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50+ Ways 2.0 …. maybe 1.9?

It has been more than three years since I did the first iteration of 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story (that was October 15, 2007 in Hobart, Tasmania).

It’s been on my mind for months to recast the site into a new version. Much of the information needs updates, some of the tools have fallen off the vine– it was time for a fresh coat of paint. I got the perfect driving inspiration when a colleague asked me to do a version of the workshop for the 2010 Museum Computer Network Conference a week ago, in Austin.

I had nailed down a new wikispaces site and got most of the structure set up in time for the conference, and the new home is at It has the three parts of the story making process (Outline a story Idea, Find Media, and Pick a Tool). I have my 50+ Dominoe Stories. There are New Tools to be added and the Island of Lost Tools.

What remains are the updates on all the tools, which feels like its going to take 50 days or weeks or…

The question surely one would ask, “Well you do have this in a wiki, why not let others write it for you?” I do have an answer– wikis are great for collecting raw info, brainstorming, but I’ve found for a structured web site– well people will kind of crap all over the wiki. They do not intend to, but I have a clear design in mind, so the entire first version of the site was only editable by me.

I have a way around this using a seldom known feature of wikis I first got into with MediaWiki, but is also present in Wikispaces. It is the concept of includes. So I can have pages in my wiki that are only editable by me, but I can designate a place in the wiki to insert the content of another wikipage– and since that one I can make editable, it means I can allow people to edit the content for select portions of the page.

There are other ways to use such includes- common sidebar navigations, page footers. The beauty is you can use these on multiple pages, and if you change the original, all the changes are seen on pages that include the original. It is extremely powerful.

In the Wikispaces editor, this is one of the widgets- and from the list of options, choose Contents of a Wiki Page

So I just need to make these stub content pages for the content I want to leave open and editable, and on the main page, just provide a way for people to get to the stubs (anyone wishing to do this must join the wiki).

The other problem was that giant long tools page, it listed them all, the examples, and more. It had over 750 hyperlinks hanging off of it (I ran a link check on it and watched the progress). I know people got value out of the full list, but I had an inkling to do a bit more.

So the new structure, of which there are only a handful built out completely, will be each tool has its own page. This allows me to do some other tricks to automatically generate the List of Tools pages, and even other pages tat will list, say all the Slideshow tools. The trick is to tag each tool page with a tag of say 50tools and I will have a complete A-Z index page by using one of the other widgets to List all Pages with a tag; a list for each kind of tool (see Slideshow Tools), and the main Story Tools index will have the tools grouped by type (multiple widgets hanging in a table there) — these is only a partial example now because most of the individual tools pages are not created, but by using tags, these lists automatically update them selves since they are based on tags:

I have new features on the new individual tools pages. Each will include a tool type (linked to the tools type pages so you can see other timeline tools, for example). There will be a screen shot of the tool and the editing screen. I am adding a listing of the types of media you can import and the other media that is available from a library. The example of the Dominoe story created for each will be linked, but the embedded version will be right there on the page. The new editable sections will include:

  • tool description– these change so I’d welcome help in filling out and correction the descriptions.
  • Examples If you create something with any of the tools, you can add your own link, and like all of the editable content areas, I ask people to add the code for a wiki signature (~~~~) which when published converts to a time stamp and link to the user that edited the page.
  • Impressions This is a place to say more about how well the tool worked or did not work for you, as useful information for others when they are reviewing the tools.

Below is an example showing where these new features are on the Tool page for Slide:

The other pages that are open to edit is the one for new tools and the part of the Story Media page that lists sources of media. I have set up a new page that describes the ways you can contribute to the new site. And because I do not have all of the places ready to add examples, I have a Google form embedded there so you can get me information about your examples.

I’m feeling really good about this new design, and actually it wont take 50 years or months, or maybe not even 50 days to round out the site. I am really happy with the features the Wikispaces offer, and there are even more things under the hood I’ve yet to tap into.

So join the wiki if you think you’d like to help, and keep tuned for the new tool pages as the sprout up. Th new 50+ Ways site again is at

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Whoa, your 50 ways wiki is fine piece of work. I’m not going to admit how much time evaporated while I explored some of the resources. No, the time wasn’t all spent playing 5-card Nancy…

  2. Alan,
    Looking forward to the new things you will teach us with the story-source updates. Thought I would pass along that folks here use your sight as the go-to place to find helps when learning digital storytelling. We are using it heavily in a digital storytelling ‘academy’ here this fall. AMOF we just looked at image sources “Finding Media & Photos” pages Monday evening in our session on editing/image management.
    Just commenting to let you know that folks LOVE, love, love this wiki; use it often; refer others to it often; and are eagerly awaiting new stuff.
    Thank you for sharing. ‘Open’ at its very best.

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