Critical Review of Storify

In this review of Storify, a content curation platform, I will critically analyse how Storify works as a research tool and as a pedagogical tool. I will also give feedback on my initial thoughts on Storify, after using it to curate content for another assignment of mine.

 

Launched in September 2010, Storify was initially aimed at journalists, people who are used to hours and hours of researching to find the exact information from a credible source to create the perfect story. Storify cut down those hours, and made the process simple and easy for those aspiring to be the next Anderson Cooper. As time goes on, Storify seems to be increasingly applicable in the classroom as it “helps teach students how to contextualise the streams of social media information” (Fincham, Kelly, 2011). Co-founder of Storify, Burt Herman, describes it as “21st Century wire posts that are dynamic stories that can be embedded across the web”. This platform is the future of media, and students and teachers are being encouraged to get on board with this idea as soon as they can. Curation means to merge traditional reporting with information transmitted from social media. Students now have the opportunity to delve into this activity of curation just like journalists do. The only thing they need is a Twitter and Facebook account to connect with their Storify account to be able to search. Students can now become curators, “someone who takes an inordinate mass of material, and turns chaos into order, or in a more recent slang, turns “noise into signal” “ (Guerrini, Federico, 2013). They have the opportunity to become independent storytellers, and use the vast information that they have at their fingertips to create something unique.

 

Some of the functions that Storify provides, will aid the average student in bypassing the everyday problems that professional journalists might come across. When searching for content through the many social media site search bars that are provided, Storify also offers the option to apply additional filters. The search results can be filtered based on whether the results have links, images, retweets and geographic location. It’s a way for students to sift through and gather material without having to do the old-fashioned research that’s impractical for a non-journalist. Herman advises students to use the user/list section to search for reliable sources first. Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, had this to say about it – “Storify provides a filter function to filter out the poor content and unreliable sources. Students can use Storify to verify which accounts make sense. There are voices on Twitter that matter and Storify is a way of reaching them”.

 

Every image and text that is added to the student’s story is automatically attributable to the owner, so there is no need to worry about copyright issues. While using Storify myself, I even had the option to tweet a person, whose tweet I had embedded into my own story, to let them know that their tweet was displayed on my page.

What I found very interesting about the process of embedding information from social media platforms onto Storify was that, even if the original tweet, post, gif was deleted by the owner, it will forever stay on Storify. This platform copies over the data and stores it on their server.

 

A very useful feature that could be used in the classroom, is the option to comment on each paragraph and embedded element, and also share those elements on other social media platforms. This would be a great way for students to report on their peers work, and give their opinions and feedback on it, which then would engage the students in a scholarly discussion about their chosen topic. Of course, being able to post the final publication of their story on social media is a major feature, so it can reach many others with the appropriate hashtag, to encourage further debates.

 

What I found to be poor usability engineering regarding the Storify application, was the aggravating way that the cursor would jump back to the start of the paragraph if I clicked onto a different webpage. I found that when I came back to my Storify essay, fully rejuvenated with ideas, continuing from my unfinished sentence, that I was actually writing everything at the beginning of my paragraph instead of taking up where I left off.

 

Overall, I established that Storify is a great application for aspiring journalists of the Digital Age, using content curation at its core to create dynamic stories, that appeals more to the public and encourages scholarly feedback. Teachers are already getting their students involved in this curation platform to complete assignments, and to learn how to avoid unsourced opinions and speculation. Storify is a very professional platform, and I have no doubts that it will flourish in today’s society.

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