ignored; the posts were shared on Twitter and generated tweets about the items. In particular the story about rail closures over Christmas and the associated tweet on 30th December generated significant twitter activity and pointed users at the linked questionnaire.
The crucial question – future use?
My initial reaction to Storify was that use beyond the current University assignment was unlikely, since on first introduction to it I didn’t like it. As it has turned out that first impression hasn’t lasted; true I find it quirky, but I have found a work-around already for one of those quirks and now know to avoid others.
I am the PRO and website manager for the Stephenson Locomotive Society and one of the items the current website lacks is any form of blog to accompany our Twitter feed. The website is scheduled for a rebuild this Autumn, and producing a weekly Storify post on matters related to railways is a logical edition.
It is likely, therefore, that although the output via my personal Storify account will be sporadic, writing in a second account opened in the name of the SLS will become a regular feature.