Magpie Storytelling


I have recently been experimenting with an exciting new tool called Storify. This allows you to collect bits and pieces of content from around the web and weave it into a narrative. You can use tweets, images, slideshows, blog posts or web pages as artefacts within your narrative to illustrate, provide dialogue and create different textures of experience within one platform.

So far I have only used this journalistically in my capacity as an event amplifier to pull together conference materials and audience responses, as in this example:

See the full story at

Here, I am using Storify as a curation tool to bring together disparate materials which all relate to the same story. I can add a commentary around these materials to contextualise them and make direct comparisons between sources without fragmenting navigation. This type of curation tool is effectively making snippets of the web into objects or props that can be collected by a magpie storyteller, always on the look out for shiny things, and represented.

As I consider the reading experience this presents, I find myself wondering what these web artefacts lose by removing them from their context? How much of transliteracy is about contextual indicators around a unit of communicative material? Some web artefacts can stand on their own and are regularly embedded into other contexts, but others may lose clues to their interpretation, making it harder for someone who is not a competent reader to deduce meaning or make a trust judgement about the message being conveyed.


From a curatorial perspective, Storify is very much like running your own museum: you get to decide what to present, what significance to give it and how to weave it into a story in the context with the other objects in your collection. As a storytelling platform, it has the potential to incorporate the key ingredients of action (videos, interactive slideshows, flash animation), description and dialogue (embedded tweets) in a graphical way more akin to poetry.

I can certainly see potential for this type of tool as a way of helping people to develop familiarity with different types of online literacy within a narrative context, without the need to move around between different platforms and sites with competing skills requirements. It may also be useful for teaching about the different elements of a narrative, the balance between those elements and different ways in which the pace of the reading experience can be changed using different types of media in an interactive way.

I have written more about how Storify works in practice and the role it could play in communicating conference content here