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50(+) Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story (or 50 ways to drive myself nuts)

After my excitement of how easy it was to create a rich media piece with Voice Thread, I got this notion of a workshop where participants could not only explore that one tool, but perhaps an array of others I was marginally aware of.

So maybe it was after the evening of watching the Paul Simon tribute on PBS, I was humming one of his song, and came of with a concept of “50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story”– so mangling his lyrics, I propose:

The story is all inside your head
She said to me
The answer is easy if you
Go on the web and see
I’d like to help you in your struggle
To be free
There must be fifty web 2.0 ways
To tell a story

I have been working on this for my October tour of Australia, and what once sounded like a great idea is now a huge juggernaut. So, the materials are maybe 60% done, but am previewing them now at My original idea was to set up some basic instructions, and provide a list of the 50 tools with some notes about each one, and a few linked examples. I made some arbitrary/natural groupings of them– Slideshow, Timeline, Mixer, Flickr, Comic, Scrapbook, Map, Audio, Video, Presentation.

And I ended up with 55.

But it struck me that I ought to have a modicum of experience in each, and to do so I had to create accounts, and actually create content. So as a basis, I came up with an another dog-brained idea- try to cast the same story in each tool. It had to be short, and something I had the media for. I recalled something I had entered in the 60 Second Story contest a few years ago (the site is long gone- a copy of the announcement is at GrandTextAuto, but I did get an honorable mention,, believe me), but I had all of the images, text/script, and a sound track that was originally done as a video “Dominoe” (yes, believe it or not, a story about a dog, all true) sitting now at YouTube.

Since a number of the sites have tools to direct import from flickr, I loaded them as well as a set on my flickr account, and have an mp3 of the audio track on my server for sites that allow for audio.

And from there, its a matter of telling this story… 55 times (see the roster of examples). So far I have 14 done… so I am 25% of the way there… sigh

So some of the challenges are– What makes a story? I don’t want to get into long debates about defining it, but for the purpose of the workshop, I have to have a way for people to quickly choose a do-able concept, one where there would be media available online. So this is Step One- Outline A Story Idea, where I try to provide at least some prompts for people who may get stumped by this. The outline should really be something with maybe 5-10 points in it.

The next step is getting the media where my rule will be — the media has to be either original or creative commons licensed. And they have to take notes on the source so they can provide link credit somewhere. This is another potential time pit in a workshop. Gotta find a way to move folks through it to get to the tool part.

And last is somehow gazing over the long list of 50 tools, and picking one quickly enough to get started. For each tool, will be a short description of what it can do, and some example links.

When they work on these, I am encouraging them to write / post notes, and to share their example. The workshop pages are hosted in a wikispaces site, but years of experience in doing this is that the worst thing you can do in a wiki workshop, is ask the group to try and update the same page,. It is the WikiTitanic. I’ve been there, sunk that.

So my approach here is to make the primary workshop materials editable only by me, the Chief Dog. Then I have created a second wikispaces site, which is open (well I have to share a log in so they can create new pages), where I suggest they create a wikipage named with their own name. During or after a workshop, all I need to do is to monitor the Recent Changes, to find ideas, comments, examples, to pull out for discussion or adding to the main workshop materials.

So that’s where the 50 story thang is at. I’ve created a monster, but it is interesting to go through different sites, many which provide similar function, but go about it differently. Quite a few of them offer the cut and paste embed code that allows placing the full interactive piece into any blog page. So far, I’d have to say, I really like Slideshare (with the new audio feature), Voice Thread, but nicely surprised by RockYou, OneTrtueMedia, OurStory, and Slide.. but there’s about 40 more to go.

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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. Yes, this is a journey I can certainly relate to. I like Slidestory which enables the audio component, and I’m now willing to explore some of the 50 with you. I’m going to look at OurStory to start with. CC

  2. Oh, I’m aware (marginally). Have to draw a line somewhere ;-)

    Jing is very cool, but the tools I chose have some sort of “structure” or template that guide the authoring- Jing is open ended like a tool you could do almost anything.

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