Here is another one from the Department of Internet Serendipity, where I am fortunate enough to have a mail slot. I got to Seattle yesterday, with a plan for a quiet catch up night at a non-descript airport hotel as I wait for my girlfriend to fly in tomorrow (now today) (now soon).

That act of booking a hotel online triggered an entry in my TripIt account which was noticed by Steve Dembo who was flying in the same night. He suggested we try and meet up for drinks as also Vikci Davis and Lee Kolbert where here for the same meeting Steve is here for. I’ve hung out with Steve before but this would be first time to meet (outside of twitter and blogs) both Vicki and Lee.

Fast forward to the bar at the Bellevue Hyatt (yes the Box does prefer vodka martinis)–


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

where I got to share the idea also with new connections Adam Bellow and Molly Schroeder. Molly got a great group photo of us all doing a pirate face (for PirateBox). I’d post it here, but, aheam, she submitted it to the StoryBox and my rule there is stuff in the box is not on the net. So just take my word for it- it was a good photo.

I really appreciate the positive feedback for the idea, which still feels hard to explain, especially as the concept keeps slowly emerging, but it was fun to listen to them explore the content in the box on their mobiles, and ask me about the images or audio. (it was also weird that neither Steve nor Vicki knew I had been at my previous job since March, but that story is not this post).

I have to say it was a treat to meet Vicki, a true EdTech force given her long run of passionate blogging and the Flat Classroom project which just grows and grows. I had done a video interview with her via Skype in 2008 for a presentation (videos still there) on how the Flat Classroom project students where using the Horizon Report as a base for a student-focused research process.

Interesting content has been coming in- last night I received a very moving poem about something news worthy. A few days ago I was visiting JT, a colleague I knew from Maricopa who has a summer home in the shadow of Mt Rainier, and besides a great visit where I was welcomed into a family that needed a program to track everyone (including being part of an aunt’s “60 1/2th” birthday), we did a beautiful misty day hike and photo outing. JT was curious about the StoryBox, and the morning I left we ended up sitting along with his wife just looking at the photos and videos, and having conversations about what they were or might mean.

This was something Jim Groom and I imagined when we talked about the StoryBox during his visit in May- it was that drive back from the Grand Canyon– it was his phrase of referring to it as a “digital time capsule” that still resonates. I cant wait to show him what I will have collected by the time I roll into Fredericksburg.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

JT also added some photos and videos to the StoryBox. In talking I started gelling some ideas how this might be an interesting launch point for workshop activities, juts brainstorming:

  • People would look at the content, and try and choose (?) 3, 4 5 pieces of media in which they see a common theme.
  • People might be charged with downloading content from the StoryBox and doing a remix video of it, and then share it back.

I hope there are some of these opportunities in September when I am coming down the East coast.

The current count of StoryBox content shows:

  • audio recordings: 32
  • documents: 5
  • drawings: 6
  • graphics: 4
  • music: 11
  • photos: 91
  • videos: 35

My process is taking the media files that come in (via DropBox or uploaded to the root level of the StoryBox) and then organizing them into folders based on media type. I also take some liberty and give the files more descriptive names,

It was also in this conversation with JT that it dawned on me that the directory view of photos and videos and audio is still not easy to browse, so I have started creating some systems to automatically build a gallery view. In the directories of image files, I have it worked out to produce an HTML file that renders like:

So there are thumbnails for each, linked to the full size that opens in a new window (I might dabble with a lightbox viewer, maybe). This is done by using a PHP script I found for generating thumbnails, and modifying their sample gallery generating script to style it into my site. Unsure if PHP was even on the linux server on the storybox, I am running my utility PHO scripts on my MacBook’s archive of the storybox content, which I can run under its local server. I then just copy the thumbnails and updated gallery HTML files to the StoryBox.

For audio and video, and I can see writing a script that would generate an XMP playlist file and then make a page that uses a web-based player (hmmm, wonder if there is one out there that does not use Flash… later).

Another idea bantered when I visited Leslie Madsen-Brooks in Boise was how to “curate” the content when I am returned from the tour. I was starting to think of pointing the media into a database, and she suggested looking at something like Omeka and setting it up so content might be publicly tagged. Those ideas are rolling around in the back of my brain.

At this point I am starting to feel good about the collection; it is shaping into something but believe me, I want a whole lot more for this project. I want to fill the StoryBox, I want to have the problem of too much stuff.

That means you out there. Create, find some sort of media that might give a clue as to what the summer of 2011 was about to some future explorer who cracks open the digital time capsule.

I am mapping where the StoryBox has been


View Where is the StoryBox? in a larger map

If I do get to meet you on the road, be prepared to be asked to share something! And I also need more stickers:


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Check it all out at http://cogdogblog.com/storybox

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com 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.

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