cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I was excited to have my Journey to the Center of the Internet weirdness interrupted by an invitation to do an informal workshop/demo of the StoryBox Project for Brock University. On my pass through the region in August, I missed out on their Narrative INstitute, and was please to hear of their interest in this project. Thanks to Guilia Forsythe for helping me weave this into my own sputtering narrative.

I have a full audio archive but want to jot down some ideas, thoughts as they evaporate.

StoryBox Demo at Brock University

I framed my own interests in web storytelling, a bit of 50+ Web 2 Ways to Tall a Story, Five Card Flickr, and my notion of practicing improv via pechaflickr.

In framing storytelling, I used an example I’ve tapped into before, of how good cinematic techniques (short cuts, sound effects, revealing the plot slowly could make the presentation of a project more interesting. I love the way this video unfolds, tells a story, without a single narration or bullet point

Plus my standard version of how not to do web storytelling, via the Cinderella Powerpoint

I shoed away from talking about the technology of the PirateBox, more describing the purposes David Darts describes for his rationale. I also referred to Noiseprofesor’s idea that was part of the series of events where he built the box for me. It’s been interesting to reflect on the comments in that post and how they played out (and have not yet) for mine.

We had a good chunk of time before hand for people to connect and explore the contents. There are still some hurdles, largest being the inability for iOS devices to upload (no access to file system), and a recent bug where mp4 videos do not seemed to be served correctly to same devices.

One of the challenges in setting this up in public is the question- will people find, join, and explore an unknown public network? IN some places, most networks are locked, and that may help. In a place like the Brock campus, where I did have it set up in a few public places, I’d guess most students never look for networks since they are at a place they are on a regular basis.

As one approach to this, Giulia helped me and designed a table sign aimed at providing the steps to connect to the network and find it via its local URL or aven (shudder Tom Woodward) a QR code.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

My thought us now is to make this into a sticker to go right on the box as well as some 2×3 cards that could be passed out or put on counters in say a coffee shop.

I created a simple splash page (that runs on the StoryBox) with this graphics and an embedded audio player that loops through a playlist of music on the box, most specially the “All The Pirates Get in the Box” song recorded for me by @onepercentyello

Also, I am keen to see what happens when I set up this 2007 vintage OLPX XO shared by Giulia’s daughter- I am thinking it would be ab object of interest in a public place as a Storybox browser


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

And I am trying to sort out how to tweak the interfaces for this purpose. It is just so damn retro.

As usual, with this group, there is a curious energy when they look at say a photo that has no context. There is natural curious to ask “Where is it?” or even “What is it?” I know the stories behind about 80-90% of the stuff.

The box itself always gets interest- just the concept of this tangible device that moves around, seems compelling. One prof there was really keen to build one (as am I).

There was some really good discussion and interest from the faulty present on ways it might be used for doing some community storytelling gathering projects or for designed in class activities. I’m keen to see if I can learn enough python to make a “pechaStorybox” tool (do a random generated slide show of images presented in same pecha style as http://pechaflickr.cogdogblog.com/) or even a Five Card Story tool.

I am also getting closer o having a python script that could be put in the local chat that would generate a link to random photo- one could see some discussion/group story writing happening in the chat.

And the other idea is to device something like bingo card that would generate a set of links to 25 random photos, and have a task to find 5 that are related, with a prompt to write something original (or remix) from those.

My real long goal is to run some sessions where people create some new content from material that is in the box, and repost it. I have just done my own second remix as an example- I pulled a song sung by Grant Potter and Bryan Jackson jamming together in Vancouver called “I Love Trains” and did a fun remix with other clips and stills that are all from within the StoryBox.

I also just did an animated GIF from one of the video files.

And there is a part that I have not put enough thought into- what is that will compel/interest people to download content from the StoryBox? Part of Noiseprofessor’s original concept was seeing what happens when stuff freed from the box makes it way back into the open web. What sort of challenge could I scheme to ask people to repost something built out of a piece of media downloaded from the box?


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Anyhow, I greatly appreciate this opportunity to present at Brock, and am jazzed to re-energize myself towards the end goal with maybe another month left in the road trip. I’m counting on getting some public time and ideas going with it next week when I visit Gardner Campbell at Virginia Tech.

I am already thinking ahead to my 2 week December trip to Australia, and what I might do with the box there.

There is about 4.7 Gb of content so far on it- with a 16 Gb USB stick, 1 Gb of rthe OS, that leaves plenty for you to add content to.

What are you waiting for? Toss something into the StoryBox! http://bit.ly/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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